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Market uptake for TCF 2.0 strong, but the jury is still out on Google’s involvement

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Almost a year ago, IAB Europe, in partnership with IAB Tech Lab, announced the launch of the second iteration of Transparency & Consent Framework (TCF) 2.0.

The TCF is designed to help publishers and advertisers work with technology vendors who provide data-driven services that support both their operations and commercial activities.

It follows a 12-month review period which included market feedback from all sectors of the digital advertising industry, notably publishers, and nine meetings with Data Protection Authorities (DPAs) throughout Europe. Market participants were given until Saturday, 15th August 2020 – the switchover date –  to adopt the new standards and successfully switch across from TCF 1.1 to TCF 2.0.  

Central to the design of the framework is the opportunity it gives publishers to communicate to their readers what data is being collected, how they and their vendor partners intend to use it, and how users can exercise complete control over their data and its processing. 

Under TCF 2.0, not only can the user give or withhold consent, but they can also exercise their ‘right to object’ to data being processed on the basis of legitimate interests. It also enables greater transparency for the user, through more detailed and more easily understandable descriptions of the purposes of data processing.

Publishers can also exercise increased control over the purposes for which a vendor can process data collected on their digital property enabling greater customization of the vendor operation. These increased levels of transparency and control throughout the supply chain support a more streamlined and transparent user experience. 

Commenting on TCF 2.0, Townsend Feehan, CEO IAB Europe says, “TCF v2.0 takes the standard to the next level with respect to consumer transparency and choice, publisher control over data processing for advertising and content personalisation, and cross-industry collaboration. We are confident that we have a robust framework in place that can continue to evolve in light of European Court case law and regulatory enforcement”. 

Ahead of the switchover date, IAB Europe has now shared the latest market adoption figures for the TCF v2.0. 517 vendors including Adobe, Google, GroupM, Magnite, The Ozone Project, The Trade Desk and Xandr will implement TCF v2.0 on the 15th August, as well as 70 Consent Management Platforms (CMPs).

The participation of Google is seen as particularly welcome, with the tech giant’s absence from TCF 1.0 and TCF 1.1 undermining industry adoption of the framework. However, some participants have voiced concerns over Google’s involvement, with accusations that it will give the tech giant increased control over audience data, not less.

WNIP has rounded up opinions from a range of figures both from the publisher and advertising sides to gauge wider industry reaction:

Chetna Bindra
User Trust and Privacy, Google Senior Product Manager

“This marks the successful collaboration across our industry for a standardized framework that combines both ease of use and inter-operability and will give users greater control over how their data is used, as well as provide publishers with greater flexibility to work with a range of technology partners.”

Richard Reeves
Managing Director, AOP

“We support the premise of the framework in creating greater transparency and control in an ecosystem that’s being built on the basis of standardization and the encouragement of industry collaboration.

“AOP has been contributing to the framework through its working relationships with IAB UK and IAB Europe – and while progress has been made in developing standards to benefit all players in the ecosystem, there are still issues that need addressing. We are committed to ensuring publishers, vendors and agencies are all governed by the same expectations, which we don’t currently feel is the case, with certain obligations weighted toward media owners, and will remain actively involved in helping shape further iterations and developments to be adopted within the framework, as we continue to work towards a fairer industry.”

Garrett McGrath
Vice President of Product Management, Magnite

“Since deploying support for TCF v2.0 in March, Magnite has seen a steady increase in the presence of 2.0 signals across the exchange. We are looking forward to a full switch later this month and the greatly increased flexibility 2.0 offers end users, publishers, and the industry at large.”

Brian Bouquet
Senior Director of Product Management, Sovrn

“The updated framework is likely to have more clout than the first iteration, particularly with the addition of Google, whose participation should accelerate wider adoption of the initiative. But the presence of Google shouldn’t detract from what is important; at its core the TCF 2.0 is about giving publishers more control of consumer data, allowing them to protect the privacy of their audience, and increase consumer transparency and choice. Consumer privacy is a key pillar in digital advertising and all parties involved in the supply chain must ensure regulations are upheld and consumer choices are respected throughout.”

William Littman
Head of Legal Affairs, Crownpeak

“From a regulatory perspective, V2 is a superior product to V1 for a few specific reasons: publishers will now be asking users for their consent to collect data to show them ads again on another site; there will be additional support for legitimate interest as a legal basis in addition to explicit consent, although this is still to be clarified; and there will be more detailed data processing purposes, meaning fewer loopholes for ad tech vendors so users will have a better sense of what data is being processed about them and why.”

Chris Hogg
EMEA MD, Lotame

“Publishers can now specify custom requirements, giving them better control over who they work with and how, while vendors in the advertising ecosystem benefit from consumers being better informed on the use of their data. 

“The TCF is not enforced – application is on a voluntary basis. This means industry collaboration is integral to its success and vital improvements continue to be based on the feedback received from all industry parties – including publishers, advertisers, media agencies, technology providers, and data protection authorities.”

Adrien Thil
Chief Privacy Officer at Smart AdServer

“Google was considered by many to be the missing link to the IAB’s TCF initiative 1.0, with most feeling its presence in 2.0 gives the framework more legitimacy. But while Google’s participation is a positive step in many ways, we mustn’t overlook the signs that suggest it may hijack the framework for its own benefit.

“Its updated policy & requirements, for instance, highlight a number of unfair practices that will undoubtedly hurt publisher revenues and allow Google increased control of audience data. For example, Google is offering personalized ads for publishers in exchange of their audience data. This is then used and enriched by Google for its own services, such as search and YouTube. This move will maintain and reinforce the tech giant’s dominant position, and put pressure on publishers to accept its mass plundering of European data.”

Alex Igelsböck
CEO, Adverity

“The increased transparency and customization it affords all parties is, in principle, an attractive option for all sides. For users, consent requests will be clearer, ensuring users are properly and reliably informed, while also being able to exercise the right to deploy a ‘right to object’ to data being processed on the basis of legitimate interest – an invaluable tool for consumers in a climate where internet privacy is increasingly under scrutiny.

“Google’s involvement may, on the surface, provide reassurance to the partners it works with, but how this will work in practice has yet to be seen. It’s also worth noting that Europe has different regulatory boards and data protection authorities, so standard implementation may be a challenge – the likelihood is that this will result in DSPs and SSPs making local interpretations.”

Registration to TCF v2.0 is open to all Vendors and CMPs.
To join the hundreds of industry stakeholders working with TCF v2.0, please visit

Disclosure: WNIP is wholly owned by Sovrn Holdings, Inc, who provided a quote for this feature.

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