NEWS18 November 2021

Less than half of marketers follow data collection laws

News Privacy UK

UK – A new online YouGov survey of more than 500 marketers commissioned by data company Fifty-five reveals the failure of UK businesses to adapt to the new privacy-first internet.

Person filling in digital survey

The research found that only 45% of marketers surveyed stated they were observing current laws and regulations concerning data collection for digital communications.

Meanwhile less than a quarter ( 24%) were developing alternative plans for targeting potential customers when the dropping of third-party cookies is phased out. Fifty-five is describing the findings as a “wake-up call” for marketers to adapt to the new privacy-first internet and adopt a new strategy. 

The results highlight the significant gap between the intentions and the actions of businesses. Some 75% of respondents claimed to understand UK laws for privacy and compliance with the data laws. Yet, when asked whether their customers were able to opt in or out of communications using a consent management tool (CMP) on their company website, app and email tools, only 45% of those surveyed confirmed that they were. 

This is despite UK law now requiring all websites to provide users with the ability to manage their consent regarding website tracking and data usage. It is also part of EU Law under GDPR regulations, in place since May 2020.

As well as not staying on the right side of regulations, the survey also reveals a worrying inertia about adapting to the future “cookieless digital marketing environment”. This is the much-trailed move towards a privacy-centred web where Apple has already long since moved away from third party cookie tracking within Safari browsers, while other tech giants like Google & Facebook are rolling out various non-cookie-based measurement solutions. 

Only 24% of those surveyed said that their company had a fully formed strategy or were in the process of developing one; 20% reported that their company had not yet started but were aware they needed one and 33% stated that there was no intention to do so.  

The current failure to prepare was apparent across business sectors. The most prepared were those whose main industry was IT and telecoms, with 38% either prepared or in the process of doing so, followed by media and marketing ( 31%). Despite having some of the most regular digital communication with customers, retail was one of the worst prepared, with only 19% stating their company had a fully formed strategy or were in the process of developing one.

The survey also revealed senior marketers’ biggest concerns in developing their digital marketing strategies in the future. The number one concern was the team not having the skills in-house to develop and implement a robust digital strategy ( 17%), followed by whether the team’s skills are up to date and relevant enough for the data and AI-driven future ( 15%). This was tied with not being able to accurately measure marketing website activity ( 15%).  Other worries were not being able to accurately target customers in the future ( 14%), being hampered by legacy systems ( 12%) and facing a fine from the ICO ( 12%). 

According to Fifty-five managing director Richard Wheaton: “Our survey reveals a worrying inertia among marketers about adapting to a new, more privacy-focused internet. It is a legal requirement to have a consent management tool in place and yet a majority of marketers either don’t have one or are confused about what this means. With only one in four currently doing anything about a strategy, this should be a wake-up call to marketers as first-party data will be of increasing importance.”