The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into effect on 25 May 2018, giving firms under a year to comply with the new EU regulation that will shape the way in which they collect, process and store personal data. The regulation could be seen as a gift to marketers, who have the opportunity to leverage compliance to improve the effectiveness of their activities significantly.

The GDPR provides a significant update to the EU Data Protection Directive of 1995 and brings the regulation up to date with the current world of data and ever-changing landscape of data usage. It strengthens the protection and rights of individuals in a world where data is collected and used on an unprecedented scale.

A massive return on investment

There will be a cost for firms to ensure they have the right systems and processes in place to be compliant; with the cost of non-compliance potentially costing firms 4% of their annual turnover being reason enough for taking the compliance aspect of doing business extremely seriously. However, the benefits this will also bring to marketers could result in a return on investment that outweighs that cost many times over. Marketers should, therefore, understand and focus on the opportunities that emerge through compliance, rather than purely the financial commitments needed to become compliant.

Utilising the opportunity

Data is the foundation of digital marketing, essential in enabling its activities to be undertaken on a daily basis through the collection, storage and processing of personal data. Without data, marketers will not be able to reach audiences with the information they need. By embracing the regulation and utilising the opportunity, the benefits to digital marketers are significant but often underestimated. Compliance with the GDPR will allow digital marketers to understand their audiences more granularly and so allow them to reach them more successfully; with information which they find useful. Once the investment in compliance is underway digital marketers will know significantly more about the data they have available to them and be able to use it to their advantage.

Firmly on the C-Suite agenda

A culture of respect for data is needed for the benefits of compliance to be fully utilised. This needs to happen within digital marketing teams but also throughout a company. GDPR compliance should sit firmly on the C-suite agenda and not just to ensure the firm is not liable for prosecution, but to develop a strategy that can be implemented across the business so the true potential of GDPR compliance is not wasted.

Reinstalled confidence

Not only will the GDPR protect an individual’s data, it will reinstall confidence and trust in consumers which will further benefit digital marketers’ activities. If data is used correctly, firms will have the opportunity to understand their customers far better and engage individuals with information they actually want and need.


By Ruaraidh Thomas, managing director of applied analytics at DST

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