- European Union versions of U.S.-based news websites have slimmed down to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the new EU privacy law that went into effect May 25, causing them to perform faster and deliver a stronger user experience, according to a Catchpoint analysis provided to Marketing Dive.
- For example, the U.S. version of USA Today’s site had an average webpage load time of 9.86 seconds following GDPR’s implementation. By comparison, the U.K. version of the site loaded in 0.42 seconds, 0.75 seconds in France and 0.51 in Germany. The quicker load times can be attributed to the removal of most external third-party features such as ad servers, Google services and analytics, social media plug-ins and more.
- Sites for USA Today, The Verge and The Atlantic are showing no ads on the E.U. version of their sites while others like Slate, New York Magazine and Reuters are using Google DoubleClick to serve ads.
Much of Catchpoint's analysis confirms what was expected to happen under GDPR — publishers are less able to serve targeted ads as they drop some of the third-party data-gathering services required for this content. However, Google is seeing a benefit as it is able to receive user consent faster than some of these smaller ad servers and is therefore being used to serve ads on some sites. Others publishers are choosing to simply not monetize their E.U. sites with ads.
There is a potential upside for publishers in that faster load times and fewer ads are likely to deliver a stronger user experience. Fifty-three percent of website visitors say they will leave a site if the page doesn’t load within three seconds, according to 2016 Google research. The long-term ramifications of GDPR are still unclear, as content that isn't monetized is unsustainable for publishers.
Several U.S.-based news sites, including the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, chose to block access to European users, rather than comply with the rule or risk being hit with a fine of up to 4% of global revenue. The use of Google DoubleClick could also come at a cost for publishers, who have accused Google of placing unfair terms on them, with many accusing Google of imposing a “one-size-fits-all” approach on publishers and advertisers to comply with the law.
Some publishers are pushing back against Google and supporting a more flexible framework. German media company Axel Springer, owner of Business Insider, is letting publishers use the GDPR consent management tools it has built for free so they aren't beholden to Google.