Almost three in four global marketers still unaware of full GDPR implications

The new European data laws are set to come into effect in just nine months time but one in four marketers are still only in the planning stage of ensuring compliance.

The vast majority of marketers do not understand the full implications of new European data laws and are ill-equipped to deal with their consequences.

According to a World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) survey of major global brands that spend more than $20bn on marketing annually, 70% of brand owners do not feel marketers in their organisation are fully aware of the extend of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and just 65% expect to be fully compliant when it comes into force in May 2018.

One in four organisations admitted they are still in the “initial planning stages”, while only 41% have a framework or strategy in place to ensure they comply with the new laws.

While GDPR is an EU law, any country that wants to do business in a country from the bloc will need to ensure they are compliant with it. Any that are found to be in breach risk fines of up to 4% of global turnover or €20m; whichever is higher. The UK has already said it will match these terms when it leaves the EU.

READ MORE: What new data laws mean for marketers

Yet there is still a severe knowledge gap, especially among marketing teams based outside Europe. Some 56% of those questioned said their European teams were aware of the challenge, compared to a global average of 44%.

“It is a concern that only nine months away from implementation many marketers are not prepared. The risks of not being ready for GDPR are huge both financially and in terms of consumer reputation” says Jacqui Stephenson, global responsible marketing officer at Mars, and chair of the WFA’s Digital Governance Exchange.

The big challenges

One of the major issues with becoming GDPR-compliant is “connecting the dots between data stored across different parts of the organisation” – this was cited by 66% of respondents as “extremely challenging” or challenging”. Another 73% see reviewing and understanding compliance levels across third parties as a major challenge.

READ MORE: Countdown kicks off for EU data regulation changes

And in terms of priorities, it is consent mechanisms, reviewing and updating privacy policies and reviewing data inventory that top the list. To help with managing GDPR, one in three of those surveyed are planning to hire a data protection officer, which will become a legal obligation for companies that monitor or process vast amounts of consumer data. Some 30% said they already have someone in this role.

To help marketers navigate GDPR, Marketing Week will be speaking to a number of marketers in brands across different sectors to find out how they are ensuring compliance. The first article will go live later this week.