What marketers should know about the European AI Act

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become an integral part of our lives in recent years, revolutionizing various industries, including marketing. As technology continues to advance, so does the need for regulations to ensure AI is used ethically and responsibly. In this blog post, we’ll delve into what marketers should know about the AI Act, a significant piece of legislation proposed by the European Union (EU). It is still being worked on and the EU aims to reach an agreement by the end of 2023.

Scope of the AI Act

The AI Act covers a wide range of AI applications, including those used in marketing. This means that marketers need to be aware of the potential impact this legislation may have on their practices. While the Act is not yet in force, it presents an opportunity for marketers to prepare and adapt their strategies accordingly.

The AI Act applies to marketers who use AI in their campaigns targeting EU audiences. This includes marketers based within the EU, but also those operating from outside but targeting EU consumers. This means the AI Act goes beyond the EU. Marketers must comply with the AI act, regardless of the size or type of marketing operation.

Regulated AI Applications in Marketing

The legislation primarily aims to regulate AI applications that could impact consumers negatively. For marketers, this could include AI-powered chatbots, personalized content recommendation systems, and targeted advertising. It will be vital for companies to understand how these systems work and to ensure they respect the principles of transparency and consent. 

Prohibited AI practices

As a marketer, you need to be aware of the practices that are forbidden onder the AI Act. It is forbidden to use AI with sneaky or subconscious methods to manipulate customer behavior. That includes for example posting fake reviews or testimonials from fake customers. Another thing that is prohibited is using AI to target specific demographic groups based on sensitive attributes like their race or religion.

High risk AI systems

Now that you know what is forbidden, let’s look at systems. Marketers that use AI for automatic decision making in campaigns need to respect specific requirements. Those include conducting a serious risk assessment, documenting everything really well and ensuring that there are options to override decisions made by the software.

Transparency and control

The AI Act puts a lot of emphasis on transparency and customer control. Marketers need to make it clear to customers when they are interacting with AI-driven systems. Think about chatbots for example. A customer should also be able to opt out, or to get help from a human when they are dealing with AI-driven content.

Privacy and data

By now every marketer on this planet should know how important privacy and data really are. Any personal data used in AI driven campaigns need to be treated in compliance with the data protection regulations (GDPR). That is the case in any marketing anyway. As a marketer, your job is to inform customers about data usage and to get their consent whenever it is required by the GDPR. 


The fines you get for not complying to the rules stated in the AI Act or in the GDPR are pretty hefty. For marketers this can lead to substantial financial losses, but also a damaged brand image. It is far better to make sure your company aligns with the rules.

Our advice here is to: 

  • check the website and legal documentation for whatever AI tool you want to use and check whether or not it is compliant
  • get advice from a legal counsel, preferably one that is specialized in data and privacy
  • write some guidelines for your own company on how your employees should treat AI, like for content marketing (you may also want to read our blog about using AI in your content marketing)

Look, we are by no means specialists in legal matters, and we don’t have the ambition either. But we do know a thing or 2 from working with customers, working together with legal departments and just reading a lot of blog content. We do know for a fact that the new European AI Act has a significant impact on marketers, even outside the EU. This Act underlines the importance of using AI ethically, being transparant and protecting customers. As a marketer, don’t see it as yet another rule that limits your options: see it as an opportunity to do better and to stand out.

The ultimate marketing automation guide

Download this practical guide with all the basics you need to get started the right way