5 ways GDPR will reintroduce creativity into online advertising

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Imagine a world where we select the brands we want to see advertising from. Where that advertising is brilliant storytelling and craft. And where our personal data is controlled by us, and we can exchange it with publishers and media owners at our discretion. We’re not there yet, but this year’s GDPR regulation could be the first step on the journey to a different kind of relationship between consumers and advertisers.

Coming into effect on 25th May this year, GDPR is set to be the biggest single shake-up of data privacy and online advertising since the birth of the internet. The new ruling will radically change the way advertisers are able to target consumers online, with consumers having increased control over the data they share, and the sites that they allow advertising to reach them on.

We need GDPR to help rein online advertising in – things have got out of hand. Consumers feel hounded by products they never intended to purchase, and even by products they have purchased. This repetitive targeting reduces online advertising to a series of poorly positioned billboards. The advertising and creative industries should be looking forwards in its efforts to reach and engage consumers in new, more creative ways.

At video intelligence, we’re committed to helping brands reach audiences through contextual stories, and firmly believe that GDPR will help reintroduce creativity into online advertising. The following list may be optimistic, and it’s worth remembering that we don’t yet know exactly how the regulation will impact our daily lives. Nevertheless, I can already see the way advertisers work evolving in several key ways:

1. Data will become a tool that aids creativity, rather than bypassing it.

Consumers have responded to excessive targeting with adblockers - the digital equivalent of saying “talk to the hand…”. A 2017 report estimated that 615m devices have an adblocker installed, and Google is launching a built-in adblocker for Chrome this week (Feb 15 2018).

Instead of repeatedly targeting consumers based on data models or algorithm assumptions, advertisers should be taking cues from a person’s actual activity, and frame of mind at the time they see our messages.

2. Advertisers will have to make fewer opportunities count.

Much like how some of your best creative work is done under the tightest brief, data scarcity will invigorate us. Initially at least, GDPR will see a reduction in the number of opportunities advertisers have to target consumers. Customers will quickly block advertising that is boring or irrelevant. Brands and agencies looking to create effective campaigns after GDPR will have to be creative to avoid turning consumers off.

There is still opportunity though, with 77% of Americans who use an adblocker saying that they would be willing to view some adverts - if we can deliver better content, there is still a willing audience for online advertising [source].

3. An opt-in system will reinstate trust between brands and consumers.

Platforms which consumers have opted in to will have the confidence of consumers. Companies will know that their content is reaching an audience who are definitely interested in what they have to say, and will be able to tell more complex, interesting stories.

We can expect formats such as branded content to benefit from this, with perhaps more long-form and episodic storytelling. Consumers will begin to choose and curate the brands that they want to engage with based on creative advertising as well as personal preference.

4. Context is everything.

As advertisers rethink their strategy, we expect to see a much greater focus on contextual advertising – telling the right story in the right place. Platforms (Such as our own, vi stories) will deliver video content that makes sense in the context of the editorial content people are reading. This is a huge advantage – we’ll know that someone is actively interested in a subject rather than simply being aware that they viewed a relevant product online.

5. Focus on the creative.

The adtech sector is notorious for its third-parties and middlemen. Many of these companies make a living through arbitrage, data platforms, or verification tools. In the GDPR world, these models will show their weaknesses. This means saving both time and money on media buying, and reinvesting it into creative and strategy.

Advertisers can focus on what they're really interested in - the creative. As the efficiency of targeting platforms improve after GDPR, advertisers will be able to leave the buying to AI and focus on what we’re most interested in – the creative.


*Luc Benyon is head of marketing at video intelligence, a contextual video platform that connects publishers, content providers and brands through video storytelling. For more information visit


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