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The impact for marketers of Brexit and GDPR

Posted by Stuart Ducker December 15, 2020

Drexit - GDPR.png
Thursday 23rd June 2016 is a date that will live long in the memory – the date that the UK voted to leave the European Union. 

But while the government wrangles with the intricacies of Brexit, we’ve been considering the impact on marketers and our ability to reach consumers.

We’re referring of course to article 17 of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which gives consumers ‘the right to be forgotten’ and places more importance on first party consent.

The Brexit timeline might still be a little hazy, but one thing’s for certain: on 25th May 2018, the GDPR will come into force.

So who’s affected?

In short, any company that collects and uses customer data will be considered a ‘data controller’.

Google of course tried to opt out of being classified as a media company to avoid the GDPR, only for EU judges to confirm that it’s a data controller and will therefore be obliged to remove data that is "inadequate, irrelevant, or no longer relevant".

Will consumers instantly opt out?

As consumers become more savvy about where and how they share their data, the fear is that a large chunk of people will instantly invoke their right to be forgotten, putting a sizeable dent in marketing data across the EU.

In some ways, this has already started to happen, with research suggesting that 22% of adults in the UK now use ad blockers. A figure that jumps to almost 60% in the US.

And it seems Millennials are leading the charge, with two thirds in the US using ad blockers and 70% agreeing with the statement “No one should ever be allowed to have access to my personal data”.

On the bright side, 56% said they would happily share their location with a nearby company in return for a voucher or special offer.

And therein lies a little relief and a big challenge.

Relevance will win the day

We might be becoming more protective of our details, but we’re still only human. And who can resist a deal or a discount when it appears at the perfect moment?

What the numbers reveal is that the consumer-marketer relationship needs to move into new territory. A land of give and take, where the benefits are well-defined and intelligently delivered.

An excellent customer experience is and always will be the key to success, with engagement earned through relevance.

Ultimately, good brands will win out if they respect the consent they’ve been given, and focus on creating a relevant relationship.

And that doesn’t necessarily mean that you need a direct first party relationship to contact consumers.

Making the right connections

Even under the GDPR, you’ll still be able to leverage other people’s network audiences, as first party consent will continue to flow across platforms and communities if used responsibly and relevantly.

This applies to smaller brands as it does to larger ones; Amazon for example will allow the interaction of your brand through theirs, and Google will still sell relevant access to people through their paid media services.

One thing that’s clear though is that technology will play a vital role in staying relevant and protecting your dataset. As campaign complexity increases, the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning will be essential if you’re to deliver highly-relevant, carefully-targeted messages at any great scale.

At the end of the day though, as long as you respect your customers, protect their data and keep your marketing relevant, there’s no need to worry about a mass data exodus.

If you’d like to find out more about the GDPR or how to create highly-relevant data-led campaigns, call 01908 829300 or email