Tackling inertia – why UK marketers must embrace the privacy-first internet

Strategy Consulting 21 November 2021

A new research study commissioned by 55 has revealed the failure of UK businesses to adapt to the new privacy-first internet and highlights the need for urgent action to prepare for the cookieless future.

Our research is based on an online YouGov survey of over 500 marketers. The research reveals two particularly significant developments. Firstly only 45% of marketers surveyed, from small to large enterprises, stated they were observing current laws and regulations concerning data collection for digital communications. While there is a potential lack of observance of data laws now, there is also a failure to prepare for the ‘cookieless future’. Less than a quarter (24%) were developing alternative plans for targeting potential customers when the dropping of third-party cookies is phased out. 

We are describing the findings as a ‘wake up call’ for marketers to adapt to the new privacy-first internet and adopt a new strategy. One that fifty-five can help develop.

Gap between intentions and actions on data compliance

Firstly, the results highlight the significant gap between the intentions and the actions of businesses. 75% of respondents claimed to understand UK laws for privacy and compliance with the data laws. Yet, when asked whether their customers are able to opt in or out of communications using a consent management tool (CMP) for their company website, app and email tools, only 45% of companies surveyed confirmed that they were. 

Meanwhile 38% of marketers said their customers weren’t able to opt in or out and 16% were unsure. This revelation comes against a backdrop of UK law now requiring all websites to provide users with the ability to manage their consent regarding website tracking and data usage. It is also part of EU Law under GDPR regulations, in place since May 2020. It is therefore concerning that a majority of marketers either don’t have one or are confused about what this means. 

Just 24% of marketers developing strategy for the “cookieless future”

As well as not staying on the right side of regulations now, the survey also reveals a worrying inertia about adapting to the future ‘cookieless digital marketing environment’. This is the much trailed move toward a privacy-centred web where Apple has already long since moved away from 3rd party cookie tracking within Safari browsers and other tech giants like Google & Facebook are rolling out various non-cookie based measurement solutions. 

Only 24% surveyed said that their company had a fully formed strategy or were in the process of developing one. 20% reported that their company had not yet started but were aware they needed one, and 33% stated that there was no intention to do so. 

The current failure to prepare was apparent across business sectors. The most prepared was those whose main industry was IT and telecoms with 38% either prepared or in the process of preparing, followed by media and marketing (31%). Despite having some of the most regular digital communication with customers, retail was one of the worst prepared, with only 19% stating their company had a fully formed strategy or were in the process of developing one. This is despite marketers in the retail sector reporting the most ardent support from their CEO and senior leadership for digital. 

Lack of right skills in-house is senior marketers’ biggest concern

The survey also revealed senior marketers’ biggest concerns in developing their digital marketing strategies in the future. The number one concern was the team not having the skills in-house to develop and implement a robust digital strategy (17%), followed by whether the team’s skills are now up to date and relevant for the data and AI driven future (15%). This was tied with not being able to accurately measure marketing website activity (15%.)  Other worries were not being able to accurately target customers in the future (14%), being hampered by legacy systems (12%) and facing a fine from the ICO (12%). 

 However, despite the failure to have adapted thus far, it is of course not too late to action and the earlier digital marketers start on a forward-facing strategy the better position they will be in. The good news is that many brands have a treasure trove of this under-utilised data that can be used to understand audiences and achieve marketing objectives. 

What should brands do now?

It is vital to work with the right experts to unlock the value of first party data, particularly given the concerns senior marketers have relating to the skills of the inhouse teams. To help marketers adapt to the new reality, we have released our two-part guidebook on how to build a digital roadmap for the post-cookie era! 

The objective of the guidebook is to:

– Understand the new post-cookie and privacy-safe digital world
– Identify how this new marketing landscape being shaped will impact the deployment and performances of current marketing use cases
– Case studies of companies who have mastered the new privacy context to prepare the future


Click here to download the first part of our guidebook: https://get.fifty-five.com/roadmap-to-the-post-cookie-era-part1/

And here to complete your reading with the second part: https://get.fifty-five.com/roadmap-to-the-post-cookie-era-part-2/


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