“The Sell Sider” is a column written for the sell side of the digital media community.
Today's column is written by Somer Simpson, GDPR product lead at Quantcast.
The May 25 deadline to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is only weeks away. When it comes into effect, website owners that want to use data to deliver personalized content or ads will need to collect “unambiguous” consent from consumers and provide transparency into the companies that want to track them.
This reality has forced publishers to ask how their businesses would remain viable when up to 80% of their revenue comes from online advertising, which will now rely on consumer consent to be tracked.
But the digital content, publishing and advertising industries have come together to build a workable solution that helps publishers obtain and manage consumer consent. With this new framework, publishers will be able to continue funding themselves through relevant online advertising, while protecting consumer privacy and ensuring free access to news and entertainment for consumers in the EU and worldwide.
Led by the IAB Europe, the industry’s transparency and consent framework will appear to consumers as a modal or banner – similar to today’s cookie banners – when they land on a publisher’s site. GDPR requires that consumers be given transparency, choice and control. This means that unlike today’s cookie banners, the pop-up using the IAB framework will clearly inform consumers what companies are asking for permission to use information about them and why. These new pop-ups go a step further and give consumers the ability to selectively choose what tracking purposes they are OK with and which companies, of those asking, they are comfortable being tracked by.
There is no silver bullet for publisher control over the digital advertising ecosystem, but the IAB Europe’s consent framework gives publishers more transparency into this “black box” and choices of their own. Publishers can also communicate who they do and do not want tracking users on their sites, for example.
Aside from investigating IAB Europe’s consent framework, publishers should also take several steps to obtain consent from consumers and get their organizations ready for GDPR. The right technical, policy and commercial decision-makers should be informed and aware of what the law requires of them. Since GDPR will fundamentally change the digital content and ads ecosystem, publishers should have a good understanding of how it will affect their sales, technical, legal and operations teams.
Publishers should also have a solid understanding of what their most important needs or biggest risks are. This means knowing what kind of experience they want consumers to have on their sites, the biggest impacts if they can’t get consumer consent and how can they leverage the framework to mitigate those.
Publishers also need to ensure that their vital advertising partners (and their partners’ partners) get the consent they need to continue providing value, including provide services like analytics, fraud detection, security, viewability and conversion tracking.
Well before May 25, the EU’s 430 million internet users began seeing the new transparency and consent pop-ups on their trusted news sources and online entertainment sites. Just as publishers are preparing their business, they need to also prepare their readers if they haven’t already done so to ensure that readers understand how their browsing experience will change should they not consent to the use of their personal data. The notification could appear on website, in email communications or via social channels. The more users are educated, the more likely the transition will be smooth and less challenging.
Every change in regulation brings unintended consequences. The ambition of GDPR in putting more control into the hands of consumers should be lauded, but the risk it poses to the publishers delivering quality, independent editorial news should concern us all. Publishers that began getting GDPR-compliant consent from consumers early stand the best chance of having a critical mass of consent by May 25 so they can continue, uninterrupted, providing quality content to consumers.