Digital Publishing Guest Columns
5 mins read

WTF is a CMP and how to select the right one?

With a constant stream of new privacy regulations, including GDPR, CCPA, LGPD and POPI, it can be difficult for publishers to stay on top of the latest laws coming into force around the world.

In response to the ever-expanding privacy landscape, many different strategies have been developed to try to tackle the challenge this poses. However, many of these techniques come with high costs, a bad user experience, and fall short of full compliance.

A recent example of a publisher falling short came when French publishing giant Le Figaro was fined by the French data protection authority, the Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL), for illegal cookie dropping.

A situation like this can easily be avoided by working with the appropriate privacy technology solutions, which include a consent management platform (CMP) and vendor insights tool that can review privacy compliance. 

WTF is a CMP?

A CMP is a software solution that is used by publishers to request, receive, and store users’ consent with regards to how they allow their data to be used; to present a list of preferred vendors and partners alongside the reasons they’re collecting user information; and to allow the user to update and make changes to their consent preferences at any time.

A CMP plays a vitally important role for publishers as privacy regulations continue to be introduced and updated across the world. These privacy regulations make it increasingly complicated for publishers, especially those working with multiple ad tech partners in different markets, so CMPs will become crucial in order for them to remain compliant.

Some sites outside of the EU, for instance, have opted to completely block EU visitors to their sites, rather than attempting to adhere to the data regulations that exist. And they could be doing a fair bit of damage to their revenue streams. Instead of just accepting these negative consequences, these publishers should be looking to implement a CMP to enable them to compliantly collect consent from visitors.

While a CMP can deliver a publisher’s agreed consent strategy, more and more publishers are looking to use an insights tool that helps them build and maintain an appropriate vendor list. Through this, publishers can ensure those vendors are adhering to the relevant regulations and not introducing any privacy vulnerabilities, for example looking for non-allowed vendors, any cookies dropping before consent, and overly long cookie durations.

As the Le Figaro example has shown, it is the publisher’s responsibility to know what is going on within their pages and having a tool that provides such insight is proving more and more essential.

How do I choose the best CMP?

When looking to onboard a CMP, it’s important to check that it will ensure adherence to the regulations in the markets you operate in. For the UK and the EU, that is the GDPR and ePrivacy; in the US most discussions revolve around CCPA, with more state-level regulations on the horizon. However, these are just the tip of the iceberg and the CMP you work with should be ready and able to support whatever strategy is relevant as privacy regulations roll out across the world.  

Many publishers will require their CMP to be part of the IAB’s Transparency and Consent framework, but have the ability to support non-IAB requirements as well.

Flexibility and responsiveness are key

Your chosen CMP should be agile and flexible, enabling you to adjust to the evolving privacy regulation by territory, alongside the often fast-changing privacy settings of the large tech companies, such as Apple (with their ATT settings) and Google (with their ATP vendors). Being able to keep up with these changes will prevent you from being caught out and becoming non-compliant and/or missing revenue targets. This flexibility should extend to the CMP being able to work across new and emerging technologies, and allow you to be able to personalize and white label the solution to your branding.

Your chosen CMP should allow A/B testing and it also shouldn’t sacrifice user experience while delivering its privacy solution. If the experience isn’t optimized, because of lack of customizations, brand alignment, cluttered messaging or a general lack of iterative refinement, your website could suffer lower than desired consent rates.

Don’t overlook consent reporting

A CMP should also factor in bounce rates when measuring opt-ins. If the CMP calculates consent rate by taking the number of affirmative actions out of the total number of times the request for consent was presented to the user, instead of just the number of consent actions (declining or accepting), it is following best practice. The latter process will not provide an accurate view of what’s happening because it doesn’t take bounce rates into account. This blind spot leads to lost users, however if your CMP tracks and reports on those who bounce or dismiss the message without taking action, they can be resurfaced and re-consent can then be captured

Therefore, it’s vital that the CMP should have in-depth reporting, to give you the opportunity to review and analyze the key performance metrics, and subsequently allowing you to optimize the user experience or make changes to any messaging. Such reporting was recently used by Dutch publisher Startpagina to find that more compact consent messages performed better than longer ones with its audience, as they didn’t require extra scrolling. In fact, the longer the message, the more likely they were to reject consent or look to exit the consent window as quickly as possible. This knowledge was used to reduce the bounce rate by as much as 50% on its site, proving how important in-depth reporting can be.

Consent builds trust

Finally, most publishers have accepted that a CMP is an essential technology and therefore finding a trusted CMP partner is of strategic importance. There are many things to consider when selecting the appropriate privacy technology solution, but they are all essential to ensuring compliance in the privacy-centric world we now live in. Taking these steps, and finding the right solution, is vitally important and will put you in good stead not just in adhering to regulations, but in building user trust and managing risk.

Nial Ferguson
UK MD, Sourcepoint

Sourcepoint is the data privacy software company of choice for the digital marketing ecosystem. It is headquartered in New York, with regional centers in Berlin and London.