Is GDPR set to damage B2B marketing?

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B2B marketers have traditionally had some advantages over their B2C cousins.

As there has been a distinct legal difference between a ‘natural person’ meaning a human being, and a ‘legal person’ – meaning a business or company.

Marketing to a ‘legal person’ has always meant fewer hoops to jump through, fewer hurdles to jump over.

But many of these differences are beginning to erode. Under the incoming EU General Data Protection Regulation, which comes into force in May 2018, consent for B2B marketing will come more in line with B2C marketing.

However, B2B marketers still have advantages under ‘legitimate interest’, where it’s appropriate to market to company representatives as long as communications include opt-outs at every stage. The contact has the power and the choice.

If a recently leaked copy of the new review of the ePrivacy directive is to be believed, this will further erode the differences between B2B and B2C marketing, making a prior opt-in a requirement for both ‘legal’ and ‘natural’ persons.

This is not something either the business community or customers are calling for.

The B2B sector is strong and thriving. Part of the reason for this is because businesses are free to market to other businesses and alert them of their products and services. This gives businesses the chance to learn about the best products and services available and make their operations more efficient, more cost-effective, and better.

If these proposals go ahead they will have a negative effect not just on the whole UK economy, but the whole EU economy. B2B represents a significant and important part of the economy and much of this success relies on marketing through legitimate interest to contact potential new customers.

The DMA will lobby against these proposals and for businesses to retain their ability to market themselves to other businesses.

If this change remains in the final text released in the New Year, then this is only the start of what could be a long process, but we will be ready to represent the interests of UK businesses and put customers first every step of the way.

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