This article is all about the importance of cookies policies and getting consent from your users to use them on your site.  They can be a really useful tool to you as the webmaster and can allow you to improve your site, advertise relevant products and streamline their experience based on their interests.


Why is this important?
European laws require that publishers and webmasters give visitors to their web sites and mobile apps information about their use of cookies and other forms of local storage.  In many cases these laws also require that consent be obtained.


What do I need to do?
There’s guidance from data protection authorities (UK and Irish authorities listed at the bottom of this article) across Europe on what is required to comply with relevant laws.  We also recommend seeking legal advice on what’s right for your website or mobile app, though we accept that many publishers and webmasters don’t have access to legal advice.

There are vendors that offer tools or solutions to add a cookie consent function to your website, some of which are free of charge.  For example:

These solutions can be configured in different ways. Some of them allow you to give your users choices about the cookies used on your site.  For example, your visitors might be presented with an option to block ‘advertising’ cookies.  It’s important to note that such configurations won’t usually control the cookies on your site automatically.

So if you’re using third party advertising services, such as Google AdSense, you’ll need to take steps to integrate your preferred solution with the advertising tags on your pages to make sure your users’ preferences are respected.  Each vendor offers instructions or support services for doing this.  If you don’t follow these steps for all the tags on your pages, you risk misleading your users: they will think they’re switching off advertising cookies when in fact advertising cookies will still be used.  Therefore, test carefully any implementation of these tools on your own site.


What do I put in my consent message?

Unfortunately we can’t tell you what your website or mobile app consent message should say because it will largely depend on your own uses of cookies and other information, and the third party services you work with.  If we built your site we can provide this text for you or if not, we can give you some pointers…

Here’s a message that might be appropriate for your website, if you use products like Google AdSense or Google Analytics, or similar products from other organisations.  Just remember, you’ll need to adjust this to suit your own uses of cookies and other information.

We use cookies to personalise content and ads, to provide social media features and to analyse our traffic. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. [Link to more information]

For an app, you might want a slightly different message:

We use device identifiers to personalise content and ads, to provide social media features and to analyse our traffic. We also share such identifiers and other information from your device with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. [Link to more information]


Where should the link to more information take my users?
The link in your message may expand the area that contains the message, to offer more information, or it may open a new page that contains additional detail.  That new page might be part of your Privacy Policy, or it might be a dedicated cookie policy.

Again, we can’t tell you what to write by way of detail: it will depend on the cookies and other information you use, the other services you work with, and any opt-out controls made available to users of your site.  If you’re using Google products like Google AdSense or DoubleClick for Publishers, you’ll be required by your contract to follow Google’s EU user consent policy which will simplify things for you a little.

If you are using Google Analytics Advertiser Features, you’ll be required to follow the Policy requirements for Google Analytics Advertisers features.  To comply with the disclosure obligations with respect to Google’s use of data, you have the option to display a prominent link to How Google uses data when you use our partners’ sites or apps.  You can also write your own into your Privacy Policy.

Implementing a consent mechanism like this for your EU visitors, which includes a link to an additional information page that in turn links to further information about how your site uses data, can help you meet the requirements of many policies.  It should also help towards your compliance with European cookie and data protection laws.


More information