As the new key date for the whole French digital ecosystem approaches, many actors are increasingly worried about the many changes to come.

We would like to give you an update on the current situation and on the alternatives available to you.

On September 17th, the CNIL issued recommendations clarifying certain points of the ePrivacy Directive and the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).

These precisions concerning the protection of personal data bring a more important protection to the privacy of Internet users.

For this purpose, the CNIL has reminded the importance of user consent and has formulated new requirements impacting CMPs (Consent Management Platform).

These collection solutions will now have to allow not to accept the use of cookies and other tracers ("refuse all"; "continue without accepting"; "ask later" etc.) on the same level as the consent mechanism, and no longer solicit the Internet user who has made a choice during a reasonable period.

The moratorium, to comply with the new guidelines imposed by the CNIL, will end on March 31, 2021. On April 1st, they will have to be respected by any website publisher, at the risk of being sanctioned by the Commission.

However, we know that this evolution of UI (user interface) will lead to a strong evolution of the market.

It will naturally generate much less consent via the CMP, limiting in fact, a little more, the use of third party cookies (cookies deposited by third parties: other than the website visited by the user).
Cookies, which are used by 90% of the actors in the digital ecosystem.
This new UI visible from the first screen of the CMP (banner, pop up, overlay...), may cause a considerable drop in the consent rate.

The requirement to obtain consent before each deposit of cookies is not however a novelty. Indeed, it dates back to the ePrivacy directive, transposed into the French Data Protection Act, where consent corresponded to the definition given by the CNIL's Cookies Recommendation.
Until then, continued browsing could be considered as consent.
From now on, silence is equivalent to refusal!
However, as of April 1, 2021, it is the consent in the sense of the GDPR that applies. The CNIL has clearly announced that it will not tolerate the non-application of the new Guidelines of September 17, 2020.

As we have seen, April 1, 2021 will be a turning point for all players in the French adtech and martech market.

Indeed, the decrease in the volume of cookies linked to a consent will impact their activity by causing, on the side of advertisers, agencies and advertising networks, a direct decrease in the volume of audiences accessible during programmatic acquisition campaigns (display, retargeting).
But also a drop in accessible volumes on all online advertising channels that depend on cookies and therefore on prior consent.

Companies in the ecosystem will have to deal with cookies that they have previously deposited but which, due to lack of consent, can no longer be activated for advertising targeting purposes.
For publishers, this flood of "zombie cookies" will have as a direct consequence, a considerable reduction of their monetizable audience and therefore of their revenue.

It becomes essential for these actors to have sufficient information and appropriate advice that would allow them to find the appropriate solution to continue their activity.  
Multiple alternatives are gradually being put in place, it remains for publishers to discover and test them.

For website publishers, there are practices such as the Cookie Wall, the Paywall and the Log Wall that allow access to the site to be conditional on consent, registration or a paid choice.
Unfortunately, the legality of these practices is not yet fully established and they cannot be used by everyone.

On the side of advertisers, agencies and advertising sales houses, alternatives to the collection of consent and cookies are being studied or already exist and can be distinguished in three different sections:

  • Individual targeting
  • Cohort targeting
  • Contextual targeting

What do each of these solutions consist of?  

Individual targeting:

This technique is not new, it has been used by publishers and/or browsers for many years.

It is based on the identification of Internet users on the website they visit, to allow them to access the service ("Log Id").

This authentication is often materialized by registering to the site in question by inserting an identifier, a password and certain details such as email address or telephone number for example.

However, this solution does not exempt you from collecting consent, which must always be obtained beforehand.  

An alternative to targeting via cookies, which does not involve access to the user's terminal and therefore consent, cannot be excluded. We will write about this in the near future.

Cohort targeting:

This proposal differs from the one stated above.

Indeed, it is defined by the absence of collection of an individual identifier in favor of a cohort approach of several thousand people.

This is what is suggested by Google, with the Privacy Sandbox, which would work on the basis of a suite of APIs, stored in the web browser, which different actors could access in order to meet several distinct uses.

It is also likely that the necessary storage and processing of information in the user's terminal will involve the prior collection of the user's consent.

Contextual targeting:

Contextual targeting is targeting that relies solely on the contextual data of the page the user visits.

This solution takes several forms:

  • Targeting by topic: The idea here is to associate a content with a type of audience to be able to carry out an advertising targeting.
  • Targeting by keywords: More precise targeting than targeting by topic, since it is by focusing on certain words contained on the page that the targeting will take place and will make it possible to provide qualitative audience segments.
  • Semantic analysis: This technique is more precise than the previous ones. It consists in the real-time analysis of each word contained in a page, and their association with each other in order to understand the real meaning in a context (as opposed to the raw and literal meaning of a word analyzed out of context) and to deduce the intention of the Internet users who might visit this page.
  • Multimedia content analysis: This analysis makes it possible to associate a keyword with a photograph, a podcast or a video.

Most of these contextual solutions have the advantage of not requiring consent because they do not rely on tracking or personal data processing.

For this reason, they appear today as a real complementary alternative, and give publishers, as well as advertisers, the possibility to continue to carry out ad targeting despite the various changes to be expected.

In particular, contextual targeting coupled with semantic analysis is today's most effective solution and offers a real solution that is viable over time.

The ad targeting of tomorrow will certainly be a mix of targeting with cookies (user-centric) and targeting without cookies (site-centric).

Let's take a look at how semantic analysis works.

By using an efficient technique, NLP (Natural Language Processing), we can go much further than a simple keyword targeting logic.

Indeed, this allows us to analyze the keywords of a page while associating them with the corresponding language expressions, which gives us the possibility to understand all its content.

In addition to guaranteeing precise advertising targeting to improve campaign performance and reinforce brand safety, semantic analysis has the advantage of being 100% respectful of current laws and regulations on personal data protection, which makes it a real alternative to the current changes.

Moreover, at Sirdata we go much further.

We did not just develop a contextual targeting technology, we developed a predictive contextual targeting tool.

The intelligence of the analysis allows us to predict the socio-demographic attributes, interests and intentions of likely page visitors without using cookies or any other type of tracker. This tool therefore has the advantage of anticipating market and legislative expectations while basing itself on behavioral and contextual variables.

What if April 1, 2021 marked the beginning of a new era?

Finally, all these changes to which adtech and martech companies will have to adapt, can be seen as a renewal of the digital era.

These new techniques, which come in response to the disappearance of current standards, appear as real opportunities since they open a new field of possibilities for all the players in the market, and this, in full compliance with the various regulations on personal data protection.