In January 2012 the European Commission presented its proposal for Data protection regulation. It would introduce strict provisions which are likely to negatively impact today’s online business models and the future of the European internet industry. Both new obligations and a significant overall increase of administrative and financial burdens have been already identified as serious threats to the European online industry.
DISE (Digital Innovation Showcase Europe), with which Crazy4media is cooperating, provides a platform for European legislators and regulators to meet with digital entrepreneurs and better understand what they need to continue to blossom in Europe. DISE promotes the best examples of innovation in the European digital sector. It highlights business models that are driving the transition to a data-driven economy.
Digital innovation doesn’t only come from Silicon Valley. There is a plethora of young, innovative digital companies in Europe that have the potential to become global phenomena. To try and protect the business model that they are based on, on the 3th and 4th december DISE launched its first executive briefing in Brussels. One of Crazy4media’s co-founders, Tom Horsey, was invited to this launch by IAB Europe and DISE in representation of the Crazy4Media group.
We agree with the general belief that consumers need to be better protected, especially in the online arena where data collection is happening with every click and visit. However the problem is that policy makers are remote from business reality and as a result the debate over data protection remains very theoretical and ideological.
For this reason, direct meetings between legislators, regulators and industry representatives is very useful to provide concrete insight into a company’s daily life, the consequences legislation would have on business and also to demonstrate that extreme scenarios about data abuse are extremely rare and should not provide the main basis of discussion.
The greatest challenge is that the debate currently focuses primarily on Google and Facebook, both of which are non-European direct-to-consumer facing companies, as opposed to the mainly business-to-business focused digital sector of European companies. For this reason, proposed legislation intended to curb abuses by direct-to-consumer companies, most of which are not European, runs the risk of having a significantly negative impact on European companies compared to those non European players, without actually resolving the main issues at hand. The (mainly non-European) direct-to-consumer companies have a direct relation to their users and thus have an opportunity to receive an explicit consent from these users and continue with their current practice, whilst business-to-business focused companies, such as those predominant within Europe, are rarely known as a brand by users and do not have the same opportunity to request their consent directly and would have their business models seriously damaged.
To make matters worse, the main objective of the business-to-business industry in the use of user data is to improve the quality of the user experience, normally either by improving the customer experience on websites through browsing analytics tools, or by improving the quality of the advertising content served to the end user (and hence the effectiveness of that same advertising).
As Tom Horsey says, “The ultimate aim of the online advertising industry is to entirely eliminate waste by ensuring that every piece of advertising content served to an end user is of their interest, hence maximizing publisher revenues and advertiser ROI, at the same time as ensuring the highest quality of customer experience”.
The DISE network was created by IAB Europe and its network of national IABs and is in continual expansion.