The Transparency and Consent Framework was the programmatic advertising industry’s response to privacy laws, such as GDPR, that stipulate that informed consent is needed before processing a user’s personal information. TCF powers most of the “advertising preferences” pop-ups that you see around the web, helping the industry satisfy the conflicting needs of lawmakers, advertisers, publishers and their audience.
When publishers rolled out their TCF compliant consent systems in 2018, many thought they were through the challenges of GDPR. The bad news is that TCF 2.0 is due to be adopted in August 2020 and most publishers will need to replace their consent systems in order to stay compliant.
What is TCF 2.0?
The Transparency and Consent Framework (TCF) aims to provide a common mechanism to handle and communicate a user’s preferences around how their data is used in advertising. In essence, it is an agreed set of standards around what consent means and a common mechanism to communicate that consent securely through the advertising system.
Version 2.0 of TCF was announced in August 2019 after a lengthy review of version 1.0. The IAB, who manages the standard, state that the goal of the update was to make the framework more useful to Europe’s publishers. It’s no secret though that version 1.0 wasn’t universally applauded by all stakeholders and the new standard aims to also address concerns from legislators, advertisers and user groups.
TCF 2.0 certainly does offer more control to publishers over how different vendors can utlise data from their users. This allows publishers to communicate that far more clearly to their users, which is the ultimate goal.
Google and TCF 2.0
On a very practical level, TCF 2.0 brings another advantage to publishers: Google has promised to support it. At present we have to manage one method of passing consent for Google and another for the rest of the industry. Google don’t support TCF 2.0 yet, but once they do, most publishers will only need to maintain a single consent mechanism.
June 2020 update: Google has confirmed that they will begin gradually reading and passing the Transparency Consent (TC) String for a small percentage of ad requests two weeks prior to the deadline for TCF 2.0 implementation. Once the IAB fully transitions from TCF V1.1 to V2.0, TC strings for all ad requests will be read and passed. In addition, Google’s consent management platform, Funding Choices, will also support TCF 2.0.
TCF 1.1 will be switched off on August 15th
If you have a Consent Management Platform running on your website (which you almost certainly should if you have any users from the EEA), then this likely uses version 1.1 of the Transparency and Consent Framework. This will stop working on August 15th 2020.
If publishers are not using the updated framework by that date then consent will not be passed to vendors and a revenue impact can be expected.
What do publishers need to do?
Publishers need to switch their Consent Management Platform to one that is TCF 2.0 compatible before August 15th. That might suggest making the change as soon as possible, but it is important to check that all of your vendors are supporting TCF 2.0 before making the change. You can check the status of vendors on the IAB’s TCF 2.0 Vendor List here.
Once you are happy that your vendors are compatible with TCF 2.0 you can upgrade your CMP. If that means switching to 2.0 before Google support it then that likely means implementing a work around using Google Ad Manager consent similar to the Quantcast Choice method we suggest here.
What if I am an OKO publisher?
As always, things are a bit easier if you work with OKO. We’re already working with publishers to bring their support up to date and managing the process for them. If that hasn’t begun for you yet, and you would like to get started, just mention it to your account manager.
Would you benefit from having better support on issues like this?
OKO not only help web publishers earn more, but give publishers expert support with issues such as GDPR compliance. Find out more here.
Mat has been supporting content creators on the web since 1996. As Co-founder of OKO Digital, Mat became the first person in the UK qualified to AdSense partner status and repeated this first with Google Certified Publishing Partner programme.