does the Cnil offer a simple reprieve from the Internet advertising model?

The CNIL has published criteria to assess the legality of “cookie walls” that seek consent to the tracking of advertising. What impact on online advertising models and revenue?

This clarification from the CNIL was awaited by all the companies present on the Internet! In particular, publishers that remunerate all or part of their income through advertising: media, e-merchants, social networks, platforms… The CNIL has just published criteria to evaluate the legality of “Cookies Wall”, these windows that collect the consent of Internet users to be subject to advertising tracking in order to show them personalized advertising.

Consent and the Internet business model are closely linked

A strategic topic Both the question of consent and that of the Internet business model are now closely linked. Indeed, it is the entire model of free information on the Internet, and indirectly the ability of advertisers to reach their customers, that is directly at stake.

The rules of the game have changed since the GDPR came into force in 2018, which requires consent to the collection of personal data. In order to safeguard their economic existence, the publishers have applied the following rule: “Those who do not play the game (of advertising tracking) have no access to the information or the service offered in return”. A practice that the CNIL had tried to ban before the Council of State rebuked it in 2020 as an attack on “freedom of business and contracts” and underlined the possibility that the EDPS, the European grouping of data control authorities, opened access against a offer financial compensation, i.e. a subscription. Therefore, between a restricted model of universal access to information that threatens their economic equilibrium and the need to protect consumers’ personal data through active consent, the Internet has adapted by offering the payment alternative, the paywall. Behind the Webedia group (Allo Ciné,, many press publishers have also followed suit.

Legal uncertainty and decline in monetized traffic

In this context of legal uncertainty and threats to their economic model, companies present online have been testing different options to comply with regulations, maintain revenue and mitigate the damaging effects of consent fatigue.

These publishers have at least felt the winds: erosion of monetized traffic with a stabilized approval rate of around 70%, downward revision in the number of third-party advertising partners, increase in compliance costs, difficulties in monetizing inventory without approval and finally, logically, is a decline a revenue stream for publishers, according to a study by Mind Media.

But with the announcement of the end of third-party cookies, i.e. those that enable advertising tracking, publishers know that they are managing a transition phase before the advent of technologies that better or even completely protect the privacy of Internet users. In addition to preserving the privacy of internet users, these technologies also target the fatigue caused by these repetitive consent windows.

The threat of a maximalist vision of consent

The latest update of the CNIL, therefore, definitively confirms the principle of the “cookie wall”, a certain relief for publishers, but it does not clarify the evolution of the regulatory framework for consent to advertising tracking, in which these new approaches can also be found privacy protection , a framework that also depends on another text under consideration in Brussels: the ePrivacy Regulation. For all data that are not a priori personal, such as B. an anonymized browser history, the text would actually apply. Previously limited to the field of telecom operators, some European parliamentarians see a very bright future for it … The already weakened free internet model would be destabilized again, making certain models of innovation obsolete and depriving part of the population of free access to information and the drastically restricting brands’ ability to engage with their customers. Let’s bet that European digital technology will get a different face!

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