The imminent GDPR and ePrivacy regulation update could see marketers lose nearly half  (40%) of web traffic, leading them to shift to alternative marketing channels, a study has found.

International research by email service provide Mailjet among 400 marketers in the UK and France found that over a quarter (30%) plan to reduce the amount of cookie-based display, paid search and retargeting they carry out in response to the ePrivacy regulation which comes into effect on May 25.

Cookies are used on websites to store user information such as addresses, phone numbers and payment information. However, under the regulation, online users will have the option to set browser-level cookie permissions which could spell the end of cookie-based targeting and the withdrawal of consumer datasets from brand view.

As a direct result, marketers expect they will invest more in direct communication channels such as social messenger services (72%) and email (79%) to reach customers.

From a user perspective, those viewing websites online will receive cookie request pop-ups if they don’t opt-in for browser-level cookie permissions, limiting user experience while restricting access to relevant content. Due to this, 91% of marketers believe it will cause a loss in global web traffic.

Third-party data risk

Of further concern for marketers is the decreased ability to extensively track the actions users take on their website; 31% of marketers in the UK stated that the most important information they collect via cookies is Google Analytics data. Therefore, marketers will need to look for alternative data sources or structure their own CRM databases that are compliant with privacy regulations.

Meanwhile, some 54% of marketers admitted they purchase lists of third-party from ‘data sales houses’ or other large sites and system operators, using them for prospecting (70%) and marketing campaigns (75%), putting them at “extreme risk” of breaching a number of requirements, including transparency and use of data without clear consent.

The is marginally more common in France (15%) than the UK, however, it has become almost routine among marketers from the financial services (76%) and technology sector (61%).

Despite the pending risks, the overall view from marketers is positive on ePrivacy in the long term for business; 57% said it will make them less reliant on methods like retargeting ads and building data insights, to building campaigns that resonate with new users.

A further 59% said ePrivacy will drive them to become more transparent about how they track information, helping to build user trust.

“ePrivacy will impact marketers across the world in many different ways,” said Michyl Culos, head of marketing communications at Mailjet.

“Immediate concerns will likely centre on the loss of data fuelling customer experiences and revenue, the longer term opportunity of browser-level cookie approval means both B2B and B2C brands will have to focus strategically on how they can grow and maintain the most valuable customer insights that really drive their business forward.”