In May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into effect, changing the way businesses handle the collection and processing of personal data in the European Union (EU). New legislation will be put in place for businesses to adhere to, with substantial fines as high as €20m or 4% of their annual turnover if they fail to comply. It’s important, therefore, that businesses and individuals in the creative production industry are aware of the change and how it will affect their operations overall.

The most notable shift to impact creative agencies and their clients will be the collection and handling of data. This is essential for agencies who are both working on current projects with existing clients and sourcing new briefs from potential clients. This will include a range of data on who they are and the particulars of what their requirements are. Those clients that ultimately handle a significant amount of consumer data that will see the biggest impact of change.

Creative agencies will need to ensure that they are fully compliant with the handling of all data, especially when any work or feedback that they receive from a client may inadvertently contain sensitive consumer data. This is when they will have to be completely transparent about what will happen to the data.

End users will also be given the right to be forgotten and can ask a business how they got their data and to erase it, with no questions asked. This is why it’s essential for creative agencies and their clients to take a ‘back to basics’ approach and understand what data you’re holding, how it’s being used, stored and exactly what you are collecting. It will no longer be enough to receive data without a thorough understanding of whether the data was collected ethically or not.

There is a possibility that data will become a lot harder to access when the new regulation comes into effect. This may slow down creative agencies and their clients’ ability to target their end consumers with campaigns. If data is included in the transfer of projects and between creative agencies and their clients, this will also need to be monitored. According to the World Federation of Advertisers, only 65% of major global brands that were surveyed expect to be fully compliant when GDPR comes into force. To help manage the change process, creative agencies and their clients should be looking to hire a data protection officer, if they haven’t already, which will become a legal obligation for businesses that monitor, collect and process vast amounts of data.

GDPR aims to ensure the creative industry will be a more effective one that returns to being run on real relationships, trust, and authenticity. Creative agencies and their clients within the industry should already be looking to prepare for the new regulations as quickly as possible to help keep their processes running smoothly and effectively in time for May 2018.

Robert Berkeley, President of Express KCS

(Note: This article was first published in Fourth Source.)