Accenture Banking Blog

It’s the marketing world’s equivalent of she said/he said: On one side, marketers complain that compliance teams are overly cautious, costing them potential new customers, sales, and brand recognition for innovation. On the other side, review teams worry that marketers create undue brand risk with their lofty promises, data mining practices, and ignorance of regulatory restrictions. Missing from this tug-of-war is an acknowledgement that both sides care deeply about the brand and its customers, and about minimizing risk exposure. This tension doesn’t need to persist. Technologies like artificial intelligence can break this cycle, helping marketers and compliance teams demystify the review process, standardize the application of rules, and reduce review times. 

The marketing side

Marketers operate in a world of “always on, always now,” driven by customers’ demands for relevancy and hyper-personalization at the precise moment of their need or desire. To succeed, Accenture research shows,1 CMOs are reinventing for the now and new, and investing strategically in marketing technologies, data and agile operations to be faster, nimbler and more responsive to customers.  

These smart investments have enabled companies to move at the speed of their customers, creating content and targeting strategies in record time. 

But, when they submit their content and programs for approval, any euphoria marketers feel from potentially improving time to market quickly disappears. From their perspective, overly restrictive policies and extended turnaround times become roadblocks to achieving their marketing goals. Review times can range from 7 to 21 business days just for the first round of review. Approval for innovative new campaigns and creative executions can take even longer. Some marketers have attempted to secure pre-approval on routinely used paragraphs to help streamline the process, only to be met with resistance from their legal and compliance counterparts. It’s understandable that marketers feel frustrated. 

The legal and compliance side

While marketers work to anticipate consumer demands and respond quickly, their legal and compliance partners are charged with minimizing business risks and potential damage associated with data privacy, marketing, advertising, and sales regulations. For reviewers, new technologies and data sources have created new risks. Technology has enabled their marketing partners to amass more data, respond more quickly, and generate a huge amount of content permutations rapidly. For example, marketers can use artificial intelligence to craft hundreds of personalized email copy permutations in a day. They can couple these permutations with new data sources to more confidently target the right customers at the right time with the right messages.  

These new capabilities give reviewers pause. First, staggering amounts of content create long queues. Second, the use and provenance of the data need to be carefully inspected. Where did the data come from? Is this use of data in violation of any international, federal, or local laws and regulations? Was it collected with the knowledge and permission of customers? Does the use of the data unintentionally discriminate against any classes of individuals? 

Compliance officers are being asked to navigate these types of decisions without the ability to fully understand the implications of their decisions on marketers’ intents. Add to the mix the compliance function’s limited and overburdened staff, and it’s no wonder that reviews take weeks as legal and compliance leaders evaluate and size the business risk of marketing programs and content.  

Working together: A new model

This tension between marketing and compliance doesn’t need to persist. Since marketers have technologies to help them work faster and smarter, shouldn’t legal and compliance teams have the same—technologies that help them be both more consistent and more responsive? Imagine if they had an artificial intelligence-powered engine that could flag content that did not meet brand, legal, or regulatory rules and suggest possible remediations? An intelligent engine like this could reduce cycle times, ensure consistent application of rules, and provide near-instant feedback to marketers of potential issues with their content.  

Marketers could save everyone a lot of time by using such an engine to evaluate their content themselves before even submitting it for review. This would be in accord with a finding from Accenture’s 2019 Compliance Risk Study: that the front office is beginning to step up to its position as a “first line of defense” against compliance risk, allowing the compliance function to focus on higher-risk activities.2  

To get started, marketers and compliance officers should work together to: 

  • Perform a content and campaign review rejection assessment (what’s being rejected and for what reasons?). 
  • Identify top use cases to pilot such as incorrect disclosures or inappropriate use of favorite marketing terms like “new” and “free.” Tackling top rejection use cases can significantly reduce rejections and corresponding review time. 
  • Work with data scientists to translate review rules into algorithms to guide AI-based initial assessments. 

Providing marketers and their reviewers with an automated review engine could help reduce the tension and help both parties work together to drive growth while protecting their brand. 

Collaborating and learning more effectively

Marketers are often focused on pushing the envelope of what’s next, what’s new and what’s ground breaking. That, in turn, causes alarm bells to go off for the compliance and legal teams who are charged with mitigating risk for their company.  

With an intelligent engine, marketers and reviewers have an opportunity not only to collaborate more effectively, but to learn from each other, as well. 


1 Accenture, “Way Beyond Marketing: The Rise of the Hyper-Relevant CMO,” May 2019. 

2 Accenture, “2019 Compliance Risk Study, March 2019. 

Anne Mai Bertelsen

Anne Mai Bertelsen

Managing Director, Accenture Financial Services, Customer Insight & Growth

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