The GDPR’s early impact on martech

12:00 pm October 2, 2019

HBS Cotting Conference Room, 107


While the marketing technology industry (martech) has created significant value through its ad targeting and measurement services, its permissive privacy practices have long been a concern for regulators. To address personal data processing more generally, the European Union has imposed new responsibilities on all firms serving EU residents through its General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). We collect data on martech vendors associated with over 28,000 primarily European top websites by visiting each site and recording all third party domain interactions (e.g. cookies). We find a 14% reduction in third party domains in the week after GDPR enforcement, which fully erodes to pre-GDPR levels after 6 months. In a first project, we examine online publishers’ GDPR compliance through their choice of ad vendors. We show rich variation in publisher compliance arising from the tradeoff between ad revenue and a possible GDPR fine. In a second project, we show empirical evidence of the tension between privacy policy and market concentration. When websites reduce the number of martech vendors, the relative market concentration increases within the top martech categories including: advertising, hosting, web analytics, and social media.

A buffet lunch will be available at 11:45 am. The talk will begin at 12:00 pm.

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