GLOBAL: Seven in ten global brand owners feel marketers in their organisations are not fully aware of the implications of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a new survey has found.

The GDPR, due to be implemented in May 2018, is the work of the European Union, but its rules apply to any company, regardless of where they are based, which offers goods or services to consumers in the EU or which monitors the behaviour of people located in Europe.

A survey by the World Federation of Advertisers of 18 global marketers spending more than $20bn on global marketing communications each year revealed, in addition to widespread concerns about how well marketers understand what GDPR means, that those based outside the EU were less well informed.

Fifty-six percent of respondents said their European teams were more aware of the challenge, compared to a global average of 44%.

Further, 40% reported that it was ‘extremely challenging’ or ‘challenging’ to raise awareness of data privacy issues internally.

The two biggest challenges they face are “connecting the dots between data stored across different parts of the organisations” and “reviewing and understanding compliance levels across third parties”, cited as extremely challenging or challenging by 66% of respondents and 73% respectively.

Priorities include reviewing consent mechanisms for collecting and processing data (a high priority for 94% of respondents), reviewing and updating privacy policies (63%) and reviewing data inventory to assess compliance (56%).

There remains much work to be done, with only 41% of those surveyed having a framework/strategy in place while one in four were still in the initial planning stages.

Two thirds of respondents expect to be fully compliant before the rules come into force next year, suggesting that some major businesses could be at risk of being fined up to 4% of global turnover for breaching the new rules.

To help address the issues raised, the WFA has created a new GDPR Guide for Marketers, compiled in conjunction with global privacy and cybersecurity legal experts Hunton & Williams.

WARC subscribers can also access a growing body of material on GDPR and the ‘tsunami of change’ it heralds.

Data sourced from WFA; additional content by WARC staff