Our video investigation of ePrivacy realities across Europe

Since the announcement of the European Commission’s ePrivacy Regulation proposal, IAB Europe has been working together with other associations representing stakeholders in the advertising ecosystem, to explore the likely impact on Europe’s economy and competitiveness, the freedom of the press and the experience of the internet. We’ve also been reaching out to industry experts to help demystify the way that digital advertising uses data, and clear up misconceptions about how it impacts on citizens.

In September 2017, we released in-depth research conducted by the agencies IHS Markit and GfK. This explored the importance of data to digital advertising and the EU economy, and how Europeans’ experience of the internet would change under the proposed regulation. It revealed how digital advertising contributes 526 billion to the EU economy each year, and how a large majority of Europeans would use the internet much less if websites were forced to switch to a subscription model as a result of data-driven advertising disappearing.

We know though, that numbers can never tell the whole story where a change as sweeping and significant as the ePrivacy Regulation proposal is concerned. That’s why we’ve spent the months since September reaching out to both digital advertising stakeholders and internet users themselves, to talk more about the role that digital advertising and data play in their lives.

Five short documentary films each addressing different questions that arise from the proposed ePrivacy Regulation

We’ve used this fact-finding journey to create five short documentary films each addressing different questions that arise from the proposed ePrivacy Regulation. These are available to view on the IAB Europe’s dedicated research site, www.datadrivenadvertising.eu

Filmed on location across Eastern, Central and Western Europe, our videos focus on five key areas that need to be considered for a careful and coherent approach to ePrivacy:

  • Whether the advertising industry really spies on people
  • How data is connected to innovation in Europe
  • Whether data makes the user experience of advertising better or worse
  • The impact of data-driven advertising on the EU economy
  • What happens if digital advertising disappears from the internet

In making these films we uncovered a range of different views about the use of data for digital advertising, including very real concerns that people have over their privacy being protected. We also found significant misunderstanding about the type of data that online advertising industry uses, and a serious gap between the type of privacy protection that people want and the type of privacy protection that the proposed regulation will provide.

IAB Europe believes that the measures the European Parliament takes to protect people’s privacy must be based on facts not myths. Since the launch of our initial research findings, we have continued to provide European policymakers, and most recently the Bulgarian Presidency with data and analysis on the likely impact of the regulation, and meaningful feedback from relevant specialists.

Among others, we are encouraged by the Bulgarian Presidency’s recent introduction of the long overdue security and fraud prevention exemption for online services in ePrivacy Regulation text. The industry requires flexibility to justify data processing in situations where relying on the consent of the user is not possible, feasible, or preferable.

We also recognise and welcome the Council’s clarification that access to an online service may be made conditional on users accepting that their personal data will be lawfully processed to deliver interest-based advertising in full compliance with the GDPR. It is a critical requirement that allows the existing ad-supported internet to continue functioning and flourishing. Any future ePrivacy Regulation must leave European publishers free to determine the optimal business model for their online content and services. Preventing the media from monetising their content through the data-driven advertising model, will result in less investment in quality, independent journalism and content, and eventually disproportionately affect the European citizenry and economy more broadly.

Appreciating the progress made so far, further improvements are yet necessary as we are seeking for the ePrivacy to embrace the GDPR’s principles-based approach. We stand ready to support the Council and the upcoming Austrian Presidency in their efforts to produce a coherent and considered final regulation, and these films are part of this effort. They help to demystify the digital advertising industry and bring much-needed clarity to the question of how data is used. They also show how EU citizens would have their choices and their experience of the internet severely curtailed by the unintended consequences of the wrong approach.

Visit www.datadrivenadvertising.eu to watch the films and explore our in-depth research into the role that data plays in the EU economy.

Watch the videos:

First video here.
Second video here.
Third video here.
Fourth video here.
Fifth video here.


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