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Cookie walls: Collect compliant consent and monetize your content

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Goal: Comply with data privacy regulations, collect compliant consent and monetize your audience simultaneously with a cookie wall

Cookies are a pretty hot topic at the moment, and with companies being faced with constantly changing, ever-tightening restrictions that differ around the world, it’s hard to keep up.

What’s more, these cookies are essential to the monetization strategies of many online businesses, particularly digital content producers who employ cookies for data collection and advertising revenue. 

But with data privacy legislations making rejecting cookies easier than ever (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing for consumers), the pressure is on for publishers to find a solution to this falling source of revenue.

This is where a Cookie Wall with Alternative can prove hugely valuable. But what is a Cookie Wall? What do we mean by ‘Alternative’? And what are some examples of publishers already employing a Cookie Wall to increase ARPU?

What is a Cookie Wall with Alternative?

TL;DR: A Cookie Wall with Alternative is presented to visitors who decline the use of cookies when arriving on your site. It offers them a cookie-free alternative way to access content, one that benefits your business in a different form, such as subscription or a one-off payment.

The simplest way to understand a cookie wall is to consider the user journey: 

You arrive on a publisher’s site and you’ll be asked to accept or decline cookies. This is a consent banner

The Guardian’s cookie banner

With GDPR, the cookie consent banner is a legal requirement across Europe and, in increasingly more countries (including France and Germany), it’s also now obligatory to put ‘Reject’ on the same level as ‘Accept’, making it easier for visitors to decline the use of cookies.

In our example, we decide to reject. 

Because of this choice, when we try to access content, we’ll be blocked by a cookie wall

In short, this cookie wall has the goal of increasing consent rates (which is valuable to your revenue and data collection strategy) whilst also offering users the choice to access content without being forced to consent.

The cookie wall provides two options: 

  • Accept cookies and access content for free 
  • Or choose the cookie-free alternative offered by the publisher – this could be subscription, registration or a one-off payment cookie wall (translated by Google)

Why is a cookie wall with alternative valuable? 

TL;DR: This cookie wall strategy allows publishers to manage the users who reject cookies, offering them a fair compensation choice to finance the content that they have access to.

A cookie wall with alternative is completely legal and abides by the regulations set in the EU if users are still given the option between cookies or not.

What can publishers gain? 

  • Increase cookie consent rate for higher ARPU: Cookies are vital in many publishers’ monetization strategies, especially for those relying on advertising revenue. What’s more, cookies help you to understand user behavior which is invaluable in your entire business model
  • Educate users on the value of cookies for your business: Not every visitor to your site can pay for a subscription. That’s a given. However, accepting cookies is a way for readers to support your business (in at least a minimal way) without paying a penny. These cookies will also support you in building a better, more personalized experience, so it’s worth pointing out these user benefits too as many are unaware of what cookies are for
Gameinformer are very honest and informal, making us aware of exactly what we’re missing out on by not accepting cookies.
  • Monetize in other ways: If a visitor declines cookies, or would prefer a cookie-free experience, you can offer them an alternative way to access content, such as by paying to subscribe or creating a free account. This provides you with other value aside from cookies
  • Build a trusting relationship with readers: Transparency and giving users a choice can support your efforts of establishing a trusting relationship with visitors. If they feel fully in control of their privacy and data they will be much more likely to return and become a loyal customer in the future. You’ll also likely have a higher cookie consent rate if you’re honest and clearly communicate how cookies help you to continue to produce quality content (i.e. how a cookie wall can be thought of in the same way as any value exchange)
  • Comply with cookie regulations without sacrificing revenue: Abiding by the law is of course the priority! For instance, France’s CNIL recently fined Facebook and Google for not abiding by their new regulations! But offering a cookie-free alternative way to access content is entirely legal and still offers your readers a choice without sacrificing your revenue.

Examples of publishers already benefiting from a cookie wall to increase ARPU

The French publisher nice-matin employ Didomi’s Consent Management Platform to ask for consent to cookies, followed by Poool’s cookie wall, asking users to accept cookies to read content for free or pay to subscribe:

What is a Cookie Wall?
nice-matin cookie wall – “Do you want to read this article?” 
“I’d like to read this article for free”
“I’ll subscribe” 

Allociné’s alternative option is a payment of 2 euros for 1 month of cookie-free access:

What is a Cookie Wall? - Definition, Examples and Best Practices.
“Access our site for 2 euro for 1 month without cookies” 
“…or access our site for free by accepting cookies”

Dei Welt cookie wall provides the option to accept all or subscribe, providing a detailed explanation of both options and the cost of subscribing:

Le Monde integrates this alternative into the cookie banner itself, with the message “refuse cookies and subscribe to Le Monde”. Clicking on this takes us directly to the subscription creation process. 

Madeleine White
Content Marketing Manager, Poool

Poool is The Membership and Subscription Suite, an all-in-one platform for digital publishers to convert, manage and retain their members and subscribers.