| 3 min read

Does Meta’s latest GDPR fine signal the end of personalised advertising?

Written by Tom Lambert

I’ve had a few questions about what the consequences might be, so I thought I’d put something together to outline what we know and what the outcome could be.

If you don’t know what the fine was about, here’s the TL;DR
The fine is about the legal basis by which Meta uses data to provide personalised advertising to its users. This is currently via their terms and conditions which users have to accept before using their services.

As personalisation is a core part of their business as a social network, whether it’s organic or paid content, they see it as essential to the product they are offering.

The contentious bit is that if a user doesn’t agree to the T&Cs, they can’t use Meta’s products or services, which the EU view as forcing users to consent to personalised advertising. This is the basis for the fine.

The investigation has been ongoing since 2018, when GDPR came into effect, so it’s been a long time coming.

So what happens next?
Meta are going to appeal the ruling, but have stated that this will not impact the ability to serve personalised ads in the EU. However, they will have to comply with the regulation in some form by the end of March even if they appeal.

Quoting from Meta’s statement:
“It’s important to note that these decisions do not prevent personalised advertising on our platform. The decisions relate only to which legal basis Meta uses when offering certain advertising.”

“The decisions also do not mandate the use of Consent – another available legal basis under GDPR – for this processing. Similar businesses use a selection of legal bases to process data and we are assessing a variety of options that will allow us to continue offering a fully personalised service to our users.”

The important thing to note is that this is not the same as Apple’s App Tracking Transparency policy, where every user has to opt in (’Consent’) to sharing their data with a third party, which reduces the amount of data Meta and other platforms like Youtube, TikTok and Pinterest have to help advertisers reach people relevant to their business.

We will have to see how Meta may need to change their policies to comply with the EU ruling as they go through the appeal process, but the key takeaway is that it shouldn’t affect the ability of advertisers to run profitable campaigns on Meta.

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