How will the GDPR Compliance affect your Affiliate Marketing Efforts and why you should care

How will the GDPR Compliance affect your Affiliate Marketing Efforts and why you should care
24 May 2018

The GDPR is taking effect on 25th May, 2018 and this news alone has caused quite a stir in the affiliate industry. The affiliate market in particular is showing great concern regarding its immediate effects. Known as the General Data Protection Regulation, the GDPR has been in the making for over four years now and represents the biggest change in data protection and privacy laws across Europe.

GDPR governs the use of personal data across the EU. But even if your business is not located in the European Union, you must comply with the GDPR, specifically if you offer services or good to consumers in EU and collect their personal data. So what comes under personal data? Anything that can directly or indirectly identify a website user like IP addresses, email address, cookie information, device id and more. A majority of businesses around the world will be complying with the regulations of this new legal framework as it offers consumers more control over their personal information.

What does GDPR mean for the Affiliate Industry?

As networks, platforms and brands, we are used to collecting personal information of the consumers via third party websites in order to drive sales back to our own which is why the GDPR appears like a major hindrance. Affiliate marketing networks are now being encouraged to have a robust process of handling data and ensure that their publishers are capturing and recording data. The GDPR is expected to bring with it a resurgence in the cookie messaging of websites. Consumers are the biggest benefactors of the GDPR law as it provides them with a greater control over how their data is acquired online. They will be able to request the right to forget at any moment and networks will have to cleanse their data accordingly.

However, for businesses on the other hand, there are several challenges and limitation which the GDPR will bring along, in relation to capturing and processing of data. All businesses operating within the affiliate marketing models will have to implement effective data management procedures and protocols while making sure their business adheres to new regulations. Under this law, both the data controllers and data processors will be held accountable.

Consider GDPR as a collective responsibility and as part of the affiliate marketing industry we must take it upon ourselves to disclose our data collection practices. Here are a few practices that will help you prepare for it:


  • Have legitimate privacy and cookie collection policies

This means websites will now have to inform their users of their privacy policy and cookie collection policies upfront. Webmasters will have to display the privacy practice information in front of the users to gain their consent. This can be done for instance by either a smartly placed pop up that clearly states the consent terms regarding the usage of cookies or by adding information above the fold of the webpage with a clear button. But no matter how you decide on taking the user’s consent, just ensure that your website offers elements to cater to this issue, otherwise prepare to face some serious backlash.


  • Revise your data collection and management policies

Does your website store data unnecessarily? Under the GDPR, websites will only be allowed to hold data as long as it is required. Unnecessary storage of consumer’s personal data will not be tolerated so start working on cleansing your websites thoroughly of any unnecessary data and revising your data collection and management policies ASAP.


  • Make consumers aware of behavioral tracking

Several networks, websites and marketing platforms currently use sophisticated technology to track consumer behavior in order to deliver a tailored user experience to their audience. However, under the GDPR such mapping and behavior tracking practices will have to be disclosed to the website visitors.


  • Seek consent for direct marketing to consumers

Under the GDPR, companies that collect, store and use consumer’s personal data for direct marketing are required to seek consumer consent. Direct marketing via emails, phone call, sms, social media, VoIP and other technologies will require direct authorization from the consumer once the GDPR is in place


  • Opt-in and opt out opportunities

Under no circumstances does the initial consent of the consumer to directly market to them gives any website, platform or network to directly promote to a consumer. The communication will be required to include easy opt-in and opt-out options for consumers which enables them to opt-out at any time and the website will be required to clear their database of the consumer’s personal data.


Should I care about the GDPR at all?

Yes, you most definitely should. Even though historically, data breaches and poor data control probably didn’t have such dire consequences. However, not abiding by the GDPR can put your reputation at stake and lead your company to a financial unrest. Under the GDPR, financial penalties are said to be greater than €20m or up to 4% of the gross annual turnover of a business. If as an affiliate marketer you do business in the EU or your affiliate network caters to the European consumers, the GDPR will most certainly apply to you. Affiliate networks need to start working on ensuring that their publishers are creating valuable content which falls in compliance with the GDPR. While the affiliate marketers need to start exploring the full scope of GDPR and assess how it will impact their business. Paying attention to the rules and ensuring transparency to the consumers is the most appropriate way to go about it from now on. Be vigilant and start upgrading your website privacy policies and cookie notices, seek legal advice if needed and ask affiliate networks for further guidance.

We are living in an interesting era where technology has become a part of our daily lives and impacts all of us. GDPR is working hard to put much of the control back in the consumer’s hands and companies need to start adhering to strict compliance. That’s the only way to go about it from now on.

Here are a few useful links to help you become GDPR ready:

GDPR and your data: check you comply… then check again

GDPR and Affiliate Marketing – What you need to know

GDPR And What It Means For Affiliates



Sana Khan

Sana is the Communications Director and content specialist at Bevo Media.