GDPR and Affiliate Marketing – The GDPR came into effect on May 25th, 2018. However, there is still a lot of confusion regarding the ramifications of this new Data protection law on the internet. Along with this comes a lot of misinformation which adds to the confusion. In this article, we will make an attempt to demystify the myths surrounding this law. The article will be mainly focused on the impact of GDPR on Affiliate marketing.
What is GDPR all about?
GDPR is a comprehensive law enacted by the EU with an intention of creating a framework for the new digital world. The main objective of this reform was to provide more power to citizens with regards to their personal data, privacy on the internet. This framework ensures that all businesses on the internet catering to the EU adhere to new data protection guidelines.
GDPR and Affiliate Marketing
Does GDPR apply to affiliate marketing- this is the most widely debated question. The answer to this is YES, it does apply to affiliate marketing. In fact, any business which is on the internet and is targeted or gets visitors from the EU has to stay compliant with the GDPR policy. No matter the size of your business, you may be running a small website or a huge corporation, if that is on the internet, you will have to adhere to the guidelines laid out by GDPR.
One more question may come to your mind, if your website only targets a specific region, let’s say ‘USA’ for example, do you have to still remain complaint? We would say YES to be on the safer side. There is no way that you can block visitors from the EU to your site. The content you are putting up may pull in traffic from any of the countries in the EU.
How does GDPR affect Affiliate marketing?
As the crux of the policy revolves around personal data and privacy. This mainly changes the way you can collect, store and processor consumer data. You can store the data only under the following circumstances.
- The consumer should be briefed about the way in which collect, store and process data. If they opt-in after reading the information, you are good to go.
- The data is critical for you to provide the service/ product/ information to the consumer.
- You are collecting the information for a legitimate reason
- The information collected would be largely used to better serve the visitors and would be in the public interest.
This means that you can no longer pre-check the opt-in option in your contact/ sign up forms. You must change this so that the visitor has an option to opt-out first. If they are willing to share the data, they can either uncheck the opt-out option or check the opt-in option.
What should the Affiliate marketers do to stay compliant?
You will have to clearly mention the purpose it is being collected for, how is it stored and steps you are taking to protect it. You must also make a change to the standard ‘cookie’ message you would have been displaying.
GDPR will have a great impact on direct marketing methods which affiliate marketers used. Earlier, marketers used the emails they collected for purpose ‘A’ for marketing new products or upselling. This is not allowed under the new provisions of GDPR.
For example: John owns an E-commerce store and has emails of people who have made a purchase. John later used this data to send out offers about new offerings. This has to change now, whenever a visitor is making a purchase, you will have to provide an option to ‘opt-out’ next to or below the email box or at the end of the form and mention to opt-in only if the consumer is interested in receiving marketing emails.
Here is a small to do list for Affiliate Marketers
- Go back to your web properties and access the way you are collecting data. Make a list of forms/ any systems you will need to update.
- Inform your visitors by clearly outlining the reasons you are collecting the data. Being genuine will help you in getting more opt-ins.
- The GDPR is applicable to the data you have collected before May 25th, which is you will have to send an email to your subscribers providing them an option to opt-out.
- You must also consult your affiliate marketing networks. All the networks would be bringing in changes to stay compliant and you must stay informed about your affiliate network.
- Lastly, this article is not equivalent to legal advice. This just a basic guide covering some aspects of the law. For complete compliance as a business, consulting an attorney would be a better option.
Consequences of GDPR non-compliance
Staying non-complaint to the GDPR policy comes with a cost. You will be warned for the first violation which is followed by suspension of data processing. If the business is still found to be breaching the norms, it will attract a fine of up to 20 million euros or 40% of the global annual revenue. However, it has to be understood that these hefty fines are for large corporations like Google, Facebook etc.
Having said this, you do not have to be worried if you have implemented the things mentioned in this article. This law is well-intentioned and not framed to cripple the internet freedom. Hence, we must ensure that we adhere to the guidelines and make a positive impact on the online marketing world.