Brand Strategy Meta Consent

As Meta moves to ‘consent-based’ ads in the EU, advertisers must focus on trust

By Egemen Akbas, Media director

Ledger Bennett


The Drum Network article

This content is produced by The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

Find out more

October 23, 2023 | 6 min read

Facebook and Instagram parent Meta has signaled intentions to move to a consent-based ad model in Europe. Egemen Akbas of B2B marketing shop Ledger Bennett

A stylized version of the Meta logo and various Meta apps

Meta has said it will moved to a consent-based ad model in Europe - how can advertisers keep up? / Mariia Shalabaieva via Unsplash

In a significant pivot that could reshape the advertising landscape, Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta has announced its intention to seek consent from EU users before displaying personalized ads.

This change is a departure from Meta’s previous reliance on “legitimate interests” as a basis for targeted advertising – data processing, carried out mainly to benefit the company’s interests and overriding anyone else’s.

So how could this development impact both advertisers and the digital advertising ecosystem?

Regulatory winds of change

The shift follows regulatory rulings that have raised questions about the legality of Meta’s data processing practices. Ireland's Data Protection Commissioner and other regulatory bodies have challenged Meta’s use of user data for ad targeting without having gained explicit consent, with hefty fines attached.

As a result, Meta has decided to change its approach, adjusting the legal basis for processing certain data from solely considering “legitimate interests” to actively requiring the user’s consent.

Advertisers need to focus on trust

For advertisers, this change underscores the need to transition from data-centric strategies to trust-based engagement.

With a diminishing reliance on third-party targeting, the focus on first-party data and authentic brand communication is increasing.

This adjustment emphasizes the importance of classic marketing disciplines, including segmentation, targeting, positioning, and aligning marketing with evolving user privacy preferences.

To track, or not to track?

This move by Meta is just one facet of a broader transformation in the digital advertising ecosystem.

Apple’s introduction of the App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature, allowing users to opt in or out of app tracking, has already reshaped user data access for advertisers. Now, Meta's shift adds another layer of complexity.

The landscape is changing rapidly, calling for us to be more adaptable and creative within our marketing strategies, in line with regulations.

Privacy policies: a foundation for user control

Meta’s decision aligns with the growing emphasis on user consent and privacy. Users are generally hesitant to share personal information online, even on reputable platforms, with the rise of hacking and fraud a serious threat.

User consent empowers users in the EU to have more control over their online experience and personal data.

Privacy activists and experts anticipate that many users will opt out of targeted ads, reflecting their desire for more control over their online privacy.

Suggested newsletters for you

Daily Briefing


Catch up on the most important stories of the day, curated by our editorial team.

Ads of the Week


See the best ads of the last week - all in one place.

The Drum Insider

Once a month

Learn how to pitch to our editors and get published on The Drum.

The potential cost of privacy: Where are we now?

Advertising accounted for 97% of Meta’s revenue last year. While this decision is a step toward user privacy, it also has potential implications for Meta’s revenue streams. The transition might impact the company's bottom line as the personalized ad model faces financial challenges in the EU market.

Meta’s announcement demonstrates a significant change in the digital advertising landscape. As users gain more control over their data and privacy, advertisers must navigate this new terrain with careful consideration and a customer-centric approach.

This decision underscores the importance of building authentic relationships with users, leveraging first-party data, and embracing evolving privacy regulations. The advertising world is evolving, and businesses that adapt will find new avenues for growth and success.

Brand Strategy Meta Consent

Content by The Drum Network member:

Ledger Bennett

We’re Ledger Bennett — a B2B marketing agency and part of the Havas Media Network. We don’t just create campaigns that lead to MQLs, we develop strategies...

Find out more

More from Brand Strategy

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +