LONDON: A little over a year out from the introduction of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a quarter of UK marketers (26%) believe their companies are still unprepared.

New research undertaken as part of the DMA's 'GDPR and you' series of studies found that over half of those marketers (56%) it surveyed felt prepared, but just two-thirds (68%) said their business would be GDPR compliant by the time the regulation is implemented in 2018.

The results further showed that two-thirds of respondents (66%) had 'good' awareness – up from 53% in June 2016 – and that their 'personal' feeling of preparedness has increased dramatically from 49% to 71%.

The biggest single concern facing them is the practice of gaining consent from consumers, which 70% of respondents expected would change under GDPR. Other issues highlighted included legacy data (50%) and profiling (37%).

Accordingly, the biggest priority for businesses is 'conducting impact assessments' (42%), 'giving data subjects greater control of their data' (36%) and 'revising your data policy' (31%).

'Auditing your data privacy policy' on the other hand has dropped from 39% to 30% since June 2016.

"May 2018 should be a date that is in every marketer's diary, giving us around 16 months before the GDPR comes into force," said Chris Combemale, CEO of the DMA Group, who expressed concern at the proportion of businesses not expecting to be ready.

"The finish line for GDPR readiness is fixed and the risk to businesses of not being compliant is significant," he stated. "Our advice is to continue preparations in earnest over the coming year. Not making it across the line in time is not an option."

While the new laws are set to come into force before any agreement on the UK exiting the EU is finalised, the great majority of companies surveyed (83%) indicated they did not intend to change their plans and, when asked about data protection policy for the UK post-Brexit, almost three quarters (74%) said the country should simply adhere to GDPR anyway.

Data sourced from DMA; additional content by Warc staff