What Does GDPR Compliance Mean for the UK Marketing Industry?

Last Updated: 

March 9, 2023

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Since General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was passed and endorsed in 2018, the way businesses, organisations, and the marketing industry look at people’s data has shifted. To be more specific, the importance of GDPR regulations and their enforcement has forced those who collect individuals’ data to take a hard look and take new measures in how they handle customer data.

The UK was placed in an interesting predicament. When GDPR was first announced and passed into law, the UK was still transitioning out of the EU. The EU’s GDPR regulations were fully enacted but amended with the UK-GDPR which came into being during the transition period. This made it all the more confusing for businesses and the marketing industry both in the UK and the EU in particular. It has also meant that those in business and in the marketing industry especially who want to continue operating in the EU must have a GDPR representative to act and speak on their behalf.

In this article, we’re going to delve a little deeper into GDPR compliance and what it means for the UK marketing industry. And we’re also going to talk about how those in the industry can get up to speed and protect themselves when it comes to GDPR and data protection through outsourced DPO.

What is GDPR compliance?

Being compliant with GDPR rules and regulations means being on the right side of the law when it comes to collecting, handling, and protecting individual people’s personal data. Part of the reason for the birth of GDPR was to help combat the mass data harvesting that we’ve seen with big corporations in particular. It was also made to shift the focus to the individual—to make personal data a human right.

This shift in governance and thinking was new. But it’s had a tremendous impact around the world with the UK and other countries around the world adopting their own version of GDPR. The marketing industry, with its heavy reliance on collecting data, must look hard at GDPR to remain compliant and avoid the pitfalls that have come to companies who’ve not remained compliant. 

In fact, failure to remain GDPR compliant can lead to fines of up to €20 or 4% of global revenue. In September 2018, British Airways faced fines of up to €200 million for a data breach that occurred. And the EU called Marriott International to attention and is expected to pay a fine of around €99 million for a data breach between 2014 and 2018. In other words, not handling your customer’s data properly and not following the guidance to stay compliant can spell trouble for businesses in the UK marketing industry and elsewhere.

What does GDPR compliance mean for marketers?

For those in the marketing industry, taking heed of GDPR compliance and what it means for the way they operate is paramount. Although there will be slight differences in what GDPR compliance means for specific types of marketing, most forms of active marketing involves collecting and handling personal data by some means.

In essence, the way the UK marketing industry and marketers in general build databases by collecting personal data has had to change to remain compliant with these new regulations. Marketers must align themselves with the principles and change the fundamental means of data collection. And they take the individual’s data they’re collecting with new importance in favour of the individual.

Marketers who use email marketing for campaigns and rely on collecting email addresses, names, and other information, for example, must only take what is necessary and nothing more. And consent must be given—there can be no forced taking of information. In other words, individual rights remain above those of the marketing industry and businesses and corporations at large.

Whatever the type of marketing, there are some fundamentals that must be kept that can help to keep those in the marketing industry and in business in general GDPR compliant.


It’s mandatory to keep all data transparent. The subject must know all aspects of their data collection, transfer, and use. They need to be able to know what you’ll use their data for and if you plan on transferring that data.

Data minimalisation

GDPR means concern for what type of data you’re storing. The regulations are clear in that only necessary data should be stored. Anything superfluous could be seen as a violation of GDPR regulations. Individuals should be able to ask about the data marketers are storing. They must be able to relay this information in detail. And individuals should always be given the opportunity to opt out.

Data storage and processing

Since the advent of GDPR, any organisation collecting personal data has had to create and keep records of all data processing activities.

Those in the marketing industry rely on the data they collect as a major component of their business model through email campaigns, digital products, and other means. Because of this, they need to be diligent and understand GDPR in order to remain fully compliant. That’s why many of them choose to work with professional DPO (data protection officer) services who can offer them advice and guidance and make sure they’re GDPR-aligned in their business practices.

While DPOs can work in-house, many choose to work with outsourced DPOs. This saves money and means they can keep marketers and businesses GDPR compliant without any interruption to normal daily business. They offer expert management in all things necessary for proper data processing in accordance with GDPR.

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