*This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is this information intended to create or rise to the level of an attorney-client relationship. You should seek professional legal advice where appropriate.*

These days, more than ever, news comes fast. There have been multiple instances where I’m reminded of a major news story, and have been surprised to remember that it happened just this last year. Case in point – consider that 2018 saw the Winter Olympics, a royal wedding, and a world-wide argument about whether an audio clip sounded like “yanny” or “laurel”. Clearly, it can be hard to keep up. That’s why we’ve decided to recap the 2018’s biggest news stories that affect the digital marketing industry. Check out the top stories below, with links to more information. Or, if you’d prefer, check out our 2018 Digital Marketing Policies and Regulations on-demand webinar.

GDPR – A Sweeping Privacy/Consumer Rights Regulation That Affects Digital Marketers Around The World

What happened: The European Union instituted a new regulation that took effect May 25, 2018. That regulation, The General Data Protection Regulation, governs how users personal data can be collected and stored.

Why you should care: The regulation is applicable to not only organizations based in the EU, but also to any organization that interacts with users located in the EU. It requires active consent prior to the collection of personal data, which could severely limit the ability of marketers to create remarketing lists and collect user behavior data. Fines for violating the GDPR can be up to 20 million Euros or 4% of the offending organizations global turnover – whichever is higher.

What’s next: The GDPR is in effect, and no major changes to the regulation appear to be on the horizon. The first fines were levied in Q3 2018.

More info: Check out What is GDPR and How Will it Impact Online Advertising by PPC Hero’s Bryan Gaynor.

Facebook And Civil Rights – An Evolving Issue

What happened: The state of Washington sued Facebook for allowing advertisers to target housing ads on the basis of race. Facebook settled, narrowed the targeting options available across its platform and began requiring that advertisers certify that their strategies are non-exclusionary for affected verticals.

Why you should care: There are a few of reasons this is huge news for PPC marketers. First, it has led Facebook to voluntarily narrow the targeting options available to marketers, including the deprecation of many targeting options that were provided by 3rd party providers. This has forced digital marketers to get more creative with their targeting strategies in order to reach the audiences they had previously targeted. Second, it suggests that even with the relatively limited targeting options that are currently available, marketers who deploy targeting strategies that are exclusionary may face liability themselves in certain circumstances.

What’s next: Many issues remain in legal limbo and additional legal action is pending. The intersection of civil rights and digital marketing is one where there is little settled law, which can make it a difficult landscape to navigate. Until clear precedents are set and/or these questions are settled by additional legislation, digital advertisers operating in an industry governed by civil rights law would do well to opt on the side of inclusive and ethical ad campaigns. Don’t assume that because it’s possible, it’s legal.

More info: Check out our Civil Rights Law And Digital Marketing interview with an ACLU civil rights lawyer, and our follow-up on legal action against Facebook pertaining to employment discrimination.

CCPA – GDPR Comes State-Side?

What happened: California passed the California Consumer Privacy Act, which has been compared to the GDPR. The bill allows the state to impose strict fines on organizations that mishandle consumer data, and gives consumers the right to request personal data that has been collected from them.

Why you should care: If the CCPA takes effect, digital marketers may have to change their processes for collecting and storing personal data to make it both more secure and more accessible to any consumer who requests it be retrieved. The CCPA diverges from the GDPR in that it does not require active consent to data collection, but it does require that consumers are able to opt out.

What’s next: The CCPA does not take effect until January 1, 2020. There is speculation that it will be superseded prior to its effective date by federal legislation that has yet to be enacted. Tech companies have been lobbying congress to create a federal solution in order to avoid a patchwork of consumer privacy laws that would govern individual states differently. There seems to be a willingness from both parties to pursue such legislation, but until such legislation is written and enacted into law, it’s impossible to do more than speculate regarding what such legislation would do.

More info: Check out this post from Varonis comparing the CCPA to the GDPR.

Facebook’s Scandal Plagued Year

What happened: A lot. Facebook had a rough year through-and-through, as it came under heavy criticism for its role in enabling fake news, its handling of users’ personal data, its regulation of speech on the platform, and a host of other related issues.

Why you should care: All of this negative news was punctuated by a sharp decline in Facebook’s stock price over the summer, as it posted a disappointing quarterly report that saw its user base stagnate. Facebook’s viability as an advertising platform is directly tied to its user base and its users trust in the platform, so digital marketers speculating about future ad spend on the platform would do well to consider these recent developments.

What’s next: Its difficult to say. In the blog post linked to below, we predicted that the most dire predictions regarding Facebook’s future viability were probably overly-pessimistic. And while negative news stories continued throughout the year, Facebook’s Q3 earnings report was slightly rosier than its disastrous Q2 report. Their Q4 report is set to be released January 30th, and it should provide a better look into whether Facebook is rebounding after a tough year, or continuing on a negative trajectory.

More info: Check out What Advertisers Can Learn From Facebook’s 3rd Quarter of 2018.

What other big stories hit the PPC industry in 2018? Tweet @ppchero with anything we might have missed!


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