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Marketing Data & Privacy Martech

Australian marketers are ‘dangerously unprepared’ for looming data and privacy changes


By Danielle Long | Acting APAC Editor

May 3, 2023 | 6 min read

Australian brands and marketers are failing to prioritise data and privacy compliance, with just 11% possessing a strategy to adapt to looming privacy and consent changes.

Roast on how and why marketers should future proof their data ahead of changes to cookies.

Australian brands are dangerously unprepared for looming data and privacy changes

The findings, from the Digital & Marketing in Focus 2023 report by advisory firm Arktic Fox, suggest many brands will be caught off-guard by data and privacy changes, with less than half (41%) of brands claiming they are prepared, while less than one in four (23%) are focused on improving their compliance with data privacy over the next 18 months.

While the privacy changes are yet to be legislated, the recent spate of major data and privacy breaches at some of the country’s biggest brands and organisations has exposed the lack of prioritisation within Australian companies and suggests the issue is "not high enough on the agenda for many leaders and their teams.”

The Attorney-General's Department's review of Australia's Privacy Act is expected to release its recommendations in the second half of 2023. Among the proposed legislative changes are laws to provide citizens with greater control of their personal information, including the ability to opt out of targeted ads, erase their personal data and even sue for serious breaches of privacy.

The recommendations, which aim to follow European Union regulations, have been criticised by the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) over concerns around how the changes would impact targeted advertising.

The Arktic Fox's report, which surveyed interviewed 230 marketing, digital and e-commerce leaders between November and March, revealed that Australian marketers blame a lack of data and analytics skills and organisational alignment around martech strategies for the issue.

Almost half (47%) of marketers claim data, and analytics is a significant technical skills gap within their team, while just 35% believe their teams' data literacy is strong.

This is despite marketers identifying customer data strategy, and better utilisation of first-party data is a key priority, with 59% trying to embed a more data-driven approach to marketing and 55% focused on building a customer data strategy which utilises first-party data more efficiently.

The report revealed marketers claim to have prioritised investment in customer data platforms (CDPs); however, Teresa Sperti, director of Arktic Fox, says the alignment and platform integration of these systems remains a significant challenge, with 38% of marketers identifying it as the second biggest skills gap within their teams.

“Alignment is critical. Marketers and digital professionals need to connect the martech ecosystem to back-end platforms and ensure connectivity between platforms to drive results from their martech stack.

"Developing an effective partnership with IT to deliver common outcomes is key to embedding and integrating platforms and delivering ROI as is building internal knowledge and capability within the team.”

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“Today, we still see far too many leaders believing that digital is someone’s role as opposed to digital capability needing to be embedded across the organisation to become central to the business strategy and operations.

"When a separate digital or ecommerce function exists that is siloed from the rest of the business, it sends a message that understanding digital is not my job or responsibility and stifles teams’ ability to build capability and develop skills,” says Sperti.

This gap between business priorities and capabilities to adapt to the changing data-driven marketing landscape suggests marketers are “dangerously underprepared for looming privacy changes”.

The report revealed growth is now the top priority for Australian brands and marketers (78%), well ahead of developing their first-party data strategy (55%) and brand development and embedding brand purpose (54%).

The focus, which is likely a result of the current economic uncertainty, is worrying when 60% of respondents report they struggle with resourcing and budget constraints, while 35% have had budget cuts.

Next week, The Drum is releasing a series of articles exploring how brands and marketers are navigating the different data and privacy regulations around the world in The Drum's Data Deep Dive.

Marketing Data & Privacy Martech

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