Stop mourning the death of cookies. There is other data you can use to connect with customers.

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When it comes to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe, we’ve been down this road before. Back in 2011, the EU ePrivacy Directive required publishers to notify consumers about the use of third-party cookies and provide an opt-out. Many in marketing and ad-tech feared this restriction would extinguish most cookie data and cripple behavioral targeting. However, this was not the case; consumers became more informed and as long as privacy was respected, marketers would still be empowered to use data-driven marketing techniques to improve targeting, attribution and gain more insight into consumers.

Related: A ‘Wait and See’ Approach for GDPR Is Going to Be Pricey for U.S. Organizations Doing Business With the E.U.

At Media iQ, we believe GDPR will have a similar effect — demanding change in how we do things but without halting our ability to connect with consumers.

Our GDPR journey

The GDPR is likely to classify both cookies and device IDs as personal data, and businesses will need a legal basis in order to process this sort of information. It’s also likely that the penalties for non-compliance will be steep.

As a company, we took early precautions and have been preparing for these changes since January 2017 in order to be as ready as possible for the regulation coming into effect in May. The compliance process for us has been a four-stage journey that we have conducted with a law firm specializing in privacy. We have also been actively engaged with the IAB U.K. in order to shape a responsible interpretation of GDPR.

Behind the scenes we have been conducting extensive due diligence to ensure that our products embed “privacy by design” principles; this includes assessing the type of data we’re processing and rationalizing to ourselves why we need it and how it improves the experience of an internet consumer.

We expect all companies are going through a similar process and there’s an argument to say that as a collective industry, it’s been long overdue.

Related: Facebook’s Data Scandal and Europe’s New Data Privacy Rule Have Massive Implications for U.S. Entrepreneurs

Harnessing alternative data

For all of us, GDPR will require new strategies and systems, but even more importantly, it will demand innovation — pushing us to explore more diverse types of data to stay relevant with our consumers.

While the approach toward GDPR will be different from one company to another, we can all reasonably expect user-level data to become more scarce in the EU. That means marketers must step up with approaches that harness diverse inputs, including macro data, to build brands and drive results without relying purely on previous methods of user identity. We believe GDPR will create opportunities for forward-thinking brands to reinvent themselves and their customer relationships. You don’t need to know who I am to relate to me, as long as you understand the factors that influence my mood, needs and mindset.

Related: Will Artificial Intelligence Be Illegal in Europe Next Year?

We have long been utilizing macro data to create relevant advertising based on real-world moments, and there are still many opportunities for marketers to capitalize on moments in sports, social media, TV, health trends, weather, the economy and even exchange rates — none of which involve GDPR-restricted information.

By relying more on macro data and less on cookie-based data, brands can develop effective and compliant data strategies without compromising consumer experience or engagement.

At the end of the day, we see GDPR as a positive movement that will ensure we remain consumer-focused when it comes to data usage. Even beyond ad tech, we believe passionately in the transformational effect that insight, data science and analytics can have on business outcomes and are committed to ensuring that GDPR shouldn’t deter partners from leveraging these resources.

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