Data drives business, provides marketers with valuable insight about consumers and enables highly targeted communications and response-tracking of campaigns. With new developments and engagements around social media (see our social insight blog), it undoubtedly is evolving into a more powerful resource.
But isn’t ‘data’ still something that just geeks worry about? Surely its impact is negligible on professional marketers who are pushing the boundaries for creative, social and integrated campaigns?
Well, something is coming to the data world that will affect all of this.
It’s the new EU Data Protection Regulation. This new legislation will look to standardise the data-protection laws across the 27 EU member states including the UK.
But you’re not affected, right?
Whilst still in draft format, this proposed legislation will at best be an extra headache for business and at worst, could totally break the marketing model as we know it.
With this new regulation, we are going to have to rethink what we are doing and how we are doing it.
There will be even more emphasis on the ability to use an individual’s data - only if they are happy for you to do so. The multi-billion-pound marketing industry that uses this information is of secondary importance.
Of particular interest in the new revision are the following categories:
Piggybacking the oh-so-popular cookie law, consumers (and that includes business consumers) will have to give “explicit consent” for an organisation to use their personal data for marketing purposes – even if the consumer has had a previous interaction. So “inferred consent” will go out of the window. Clearly, if this consent can’t be proved, then potential contact databases will have to be scrapped and started again. And nobody wants that, right?
You never saw me, right?
Individuals will also be able to request the deletion of their data – in what’s called a “right to be forgotten”. This is the first proposed regulation to deal with social media and data protection, but will have far-reaching implications across all marketing activities. The additional administration of this, coupled with the impact of customer profiles and trends, will have both financial and planning implications.
Tell me about me
Right now, individuals can request a copy of their data.
Why aren’t we all inundated with these requests? Well, there is currently a nominal fee of £10 to obtain this information. It is proposed however, that this fee will be scrapped – meaning that these requests are likely to come thick and fast.
When is a number not a number?
When it’s an IP address.
IP addresses are a digital marketer’s dream – they allow us to recognise users. This then means we can run analytics and analyse web behaviours.
Well, it now transpires that these IP addresses are considered personal data. Even though they’re just numbers and you can’t communicate with people via an IP number.
Companies with over 250 staff will need to have a designated data-protection officer.
Don’t panic just yet though. The legislation is purely draft at this stage. Bodies like the DMA will be fighting the corner for the industry and hope to make sure common sense prevails in some of these areas.
And realistically, by the time all the bickering about what is acceptable to all parties has died down and we have a new regulation, we may be three to four years down the line.
What is clear, however, is that change is happening, and whatever it entails, you should be prepared for a more transparent and open relationship with your data subjects. Those companies that will succeed are those that start planning and incorporating this into their activities now, not in four years’ time.
You can fight it, or accept the inevitable.
Is your organisation prepared for change?