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The GDPR Is a Cookie Monster

Publishers purge ad trackers in light of data regulation

Websites are purging cookies now that they’re required to be more stringent about how they use people’s data.

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect in May 2018 and requires that companies obtain explicit permission from individuals to utilize their data. Since the GDPR became enforceable, the number of third-party cookies found on news websites in Europe declined by 22%, according to a study by Reuters Institute.

Between April and July, Reuters researchers analyzed about 1 million content requests from more than 200 news publishers in the EU. They found that the number of third-party cookies used per webpage declined from about 80 in April to about 60 in July.

Prior to the GDPR going into effect, cookies were already losing some of their foothold as the dominant tool used to track users’ activity on websites.

Last summer, Apple’s Safari browser made tracking users more difficult by deleting third-party cookies after one day. In a September 2017 study of 250 US digital marketers by Viant, about 60% of respondents said they will no longer rely on cookies for the majority of their digital marketing within the next two years.