Only 9% Opt Into GDPR Tracking, Study Finds

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The Takeaways

  • Analyst, Marko Saric, published a study analyzing GDPR consent rates, which he tallied at 9% over a month from a total of 19,000 visitors.
  • Saric’s assessment of this low consent rate resulted in recommendations in the event of personalized advertising becoming illegal.
  • The EU has had difficulties implementing and enforcing GDPR, but a course correction currently isn’t on the cards.

What happened?

Data analyst Marko Saric published a study for tech website Pando on people’s willingness to give GDPR consent. From Saric’s conclusions, it seems not only are most GDPR consent forms opaque to the point of being illegal, but 91% of site visitors withhold consent from a “proper” GDPR banner. These could put consent-based advertisers in a tricky position.

Saric tested two different sites over a month. Using one with a 60% organic Google search-based audience and another mainly visited by organic social media users (70%), he found that 48% of visitors engaged with the banner and 9% of total visitors granted consent. Ultimately, his study used data from 19,000 visitors.

Why this matters

Saric is clearly interested in ethical data collection. He also recognises that full GDPR enforcement makes low consent rates a major issue. And that issue may well destabilize the digital ad industry.

In response, Saric firstly advises exploring more ethical monetization methods. Secondly, he suggests avoiding personalization entirely through contextual advertising based on page content. Thirdly, GDPR-compliant, less-invasive website stats sans personal tracking and third-party cookies could be considered. Lastly, he recommends charging for premium services to fund the free plans.

Struggles ahead for personalised advertising?

Given that the EU itself admitted struggling with GDPR’s implementation after two years, Saric’s findings may not appear time-sensitive. However, the burden’s partly shifted to small and medium-sized companies, new tech developers and lawmakers. GDPR’s legality, effectiveness and timeliness may be debated, but tech and the law don’t mesh easily.

Still, publishers like the Washington Post have released their own AdTech products. Saric, in turn, sees browsers and operating systems hosting cookies and tracking settings instead of sites. Personalized digital advertising may be ending. The bigger question now is how to get ahead of its potential end.

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