What Will Consent Look Like in the Post-Third-Party Cookie Era?

February 15, 2022 — by MediaMath    

On Jan. 26th, MediaMath Chief Privacy Officer Fiona Campbell-Webster joined a panel at ID5’s Identity 2022 conference along with Didomi and IAB Europe. The panelists tackled the question, “What will consent look like in the post-third-party cookie era?” Here were some of the key themes discussed that advertisers should consider as they fortify their plans for third-party cookie deprecation this year.

The nuances of user consent across privacy regulations

Consent pop-ups are aggravating to consumers, says Thomas Adhumeau, Chief Privacy Officer at Didomi. They leave much to be desired by way of their design and disruptive placement on web pages, so much so that users quickly accept them because they want to see the content, not because they actually understand the implications of consenting. “Consent as we think about it in Europe is not a great outcome,” he told the panel. “It’s not the reason the E.U. came up with the GDPR in the first place.”

Campbell-Webster noted that much of this disharmony is due to the varying definitions of consent in different European privacy laws. “The challenge there is that under the ePrivacy Directive, the definition of consent previously referred to the definition of consent in the previous version of the directive prior to GDPR,” she said. “And that wasn’t updated when GDPR came into play. And the ePrivacy regulation was meant to be put in place there along with GDPR. That’s why we’ve ended up with these various interpretations of what that unambiguous, meaningful prior consent looks like under GDPR for cookie consent, as it still applies under a state-by-state basis with the ePrivacy directive still in force.”

A new pathway to consent

In the future without third-party cookies, companies doing business in the E.U. will still face the challenge of GDPR consent for further processing of personal data for targeting purposes, Campbell-Webster said. And even with pseudo-anonymous information, the fact that you can still, at some level, tie back to a user means companies have to provide disclosures so consumers can understand what their data might be used for, even after it’s hashed or salted.

“The model of consent that applies isn’t just about the individual user’s consideration of the disclosures, but what that consent maps to in relation to the applicable law,” she said.

Adhumeau of Didomi looks at the evolution of consent in three phases, with the third improving the value exchange between advertisers and consumers.

“I think we are entering a new area where first- or even zero-party data is going to be the new oil,” he said. “I think we are on the verge of entering a new era where we are not going to be asking for consent because the law requires it but we want users to trust the companies are going to behave with their data. That goes beyond consent – it’s about building a new relationship, a trusted relationship, built on full transparency of what’s happening with the data.”

Campbell-Webster says as part of this work, MediaMath has been exploring what privacy looks like within the bidstreams and privacy-scoring signals. “To the extent that we can be supporting the ecosystem with privacy-first inventory and leaning into that, it’s something that we’re focused on and that I am very focused on in my privacy program. And part of that is getting above and out beyond what the laws are on a granular level and thinking more about the consumer and the individual and what it means to them in normal terms and normal language.”

Collaborating to improve the user experience around consent

Both she, Adhumeau and Rafael Marti, Head of Legal at ID5, agree that the new era of consent will involve making website banners more user-friendly, perhaps using elements like graphics and video.

“We need to make it simpler and easier for the end user to engage with the content they are looking for without having to go through different cookie banners,” Marti said.

Improving the user experience will help both consumers who want to read the content behind a consent pop-up and advertisers that want to reach users in a seamless way. What it will take to build this new consumer journey is industry collaboration.

The industry can use privacy as an opportunity “to help us towards easing that journey from the consumer to the content provider to the advertiser,” Campbell-Webster said. “And that’s where we want to get to.”