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Google AdSense and Cookies (Cookie Law) email

EU Cookies

     
1:35 pm on Jul 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Hi all,
I've just received an email from Google regarding AdSense and Cookies.
Cookie Law came in a couple of years ago and seems mostly to be a waste or time and just another irritation to website visitors. I was hoping that it would quietly go away!

The email from Google reads as if you now have to implement a 'consent mechanism' if you have already - are other people receiving these emails and what are peoples views (especially if they are in the UK like me).

I've put the Google email text below.
Thanks.



Google Ads Policy Team
Dear Publisher,

We want to let you know about a new policy about obtaining EU end-users’ consent that reflects regulatory and best practice guidance. It clarifies your duty to obtain end-user consent when you use products like Google AdSense, DoubleClick for Publishers and DoubleClick Ad Exchange.

Please review our new EU user consent policy as soon as possible. This requires that you obtain EU end users’ consent to the storing and accessing of cookies and other information, and to the data collection, sharing and usage that takes place when you use Google products. It does not affect any provisions on data ownership in your contract.

Please ensure that you comply with this policy as soon as possible, and not later than 30 September 2015.

If your site or app does not have a compliant consent mechanism, you should implement one now. To make this process easier for you, we have compiled some helpful resources at cookiechoices.org.

This policy change is being made in response to best practice and regulatory requirements issued by the European data protection authorities. These requirements are reflected in changes that have been recently made on Google’s own websites.
Thank you in advance for your understanding and cooperation.
Regards,
The Google Policy Team
2:02 pm on July 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I got this too. Up till now I was using a basic cookie bar message that relies on an implied consent and a link to a cookie notice/privacy policy. It would now seem one has to get explicit consent or be in validation of Google's EU consent policy.

I have been looking at using sitebeam's cookie consent script which looks good. If you run synchronous adsense code you can still display ads that do not use tracking cookies (if the user has selected to not allow advertising cookies). This doesn't seem possible with async code, which my site uses. (I have a responsive site). It looks like one can use PHP to check what consent has been given and so simply not show the adsense code but obviously this is not as good as showing ads without the cookies.

What consent mechanisms are people using?
2:06 pm on July 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Just how is this different to what most of us already have in place is my question?
2:12 pm on July 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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From the UK's Information Commissioner's Office:

[ico.org.uk...]


In brief…

You must tell people if you set cookies, and clearly explain what the cookies do and why. You must also get the user’s consent. Consent can be implied, but must be knowingly given.

There is an exception for cookies that are essential to provide an online service at someone’s request (eg to remember what’s in their online basket, or to ensure security in online banking).

The same rules also apply if you use any other type of technology to store or gain access to information on someone’s device.


Nothing's changed insofar as I can see or am I missing something?
2:14 pm on July 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I hope they'll dedicate a detailed blog post to this, because it's not quite clear to me whether they will be enforcing this (i.e. what happens after September 15?), or what the effect will be on the serving of ads to EU visitors.
2:16 pm on July 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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The difference seems to be: (taken from Google's [cookiechoices.org...]

"So if you're using third party advertising services, such as Google AdSense, you'll need to take steps to integrate your preferred solution with the advertising tags on your pages to make sure your users' preferences are respected. Each vendor offers instructions or support services for doing this. If you don't follow these steps for all the tags on your pages, you risk misleading your users: they will think they’re switching off advertising cookies when in fact advertising cookies will still be used. Therefore, test carefully any implementation of these tools on your own site."

I looked at Google's first suggestion "Cookie Consent by SilkTide" but can't see how their code can do this!?!
2:24 pm on July 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Has anyone been prosecuted for non-compliance of this directive since it was introduced?

Google's trying to make itself look Brussels/EU friendly, oh look we've told everyone, aren't we the good guys, oh yeah.
2:39 pm on July 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I have found this information from the ICO, unfortunately it's a year old BUT does give an insight as to how low on their radar this policy is:

The ICO explains its approach, which is...

" ... to focus on sites that are doing nothing to raise awareness of cookies, or get their users’ consent, particularly those visited most in the UK. However, we have maintained a consumer threat level of ‘low’ in this area due to the very low, and falling, levels of concerns reported by members of the public. When consumers raise their concerns with us, we either conduct our own compliance check or write to the organisation concerned asking for an explanation about their compliance.

We have written to 275 organisations since October 2012, specifically about compliance with the cookie rules. We focused our efforts on sites ranked in the 200 most visited in the UK, as these will have the greatest impact on consumers.


So, unless, in the UK for instance, one is a top 200 site then there is absolutely no concern for what is going on and even then you'll receive a letter should there be complaint.
2:42 pm on July 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Has anyone been prosecuted for non-compliance of this directive since it was introduced?

In The Netherlands, some of the larger web properties have been threatened with fines up to 450,000 EUR for non-compliance. Noone wants to let it come to actual "prosecution", of course, but it's definitely a possibility.

you'll need to take steps to integrate your preferred solution with the advertising tags on your pages to make sure your users' preferences are respected

For many AdSense publishers who are simply good at writing content, implementing the ad code is hard enough, let alone customizing a cookie law compliance script and (preferably) targeting it at EU users.
2:44 pm on July 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I took a major hit with this when I implemented code 2 years ago which I set up as implied consent only showing to visitors within the UK as it is where I am based. I ended up presenting vistors with custom made amazon ads before then switching to adsense once implied consent was given. Helped recoup some lost earnings but not the full amount.

I just hope Google isn't going to go full hog on this and expect us to present a warning message to all countries in the EU as it will make Adsense redundant for EU traffic.
2:45 pm on July 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I misspoke earlier when I said that sitebeam's script allows adsense without cookies, it doesn't it just means you can use altered adsense code to disable showing of ads when the user has opted out of advertising cookies. example of analytics, adsense and other code alterations here:

[sitebeam.net...]

This can also be done with server side scripting e.g. use a php script to check the status of the preference cookie and show/not show adsense accordingly.
3:12 pm on July 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Users needn't use cookies on any of my sites, even AdSense works properly without cookies enabled ... which probably may explain their seemingly bad ad targetting at times when I'm checking my sites for ad relevancy!
3:14 pm on July 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Talking Google AdSense only, if someone clicks on the acceptance, or even continues through the site, it's been acceptable, and described as implied consent. There's nothing new in this, except that google is making sure that if you have AdSense on your site you have to include the cookie acceptance/implied consent. Yes, it's probably making sure it's squeaky clean.

If you've not set up the cookie consent, and you're running Google AdSense, you are running the risk of being excluded from google AdSense, imho.

Here's some of the older discussion on the cookie law.
Seeing more sites with cookie warning popups [webmasterworld.com]
UK's ICO Changes Cookie Law Policy To Implied Consent [webmasterworld.com]
FOI Request Highlights UK Cookie Law Enforcement Problems [webmasterworld.com]

Added
For those of you that want to read the fuller explanation of cookies, here's a link to google's How Google uses cookies in advertising [google.co.uk]
Our advertising cookies

To help our partners manage their advertising and websites, we offer many products, including AdSense, AdWords, Google Analytics and a range of DoubleClick-branded services. When you visit a page that uses one of these products, either on one of Google’s sites or one of our partners’, various cookies may be sent to your browser.
3:57 pm on July 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Reading Google's comments on [cookiechoices.org...] does make it sound as if 'implied consent' isn't good enough though...

"So if you're using third party advertising services, such as Google AdSense, you'll need to take steps to integrate your preferred solution with the advertising tags on your pages to make sure your users' preferences are respected."


FWIW
I notice that Google's own 'Cookie Controls' only allow you to carry on "Got It" or "Learn More". Learning More only seems to lead the visitor to info on how to use your browser options rather than clicking an option to "respect my preferences" as they seem to be suggesting AdSense publishers implement!
4:06 pm on July 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I see Google's AdSense blog has just been updated:
[adsense.blogspot.ie...]
4:16 pm on July 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Talking Google AdSense only, if someone clicks on the acceptance, or even continues through the site, it's been acceptable, and described as implied consent.

So what do you do before consent has been given, implied or otherwise? Do you remove/replace the ads, or show the ads but somehow block the cookies, or what? As a publisher, I frankly have no clue about what's acceptable.

[adsense.blogspot.ie ]

Not quite what I was hoping for...

[edited by: robzilla at 4:23 pm (utc) on Jul 27, 2015]

4:22 pm on July 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I got this e-mail too and I must admit I have little idea what it is that they want.

I wonder if they're going to enforce this, if they do they probably have to ban the majority of AdSense publishers.
4:25 pm on July 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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The majority are probably in the US, but yea, it sounds like they're going to enforce and it sounds like a major pain for EU publishers.
4:26 pm on July 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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So, according to Google:

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.
4:33 pm on July 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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it sounds like a major pain for EU publishers

If Google will enforce this then I can't imagine US publishers with EU traffic will be exempted.
4:36 pm on July 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Surely this is not just an AdSense issue:

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;


This must also affect WMT?
4:37 pm on July 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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It's worth noting, that since this cookie law came into effect, it's been a real pain, especially for users of the sites. To have that button popping up all over the place is just an annoyance.

From an AdSense point of view, just make sure you have placed the cookie consent information away from your best content. Position it so it doesn't cover your ads, or other important information. If you have implemented it well it shouldn't significantly impact your earnings. If it does affect your earning, you really need to look closely at the positioning of the consent.
I have the alert positioned at the bottom of the page and i've hardly noticed any significant change.
4:37 pm on July 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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The majority are probably in the US, but yea, it sounds like they're going to enforce and it sounds like a major pain for EU publishers.

Check the Inside AdSense blog post, it says:

"If your websites are getting visitors from any of the countries in the European Union, you must comply with the EU user consent policy."

So pretty much every AdSense publisher has to comply with this.
4:41 pm on July 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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This seems like it's going to be a major pain.

Been looking through the links suggested on cookiechoices.org and it seems at least some of them have the option for geo-targeting so you can at least only show the consent message to EU visitors which makes things a bit better.

Have to wonder how tightly this will be policed - are Google just sending this notification so they can look like they're complying with the EU law or will they be actively checking adsense sites?
4:47 pm on July 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Proposal for Google:

I use only AdSense and Analytics with Cookies.

So why not make something like a special "ad format", where Google writes about the cookies and a yes or no button?

For example, I would like to use a 600 x 200 format over the first part of the content, where the user can decide.

Yes, the information disappears, the content below becomes visible
No, the user is brought to an other web site.
4:49 pm on July 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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It's still (deliberately?) unclear whether the 'implied consent' versions are good enough.

The first G para quoted by Redbar above would apply to the implied consent bar and the second would apply to having a clear legitimate privacy policy and explanation of data usage and cookies.

Given that many of us already have the second because of previous G restrictions, I imagine that the usage by British media (who are often also AS users) where they almost all use implied consent with a 'Learn More' link to a privacy policy would be sufficient.

I'm guessing the focus is getting everyone using a cookieconsent toolbar.
5:19 pm on July 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I read the dutch explenation of the cookie law and they say explicit.

there is also a valid consent if the Internet user surfs through the website after being clearly and fully informed about the cookies placed.


So on the first page view you have to remove adsense/social media plugins etc and if the user clicks through you can display it.

They also recommend a special cookie page with the explanation.

The language of the explanation of cookies can therefore be dependent on the
target website. Informing by means of a global reference to the general
conditions, privacy and / or permission statements is inadequate.


source in dutch [acm.nl...]
5:27 pm on July 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Not really sure if that is accurate with the Dutch site, who might be expected to have the correct policy usage on their own site.

It uses the common consent toolbar:
"Acm.nl gebruikt cookies om het gebruik van de website te analyseren en het gebruikersgemak te verbeteren. Lees meer over cookies."

And also places two cookies before agreement (discovered with the View Cookies FF extension).
5:41 pm on July 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@stever not all cookies are forbidden..functional cookies are allowed..even some analytic cookies are allowed.
5:50 pm on July 27, 2015 (gmt 0)

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It will become a major issue for AdSense publishers if there is insistence that the user has to click to agree to the cookies, which was how the cookie law all started out, but, in the UK, the ICO (Information Commissioners Office) clarified it to implied consent. ie, proceeding implies consent. Meaning, people no longer needed to actually click on the button.

The whole cookie law thing was a mess from the outset!
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