Digital Publishing Guest Columns
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“Data is Back”: Opportunities with the UK’s Post-Brexit Data Plan

On August 26th, the UK government announced post-Brexit global data plans including intentions for new multi-billion pound global data partnerships with the US, Australia, and the Republic of Korea.

Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said:

  • “Now that we have left the EU, I’m determined to seize the opportunity by developing a world-leading data policy that will deliver a Brexit dividend for individuals and businesses across the UK.”
  • “That means seeking exciting new international data partnerships with some of the world’s fastest-growing economies, for the benefit of British firms and British customers alike.”
  • “It means reforming our own data laws so that they’re based on common sense, not box-ticking.”

Furthermore, Secretary Dowden indicated that reforms would cut down on cookie banners used to secure consent for storing data, claiming that they were “pointless”. The government will also review whether people need to repeatedly provide consent for data used for similar or nearly identical purposes and relaxing the requirements around marketing.

So what does this mean for the UK and European publishers, who have been GDPR-compliant for several years? And what does it mean for the UK and European marketers?

As a company that has spent the last few years working with British, American, and global companies on marketing technology issues including GDPR, CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) compliance, and more recently, identity, driven by platform changes, like Apple’s termination of IDFA App tracking, we believe that this legislation will positively impact UK publishers and marketers.

For European publishers, the new government plans might create new data-driven marketing opportunities for targeting UK-based users, but with few English language publications based in Europe outside of Ireland, I’m not sure there is much of an opportunity here.

There will be more opportunities for UK publishers. With most visitors to leading UK publishers coming from outside of the UK (figure 1 below and table 2 within the linked report), and with English-speaking countries including the US, Canada, and Australia leading the list, this will provide a revenue opportunity for UK publishers.

Figure 1. Proportion of monthly unique browsers coming from the ‘rest of the world’ (as opposed to the UK) at five UK newspaper brands, April 2015–Oct 2018.
Source: ABC.

For marketers, it appears that data policies will be streamlined, eliminating some of the duplicated forms of consent that marketers have had to seek under GDPR. The new legislation, when enacted, will enable marketers to seek approval just once for a range of marketing initiatives, particularly those defined as small businesses.

Small businesses, including both publishers and marketers, will benefit the most from these new initiatives, which are designed to unburden these organisations who are overwhelmed by the volume of checks which must be undertaken. Given the current technology and outsourcing trends, there will be quite a few publishers and marketers who will derive benefit from the pending legislation based on the relatively small size of their organisations.

It’s clear from the data plans, that the current government envisions the UK becoming a data-centric hub in the same way that London has been a global financial hub. That part of the initiative should bode well for publishers and marketers who will benefit from a strong data infrastructure and a community of data professionals including data scientists who will enable British organisations to benefit from best-in-class data implementations.

That said, as the case with legislation, it will probably take a few years until we see the policies from this global data plan become part of British law.

Of course, EU legislators from Brussels had something to say about the UK’s new plans. Brussels warned that it could stop sharing data on suspected terrorists and criminals with the UK and end the Brexit data transfer deal if the UK’s new data legislation moves too far from EU laws.

Matthew Beck
VP EMEA Business, Publisher & Tech Development, Prohaska Consulting

About: Prohaska Consulting is an experienced, award-winning global consulting firm focused on data-driven marketing and media. With 75+ full-time and freelance teammates serving nearly 500 clients in 12 countries over the past 7.5 years, Prohaska Consulting helps strategically and/or operationally with improving companies’ Tech, Target, and Talent. For more, please visit: