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What is TCF v2.0 and why should publishers care?

Mark the date: On August 15th, 2020, TCF v1.1 is depleted and we switch over to TCF v2.0. That’s less than one month away. For publishers, ad tech vendors, and agencies who haven’t started to prepare, the deadline is fast approaching.

But there still is time.

Here’s what you need to know.

What is TCF v2.0?

TCF v2.0 is the second iteration of The IAB Europe’s Transparency and Consent Framework (TCF) v2.0.

The original version launched back in 2018 and was created to standardize how publishers, ad tech vendors, and agencies could run programmatic advertising in a GDPR-compliant way whilst ensuring consumer privacy rights were upheld.

Fast forward to August last year and the IAB set up a steering group tasked with drafting a new, updated TCF Policy. The rationale behind the need for the update was because the initial version was deemed too limited in scope and restricted consumer choice.

With participation from 10 IABs, 55 organisations, and EU-level associations, publishers, tech providers, and media agencies, the TCF Steering Group attempted to provide a consensus-based v2.0 that accommodated all industry voices.

On 15th August, v2.0 will come into force.

What are the key differences between v2.0 and v1.0?

IAB-certified Consent Management Platforms (CMPs) are used by publishers to gather consent from users surrounding what data is being collected through websites or apps, and crucially, who that data will be shared with.

But publishers hated v1.0.

Why? The first version was too biased towards the needs of the ad tech industry. The second version aims to rectify this and make it far more publisher friendly. And consumer-friendly.

For consumers

TCF v2.0 lets users give or withhold consent and exercise their ‘right to object’ to data being processed. It enables greater transparency to the user, through more detailed descriptions of the purposes of data processing. Consumers get more control over how vendors can use certain features of data processing, for example, geolocation.

For publishers

Publishers implementing TCF v2.0 get greater control and flexibility with how they integrate and collaborate with tech partners. In short, they can restrict the purposes for which personal data is processed by ad tech vendors, even down to a per-vendor basis.

Consent Management Platforms

TCF v2.0 is going to get much stricter regarding consent notice user interfaces. This is an important change given that 88% of existing consent management platforms (CMPs) do not meet the minimal requirements set by GDPR.

Sarah Jones, Global Head of Product Marketing, Ogury comments, “Upgrading from TCF v1.0 to TCF v2.0 requires as much technical and legal resources as the first implementation. Continual nuances to the Data Protection Authorities’ (DPAs) interpretation of the GDPR means that compliance is a continual process requiring full-time, dedicated resources.

“The good news for publishers using a third-party CMP is that all this technical and legal work lies with their vendor. Updating or installing a third-party CMP will generally be straightforward.”

Where can publishers find an approved CMP that is v2.0 compliant?

The IAB has produced a comprehensive list of approved third-party CMP vendors. All CMPs on this list have passed the compliance checks required by IAB Europe’s CMP Compliance Programme. CMPs not on this list are either not registered with the TCF, or as the IAB says, not compliant.

What are the revenue implications for publishers that do not implement an IAB-approved CMP? 

Whilst TCF v2.0 comes into effect on 15th August, 2020,  v1.1 consent strings will remain valid until 30th September 2020. After that date, publishers will need to replace their v1.1 CMPs with v2.0 permissions based on both the consent and “legitimate interests” GDPR legal bases.

Without this, publishers will no longer be able to demonstrate to brands and advertisers that their programmatic inventory adheres to best practice and compliance in terms of data collection, data processing and user privacy.

The revenue implications for publishers not implementing TCF v2.0 are clear: dramatically reduced programmatic revenue, especially for those publishers with high volumes of EU traffic.

When will Google partners join the TCF?

Much of the success of TCF v2.0 will depend on Google. As Digiday pointed out last year, “There isn’t likely to be a stampede of additional publishers or vendors and agencies integrating with it until Google has done so. Multiple ad tech and publisher executive sources have admitted as much.”

But, as the IAB Europe points out in its TCF v2.0 Q&A, “Google partners have started their registration process for TCF v2.0.” (ID 755).

Overall, more than 450 vendors and nearly 50 CMPs are now TCF v2.0 ready. These include Adobe, Axel Springer, Criteo, GroupM, Integral Ad Science, Mediamath, Oracle, OneTrust, The Ozone Project, The Rubicon Project, The Trade Desk, Quantcast, and Xandr, amongst many others. 

What should publishers do now?

If you have a third party CMP installed, speak to the vendor immediately about the process of switching over to TCF 2.0.

If you don’t have a CMP installed and are looking for a vendor, IAB Europe has produced a list of TCF v2.0 validated CMPs.

If you have developed your own in-house CMP, visit IAB Europe’s website for guidance and support. 

IAB Europe has produced a comprehensive portal that details everything you need to know, as well as support materials, implementation guidelines, switchover Q&A, and more (including a TCF v2.0 publisher fact sheet).

IAB Europe has also hosted 10 workshop webinars covering everything from TCF v2.0 policies to how the CMP UI should look. You can view the series of recordings here.

Still have questions? You can contact IAB Europe directly through this email address: framework (AT) iabeurope.eu 

Conclusion

For publishers, ad tech vendors, and agencies wishing to be fully compliant with GDPR, as well as keeping up-to-date with evolving guidance and legislation, adhering to TCF v2.0 is crucial.

More than that, we have now entered an era when consumers are demanding far greater rights over how their data is processed, stored, and distributed – as evidenced by the sunsetting of third party cookies in 2022. Adhering to TCF v2.0 is the minimum that consumers are going to expect moving forwards.

We’ll leave the last word to Ogury’s Sarah Jones: “Greater transparency and control to users can only ever be perceived positively.”  Quite right.

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