Marketing and Privacy: It’s Complicated

marketing and privacy

Marketing and privacy are functionally two sides of the same coin. Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) are responsible for gathering, analyzing, and tracking consumer data to perform their roles effectively. Meanwhile, Data Protection Officers (DPOs) are tasked with safely managing data collection and processing in accordance to the appropriate laws and privacy policies.

Unfortunately, these complementary roles can feel like they’re in conflict. Marketing wants to use collected data to its fullest potential for as long as possible. Legal leans towards playing it safe and strictly interpreting data privacy laws in their policies, restricting how much data can be collected, how it can be used, and how long it can be retained. Is it possible for these two departments to work together?

Thankfully, yes! CMOs and DPOs can work collaboratively to achieve their objectives while safeguarding the organization and respecting consumers’ data privacy rights. Today, we’ll explore a few ways CMOs and DPOs can improve their working relationship.

1. Prioritize Education & Communication Between Departments

Firstly, DPOs should prioritize education and communication. While their primary responsibilities may involve conducting audits or reviewing contracts, keeping their colleagues in marketing informed has a positive spillover effect on their other duties. When marketers understand the importance of data privacy, they become more cautious about their vendor choices, know where consumer data lives and how it flows within the organization.

Additionally, CMOs need to learn how their work relates to privacy risks. Many marketers are surprised to discover the degree of overlap between their roles and data privacy. Modern data privacy regulations focus on protecting consumers’ rights over their data, and marketers handle the most consumer data in a typical organization. As a result, learning how to respect consumer data privacy rights is part of the modern digital marketer’s job. To help bridge this knowledge gap, marketing professionals can explore educational resources that focus on privacy-first marketing and common compliance strategies.

2. Participate in Data Mapping Together

Marketing professionals handle the most consumer data out of anyone in any company. Accordingly, CMOs must be active participants in their organization’s data inventory, also known as data mapping. A robust data inventory requires the involvement of multiple stakeholders within the organization, and keeping it up-to-date is an ongoing exercise. However, it is the key to effective compliance down the line, allowing privacy professionals to work more efficiently and reducing disruptions to marketing professionals’ core tasks.

marketing and privacy

3. Develop Privacy Compliance Solutions Together

Privacy strategies developed in a vacuum are not ideal for long-term success. DPOs should include marketers when evaluating compliance solutions that manage consumer data, such as consent management, website experience, customer relationship management (CRMs), email tools, and other potential sources of information. Because marketing professionals handle the most consumer data in most organizations, they need to have a seat at the table when it comes to evaluating compliance solutions.

4. Remember the Impact of Compliance Strategies on Marketing

Finally, DPOs need to be sensitive to the impact that compliance solutions have on marketing. Implementing compliance solutions can result in significant changes for the marketing department. For example, consent management platforms may require a company to collect less web data, which marketers use to perform their jobs. By proactively communicating and educating their peers and by consulting with marketing before selecting a compliance solution, privacy professionals can prevent disruptions to marketing operations.


In conclusion, marketing and privacy are more intertwined than one might think. When marketing and privacy operate separately, it can lead to negative outcomes. Without collaboration, marketing does not follow through on the privacy team’s recommendations, the privacy team does not see the results they hoped for, and the organization ultimately finds itself at greater risk. CMOs and DPOs need to be in regular communication with one another, learn about each other’s roles and responsibilities, and work in tandem to safeguard the organization and respect consumers’ data privacy rights.

Contact us today to give your marketing and legal departments a head start in learning how to work together.


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