A term which has been dormant in media headlines, and most likely Google searches, for a couple of years, resurfaced again this week: The European Union ePrivacy directive, also known as the EU cookie directive, is back. This has been due a revision that updates it to correlate better with its big brother, the General Data Protection Regulations.
Any update to EU-wide data laws, though important, can be horribly dry (and confusing) to digest.
We’ve broken down some of the most important points for marketers and publishers who want to know more about it.
So WTF is the EU cookie directive?
Europeans are all familiar with slightly annoying banner pop-ups that appear on any website they visit, asking for consent to collect cookies. That was the product of the last (and existing) EU cookie directive update. Essentially, it is the European Commission’s way of trying to apply some regulation to how companies collect individuals’ data online, and give people more choice over how their cookies are used to track them. At least that’s the theory.
So that’s a good thing, right?
Yes and no. The idea of giving people more choice over how their cookies are collected may be sound. The reality of how that can actually be executed is complex and messy — and potentially won’t result in a better user experience.
One of the goals with these latest EU cookie proposals is to drop the need for the existing banners that ask for people’s permission to drop cookies, having deemed them annoying. The rub: The alternative of what publishers (and any business that runs a website and drops cookies on visitors) will have to do may result in, ironically, more banners. These updated proposals will mean, for example, that publishers, brands and anyone collecting or analyzing data for the purposes of advertising will have a few more hoops to jump through to gain consent.
So what are the hoops?
In the revised law, consumers will be the ones setting their privacy settings via their browsers or any mobile apps they use. In theory, that means they can select options for how much they let themselves be tracked — they may agree to allow all their cookies to be used, or just some, or none. And they will need to set that up in their browser settings. That way, websites would supposedly read the cookie preferences set in users’ browsers. At least, that’s the theory. But if users opt against allowing most cookies, then publishers may have to issue a pop-up every time the users visit their site to inform them that they need to give permission first — much like ad-blocker pop-up messages currently work, according to the IAB’s head of policy and regulatory affairs, Yves Schwarzbart.
There’s also been some clarity on an area that there was some confusionlast year — whether publishers are legally within their right to use ad blocking detection software. That seems to have been a storm in a tea cup. The European Commission has revealed that this is totally fine.
And what about messaging apps?
Tougher rules on how messaging services, such as WhatsApp, Skype and Gmail, are included in the revised proposals. There are already tight regulations around SMS text messages, which telcos already abide by, meaning safeguards are in place to ensure confidentiality of messages sent, for example. To date, newer companies like WhatsApp — which provide over-the-top services, but which many people now use to send messages — haven’t been included. The revisions now rectify that.
So do companies need consumer consent to gather all data now?
No. There are certain exemptions. For example, a supermarket that provides online shopping won’t have to ask for consent to remember shopping-basket data. And that also includes counting visits to a specific person’s site.
What else is different about these new proposals?
These proposals have intentionally been revised to align better to the GDPR. But one of the biggest differences between them currently is that GDPR is a regulation, and the cookie law is a directive. And the difference between the two is quite important: A regulation means that each of the 28 member states in the EU must adhere to the exact same laws and ways of implementing them. No wiggle room whatsoever. Whereas each country in the EU can implement whatever version of a directive works best for their individual markets. So those with a more advanced digital advertising landscape, like the U.K., needn’t apply such strict rules as the likes of Germany or Scandinavian countries, for example. But the EU ePrivacy proposals released this week are suggesting the directive become regulation. And it’s “very likely” this will become the case, according to Schwarzbart.
This sounds very similar to GDPR.
Yes, that’s intentional. And again, ad tech companies that provide the ad services but don’t have the direct access to the customer data (like a publisher or a brand might with its customer relationship data) will find the changes a lot trickier to implement.
What are the next steps?
The revised laws will now go to the European Parliament, and the EU’s Council of Ministers, who represent the 28 member states, will have a chance to make amendments. The goal is to have them ready for implementation at the same time as GDPR: 2018.
Future plc’s Jason Webby says U.K. publisher wants to be a dominant player in the U.S.
While the bulk of Future plc’s buys have been purchases of publications, the strategies behind them have not solely been about adding like inventory and like audiences, Webby said in the latest Digiday Podcast episode.
Podcasters are pitching longer, more lucrative ads, but ad buyers prefer shorter, cheaper spots
While podcast production companies and creative studios pitch custom, longer-form podcast ads, buyers prefer ads under a minute long due to budgets, reach and audience attention.
Media Buying Briefing: Four takeaways on Upfront Week from a buyer’s perspective
Beyond a general optimism to be back in person for Upfront Week, buyers shared their thoughts on what worked and what still needs to happen.
SponsoredHow marketers and retailers are unlocking the true value of retail media
Ben Kneen, senior director of product management, Xandr It’s a challenging time for retailers in the advertising industry. As they cope with supply chain woes and inflation-related pressures, they seek high-margin revenue streams amid evolving privacy regulations and massive shifts in identity solutions — including IDFA, the deprecation of third-party cookies and more. In light […]
How publishers are future proofing their commerce offerings for post-pandemic consumers
Four publishers gathered at Digiday Media's Commerce for Publishers Forum to talk about their affiliate programs and strategies.
Member ExclusiveMedia Briefing: Publishers and media unions are still haggling over office-return plans heading into the summer
In this week's Media Briefing, senior media reporter Sara Guaglione reports on how unions at some major media companies are pushing back against publishers' return to office mandates, with The New York Times Guild seemingly netting a victory on Wednesday.