Google issues updated GDPR guidance to publishers on how to gain consent from users

Despite publishers' claims that some of Google's policies are self-serving, the company asserts it is in line with GDPR.

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Google Home Page Ss 1920Google has updated its cookie guidance resource, CookieChoices, to include new tips and suggestions to advertisers and publishers in advance of the May 25 deadline for enforcement of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). GDPR is a sweeping set of rules governing the handling of European Union (EU) members’ personal data. The updates follow a March AdWords blog post that said these changes would be coming. The CookieChoices site launched in 2014. Its GDPR updates include a link to its EU user consent policy, sample consent notices and third-party consent tools for publishers to use on their own sites. The updated site also lets publishers know that if they serve ads through Google, they will need to get additional consent. From its EU user consent policy:
If you use tags for advertising products like AdWords or DoubleClick Campaign Manager on your pages, you’ll need to obtain consent from your EEA users to comply with Google’s user consent policy. Our policy requires consent for cookies that are used for measurement purposes and consent for the use of personal data for personalised ads — for instance if you have remarketing tags on your pages.

Publishers call the plan out

The March blog post spurred a group of publishers to say that Google’s GDPR policy “falls severely short,” by considering publishers “co-controllers,” a designation that forces publishers to collect consent and then share it to the Google network as a whole. But Google says that publishers are required to collect consent for their own site visitors, per GDPR’s rules regarding controllers and processors. A Google spokesperson told us in April:
Guidance about the GDPR is that consent is required for personalized advertising. We have always asked publishers to get consent for the use of our ad tech on their sites, and now we’re simply updating that requirement in line with the GDPR. Because we make decisions on data processing to help publishers optimize ad revenue, we will operate as a controller across our publisher products in line with GDPR requirements, but this designation does not give us any additional rights to their data. We’re working closely with our publisher partners and are committed to providing a range of tools to help them gather user consent.
When I reached out this week, a Google spokesperson added:
Under existing EU law, Google already requires publishers and advertisers to get consent from their end users for the use of our advertising services on their websites. We’re asking our partners to refine the way they get consent for the use of Google’s services on their sites, in line with GDPR guidance. We’re not asking publishers to get consent for our users. We’re asking them to get consent from their users, on their sites, for use of ad tech on their sites — which could be one of our advertising products, or someone else’s.
The site provides several consent tools, including a significantly repositioned Funding Choices, which has been in beta as an anti-ad-blocking monetization tool. Google told me that the ad blocking revenue recovery aspect of the tool isn’t going away. Google also provides GDPR advice for publishers on its DoubleClick for Publishers help forum.
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Last-minute questions and concern

GDPR has been a long time coming. So why issue this guidance down to the wire? Google said it has made the updates now because the Article 29 Working Party, an EU advisory group, issued its final guidance on April 16. Article 29 is the portion of the GDPR that governs consent. Yet the fairly significant update to Google’s cookie guidance site seems to have received little notice. Publishers can only collect consent for 12 partners through Funding Choices, an issue that has raised concern among publishers and left some wondering if Google is attempting to control which third-party vendors publishers can use — an issue that’s been raised before. A Google spokesperson told me that the current publisher limit was chosen for its user experience and said that all of its GDPR tools, including Funding Choices, are dictated by GDPR. Questions about GDPR? Download our free guide, The General Data Protection Regulation: GDPR — A Guide for Marketers.

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About the author

Robin Kurzer
Robin Kurzer started her career as a daily newspaper reporter in Milford, Connecticut. She then made her mark on the advertising and marketing world in Chicago at agencies such as Tribal DDB and Razorfish, creating award-winning work for many major brands. For the past seven years, she’s worked as a freelance writer and communications professional across a variety of business sectors.

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