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GDPR might be causing higher bounce rate

     
4:04 pm on Aug 16, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I monitored some stats on bounce rate since GDPR was implemented and it indicates a higher bounce rate. This appears to be when serving the "privacy counts" message. It's a pop-up which, in effect, tells visitors to agree or to explore the purposes.
Looking at the trends, there's a cliff on the introduction, with stats now settling, but more people backing out on recent weeks.
I'd like to hear the wider view based upon your stats. Are you seeing a trend?
Is GDPR driving visitors back to Google to search until they find an easier site to access?
10:20 pm on Aug 16, 2018 (gmt 0)

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As a user I instantly close web pages inviting me to "Agree all" or enter a time-consuming dialogue, and any site doing this to users should read GDPR carefully: not-agreeing should be the default, and you can't give informed consent to "all".

I don't know how you or others here collect and use personally identifiable information from visitors, or how you obtain their consent, but I would expect those who expect to obtain consent by default and without clear information to see a higher bounce-rate.
8:51 am on Aug 17, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Of course it does.

Let's take my father, who is not a geek, but uses computers since the mid 80's, and Internet since the mid 90's (so he is experienced, and in use of the Internet). As soon as he comes by a site with an overlay message box, he just hit the back button, or close the browser. He is not even reading the message. And with the GDPR, of course these overlay message boxes are everywhere. He told me it was upsetting him, and that he doesn't waste its time with reading this, and trying to find the button to close/approve/refuse, ... One is okay, but when it's everyday site you visit it becomes a pain. Also, he knows what these message boxes are about, but he told me that, they are causing him a reflex to leave, because it reminds him of all these sites, which have overlay ads, or asking you to subscribe to their newsletter, etc...
9:21 am on Aug 17, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I find the warning really annoying. It doesn't mean I leave a site, but it still bugs me. I didn't install it on my site.
11:16 am on Aug 17, 2018 (gmt 0)

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From what I understood, the EU guys who elaborated the e Privacy Directive (Cookie Law) , and GDPR, claimed it was not expected to see a proliferation of popup and annoying messages, and recognized that this is hurting the user's experience. I wonder what they were thinking about?! They make directive / regulation / law, which require sites to obtain explicit consent from users, and to inform them and so on, but they didn't think it's going to be a huge non-stop annoyance ?! So how were they expecting things to look like? They had 5-6 years to think about all of this! ... Now, from what I read, I think that, next year, will come a revision of the e Privacy Directive, which will no longer be a directive, but regulation, which should address this, by making web browsers to handle this. Did I understand correctly? I guess that, when it happens, we will no longer see banners / message, this is the web browser which will block (or not) ads and third part cookies. I wonder what's going to happen. If a user is prompted if he accepts ads or not when he starts/installs a web browser, I guess that nearly everybody will reject ads...
12:03 pm on Aug 17, 2018 (gmt 0)

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how were they expecting things to look like?


They were expecting that websites wouldn't continue to invade privacy without asking permission. If you don't collect, process or sell personally identifiable information, you don't need a pop-up. If you do, you can expect your users to be annoyed.

The reason for the proliferation of pop-ups is the large number of webmasters who think they can carry on as they always did, and that a catch-all pop-up will cover their backside. It won't.
12:27 pm on Aug 17, 2018 (gmt 0)

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If you don't collect, process or sell personally identifiable information, you don't need a pop-up.

But if you display ads, you have to. Even with non personalized ads , you still have to show a cookie banner. Less invasive, since it "might" not require an explicit consent, but still annoying. (if I don't make mistake)
1:31 pm on Aug 17, 2018 (gmt 0)

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From a personal point of view, yes, it's annoying to have to agree to accept the ads.
Personally, i've been backing out then there is an onerous message. Some only allow you to accept to proceed, so I back out.

I wanted to get a wider perspective from you as to whether your stats are showing more bounces right back to Google. It's arguable whether bounce rate hurts a site or not, but if a site is going to get tens of thousands more bounces it'll, at the very least, hit its roi.
1:50 pm on Aug 17, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Within the period where one could measure bounce rate comparatively, there is an increased rate coinciding with the cookie message BUT there have also been major changes in increased mobile views where I would expect the different information-seeking patterns mobile vs desktop* to have an impact as well.

*Ime mobile is more - at least in my niche - about 'what can you do for me now?' whereas desktop is more about 'what can you tell me about this thing in three months time?'
1:55 pm on Aug 17, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@Engine

whether your stats are showing more bounces right back to Google


Not in my case, no, but I don't display any pages that require permission, so don't display pop-ups. As a user I don't "bounce back to Google" as I no longer use Google for personal searches.

@Dimitri

But if you display ads, you have to.


That depends on the ad. You don't need permission to advertise something, but you do if you use embedded code that links the viewing of the advertisement to the person who sees it, or tracks them, or records their viewing history. Of course, if you display third-party ads they are not going to pay you much if they can't track the user.

Anonymous tracking doesn't need permission, but none of the main offenders - Google and Facebook being the biggest culprits - are interested in anonymous data: they know they can sell more mealworms to fishermen than they can to the public at large.
5:05 pm on Aug 20, 2018 (gmt 0)

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GDPR and the old cookie message is a mess, but they (EU) are too afraid to recognise it.
The internet cannot work without cookies and cookies mans $.

You want all free? It's not possible...
7:01 pm on Aug 20, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Free does not need tracking cookies ..and the platforms such as Google and facebook and the adsense publishers are too afraid to recognise it..

The internet works just fine without cookies..the problem is with the ad dependent business models of many websites ( yours ? ) which need cookies..
8:53 pm on Aug 20, 2018 (gmt 0)

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@engine:,you are asking two questions (unless one is reliant on G for majority of traffic):
1. Is there a change in bounce rate after implementation of GDPR explicit opt-in requirements?

2. If there is a bounce rate change has there been a noticeable change in G traffic referrals?

First let me note that only 20-25% of my traffic is from G. Second, that I began testing various opt-in methods well over a year ago - this means that I've determined how to optimise/minimise the impact.

The initial test impact was on the order of a 57% bounce rate increase. It's currently at about 6%. And that includes non-EU traffi as I've rolled it out universally as part of being open regarding privacy.

Of course I don't have to get approval for hundreds of third parties as some sites do - in that circumstance I think all one can do is state that one is a visitor data mine and not a niche site.

So it is possible to request appropriate GDPR opt-in without impact as great as most are experiencing- however, most seem to have not thought through how best to do it to not irritate visitors. Actually a lot of sites are basically saying agree or leave - not user friendly nor privacy transparent, which is the goal.

As to G impact, haven't noticed any. Of course I didn't roll out the methodology until below 10%, wasn't silly enough to want 50%+ bounce rate increase to be some new default.
9:24 pm on Aug 20, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Ezoic recently had a podcast on this. The gist of the discussion was that hardly any publishers (even big European publishers) were in technical compliance with the law, with most publishers treating the consent choice as opt-out rather than opt-in.

Another interesting factoid: When one major publisher experimented with a pop-up rather than a banner, the pop-up worked better, despite the common assumption that people hate pop-ups. Why? Possibly because users getting the pop-up message accepted the need to say "Yes" and be done with it so they could get on with visiting the site. Users who saw the banner, on the other hand, were reluctant to take an active step, especially since they didn't understand what the consent process was about.
10:36 pm on Aug 20, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I saw relatively the same reaction across the 3 sites I own and the 2 I sometimes work on.

I use a custom version of the cookie notice. At first, to simplify things, I said something like "This site uses cookies. By continuing, you agree to our (linked) privacy policy." This did cause an immediate bounce increase... but I was early with adopting the GDPR law when it came to EU visitors, and immediately decided to give everyone the same notice to avoid problems with EU residents outside the EU as well as all the other countries & regions adopting their own privacy standards.

After loosing traffic for a few weeks, I softened the language "This website uses cookies to ensure you get the absolute best experience" and a link to the cookie policy where I explain more. Traffic resumed to near former levels.

Of course there have been a couple other traffic upsets: Mobile-first Index & the August Update which first dropped traffic, then increased it again, but my conclusion is that everyone should be accustomed to seeing cookie notices and more & more it should not be a negative impact.

I still serve everyone, no matter where they are, the same notice.


- - -
10:46 pm on Aug 20, 2018 (gmt 0)

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"This site uses cookies. By continuing, you agree to our (linked) privacy policy."

"This website uses cookies to ensure you get the absolute best experience"

You do know that neither of those notices are compliant with GDPR..to be compliant any visitor agreement has to be explicit ( requires a visitor to click that they agree ) not "implicit" so the visitor "continuing" without them having clicked "agree" is not "GDPR compliant"..
So..
but I was early with adopting the GDPR law

is incorrect..you were not, and are not compliant, you didn't adopt GDPR law at all..
10:52 pm on Aug 20, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Oh..and to be "GDPR compliant"..you have to give the visitor a choice between clicking "agree" and clicking "disagree"..and "agree most not be pre-ticked or more prominent etc ..and if they click "disagree" you cannot shut them out, but you can serve them a site version which does not include cookies.

Example of how that works when a site is GDPR compliant...
[choice.npr.org...]


[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 3:39 am (utc) on Aug 21, 2018]
[edit reason] Fixed typo per poster request. [/edit]

10:57 pm on Aug 20, 2018 (gmt 0)

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You do know that neither of those notices are compliant with GDPR..to be compliant any visitor agreement has to be explicit ( requires a visitor to click that they agree
Relax Leosghost :) All visitors have to click & agree to continue.

But GDPR is much more than just a cookie notice.

My sites are probably more GDPR compliant that most non-EU hosted sites. I use a EU-US Privacy Shield Framework [privacyshield.gov] compliant data center and encrypt all server logs securely off site.

Anyway, the topic is "GDPR might be causing higher bounce rate"


- -
12:58 am on Aug 21, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Relax Leosghost :) All visitors have to click & agree to continue.

That is not what you said here..
I use a custom version of the cookie notice. At first, to simplify things, I said something like "This site uses cookies. By continuing, you agree to our (linked) privacy policy." This did cause an immediate bounce increase... but I was early with adopting the GDPR law when it came to EU visitors, and immediately decided to give everyone the same notice to avoid problems with EU residents outside the EU as well as all the other countries & regions adopting their own privacy standards.

After loosing traffic for a few weeks, I softened the language "This website uses cookies to ensure you get the absolute best experience" and a link to the cookie policy where I explain more. Traffic resumed to near former levels.

But you are still not understanding the GDPR law..
Visitors should not have to
All visitors have to click & agree to continue.

They should also have the choice to "click disagree" and continue to a version of the site which does not track them by placing cookie(s) ..the "privacyshield.gov" site you linked to ( and whose template you are using) is not the EU authority, the site you have linked to does not have a "GDPR compliant" template..If you are basing what you do upon what you find at privacyshield.gov ( a USA government site )..it is not the EU authority site, which is the only authoritative site regarding the GDPR text..The EU site is here..
[eur-lex.europa.eu...]
You can read and / or download the legal text in your preferred language..

Your sites probably are more compliant than most others ( whether inside or outside of the EU ), however true "GDPR compliance" is "an absolute"..a site is either GDPR compliant..or it is not ..( black or white, no grey ) in the same way as one ( if one is female ) cannot be a "little bit pregnant".
re
Anyway, the topic is "GDPR might be causing higher bounce rate"

Whether ""GDPR might be causing higher bounce rate" is only relevant if sites are "GDPR compliant"..sites which are not GDPR compliant, or which mention GDPR in a modal window, pop up, whatever , but which are not giving the choices required to be compliant, cannot base any perceived "bounce rate" upon GDPR..
The site I linked to earlier ( I have no connection with it at all, it is however a very good example of complete GDPR compliance by a USA site, including it's cookie use page and it's privacy notice page..and of course it's landing pages which give me" the EU based visitor" exactly the choices that the GDPR insists upon for the site to be GDPR compliant ) is compliant..
[choice.npr.org...]
Their "bounce rate" (, if it has increased or decreased due to GDPR would be interesting, but, unless they post here, we can only speculate..

I personally do not use 3rd party cookies at all , no ganalytics, no "ad networks", no adsense etc..and I only set system or "session" cookies ( the use of which is exempt from GDPR need to notify visitors about when they "land", or to give "choices" ) on sites which have shopping carts.. visitors are notified that in order to open an account and place an order, accepting a cookie will be required, they are informed that if they decline, they can browse the site(s) , but that they will not be able to open an account and thus not be able to order items, later the visitors are required to read the privacy pages ( and confirm that they have done so ) before their carts can proceed to checkout, ..I block all non French based visitors from even landing on my sites via geoIP blocking, and my notices are in French only (as I am allowed to do so by GDPR )..the reason being that unlike other countries ( where the visitors are IMO very "chargeback happy" ) French customers cannot "charge back" on French issued credit cards by visa , mastercard etc, nor can they stop checks over a "commercial dispute" with a vendor or merchant,( on or offline )..life is too short for me to allow chargebacks of any nature..and I don(t want to be tracked, so I do not track, nor allow any 3rd party on my site which does, the transactions are carried out "offsite" by banks which are multi-factor secure..

I'm perfectly relaxed..:) I know that you are concerned about visitor privacy, but "higher bounce rate might be due to GDPR" is only relevant in the site(s) is/are GDPR compliant..privacy shield compliance is not the same thing as GDPR compliance

Bounce rate of non compliant sites which put up "notices" can be due to anything , including GDPR, IMO, if one is going to put up a notice which talks about GDPR, one may as well be truly GDPR compliant.. your treating all visitors privacy as important and all visitors equally is to be commended :) agreed GDPR is indeed "more than just a cookie notice" :)
1:01 am on Aug 21, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Please stay on topic Leosghost

This is not the place to argue about what you think I should be doing at my website.
1:52 am on Aug 21, 2018 (gmt 0)

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This is on topic the topic is GDPR compliance and bounce rate ..non GDPR compliance, posted as being GDPR compliance is off topic..and misleading to other members and readers..and may cause them trouble either with Google, or legal trouble..I'm not "arguing" I'm informing the misinformed about GDPR...or those who have misunderstood GDPR..Only when GDPR is implemented correctly on any site ( in "compliance" ) can bounce rate changes possible due to GDPR be discussed..otherwise it is like someone who has no licence and has not driven and has never owned a car, discussing driving technique with those who have all those things..

I know ( I do not "think ) what sites ( mine, yours, anyone's ) should be doing to be in conformity with GDPR..I'm also in the EU..where the GDPR law comes from..I have seen no "bounce" at all due to GDPR..but then , I am truly GDPR compliant..in the eyes of the EU..
3:19 am on Aug 21, 2018 (gmt 0)

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https://choice.npr.org/index.html
Oh, for ### sake. Are they serious? Do they expect the user to believe that any CSS whatsoever requires the use of cookies and/or disclosure of PII? If the choice is between “accept all cookies” and “see a laughably ugly approximation of the site”, then yeah, there’s going to be a lot of bouncing.
3:37 am on Aug 21, 2018 (gmt 0)

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They are GDPR compliant, but, they are deliberately making the "non cookie", "non tracking" site experience as ugly as possible, agreed completely, they ( and anyone else can ) present a site which is visually identical to the "cookie" and "tracking" site to any visitors who "do not agree"..navigation also does not need javascript , which if used for the "consent" landings on any site is not in compliance in itself ( nor does the placing of "I agree" or "I do not agree" buttons in order to access the "cookies and tracking" or the "no cookies and no tracking" versions of the "pretty" site )..They'll probably get a lot of bounces ( but again only they know ), but I didn't "bounce" when I went there the first time..I was pleasantly surprised to see that the "consent" landing page didn't require me to allow javascript just to be able to "agree " or "not agree"..by the time one has had to "allow scripts" it is usually too late and one's browser is already full of calls to other scripts or any malware that the site itself may be harbouring knowingly or unknowingly..

To not "get" bounces"..so much easier to do what Wilberforce and I do..don't set cookies, don't allow anyone else to, don't track, don't allow anyone else to..so no GDPR notices needed to be GDPR compliant.. :)
5:42 am on Aug 21, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Trying to keep this on topic, I wanted to know whether GDPR has caused more bounces, specifically, back to Google search.
Google would really notice this if the figures are high, but as webmasters, you would have seen your own stats.

@iamlost
Yes, it's more than just a traffic or ranking issue.

One site I monitor, but can't get the client to change, has an onerous cookie message which blocks 50% of the screen, asks a user to agree to proceed, there is no option to disagree, or proceed without saving cookies. In real terms, you can proceed without agreeing, but it's not obvious. It also is an inaccurate and overly complex message. The stats show since introducing this a tail off in traffic proceeding onto the site, so I can only assume they are bouncing back to the Google search.
Implementation can be improved, no doubt.

I've seen horrible messages on many other sites which present long and detailed messages, blocking the screen and apparently, no way to proceed. It's awful.

Are you monitoring the stats. and if so, what is it showing you?
6:35 am on Aug 21, 2018 (gmt 0)

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One is either compliant, or not.

Whether one needs to be compliant depends on business model.

If one uses third party, and cookies, and wants EU traffic the specification if pretty clear.

As for bounce rate, whether to g or other se, time will tell.

That said, we know the dumb users will take the path of least insistence (sic) and click "I Agree" as all they want is instant gratification. I suspect there is very little "bounce" going on, now, or in the future. Well, maybe 10% +/- ...
10:54 am on Aug 21, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I give up and I've installed I don't care for cookies extension in Chrome.
12:07 pm on Aug 21, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I give up and I've installed I don't care for cookies extension in Chrome.

If that is your choice ..fine :)..I actually think that the guy who wrote it has a good idea there..But..it still doesn't absolve webmasters of the legal responsibility to show GDPR compliant "choices" to any visitor, ( Btw, the addon's owners site is not GDPR compliant ) even a visitor who is using this extension..This would have all been so much easier ( in fact it would have all been un-necessary if the ad networks didn't track everyone ) if the EU had gone after the ad networks directly, rather than the webmasters ..

Next year, when the EU law regarding "choice to globally accept or deny cookies upon browser installation" comes into force , a lot of this would theoretically go away ( his addon seems to be an attempt to pre-empt that law, and also a convenient way for those who do not , for whatever reasons* want to install the latest version of their browsers )..meanwhile, I think he has a good idea there, for the convenience of many "surfers" ( although I won't be installing it, as I think people should still reject all tracking ,and that we should not be tracked )..whether it will reduce any possible increase in "bounce rate" due to GDPR, is another matter..As a coder, I do hope that anyone using this type of addon ( or any addon for that matter ) donates to the person(s) coding them..
7:26 am on Aug 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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This EU law is witch hunt (to quote Donald) and the problem is the implementation.
They did not have the guts to stop this practice and the result smells bad.
The problems is that the "free" internet is "free" because of the ads. No more ads? You will have to pay for services, to pay a lot!

This all started with the death of the print. The EU classic publishers wanted blood and money from Google.
They tried a lot of stupid things, but the problem is not only Google & Co.

The entire model is flawed! I see less and less money from advertising and as we all know, the paywall solution does not work.

So, what do we do?

Yes, the current implementation of GDPR does not seem to be legal, but Is the standard proposed by IAB Europe
[register.consensu.org...]
11:03 am on Aug 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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This EU law is witch hunt (to quote Donald) and the problem is the implementation.

DT was not talking about GDPR when he said what you quoted .Thus it is an irrelevant quote.
They did not have the guts to stop this practice and the result smells bad.

The EU..and the majority of it's citizens are perfectly happy with not being tracked via ads..it does not "smell bad"
The problems is that the "free" internet is "free" because of the ads.

The free internet existed long before there were ads..many of us made sites for free with no ads..Many of us still do.
You will have to pay for services, to pay a lot!

What services ? You call spammy clickbait adsense or other tracking ad network funded sites services ?..
Some sites ask to pay for "services"..They do not ask a lot..Many ask nothing..
This all started with the death of the print. The EU classic publishers wanted blood and money from Google.
They tried a lot of stupid things, but the problem is not only Google & Co.

Concerns about privacy and tracking by ad networks has nothing to do with "the death of print"..
Concerns about privacy began before "the death of print"..
They ( who is they ) ..
The entire model is flawed!

Yes..the model funded by ads which track people is flawed..
The GDPR model is a new model
I see less and less money from advertising

You see less and less money from advertising..so..change your business model..Google sees more and more money from advertisng.
We all know that paywalls do work..if you have something worth paying for..
So, what do we do?

What do "we do"..
What "we"..who is this "we"..
Many of us do not depend on allowing ads that track people on our sites..so we have nothing to do..
You do depend on allowing ads that track people on yours site(s) and you don't want those people to know about that..so you don't like GDPR notices, because when people know what the site does, ( allows companies to track them ) they don't want to use the site(s).
So..change your business model..
Yes, the current implementation of GDPR does not seem to be legal.

The current implementation of GDPR seems to be perfectly legal..it is perfectly legal.. :)
but Is the standard proposed by IAB Europe

The current implementation of GDPR has nothing to do with IAB Europe..so your link to them..is irrelevant..
The page you linked to has nothing to do with GDPR..it is about something else entirely..I read it in 3 languages..I read it in some of the other languages, but I'm only fluent in 3 of them..
ps..the site that you linked to is for a commercial organisation, it is for commercial organisations to register via that page.GDPR does not protect ( nor was it ever intended to ) the "privacy" of commercial organisations, perhaps you misunderstood what the page was about..you can change languages on that page by clicking "support" and get other languages that translate that page , you may then understand that the page is nothing to do with GDPR..
The website is also the website of a Swiss company iRIX Software Engineering AG, Basel..Basel is not in the EU..nor is Switzerland..
11:35 am on Aug 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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joined:May 9, 2000
posts:25553
votes: 755


Please, can we try and get back on the topic of GDPR implementation and bounces? Whether a site complies or not, is not the question, nor is the semantics of poor implementation. I don't doubt there is poor implementation, and we're all in a learning phase: Especially those that have bad implementation, such as the over-zealous cookie acceptance.

Back on topic.

If a site has set out to comply with GDPR, has the site received a change on bounces?

There has certainly been a change to acceptance. [webmasterworld.com...]
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