The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect last week and, from the headlines, you’d think we’re now living in a post-apocalyptic advertising world:

Only a third of consumers opted in. Programmatic ad buying has plummeted. Facebook and Google have been sued for billions.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Consumers that didn’t opt in were probably not good prospects anyway. Programmatic ad buying is alive and well on private marketplaces. And Facebook and Google don’t need our sympathy – they’ll likely come out ahead.

To be sure, this whole thing could have been avoided if the industry had embraced permission marketing – a concept (and book) put out by Seth Godin 2 decades ago. Godin revisited the topic on his blog back in 2008 and it reads like everything you’d want the GDPR to be:

Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them.

It recognizes the new power of the best consumers to ignore marketing. It realizes that treating people with respect is the best way to earn their attention.

Pay attention is a key phrase here, because permission marketers understand that when someone chooses to pay attention they are actually paying you with something precious. And there’s no way they can get their attention back if they change their mind. Attention becomes an important asset, something to be valued, not wasted.

Real permission is different from presumed or legalistic permission. Just because you somehow get my email address doesn’t mean you have permission. Just because I don’t complain doesn’t mean you have permission. Just because it’s in the fine print of your privacy policy doesn’t mean it’s permission either.

Unfortunately, not enough marketers heeded Godin’s credo so the EU had to put some actual laws in place to define permission.

Fortunately, those who have been permission marketers all along did not have as much work to do to comply with the directives.

So, while we’re waiting to see how GDPR will be enforced, let’s recommit to a permission marketing paradigm so that self-regulation is that’s needed and May 25, 2018 becomes just a footnote in the advertising history books.

Now, with your permission, here are the rest of 4C’s Insights. At least I can say that I’ve tried.

Get the rest of 4C’s Insights Volume 110 here.

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