Publishers have only 6 days left to institute processes for obtaining consent from their users to serve personalized ads, or risk being banned from Google AdSense.
The rules are outlined in Google’s draft EU consent policy, which is due to be updated when the EU’s GDPR comes into force on 25th May.
The new policy states, “[publishers] must obtain end users’ legally valid consent to…the collection, sharing, and use of personal data for personalization of ads or other services”.
It also states, “[publishers] seeking consent [must]…retain records of consent given by end users…and provide end users with clear instructions for revocation of consent”.
The new rules are likely to cause severe headaches for publishers that lack the technical capacity to enforce conditional consent mechanisms i.e. serving or not serving ads dependent on user preferences.
Some commentators have declared it could signal the end of personalized and programmatic advertising. They state that even if consent mechanisms are adopted by publishers, it’s unlikely users will agree to their personal data being utilized for the purpose of serving advertisements.
Criticism of Google has mainly focused on its decision to wait until the last minute before addressing publishers’ concerns.
While the search company has made efforts to assist its customers, including allowing publishers to serve non-personalized ads (a feature that is available to AdSense users from their admin panels), one particular point of concern is Google’s decision to place the burden of obtaining consent onto publishers.
In an open letter sent to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, four trade bodies representing news organizations stated, “Your proposal severely falls short on many levels and seems to lay out a framework more concerned with protecting your existing business model in a manner that would undermine the fundamental purposes of the GDPR”.
Meanwhile, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), a trade body representing digital advertisers, has developed a consent management framework that would harmonize publishers’ efforts to obtain consent from their users to serve personalized ads.
However, to date, unlike several other ad networks, Google hasn’t signed-up to the harmonization effort.
Rather, it appears to be backing its own consent management platform called funding choices, which started out life as a service to help publishers fight ad blocking.
However, only select publishers have been invited to test funding choices and it’s currently in beta mode.
Moreover, commentators have criticized it for restricting the number of ad networks publishers can work with to 12 and deem the consent management solution will further tighten Google’s stranglehold over the advertising industry.
Users of Google Analytics are also likely to have been concerned by the search giant’s tardiness in releasing new features to help webmasters cope with the demands of the GDPR.
The Silicon Valley based search engine has waited until today to reveal information about its user deletion API, a feature that allows Google Analytics users that collect personally identifiable information to delete that information upon user request.
According to the WSJ, Google has invited all four of the trade bodies that co-signed a letter to Sundar Pichai to attend a meeting with its executives in New York the day before GDPR comes into force.
However, for some publishers, the overture will likely be deemed to little, too late, in their quest to be compliant with the GDPR.