GDPR: what UK marketers need to know

Research from DMA reveals that UK marketers are not clued up on the changes in data protection regulations, slated for May 2018. Here's why GDPR is crucial for marketers.

The GDPR comes into force in just under a year. A new study reveals a lack of awareness and fear of being unprepared among UK marketers.

Since previous editions of the research carried out by the DMA, the UK regulator the Information Commissioner’s Office and the EU regulator the Article 29 Working Party have shared guidelines for marketers. However, this new research suggests that many have found that there is more work to do than expected. Consequently marketers feel less prepared than before.

Overall, awareness of the GDPR has remained static at 96 per cent of respondents, but those reporting ‘good’ rather than ‘basic’ knowledge has slipped from 66 per cent in February 2017 to 59 per cent in May. Those feeling ‘extremely’ or ‘somewhat’ prepared reduced from 71 per cent to 61 per cent of the total over the same period. The figures also highlight that more marketers said they would be ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ affected by the GDPR compared to February, rising from 44 per cent to 54 per cent, according to the third edition of the DMA’s ‘GDPR and you’ series of studies into the industry’s awareness and preparedness for the new laws.

In February 2017, 68 per cent of marketers said their business was on course or ahead of plan to be ready for the GDPR. But in May this dropped to 55 per cent, with a further 24 per cent of companies yet to start a GDPR plan. The research also shows that DMA members are almost twice as likely to be ready for the GDPR, with 63 per cent of members saying they’re on-course or ahead of plan to be ready by May 2018 compared to just 39 per cent of non-members.

“May 2018 should be a date that is in every marketer’s diary, giving us around 16 months before the GDPR comes into force. It is concerning that only half of our industry feels their businesses are prepared for the new rules and not that many more believe they will be ready in time,” says Chris Combemale, CEO of the DMA group. “The finish line for GDPR readiness is fixed and the risk to businesses of not being compliant is significant. Our advice is to continue preparations in earnest over the coming year. Not making it across the line in time is not an option.”

As the GDPR looms, marketers’ five main concerns are consent, legacy data, implementing a compliant system, profiling and legitimate interest. The impact of the GDPR is not as significant as the decision to Brexit, 9 per cent of marketers say trade has decreased within the UK and 8 per cent say trade has decreased with the EU since the vote.

The GDPR is a fact, and most marketers understand this. But B2B marketers, the group most at risk, are also the group the slowest to come around to what the GDPR means. But B2B marketers are slowly waking up to what the GDPR means for them, but a significant number remain oblivious. As a whole, marketers have discovered that guidance from the GDPR means they need to do more work, and they are preparing for the consequences. Finally, while the GDPR will mean significant change for marketers, Brexit has already bitten. Despite not even having occurred yet. Marketers say trade has decreased both in the UK and in Europe.

Find out more about the research or the latest range of GDPR-related advice from the infographic below.

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for from 2016 to 2018.

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