Marketers acting casual about new data legislation

4th Mar 2014

Marketers are cutting it fine in preparing for impending new data legislation. As many as one in three businesses have no plans in place to ready themselves for the changes which will affect one-to-one marketing and public perception of data privacy.

The awareness of the EU Data Protection Regulation has increased significantly from only around 50% at the start of 2013 to 69% as of February this year. But this improvement in knowledge does not necessarily translate to action; only 67% of respondents have prepared themselves to ensure compliance to these new regulations which will determine how they communicate directly with their customers. 

This information comes from the Direct Marketing Association’s new survey, which was carried out by 150 senior practitioners. The findings also shed some light on the reasons for such a reluctant uptake, with 95% of businesses believing that the changes will be weighted unfairly against the interests of businesses and 81% anticipating that the new attitudes to data privacy will make contacting customers directly a lot trickier.

As the executive director of the DMA, Chris Combemale has highlighted the perils of procrastination: “The potentially damaging EU Data Protection Regulation is bearing down fast on us, and widespread concerns about rapidly shifting consumer attitudes to data privacy should be ringing alarm bells in the board room of every business that’s involved with one-to-one communications.

“Brands will soon have to work harder than ever before to communicate one-to-one with consumers and must offer compelling reasons to become engaged and to share their personal information. Only the companies who get to grips with how the data protection landscape is changing will be successful in the future.”

Nick Banbury of direct and digital agency Tangible is of the same mind, and elaborated on Combemale’s comments. “If the proposals go through, then businesses will have ask all customers for explicit permission to use their personal data for activities currently taken for granted. Recent news about data breaches, theft, scams and the NSA, means that consumers are much more protective of their data, and gaining this permission isn't going to be easy.

“If this issue is unaddressed and the legislation isn’t pre-empted, then by the time it’s ratified into law consumers and businesses alike will be confronted by serious data issues. Companies need to start thinking differently about customer data, and realise that access to it is a privilege not a right. Companies who can demonstrate that customers will get real value in return for their data will be the ones who thrive under the new rules.”

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