At Smartology, privacy and innovation are a big part of our company ethos and are at the forefront of everything we do.
Our cookie-free contextual ad-serving solution, known as SmartMatch, was built on the premise of providing advertisers with the ability to reach their core audiences without relying on invasive data-capturing practices. Instead, focusing on producing the most relevant and useful content to their audiences at that moment.
Because of this, we’ve signed up to the IAB Europe’s Transparency and Consent Framework (TCF) in order to be a part of the movement towards a more privacy-friendly digital landscape. As members of TCF, we must ensure that the practices undertaken by our partners and the vendors we work with are aligned with the Framework’s policies, not only for the principle of it all but also to streamline the set-up process of our campaigns so that our clients’ analytics and attribution requirements are met.
We know how quickly this industry moves and that it can be difficult to stay on top of the latest developments, so we’ve put together an overview of what TCF is and what this means for advertisers below.
What is IAB Europe’s TCF?
TCF is a coalition of cross-industry players from publishers, advertisers, ad tech vendors, and agencies, developed by the IAB Europe to ensure transparency and user choice requirements meet the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Its main aim is to offer a flexible way to comply with a law designed to harmonise data privacy across Europe and give individuals greater control and transparency over their personal data. Signals of consent are transmitted from users to vendors working with publishers via Consent Management Platforms (CMP), thus making the user the principal focus of the Framework.
TCF v1.1 was launched in April 2018 and acted as a central, universal response by the media industry to GDPR.
TCF v2.0 is a revised version that was published in August 2019 and was operating in parallel with v1.1 until the latter ceased to be valid on August 15th 2020. V2.0 addresses feedback to v1.1 from governmental organisations responsible for upholding privacy laws, including GDPR and ePrivacy, and a particular focus was placed on consulting both publishers and the associations which represent all aspects of the industry for this revised version.
The decision to have both versions operating alongside each other was made to allow publisher websites and CMPs enough time to adopt TCF v2.0 and its new policies/technical specs. For vendors, it enabled the development and integration needed to adhere to the v2.0 protocols.
How do v1.0 and 2.0 differ from each other?
v2.0 gives users the power to grant or withhold consent to their data being processed with more granularity, providing users with a lot more control as well as choice regarding the processing of their personal data. The addition of a ‘right to object’ feature allows users to override a company’s declared legitimate interest in a specific purpose, for example. Another example of the increased choice for a user is the ability to provide or withdraw consent to specific purposes, as opposed to giving consent to specific vendors as a whole. The level of granularity that TCF v2 offers users with regards to refusing 3rd party cookies, along with efforts by browsers and mobile operating systems, shows a clear trend away from ubiquitous collection and sharing of user data to privacy-focused advertising solutions that genuinely put the individual’s right to privacy first.
What does this mean for advertisers?
Where advertisers hold a direct relationship with end-users, whether it be via owned digital interfaces or digital display ads, they will be expected to ensure that any user data they are capturing has been consented to by the user and that the consent signal is being shared across the ecosystem of vendors they are working with.
For advertisers, this means they will need to read and follow TCF policy, as well as ensure the vendors they wish to work with are in compliance. The development of a consent solution that meets their specific needs will also be required, though this will more often than not be enabled via the integration of a CMP vendor solution. With a large portion of the industry having signed on, including Google, who did not sign on to v1.1, anyone wishing to work with TCF v2.0 vendors will have to ensure they also meet these requirements.