One Tough Cookie: Understanding Cookie Consent Platforms and How to Use Them

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In a world where digital information zips around faster than a kid who has eaten one too many holiday cookies, personal data is a hot commodity.

Except that, for the individuals to whom the data belongs, it’s not a commodity. It’s part of their identity, their lives.

It’s, for lack of a better term, personal.

And while there are some generational exceptions to this, most people want to keep it that way as much as possible.

Privacy legislation reflects this sentiment and has put restrictions on what information can be gathered and how consent is obtained for its use. One of the most frequently discussed topics in privacy is how cookies and cookie consent are managed.

What is cookie consent?

In terms of privacy activities, cookie consent is one of the big ones.

The use of digital cookies is widespread, with 42.4% of all websites using some form of them. Some sectors of the marketing and technology industries may be moving towards a cookieless world, but they’re still very much in action.

You can’t just stick cookies on a site and let them run freely, though.

As a website owner, you must inform your visitors about cookies used on your site and give them the option to accept or reject them.

This practice is known as cookie consent.

Cookie consent practices help your business avoid privacy compliance violations and subsequent fines and fees. Consider TikTok’s $5.4 million fine this year from France’s data protection agency, CNIL, or Sephora’s well-publicized $1.2 million fine in 2022 for violating CCPA requirements.

Of course, regulatory compliance isn’t all you have to worry about. (Although, yes, it’s a lot!)

Without sufficient measures to collect consent, businesses can also violate consumer trust and inflict reputational damage, which can have worse impacts than fines and fees. 73% of customers “would spend significantly less” for products or services from a business that lost their trust.

What laws apply to cookies and cookie consent?

There are a number of laws and regulations that deal with cookies, which can vary depending on the country or region where your business operates. Some of the most recent include:

How to manage your cookies

If you glanced at the above and thought, “Well, that seems like a lot to keep track of,” you’d be right.

Cookie consent involves a lot of data, a lot of tracking, and a lot of updating. Without the right tools in place, it’s an incredibly involved process.

What’s more, it’s prone to errors and missteps.

Luckily, there are tools that can help make cookie consent easier to track (and less likely to mess up). Among the most valuable tools are consent management platforms.

What is a Cookie Consent Platform?

A Consent Management Platform (CMP) is software that helps websites manage user consent to data collection protocols.

In the context of cookies, a CMP allows websites to customize and implement cookie banners, track user consent, and ensure the website’s compliance with data privacy laws.

But this is just the basics. With the right CMP, website owners can conduct more sophisticated privacy maneuvers like:

  • Consent administration: Centrally manages notices and consents and uses them across consent collection channels.
  • Automated consent management: Automates the collection, storage, and management of consent.
  • Consent records: Keeps complete records of all consents obtained from individuals.
  • Data privacy controls: Allows users to give or revoke consent for data collection and usage.
  • Demonstration of compliance: Provides real-time insights into the complete personal data lifecycle, from the moment of opt-in to the data removal, enabling organizations to demonstrate compliance for any individual at any time.
  • Marketing: Integrates with marketing platforms to ensure consistency in cookie consent.

How do Consent Management Platforms help you…

…comply with privacy laws?

The right CMP keeps track of all of the upcoming changes in regulations—from the EU to Britain, to California’s CCPA, as amended by CPRA—all over the world and helps you apply them to your organization.

A CMP helps you stay compliant with laws by helping you:

  • Create segmentation based on applicable laws (GDPR vs. CCPA, for example)
  • Build multiple cookie notice options (banner, widget, pop-ups, etc.)
  • Identify hidden cookies that are embedded inside other trackers on your site
  • Deliver a clear trail of consent history
  • Analyze data to tailor your privacy strategies

…run a better privacy program?

Beyond specific feature sets and functionalities, though, there’s another key aspect to CMPs: they can be used as a single source of truth for consent. Instead of having silos around user consent, website owners can go to one place to manage everything.

…build consumer trust?

Do you want to build trust with your audience? Do things that demonstrate that you’re looking out for them.

By implementing a cookie consent platform, you’re demonstrating that your business prioritizes privacy. They’ll be able to take greater ownership of their personal information and develop more positive feelings towards you in the process.

A CMP does a lot. It doesn’t do it all.

Considering putting a CMP into action? That’s great—we highly recommend it.

But you should also plan for how you will use your CMP. CMPs still require oversight and engagement.

Three steps to successfully implement a Consent Management Platform

Implementing a CMP can seem daunting, but it can be done quickly and easily with the right approach. Here are some tips.

#1: Understand which regulations apply to your business

Make sure you understand the regulations that your CMP needs to comply with. Different countries and regions have different data privacy laws, so it’s essential to know the requirements of the jurisdiction you’re operating in.

Once you have a clear understanding of the regulations, you can plan how to implement your CMP.

#2: Make sure you have the right tools and resources in place

A CMP requires a lot of technical knowledge, so it’s important to make sure you have the right team in place to handle the implementation.

This could include developers, designers, and data privacy experts.

#3: Have a clear plan for managing user consent

Your plan for managing user consent should include how users will be able to give and withdraw consent, as well as how you will track and store user consent data.

Finally, make sure you have a plan for how you will monitor and update your CMP. Data privacy regulations are constantly changing, so it’s important to make sure your CMP is up to date with the latest regulations.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your CMP is implemented quickly and efficiently and complies with all relevant data privacy regulations.

Make cookies a piece of cake

The ever-changing landscape of data privacy laws can be daunting. Red Clover Advisors is here to assist in every step of that journey.

Whether you need help understanding applicable regulations, strategizing on cookie policies, or implementing and managing a Consent Management Platform, our expert team is here. Contact us today at Red Clover Advisors.