Commanders Act Privacy Barometer 2021 The impact of explicit consent: a pleasant surprise for the market

24/06/2021 |

For the fourth edition of its annual Barometer, Commanders Act has chosen to focus the spotlight on the trend in consent rates before and after the deadline of 31 March 2021 for complying with the data protection authority’s cookie rules.

Paris, 17 June 2021 – Commanders Act, Europe’s leading SaaS software vendor in Tag & Data Management, has unveiled the fourth edition of its Privacy Barometer, which provides insights into the performance levels of the mechanisms that its customers have implemented to collect consent in accordance with the GDPR. This edition also compares the consent rate before and after the deadline of 31 March 2021 that France’s data protection authority (CNIL) laid down for organisations to obtain explicit consent for using cookies. Contrary to the market’s expectations, this additional requirement has not sent the consent rate into freefall. The actual rate is still very high (over 80%) for customers that have gone to the effort of enhancing their consent banners.

To produce its latest barometer, Commanders Act used two sets of data. The first set was collected between 1 January and 28 February 2021, while the second set was harvested between 1 April and 31 May 2021. Both sets were collected from websites equipped with TrustCommander, its consent management platform (CMP), representing approximately two billion users.

Discover the barometer!

What has changed since 31 March 2021

CNIL chose 31 March 2021 as the deadline for companies to align with its new guidelines for using cookies and other trackers. In other words, any company that is active on the Internet or mobile platforms after that date is likely to come under even greater scrutiny by CNIL, with the prospect of penalties for any organisations that have failed to roll out the necessary mechanisms for obtaining explicit cookie consent from users.

Before this key date, most websites made do with implied consent, meaning that users were considered to have given their consent simply by continuing to browse on the website or scrolling down a page. Very few websites had actually set up an explicit consent mechanism with two separate buttons (“Accept” and “Refuse”) due to fears of seeing a drop in visitor levels and losing their ability to monetise their traffic. Several websites featured footer banners that briefly informed visitors about the use of cookies without disrupting the browsing experience, instead of prompting visitors to actively make a choice.

Now that CNIL has enacted its new directives, brands have to implement banners where users can make an explicit choice. According to the official guidelines, consent can only be construed as explicit if users click on the “Accept cookies” button. Therefore, users failing to make a choice are considered to have opted out. The directives have prompted brands in their droves to use pop-in banners (72%), which give users a greater incentive to make a choice since they are more intrusive and affect the browsing experience. Everyone thought (and feared) that most web users would rather refuse cookies instead of accepting them, but the Privacy Barometer paints a very different picture.

The impact of explicit consent: a pleasant surprise for the market

The consent rate may have fallen since 31 March (down 15 points for desktops and down 4 points for mobile devices on average), but it still reflects a positive trend in terms of collecting consent. “Since companies have rolled out explicit consent banners, we’ve seen that most users make a choice, and in more than 80% of cases, that choice is positive. That’s the cookie opt-in rate,” advises Michael Froment, CEO of Commanders Act.

Unlike the opt-in rate, the consent rate takes account of cases where users do not make a choice, which is interpreted as a refusal. “The consent rate – 55% for desktops and 71% for mobile devices – actually corresponds to the audience whose data we can subsequently exploit, since users have explicitly given their consent for that purpose,” explains Michael Froment.

The whole challenge currently facing brands involves encouraging users to make a choice, which is positive in most cases. “We’ve realised that the websites with poor consent rates are those that have not taken enough steps to create enhanced banners that encourage visitors to make a choice. As such, their users don’t bother clicking,” adds Michael Froment. “At the other end of the scale and depending on the sector activity, banners with a carefully thought-out design can achieve a consent rate of up to 80%.

What is the recipe for improving the consent rate?

Pop-in banners tend to be the most popular format, partly because they are more effective than the others and require less effort. However, they are also more intrusive and may prove to be counterproductive to a certain extent. Footer and header banners tend to encourage users to avoid making a choice, since they are less disruptive on navigation. But when companies make the necessary effort, take care over the design and spend the time to carry out A/B testing, this type of format can be extremely effective, while becoming a lot less intrusive.

The aim is draw visitors’ attention to the banner by choosing the right colours and design, and making it sufficiently visible and intuitive. Although there is no magic formula, there are a number of simple and proven best practices for considerably improving the consent rate.

The fact that most visitors agree to give their explicit consent comes as an excellent surprise for the market. The collapse in opt-in rates that everyone was expecting simply didn’t happen! Brands need to pounce on this opportunity and take the time to craft and test their banner with the aim of finding the most effective mechanism for encouraging users to make a choice,” concludes Michael Froment.