BBC is doing a better GDPR education job than the EU

David Reed, director of research and editor-in-chief, DataIQ

What does tailored content mean to you? Are you in the half of consumers who say it’s ok, as long as you have a choice? Or even the 9 per cent who enjoy it because it is beneficial? Or do you fall into the group who say they dislike it and try to avoid providing personal information, as 17 per cent do, or even the 10 per cent who find it creepy when taken too far?

These findings from DataIQ consumer research provide an important indicator about how consumers are likely to react once education on GDPR begins. The European Union is planning to run a campaign explaining the new rights which the Regulation is granting. Important as this activity is, the chances are it will be quite dry and will not gain much attention.

Contrast that with the way the BBC is promoting registration of viewers for its online services. As well as providing a clear timeline that signing-in will soon become necessary, it is explaining the benefits of doing so. Getting access to tailored content is prime among those.

Who better to educate the general population about the real data-value exchange than a broadcaster which commissions more hours of output than any other in the UK, all paid for by the licence fee? As one of the most loved and trusted brands around, this hand-holding exercise through the transition from open broadcasting to registered digital delivery will undoubtedly soften much of the mental resistance that can be found towards sharing personal information.

Hardly suprising that many consumers have concerns about handing over their data when, up to now, the reasons for doing so have either been opaque or very one-sided. The experience of “ads that follow you around the internet” (ie, behaviourally targeted advertising) has created a sense of an uncontrolled, unexplained harvesting of data behind the scenes.

In social media, the experience is even worse since the deal is hardly referred to at all. Consumers may well enjoy the utility of the social network and their ability to post content and connect with friends. But those same networks have resisted explaining clearly how personal and behavioural data is being captured and then commercialised, sold to advertisers and used to filter everything from ads to news and even which of their friends’ posts they see.

In writing GDPR, the European Commission made a determined effort to shift the balance towards the consumer and force business to be more transparent and fairer. Despite the massive lobbying efforts during its five-year gestation, that intention remains written throughout the law. What remains now is for companies not just to become compliant, but also to demonstrate to their customers exactly what deal they are offering in exchange for personal information.

By making it clear that tailored content is the return which viewers get for their data, the BBC is not just putting itself onto the right footing, it is also doing the entire industry a huge favour. Brands would do well to look at how it is approaching the challenge and figure out how they, too, can have a similar dialogue with their customers. Don’t wait for the EU campaign and hope it will do the job for you.

Please note that blogs are the sole view of the author and that they are not neccesarily the view of IQ ddg Ltd and should not be interpreted as advice. Please read our full disclaimer

Director of research and editor-in-chief, DataIQ
An expert commentator on all things data, David has been editor of DataIQ since its inception in 2011.

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