GDPR inertia evident as majority of marketers fail to understand “opt-in” consent

Mailjet has found 72% of UK marketers either cannot answer, or incorrectly list the necessary conditions to meet GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) requirements for “opt-in” consent.

With less than a year to go ahead of the 25 May 2018 deadline, only 17% of respondents have taken all of the recommended steps towards GDPR compliance, while the same proportion admit they have not enacted any such checks or changes.

This could well be explained by the fact marketers believe they’re facing a total fine of €5.2 million. In reality, the maximum penalty for noncompliance is €20 million, or 4% of their global revenue.

>See also: GDPR: What do you need to know?

Areas of confusion

While 64% assumed GDPR means they must ensure individuals are able to opt-out easily, 32% of UK marketing professionals believed they will be able to automate processing of location data without “opt-in consent”. This rises to 35% in the case of personal preferences data.

Equally, over a third of marketers (34%) incorrectly thought individuals over the age of 70 and those who have not been responsive for 90 days are exempt from all automated marketing decisions.

This lack of understanding continues, as 35% of marketers wrongly believed the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) will exempt B2B marketers from GDPR, while 44% of respondents claimed businesses that employ over 250 staff must appoint a chief data officer, despite this only being a requirement where data is of a particularly sensitive nature.

>See also: GDPR compliance: what organisations need to know
Rachel Aldighieri, MD at the DMA said: “With just a year left to prepare, and despite high levels of awareness, the number of businesses ready for the new laws is still low. Even more concerning is that we’ve also found in our own research that only half of businesses expect to be ready in time for the May 2018 deadline. Recent announcements and guidance from the ICO has only served to more worries that the interpretation of the new laws will be overly strict. What we need is balanced and fair guidance from the ICO, and we need this urgently if we’re expected to be ready in time.”

First timers

Overall, only 38% of UK marketers have changed procedure for a regulation before. In contrast to in-house marketers, experience is particularly scarce within marketing agencies, where 90% are potentially facing change for the first time.

Only half of marketers state they are aware and compliant with the existing EU Data Protection Directive; this dips to only 41% among in-house marketers. Significantly 23% of marketers are aware their company may not be compliant with existing regulations.

>See also: 6 steps to GDPR compliance

In-house marketers more apprehensive than agency counterparts

42% of test respondents believed marketing communications will become more relevant to what recipients want to see and the quality of campaigns will improve under GDPR. However, 13% actually see a negative impact coming from GDPR.

Despite the importance of their customers’ interests, sentiment is greater among marketing departments, 20% of whom feel processes will be significantly slowed for compliance and the new regulations will make prospecting much harder.

28% didn’t believe there will be any effect as a result of the stricter consent based rules coming into place. This rises to 37% among marketers with decision making authority within their organisation.

>See also: GDPR: the good, the not so bad and the opportunities

Josie Scotchmer, UK marketing manager at Mailjet, commenting on the findings, said that “while it’s relieving to hear 48% of marketers have begun reviewing how they seek and record consent, there’s no doubt that GDPR will have a huge impact when it comes into force. For many it’s the first time they have had to respond to international legislation and the scope of work this process entails is only just becoming clear to them.”

“It’s up to every partner in their ecosystem to provide the support, guidance and expertise that will ensure they don’t fall foul of the heavy penalties reserved for any noncompliant businesses. For marketers who think it will negatively impact their marketing efforts, need to put their customers interests ahead of more stringent processes and regulations.”


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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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