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And the buzzword at Festival of Marketing 2017 was…

…actually an acronym: GDPR. Standing for General Data Protection Regulation, EU’s new data rules are set to be one of the biggest disruptions to privacy law in two decades.

/ Introduction

More than 200 speakers, workshops, experience rooms and trainings spread across two floors kept 4,000 delegates busy in early October at London’s annual event for brand marketers – Festival of Marketing.

No less than 12 stages offered back-to-back talks and panels on topics ranging from brand and creative to AI, data & analytics, digital transformation and personalisation, with featured speakers such as actor and author Stephen Fry, serial entrepreneur Jo Malone, and Professors Mark Ritson and Byron Sharp in a ‘battle of the brains’ debate finale. Meanwhile, one level down, tech companies were busy luring delegates to their stands with everything from specialty coffee to free manicures, 3D printers that turn your head into chocolate lollipops and arcade games– and with the chance to world fame by attempting a Guinness World Record in VR.

On the content side, although AI and influencer marketing trended strongly throughout the festival (something IBM Watson’s Cognitive Command Centre could confirm), what really stood out as the 2017 FoM buzzword was GDPR. Standing for General Data Protection Regulation, these new rules coming out of Brussels were definitely the theme participants didn’t want to miss out.

The use of data in marketing has been under the spotlight for a while now, with programmatic, machine learning, big and thick data sessions on most conference agendas in the past years. But never before would you have expected panels that featured legal experts to have so much traction at a marketing event until this year – so big was the interest that all GDPR sessions – no less than five – were fully booked days in advance (I barely made my way in at a session with WFA on the panel).

‘GDPR – everything you need to know today. A holistic view of the new data regulation’ panel with Catherine Armitage, WFA Senior Public Affairs Manager

And rightly so: with less than seven months to go until the rules come into force, marketers are beginning to fret about what needs to be done to continue to leverage the power of data while avoiding fines of up to 4% of global turnover for breaches or, worse, brand damage.

The need to work faster and harder to get to grips with the challenges of GDPR was also highlighted by a recent survey of WFA members, which found that 70% of brand owners felt marketers in their organisations are not fully aware of the implications of GDPR and that only 65% expect to be fully compliant before the rules come into force.

To address the knowledge gap and help marketers think smarter about data, the WFA has created a new – and free – GDPR Guide for Marketers, which highlights the five key areas where marketing teams need to take action.

WFA is also exploring the topic in its Digital Governance Exchange forum, a group of 200 senior in-house experts who meet regularly to discuss common challenges on privacy, data protection and message targeting.

The group will be meeting in London on 30 November and for the first time in New York on 7 December with sessions specifically focused on best practice around GDPR to highlight how brands can take effective action.

For more information on WFA’s work on GDPR and the upcoming DGX meetings, please contact Catherine Armitage.

/ Newsletter

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