We recently came across a piece by Doc Searls titled “GDPR will pop the adtech bubble”. In this long article, Doc Searls explains how advertising might revert to a purely contextual / branding form with the advent of GDPR. Most of his piece is focused on tracking cookies. But as a few people mentioned it in the comments thread, adtech isn’t only about cookies. And adtech isn’t only about snake-oil-salesman-style direct marketing. There are other ways to personalize advertising than relying on non persistent cookies (or advertising IDs). Moreover adtech isn’t only focused on conquering eyeballs for prospection purposes. When deployed in conjunction with CRM data, adtech becomes martech, an essential tool in managing the customer journey, far beyond the acquisition phase.

More straightforward than an ethereal cookie sneakingly dropped behind-the-scenes, email will see its strategic value reinforced as a key adtech feature in a post GDPR environment. It’s a commonly used and widely accepted piece of data that can easily be attached to specific rights at all stages of the customer journey. It’s unique, personal but less intrusive than the phone number. It can be leveraged both as a direct distribution channel, to send transactional and informative messages AND as a cross-platform identifier, to reach optin users on other platforms (social networks, display networks, third-party newsletters,…).

email adtech

Contrary to the argument developed by Doc Searls, adtech isn’t creepy by design. If properly executed, it is a way to improve the relevance of the (commercial) content displayed to a specific user. Who wants to see advertising for a product they will never buy because it’s way off the mark?

Getting users’ explicit consent for cookie-based tracking will be tough, especially with a long list of trackers. But signing them up to a newsletter with an unambiguous objective (keeping them informed across all the channels where email is an identifier) will still be an efficient manner to onboard both prospects and customers. Well executed customer-friendly adtech / martech campaigns are here to stay and email will – more than ever – be a key part of their success.

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