Publishers and advertisers need to speak the same language when it comes to consent

GDPR is up and running, and some publishers and advertisers have realised that they aren’t prepared for the full impacts of the regulations on their ecosystems. However, they’re not out of the game just yet.

With GDPR now in force, all websites that deliver personalised advertising need to obtain “unambiguous” consent for themselves and their partners to set cookies that collect consumer data. GDPR requires that sites must clearly present information to consumers about how data about them will be used and who will be using it. But GDPR also demands that all of the parties who touch that data understand and respect the choices made by the user regarding how their data may be used.

This means that publishers need to consider their entire advertising supply chains, which starts but doesn’t end with them. This means looking into the privacy policies of the advertisers who buy ad spaces on their sites, as well as those advertisers’ trusted partners who help them deliver that content.

The sharing of audience data like IP addresses across the digital advertising supply chain allows brands to find their audience online, and those brands are willing to pay more for this effective reach. It’s one of the reasons why advertising now represents up to 80% of revenue for digital publishers.

However, the possibility of legal exposure from poor policies across the chain is causing concern for some publishers; in fact, some are even considering cutting off their digital supply chains as a result. That being said, if a publisher’s knee jerk reaction is to stop allowing collection of data from its site, it is taking a short sighted and significantly disruptive approach.

The end result of publishers cutting data-relationships with advertisers is obviously that vendors will stop spending their budgets on digital media placement. This is damaging for both parties. Advertisers will lose the ability to effectively reach their target audiences, while publishers will miss out on revenue they rely on to operate.

This reduction of advertising income could be catastrophic for many small and medium publishers, and it would jeopardize the multitude of voices and perspectives online that we all benefit from today.

In addition, these actions risk further empowering the few mammoth internet platforms. Social media giants are already well-positioned to acquire widespread user consent where some lesser-known competitors are not. With major players like Facebook and Google already owning much of the online consumer experience, feeding this imbalance risks creates a very challenging environment for smaller publishers, and pushes more content consumption to those walled gardens.

It’s vital that publishers and advertisers find a united solution. In the wake of GDPR our industry needs a common standard, something that businesses across our sector can use to communicate on the same level, with the focus on respecting consumer consent across the board.

Enter the IAB Europe

The IAB Europe, with collaboration across the industry, has released an open-source Transparency and Consent Framework. It’s the only GDPR consent solution that has been built by the industry, for the industry, creating a true industry-standard approach. This framework is helping publishers, technology vendors and marketers speak in the same language when it comes to obtaining consent after GDPR.

Through the Transparency and Consent Framework, publishers will be able to continue funding themselves through relevant online advertising and brands can continue to reach their audiences. All the while and most importantly, consumer privacy is protected: they are given greater transparency over how their data will be used and their consent is respected across the supply chain. As part of the Framework, audiences have the ability to selectively choose what use cases they are ok with and with which companies, of those asking, they are comfortable sharing their data. Those consumer choices are communicated throughout the ecosystem using a standard protocol so that vendors downstream understand and can honour those choices.

In the post-GDPR age, we have an amazing opportunity to reinvent online media and advertising. Ultimately, we can improve how consumers experience the internet and interact with both publishers and brands along the way. There’s a real chance for everyone to grow effectively in the data privacy era, so long we focus on transparent collaboration and communication at every stage.

Ghita Harris-Newton is chief privacy officer and deputy general counsel at Quantcast. Quantcast is making the IAB Europe’s Transparency and Consent Framework available for free to advertisers and publishers as Quantcast Choice.

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