Verve will exit EU markets as GDPR deadline looms
- Mobile marketing platform Verve is closing its European offices to focus on American markets, partially because of the European Union's stricter privacy rules that take effect on May 25, according to The Drum. About 15 jobs in the U.K. and Germany will be cut while managers in London will wind down European operations.
- Verve's marketing platform relies on location data from smartphones, which makes complying with the EU's upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) particularly onerous. The rules require companies to have informed opt-in consent from European citizens to use their data, which most location companies don't have, per AdExchanger.
- Location data companies face a major challenge as any information that can be used to identify an EU citizen is considered personal data, including mobile device IDs. Verve gathers most of its location data from a software development kit (SDK) integrated into the apps of content producers.
Verve isn't alone in facing GDPR challenges, making it clear that the new regulation is already having an impact on the digital marketing landscape. Just how big that impact will eventually be remains to be seen. Last month, cross-device identity company Drawbridge abandoned its ad business in the EU and worked to make its data business compliant with GDPR regulations, per Ad Exchanger. With GDPR enact a month way, it is possible more companies will take similar steps in the weeks ahead.
Verve's exit from Europe comes as mobile marketers face challenges in the EU's stricter privacy rules and how U.S. consumers are growing more wary of how their personal information is being used by bad practitioners, such as for spurring social strife and affecting election outcomes. Deep-pocketed tech giants and media companies are taking steps to comply with the EU's GDPR to avoid potential fines, users fleeing the platforms or other kinds of potential consequences. For example, Facebook, which has spent the past few weeks trying to contain fallout from the Cambridge Analytica data-sharing scandal, is asking users to agree to rewritten terms of service. Critics have said that Facebook's new policy appears to urge users to make few changes and consent to sharing as much information as possible.
Verve has faced volatile business conditions over the years as an ad tech startup buffeted by rapid changes in mobile advertising. Last year, the New York-based company cut less than 10% of its U.S. staff. Founder Tom Kenney returned as CEO in 2016 to succeed Nada Stirratt, who left to join Facebook, per Recode.