European Regulators Announce Probes Against Google, Apple, and Meta (the 1st set of investigations under the European Union’s Digital Markets Act Antitrust Law)

What This Means For Brand Marketers / Advertisers In The US

The European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) and the Digital Services Act (DSA) signify major regulatory shifts that are likely to have global repercussions, affecting not only how tech giants operate but also how digital advertising and marketing practices are conducted worldwide, including in the US. Brand marketers and advertisers in the US should prepare for a landscape where transparency, data privacy, and ethical advertising practices become more prevalent.

Increased Transparency and Data Usage Restrictions

The DMA and DSA emphasize greater transparency around data collection, processing, and usage, particularly for targeted advertising. This shift towards transparency is expected to enhance consumer trust, as users increasingly prefer brands that are clear about their data practices [“]​​. Moreover, restrictions on how large platforms use advertising data to favor their services or disadvantage competitors will necessitate changes in how digital marketers target and personalize ads, possibly leading towards more context-based advertising strategies that rely less on personal data​​ [“].

Impact on Strategy and Operations

Advertisers may need to adjust their strategies due to these changes, shifting away from reliance on personal data and towards other forms of engagement and targeting, such as contextual advertising. Operations, especially of those platforms identified as ‘gatekeepers’, will need to comply with the new regulations, which could include altering algorithms and data processing methods to ensure fairness and transparency​​ [“].

Global Influence and Predictions for the Future

Given the size and influence of the EU market, the DMA and DSA’s standards could become de facto global norms, as companies operating internationally may find it easier to adopt a uniform approach that aligns with the strictest regulations they face [“][“]​​​​. This could lead to innovations in advertising techniques that prioritize user consent and privacy, possibly ushering in a shift towards more ethical advertising practices.

US Context and Parallel Developments

In the US, there’s a growing push for similar regulatory actions. Congress is considering legislation that could alter the digital advertising landscape by targeting major tech companies with significant digital ad revenues. This includes potential requirements for greater transparency and customer interest considerations in advertising practices [“]​​. Additionally, ongoing antitrust scrutiny and lawsuits against major tech companies in the US over alleged anticompetitive practices further indicate a regulatory environment in flux, mirroring concerns and actions being taken in the EU​​ [“].

In essence, brand marketers and advertisers in the US should monitor these developments closely, as the DMA and DSA are likely to influence global digital advertising practices, potentially leading to significant shifts in how digital advertising ecosystems operate, emphasizing privacy, transparency, and ethical practices. Adapting to these trends proactively will be key to navigating the evolving digital marketing landscape successfully.

For US brand marketers and advertisers looking to navigate the evolving landscape shaped by regulations such as the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) and the Digital Services Act (DSA), here are some immediate solutions and strategies to consider:

Emphasize Transparency and Build Trust

Given the increasing global focus on transparency, marketers should prioritize clear communication about how consumer data is collected, used, and shared. Implementing and promoting transparent data practices can build trust with your audience​​​​.

Example… Privacy Policies: Update privacy policies to be more user-friendly, using clear and concise language to explain data usage.

Enhance Data Privacy Measures

Adapt your data collection and processing practices to comply with stricter privacy standards. This includes obtaining explicit consent for data collection and usage, and providing users with easy options to manage their privacy settings​​.

Example… Consent Management Platforms (CMPs) & Data Minimization: Implement CMPs like CookieFirst or consentmanager to ensure explicit user consent for data collection and processing and only collect data essential to the service provided, reducing the amount of data at risk.

Adopt Contextual Advertising

Shift towards context-based advertising that relies less on personal data and more on the context of the webpages where ads are displayed. This strategy aligns with the need to respect user privacy while still delivering relevant advertisements​​.

Example… Keyword Targeting & Geographic Location: Use keywords related to the webpage content for ad placement, rather than relying on user browsing history, and also target your ads based on the geographical location of the user, which is less intrusive than behavioral targeting.

Invest in First-party Data

Strengthen your focus on collecting and using first-party data, which comes directly from your audience through interactions with your brand. This approach is inherently more transparent and can help maintain personalized marketing efforts while adhering to privacy regulations​​.

Example… Newsletter Sign-ups: Offer valuable content through newsletters, requiring an email address which provides a direct line to your audience.

Prepare for Operational Adjustments

For platforms and advertisers classified as ‘gatekeepers’ under the DMA, it’s crucial to review and potentially adjust operations to comply with new regulations. This may involve altering algorithms, data processing methods, and ensuring that marketing practices are fair and transparent​​.

Example… Data Processing Transparency: Clearly document and make accessible the methodologies behind data processing and ad targeting.

Innovate Within New Boundaries

As the industry adapts to these regulatory changes, there’s an opportunity to innovate by developing new advertising technologies and strategies that prioritize user consent and privacy. This might include leveraging anonymized data or exploring new engagement models that rely less on personal data​​.

Example… Anonymized Data Analytics: Use anonymized datasets for market analysis and targeting to protect user privacy.

Stay Informed and Engage with Industry Changes

Regularly monitor regulatory developments and engage in industry discussions about best practices and compliance solutions. Staying informed will help you anticipate changes and adapt your marketing strategies accordingly.

Example… Regulatory Webinars and Workshops: Participate in webinars and workshops focused on understanding and navigating digital advertising regulations and join industry coalitions or groups that focus on advocating for fair digital marketing practices and standards.

By implementing these strategies, US brand marketers and advertisers can not only comply with current and upcoming regulations but also position their brands as leaders in privacy and ethics, which are increasingly important values for consumers worldwide.