The Transparency and Consent Framework (TCF) is an open-source industry standard to help publishers and advertisers ensure that they comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules when processing personal data for digital advertising.
Since its introduction, TCF has been helping publishers and advertisers to obtain and manage user consent for data processing purposes. The recent release of TCF 2.2 has brought some notable changes to the setup.
In this blog post, we will discuss the basics of the TCF, the previous versions, the latest updates, and how it impacts publishers.
What is TCF?
The TCF is a protocol that facilitates personal data protection by enabling publishers and advertisers to obtain consumer consent. It was first introduced in 2018, created by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Europe. The framework enables companies to inform users about the data they wish to collect and how they intend to use it. With more insight into their data collection, users can decide to either give or withhold their consent.
Previous versions of the TCF
The initial version, TCF 1.0, was introduced in 2018 and provided a basic framework for companies to capture and convey user consent information. It introduced:
- Consent Management Platforms (CMPs)
- A standard for encoding and transmitting consent data
- Purposes for which data could be processed
In 2020, TCF 2.0 was released with several significant changes:
- More granular control for users over data processing
- An expanded and more specific list of data processing purposes
- Introduction of ‘legitimate interests’ as a lawful basis for data processing
- More transparency regarding the parties involved in processing the data
What’s new for TCF 2.2?
TCF 2.2 launched on May 16th, 2023, bringing new features and refinements. Let’s highlight some key updates:
- Legal basis: Legitimate interest as a legal basis for advertising and content personalization has been removed and vendors can only select consent as a legal basis for processing end users’ personal data.
- User-friendly information: TCF 2.2 has improved the purpose and feature names and descriptions to be more user-friendly and replaced the complicated legal text with simplified explanations and real-life examples.
- Additional vendor details: Vendors are required to provide additional information about how they process data and users will have access to this data to help make more informed decisions around their consent.
- Transparency over the number of vendors: CMPs have to show the total number of vendors seeking to establish a legal basis on the first layer of their UI so users have a clear understanding of the different parties involved in processing their data.
- Consent withdrawal: Users need to be able to easily resurface the CMP UI to opt out and withdraw consent at any time.
Publishers who use Google AdSense, Ad Manager, or AdMob should also be aware that starting January 16th, 2024, publishers will need to use a Google-certified CMP that is in line with the TCF when serving ads to users in the European Economic Area and/or UK. Google is currently in the process of certifying CMPs and will provide updates.
How does TCF 2.2 impact publishers?
With TCF 2.2’s advancements, publishers can expect both challenges and opportunities. Let’s explore how these updates impact publishers:
Publishers are now more accountable for the partners they choose to work with and have to ensure those partners are also compliant with TCF standards. On the plus side, publishers can develop partnerships with like-minded entities, ensuring a collective commitment to user privacy and reinforcing their ethical standing in the industry.
Enhanced user trust
This latest version encourages transparency from publishers, empowering them to provide easily understandable information about their data practices. By taking this step, publishers can build trust and enhance their reputation among users, creating a more positive user experience.
TCF 2.2 equips publishers with the necessary tools and workflows to effectively manage user consent. This helps streamline the consent process, ensuring compliance with data protection regulations, reducing legal risks, and promoting trust with users.
Stricter data usage and consent gathering can potentially lead to reduced ad targeting capabilities, which may affect ad revenue. However, improved user trust can lead to better user engagement and satisfaction, potentially offsetting some of these impacts.
Next steps for publishers
- Update CMPs to comply with TCF 2.2. This includes updating the text of the consent banners and pop-ups, as well as the way that consent is collected and stored.
- Review your list of vendors to check for TCF 2.2 compliance (IAB has a list of compliant vendors as a resource).
- Read IAB’s TCF 2.2 documentation for all the details and additional resources.
- And finally, be aware of the timeline—businesses under the TCF must transition to TCF 2.2 requirements by November 20th, 2023.
The TCF is an evolving framework that seeks to strike a balance between user privacy and the needs of the digital advertising ecosystem. The framework’s emphasis on transparency, customization, and accountability empowers publishers to navigate the digital landscape responsibly while building trust with users.
By giving users more control over how their data is handled, publishers are supporting a digital ecosystem that offers a safer and more transparent online experience.
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