Data 2023: Clawing back lost marketing opportunities with the DPDI bill and why the metaverse won’t suit everyone

The headline discussions from the DMA’s 2023 event spanned the technicalities of incoming legislation for UK data protection to the future of the metaverse. PMW was at the event to capture the actionable insights.

£1.5bn lost to the UK economy due to lack of clarity for the postal service over whether using data for direct marketing is “legitimate interest”. 1 in 5 marketers admit to having no understanding of GDPR. And 81% of publishers are breaching GDPR – despite thinking they were compliant with the almost five-year old legislation.

These are some of the stats thrown to delegates at the Data & Marketing Association's (DMA) Data 2023 event last week in London, which took in the role of the Chief Data Officer in both safeguarding and strategy and the relevance of the metaverse to brands today.

The grand themes of the event spanned the technicalities of data legislation to the very future of humanity itself (as one speaker put it) . PMW was in attendance to capture the main views from both speakers and delegates, focusing on the critical things marketing and data professionals need to be considering now the industry is facing more regulatory scrutiny than ever before.

Watch our video coverage below.

DPDI: “important clarification”

The DMA’s CEO Chris Combemale took to the stage to discuss the “important clarification” over ‘legitimate interest’ that the proposed Data Protection and Digital Information (DPDI) Bill would provide for the industry.

In what he laid out as the “the first major post-Brexit change to data legislation” Combemale said: “We have achieved important clarifications within the legislation which will enable you all to increase growth and innovation while maintaining high standards of data protection”.

Combemale was both referring to both the DMA’s role in steering the Bill and the issue that the marketing industry has grappled with since GDPR came into force in May 2018 – does direct marketing constitute legitimate interest?

The answer – yes – and that will become embedded into main data protection law within the UK should the Bill get its green light from Parliament this year post its second reading on 17 April this year.

Combemale pointed to the lack of clarity of GDPR around legitimate interest costing the UK postal sector “around £250m in direct spend in print production and postage”.

Using the Advertising Association model of £1 of ad spend converting to £6 to UK GDP that has cost the economy £1.5bn – “not even thinking about modern technology innovation and new channels”, he said.

“I think we can all agree that using data to create relevance improves productivity for businesses, reduces waste in the environment and is valued by customers who prefer relevant communication to non targeted spam,” Combemale added.

A soft opt-in for charities and non-commercial organisations

The clarity around legitimate interest was the DMA’s “number one priority” – but Combemale also pointed to the extension of the soft opt-in for charities and non-commercial businesses as another significant achievement of the Bill.

“That issue has been critical to our charity members for years – they will now be able to treat donors in the same way commercial orgs treat customers in email marketing,” he stressed.

Also at the event, the Information Commissioner’s Office Deputy Commissioner for Regulatory Policy Emily Keaney agreed. “It’s levelling the playing field – commercial organisations were already allowed to do that”.

Most publishers "unknowingly in breach of GDPR”

Speaking at the event, the UK Government’s Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology Michelle Donelan told delegates “innovation and technology holds the key to everything – but what is the foundation of innovation and technology? Well, it’s data. In the next 100 years we can be confident that it will matter even more”.

Donelan pointed to statistics from data supply chain facilitator Compliant, revealing that 81% of publishers were unknowingly in breach of GDPR despite thinking they were complying, and a YouGov poll that found that 1 in 5 marketers marketing professionals know “absolutely nothing about GDPR despite being completely bound by it”.

“We want to close the gap between the law and peoples’ basic common sense”, she insisted.

Metaverse: "it’s not for everyone – yet".

Also speaking at the event, Professor Andy Miah, of the University of Salford, pointed to the transformation from “user to player” in the metaverse.

“What we’re seeing in the metaverse is a recalibration of expectations from a younger generation,” he said.

And in a panel debating data ethics around entering the highly debated “new world”, Digitas UK’s Head of Data Science and Analytics Leila Seith Hassan insisted on the need for brands to label their advertising in the metaverse “clearly”, alongside highlighting why the metaverse isn’t “relevant” for every brand.

Watch what Leila has to say about brands moving into the metaverse below.

Data: the ‘not so’ new innovation tool for business

James Caughlin, Director of Information and Compliance at Age UK, points to how data has moved from the back room to the boardroom in our chat below.

And Giles Pavey, Global Director - Data Science at Unilever, encouraged delegates to “have a go” with Chat GPT or AI.

“It’s a bit like the change Google Search made to our expectations of how searches should work”, he said,

“The impact of AI on how we use data to interact with our consumers is probably going to mean very big changes on how we align with what our consumers are expecting of us,” Pavey concluded.