A new survey of global marketers by the World Federation Of Advertisers has found that only 65% of respondents expect to be fully compliant when new stricter regulations from the European Union on the use of consumer data (known as GDPR) take effect next May.
Those that aren’t fully complaint could be subject to fines totaling hundreds of millions and possibly billions of dollars (4% of global revenue).
The survey results are based on responses from 18 multinational companies with global annual marketing spend of more than $20 billion. The regulations apply to activity within the EU regardless of where a company is based.
The survey also found that 70% of those polled believed the marketers in their organizations weren’t fully aware of the implications of GDPR, while 40% indicated it was “extremely challenging or challenging” to raise awareness of data policy issues inside their firms.
The upshot per the WFA: Companies need to work faster and harder to understand and address the challenges of the new regulations. One in four of those polled said their organizations were still in the initial planning stages of being compliant ready.
“It is a concern that only nine months away from implementation many marketers are not prepared,” stated Jacqui Stephenson, Global Responsible Marketing Officer at Mars and chair of the WFA’s Digital Governance Exchange. Stephenson noted that the WFA has created a new guide to assist marketers who need help preparing for the new regulations.
According to the survey a main challenge for big companies is “connecting the dots” between data stored in different parts of their organizations. Another challenge: Reviewing and understanding compliance levels across third parties that the firms do business with.
The top three priorities for respondents is to review consent mechanisms for collecting and processing data; update privacy policies and review data inventory to assess compliance.
One-third of those polled said their firms intended to hire a Data Protection Officer, which will become a legal obligation for companies that monitor consumer behavior on a large scale or those that process certain categories of sensitive data such as information about health. And 30% said their firms already had someone in the role.
Both the survey and the effort to create the WFA GDPR guide were led by Catherine Armitage, senior manager, public affairs at the organization, and the WFA’s Digital Governance Exchange. The latter is a group of 200 senior in-house experts who meet regularly to discuss data and privacy issues.
That group will meet in New York in December to highlight how brands based outside the EU can take effective action. Earlier this week Pivotal Research analyst Brian Wieser issued a report that revised his outlook on the impact the new rules will have on major digital platforms, such as Google and Facebook, from “marginally positive” to “slightly negative.”