Categories: Publisher NewsTips

Google starts to enforce EU Cookie Consent Policy

A European Union flag shows its stars in the blue sky ** Note: Slight blurriness, best at smaller sizes

The EU Directive on cookie consent was adopted in 2011 by European countries, and from 26 May 2012, the directive became law. Websites which receive EU visitors were at the time urged to implement a cookie consent solution for their websites, however, many businesses either chose not to, or are still unaware. This week Google started to enforce the EU Cookie Consent Policy.

Although cookie law is something which should be enforced by governments, it seems to down to the Google Publisher Policy Team to actively encourage webmasters to adopt it. The following message was sent to an American webmaster this week, who shared it on the WebmasterWorld.com forum.

Dear Publisher,

We recently launched the European Union (EU) user consent policy, which requires that you obtain EU end users’ consent to the storing and accessing of cookies and other information including: data collection, sharing, and usage that takes place when you use Google advertising products. This policy applies to publishers monetizing with Google AdSense, AdMob, DoubleClick for Publishers, and DoubleClick Ad Exchange.

We have reviewed the sites that you monetize and found that one or more of them doesn’t comply with this policy. These can be found in the file attached to this email. If your site does not have a valid consent mechanism, you should implement one now. Failing to comply with this policy is a breach of your contract with Google and may result in disabling of your account(s) if it is not resolved by 3/28/2017. Please also note that, while we have not reviewed any apps that you may monetize with our products at this time, our user consent policy applies to apps too.

Resources to make this process easier for you can be found on cookiechoices.org.

Please keep us up to date with the changes you are making to comply with this policy by filling out this form [support.google.com].


The Google Publisher Policy Team

The threat of disabling Google accounts if consent is not requested is certainly a serious one. For publishers, this does not merely mean the loss of advertising revenue through Google AdSense and other platforms, but possibly (though unlikely) the loss of Analytics, Search Console, Gmail, Drive and a whole host of other applications that have become vital to working effectively online today.

The AdSense team announced their user consent policy for the EU Cookie Law in July 2015, and every AdSense publisher should really keep a close eye on the official AdSense blog, and read all communications from Google.

Google’s guidelines are brief and to the point:

For end users in the European Union:

  • You must use commercially reasonable efforts to disclose clearly, and obtain consent to, any data collection, sharing and usage that takes place on any site, app, email publication or other property as a consequence of your use of Google products; and
  • You must use commercially reasonable efforts to ensure that an end user is provided with clear and comprehensive information about, and consents to, the storing and accessing of cookies or other information on the end user’s device where such activity occurs in connection with a product to which this policy applies.

Will The EU Cookie Consent Policy Be Abandoned?

On 11 Jan 2017, BBC News reported that the European Commission was making plans to reduce the impact of the Cookie Law. Andrus Ansip, the European Commission vice-president, said that proposed changes were “so that internet users do not have to click on a banner every time they visit a website”.

The idea is that websites could be allowed to read the settings in a user’s browser, rather than request approval each time. However, for now the law is still in place, and although many businesses have called for the EU to abandon the cookie law, it seems more likely that if there is any change, it may actually provide an even greater headache for webmasters.

Advertising Revenue Risk

If the power is placed in the hands of the user, then it is possible that those who disallow cookies will not see the adverts which rely them, and this has the potential to hit advertising revenues.

Townsend Feehan, chief executive of Interactive Advertising Bureau Europe, is pessimistic about further changes: “People who thought cookie banners were annoying, will be disappointed to hear that things won’t get better”.

How To Comply

Fortunately, complying with the law is reasonably straightforward. For websites on a CMS there are now several free Cookie Consent plugins and modules available, but for non-CMS sites all that is required is some Javascript on each page.

Europe Only

If you wish to optimize your cookie consent notifications, try to deliver them only to EU countries. The law does not apply to where the business or website owner lives, but to where the reader is based. In the case raised on the Webmaster World forum, the website was owned by an American – there is no need to show EU Cookie Consent banner to Americans, or to any other non-EU country for that matter.

User feedback since the introduction of the policy has highlighted that non-EU users find the banners very frustrating, so making the extra effort to only show banners in EU member states should improve your UX overall and increase your global audience.

If you need any assistance with implementing a solution, the OKO tech team are here to help.

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