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Lock up your data strategies, GDPR is coming...

Ad Week Europe 2017 is but a distant memory, as we all forge ahead, ready to shape the future of the industry clutching our day books full of furiously scribbled learnings from four days of heated discussion. And what did we learn? Here’s what I learned:

  • We’re still not using data particularly wisely
  • We’re still not very diverse as an industry
    • Aside: of all the talks I saw, the only two whose panels were at least 50% women were those about diversity. And the only one with more than one minority ethnic group represented was about minority ethnic groups.
  • We’re still not sure how to measure content and native.
  • Nobody trusts anybody in media, especially not Google and Facebook
  • GDPR is coming, aaaaah.
David Shing, Adam Foley and Paddy Adams talk data at Ad Week Europe 2017
David Shing, Adam Foley and Paddy Adams talk data at Ad Week Europe 2017

Forgive the cynic in me, but four out of five of these things we probably could have written down as learnings from last year’s AWE. Maybe I was going to the wrong things. Frustratingly (for me), it felt like most of the discussion was rear-view-mirror based, so here are my predictions for what we’ll be talking about at Ad Week 2018:

  • Data, ugh
  • Diversity maybe improving but gosh, it’s a long game so probably not much to report
  • Hopefully less guff about content and native, they mean different things to different people at different times used in different ways so no, we won’t have found a one-size measurement solution for all
  • Have Google stuck to their word and sorted out this mess? Stay tuned for more.


The GDPR is the biggest change to data privacy regulation since the industry started caring about data. It comes into effect on 25th May 2018, and yes it is an EU thing, but we are still going to be in the EU when it happens. Non-compliance could result in a fine of up to 4% of annual global turnover or €20 Million (whichever is greater). So we need to start thinking about it now.

It changes the way we collect, process and use data – not just in media, but generally. So for an industry who relies very heavily on data, we need to figure out now how to deal with it. We don't know exactly how it is going to, but we do know it will affect us. Personal data will be off the menu, so what else can we use? What social signals, mood-based, non-personal behavioural triggers can we start testing now so that we are not caught short next year?

More information on the GDPR is available at: - or speak to your local Initiative person for more.