In anticipation of the May 25, 2018 enforcement date of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), PowerReviews is hard at work implementing its compliance program. To learn more about the newest change in data privacy regulation and what it means for PowerReviews clients please read below.

What is the GDPR?

The GDPR ensures greater protection of personal data for people in the European Union (EU). It includes a comprehensive definition of “personal data” and any information that can be used to identify someone.  Some examples of personal data include names, photos, email addresses, IP addresses, and posts on social networking sites.

Further, GDPR also ensures that people in the EU have rights to, and control of, their data. Basically, the GDPR empowers EU consumers by giving them more control of their personal data, and by requiring controllers and processors of this personal data to better protect their personally identifiable information. The fundamental rights of these EU consumers include the right of access to their personal data, the right to rectification of this data, the right to be forgotten (erasure), the right to restriction of processing, the right to data portability and the right to object.

What role does PowerReviews play in data collection?

PowerReviews is a processor of personal data. We collect and process personal data — ratings and reviews, photos and videos, questions and answers — on behalf of our clients, which are brands and retailers all over the world. Our clients are the controllers of data. They instruct us regarding the personal data that we process and control what content appears on their sites.

What can PowerReviews clients expect?

To facilitate our clients’ compliance of the requirement to have a contract with us for us to process personal data, PowerReviews is providing our clients a GDPR Addendum to their services agreement with PowerReviews. The GDPR Addendum contains all the terms and commitments required by the GDPR for compliant contracts between controllers and processors or processors and subprocessors. It’s specifically tailored to the PowerReviews platform and, when entered into, modifies your services agreement to align with the GDPR.

The GDPR requires affirmative consent on the “Write a Review” (WAR) form for EU locales. Consent is a big deal. It’s in your hands, as clients and controllers of data, to make sure that you are obtaining the appropriate consents and/or that you have other adequate legal basis to allow PowerReviews to process the data that we are collecting on your behalf.  Our platform requires our clients to include a checkbox next to the privacy policy on the WAR form so the end-user can opt in to sharing this data. Clients are required to make this mandatory for end-users to submit a review. Clients have some control over the language and formatting of the WAR form, so all final versions should be reviewed by your counsel.  

We suggest our clients review and update their privacy policy as necessary, to make sure it grants PowerReviews proper permissions to process data on our clients’ behalf. Please note that data will be transferred outside the EU for PowerReviews processing, so please make sure that your privacy policy takes that into account.

Cross-Border Data Transfers

PowerReviews takes privacy very seriously. We treat the data that our clients collect and use on our platform with the utmost sensitivity and employ strict policies and protections to help ensure the privacy of that information. PowerReviews is certified under both the EU-US Privacy Shield and the Swiss-US Privacy Shield Frameworks — which complement the GDPR.  

The EU-US and Swiss-US Privacy Shield Frameworks are mechanisms composed of data protection principles agreed upon by the US Department of Commerce with both the European Commission (EC) and the Swiss Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner to facilitate data transfers between the European Economic Area (EEA) and the US and Switzerland and the US.

Who needs to enter into PowerReviews’ GDPR Addendum?

For any question involving the interpretation or applicability of the GDPR, you should consult with your legal counsel. In general, a client should enter into the GDPR Addendum if it:

  1. Has an establishment in the European Union or European Economic Area, regardless of whether the processing takes place in the EU/EEA or not
  2. Offers goods or services, irrespective of whether payment is required, to data subjects in the EU/EEA
  3. Monitors the behavior of data subjects that takes place within the EU/EEA

A client does not need to enter into the GDPR Addendum if it does not process any personal data from Europe through its PowerReviews services.

Data Protection Going Forward

PowerReviews is — and always has been — committed to protecting the data of consumers who use our technology all around the world.  It’s up to both PowerReviews and our clients to ensure the security of personal data collected and processed on the PowerReviews platform.  It’s a team effort.

PowerReviews has been taking steps to prepare for the GDPR, including:

  • Assembling a team committed to ensuring continued compliance with the GDPR
  • Performing a gap assessment, which includes mapping our data, to ensure we’re meeting all business requirements. Data mapping shows us exactly what data we have and where we are sending it, so we know what, where, when and how our data is received, collected and processed
  • Helping our clients (the controllers) to comply with requests related to personal data of individuals in the EU in a timely manner. An example of a possible request would be if a customer asks for all of their personal information to be deleted. We do this by knowing exactly what data we have and where it’s located
  • Updating vendor contracts and executing addenda when necessary
  • Reviewing internal processes to ensure that they line up with GDPR guidelines and requirements
  • Staying up to date on guidance being issued for the GDPR, as it continues to evolve
  • Performing internal trainings for the PowerReviews team

In addition to the steps that we’re taking to ensure the compliance mentioned above, each PowerReviews client needs to do its own internal analysis and consult their own attorney to ensure they’re compliant.

Here are some of the steps PowerReviews recommends to our clients, to ensure that they’re compliant with the GDPR.

  • Enter into the GDPR Addendum
  • Have your counsel review your own privacy policy
  • Obtain the permissions necessary for PowerReviews to process data on your behalf
  • Include a way for consumers to show affirmative consent (like a checkbox) on the Write a Review form, if that is your legal basis for the processing of the data

What if I have additional questions?

Please keep in mind that this page does not cover every aspect of EU data privacy, nor should you consider it legal advice.  This is meant to provide background information and help you better understand PowerReviews’ strategy to comply with the GDPR.  Should you have questions about the GDPR Addendum, please contact your PowerReviews representative. Should you have questions about the GDPR in general, please contact your legal counsel.

The Importance of User-Generated Content

To date, PowerReviews has helped our clients collect more than 100 million pieces of user-generated content (UGC) — such as ratings and reviews, photos and videos, questions and answers — from consumers all around the world. This content is then syndicated across the Open Network to search engines and retailers, both large and small, reaching one billion shoppers each month.

Collecting and displaying authentic user-generated content helps brands and retailers drive site traffic (SEO), increase site conversion by as much as 20 percent and build customer trust and loyalty. And ultimately, UGC helps consumers make confident purchasing decisions.

Over the last several years, PowerReviews has developed the most advanced technologies to help our clients syndicate content at a global scale. With the help of the Product Knowledge Graph, we leverage both artificial and human intelligence to help improve the reach of UGC between brands and retailers to quickly deliver authentic user-generated content to thousands of retailers on behalf of brands.

The Traditional Approach to Syndication

Historically, the approach to matching products between brands and retailers was simple, but limited and inflexible. Products that appear to be the same across catalogs that are matched. Then, if a sharing agreement is in place between the brand and retailer, content can be shared. There are three major limitations to this approach that lead to missed opportunities for delivering the most impactful UGC possible during a consumer’s purchase journey:

  • Rate of change: With the rate of change across hundreds of millions of products (especially in industries like apparel), the moment a product match is made between sites, it may already be out of date.
  • Related products: UGC is not only useful to consumers looking at identical products, but it’s also valuable for consumers shopping for similar or opposing products. The content that will have the biggest impact on a purchasing decision depends on the industry, product category or even the momentary availability of usable content.
  • Product data quality: Many product catalogs have incomplete, incorrect or alternative product identifications. This missing information makes it difficult to directly connect products and often requires manual data cleanup. This does not scale to the massive size of the PowerReviews product network.

In September 2017, PowerReviews became the first in the industry to create a complete Product Knowledge Graph containing over half a billion recognized similarities and relationships across hundreds of millions of products in the Open Network. At every opportunity to influence a consumer making a purchasing decision, the entire Product Knowledge Graph is leveraged by algorithms designed to provide the best possible UGC publishing decision for that unique situation.

The Product Knowledge Graph Advantage

Instantaneous syndication decisions: When the PowerReviews platform is determining what content to share or not share, it leverages the knowledge of every potential product relationship in real-time. This drives a better decision of what content will help inform the consumer, made in the moment with no dependencies on previous manual or offline decisions. With the ever-changing product catalogs in apparel, shoes, beauty and other industries, it will become imperative that the most appropriate and useful content is available for the consumer. At this time, PowerReviews is the only technology vendor in our space that makes it easy for retailers and brands to take advantage of this.

Dynamic relationships: Graph technology allows for a rich representation of any potential similarity or difference between products, built into the heart of our SaaS platform. Those choices are not limited to a predefined “type” or constrained list. Currently, there are over 700 million relationships between many different types of products — and the list is growing. PowerReviews can represent valuable concepts like similarity, appearance, color or any related attributes to bring related and valuable UGC for consumers to make an informed decision before buying. This allows brands and retailers to quickly bring useful UGC to consumers considering products that have recently launched or would otherwise lack content.

A.I. error correction: Brands and retailers may have inconsistencies or gaps in their product data, leading to missed opportunities to share UGC. The Product Knowledge Graph often finds products that are indirectly connected to thousands of other products, overcoming the data quality challenge automatically. This is possible because we use multiple algorithms based on different aspects of the product data to find direct and indirect relationships between products. Gaps in product data can be overcome using context learned from other indirectly connected products. You may have seen a similar concept if you use any popular social media platform. Using similar technology, they infer you are likely to know someone if the majority of your connections also know that person. Once the possible relationship is identified, the similarities across the group (like location, age, profession) can predict with high confidence that you should know this person. PowerReviews now does the same thing, only with product data.

Using advanced algorithms, missing or incorrect data is also automatically detected. PowerReviews software evaluates the “fit” of a product across all of the directly and indirectly related products. Scoring is done to correct bad product data, to avoid incorrect content being published to a consumer.

PowerReviews continues to prioritize innovation and technology to maximize the quantity, quality and impact of user-generated content shared to the Open Network. Trusted by the world’s largest brands and retailers, PowerReviews is committed to providing our clients with the most advanced technology to increase UGC, conversion, traffic and insights.

Sara Rossio

Sara Rossio

Rossio, a 2015 Crain’s Chicago Business “40 Under 40” recipient has more than 20 years of experience in product management and marketing. Before joining PowerReviews, Rossio served as vice president of Product for Gogo, where she led a team to develop the product strategy and roadmap for the leading inflight internet and entertainment provider.

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