Today, we share the second and final part of our contribution to the 2019 EGR Affiliate Report, which details the evolution of the iGaming industry since the inception of Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). In part one, we discussed the GDPR’s role in user experience and how it influences affiliate compliance and marketing. Part two, presented below, explores how compliance management relates to themes of technology and consumer loyalty.

A Transformed Digital Culture

An evolving industry landscape has seen iGaming operators modify their management of marketing compliance and broader marketing strategies. Sims highlights the key procedural and technological attributes of a strong compliance programme. “Maintaining an audit trail of issues and actions taken is imperative, both for regulatory audits and to understand how issues are being dealt with. It may also come in useful to refer to if action is taken against your brand(s) by any other authority,” he says.

“Software tools are now widely used to help monitor compliance across affiliate websites, illegal websites, news sources and social media, but it’s equally important to understand the limitations of such software. It’s not uncommon for operators to use multiple tools to monitor affiliate marketing.”

If monitoring tools simplify the enforcement of responsible marketing practices, then similarly proactive initiatives are needed to streamline consumer data management and give users the power to control their personal information. For example, the revamped digital culture influenced the way Better Collective’s business has evolved, particularly with a focus on policy and engagement channels.

“[We’re] highly user-focused, with transparency a key aspect to our overall business model. Ahead of the GDPR go-live date, we launched a plan to continuously review, develop and seek insight to improve our data privacy and security processes. These ensure our products are compliant while delivering an exceptional user experience,” says Mullan.

Consumer Trust & Corporate Social Responsibility

In an ecosystem increasingly defined by adherence to privacy control and transparency, affiliates are tasked with the role of strengthening consumer relations and boosting brand loyalty. This makes it essential for operators to support that objective by investing the time and resources to convey critical information.

Sims notes potential challenges on the horizon for these stakeholders. “The potential for self-defeating regulation is already apparent. That, in turn, could lead to new and more stringent policies countering the promotion of unlicensed operators. It is likely that some regions will consider affiliate licensing similar to the process in the US, although the UK is unlikely to follow that path in the immediate future due to resourcing issues,” he says.

With the pressure to remain accountable and transparent with sensitive consumer information, achieving a certain level of trust is essential to succeeding in the global digital economy.

When asked about anticipated challenges moving into 2020, Mullan highlights the company’s attention on consumers. “[Our] focus on innovation means that we will always assess how existing regulations can apply to new and evolving technologies and products. Ensuring an emphasis on data protection by design and default in our product development processes will help us stay ahead of this challenge,” she says.

iGaming brands that demonstrate an advanced appreciation for consumer protection and the symbiotic role of the GDPR and affiliate marketing compliance, will position themselves to acquire a more loyal customer base. As Sims explains, the inherent resourcefulness of industry stakeholders creates a scenario where a combination of pragmatism and proactivity could be determining traits for success.

“The iGaming industry has always nurtured innovative ideas. Those that can thrive within a regulatory framework or encourage the adoption of compliant marketing practices may find supporters in unlikely places. I foresee compliant affiliates emerging with less competition, stronger product offerings, and low volumes of high-quality traffic,” says Sims. “Similarly, operators too may benefit from reduced competition. While acquisition overheads may be higher, building trustworthy relationships with affiliates in regulated and emerging markets should yield long-term benefits.”

Mullan also comments on the importance of cultivating lasting relationships. “The opportunity here is to be at the forefront of the compliance standards within the industry to ensure long-term success with partners. As the industry matures, larger affiliates who have the resources to gain a compliance overview are at an advantage compared to smaller operations.”

The GDPR’s impact on the iGaming industry’s enhanced data protection policies, coupled with evolving standards for affiliate marketing practitioners, points towards a future characterised by greater cohesiveness and a firming of compliance standards. Correspondingly, stakeholders must align their values with both market regulations and audience needs in mind.

Now that you’ve had a chance to read the full article, tell us how you believe data and privacy protection policies will further impact the iGaming industry moving into 2020 in the comments section below.

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