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Industry Contributor 10 Nov 2021 - 3 min read

Why there’s hot corporate demand for a new marketing skillset that nobody does

By Liam Walsh - Chair, Civic Data

In recent months a number of bigger corporates have started advertising for compliance specialists in digital marketing. The headwinds around privacy are blowing but marketing teams are not proficient at law and legal people don’t understand advertising and marketing tech. They’re horrified, in fact, by the opaqueness in the digital supply chain. It's nobody's very expensive problem.

Final public submissions for the Online Privacy Bill are due in December. Shortly after this the Federal government will finalise the bill for a vote in parliament. It's likely it will be similar to Europe’s GDPR policies but potentially a little lighter in its implementation.

So it is inevitable Australia will have regulations that aim to protect people’s privacy, particularly with regard to outbound marketing such as digital advertising.

One of the most likely problems to executing and adhering to the new privacy laws (besides not knowing exactly what they are) is that, to some extent, it's nobody’s job.

It's not dissimilar to Australian house prices. They are sky rocketing and a third of the nation are now effectively locked out of home ownership. Among the many problems in the housing market is that it's nobody’s job to manage it. In theory it’s the government, but there is no minister for housing. There is nobody to blame. There is nobody accountable and so it just continues.

For the new privacy regulations, the penalties are highly likely to be in the vicinity of the high millions, so CEOs and CFOs are taking it very seriously.

However, when the CEO passes it down the line it’s not that easily addressed and that’s something of a problem.

When CEOs delegate this new remit it can go in one of two directions. Straight to compliance (assuming that function exists), or to marketing.

Compliance versus marketing

Compliance teams are very good at detail and the law. However they rarely have a capability in advertising technology and typically when they come across it they are horrified at the opaqueness of the supply chain and associated definitions which are often the stuff of fiction. For example we often hear compliance teams ask what ‘premium advertising’ means. 

After colleagues exhaust all the synonyms for the word ‘premium’, compliance teams are left confounded and mildly irritated. So, in many cases the compliance unit hands it off to marketing because they’re are not technology experts.

Unfortunately marketing teams rarely have the capability to spend the time pouring over the law and their technology stack at once. It’s not so much a matter of will, it’s really a matter of capability. That’s not what marketing departments do. They market things. Their capability in the law is modest.

For those companies that are leaning in to the impending legislation they often find that both avenues tend to stall so they look to outsource to a rostered agency.

That also is often problematic. Agencies are structured to create or plan/execute advertising. They are not stacked with lawyers and compliance officers because nobody pays them to do this.

Compliance crunch

In recent months a number of bigger corporates have started advertising for compliance specialists in digital marketing. This is an excellent start and one that our top 200 companies should all adopt.

This will take a lot of time because it’s hard to find specialists in laws that don’t yet exist. But they will and companies will need to hire staff or hire specialist consultants because it’s likely the regulators will vigorously pursue our high profile companies.

We anticipate, as was the case with the GDPR in Europe, that there will be a grace period that will allow companies some time to get ready. But right now one of the biggest problems is that it’s not clear whose job it is and this will need to change. Pretty quickly.

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Liam Walsh

Chair, Civic Data

Market Voice

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