Ben Bold
Apr 25, 2024

Guardian makes it easy for readers to reject all ad cookies with single click

Guardian ad chief has penned open letter to clients and agencies explaining rationale.

The Guardian: three options, including to reject cookies
The Guardian: three options, including to reject cookies

The Guardian is giving its online readers greater control of their data with the addition of an easy-to-click "reject all" cookies option.

From this week, by clicking "No, thank you" when logging in, readers can opt out of their personal information being tracked and used to personalise ads.

Imogen Fox, The Guardian's chief advertising officer, has also penned an open letter to agencies and advertisers explaining its rationale.

Advertising is vital to The Guardian's business model – along with membership and subscription charges it helps fund the media company. But the group also considers trust and transparency as central to its philosophy.

It has published a blog for readers that explains how journalism funding is changing and how, with the addition of the "reject all" button, it is "essential that readers understand how the choices they make impact the funding of quality, independent reporting", it said.

The group's move follows a recent call by the Information Commissioner's Office for "consent or pay" mechanisms to be introduced by websites and online media companies, so that people can opt to either make their personal information available for personalised ads or to pay a subscription charge and not be tracked.

When users sign in to The Guardian, three options appear under the question "Are you happy to accept cookies?" They are: "Yes, I'm happy", "No, thank you" and "Manage cookies".

As well as paying, readers have other options. In November, the media company unveiled Guardian Light, which enables advertisers to reach target audiences without using cookies. At the same time, it outlined other moves to bolster cookieless ad revenues, including heavier use of banner ads.

Here is Fox's letter in full:

Dear XXX

You will have heard us talk a lot about our unique formula for advertisers: scale, influence and integrity. And you know that at the Guardian we are committed to responsible advertising – you've seen it when we banned fossil fuel and gambling ads. This week we are pleased to be leading the market once again on data tracking consent in a way that delivers all three of those things.

On Tuesday 16 April, we updated our consent banner to give readers more control over how their data is used. Previously readers could either click a button to accept all cookies ("Yes, I'm happy") or click a button to manage or reject cookies. In light of legislation, and a clear steer from the regulator, we have given greater parity of user choices by enabling them to "reject all" cookies as easily as "accept all" by clicking "No, thank you" on the first layer of the cookie banner.

Making "reject all" easier means more people are likely to reject all cookies. More people rejecting all cookies, means less people for advertisers to advertise to. That seems counterintuitive doesn't it?

At the Guardian we want our online advertising to work as hard as it can for our advertising partners as well as our readers. This means using legally consented personal data to match audiences with products and services.

Which is why we developed Guardian Light. Guardian Light uses no first or third party data (zero cookies, same great taste). This opens up a whole new audience to advertisers that was previously out of reach.

In this new world, a takeover of the Guardian's website is actually a takeover. A sponsorship is a full sponsorship. 100% share of voice to the whole Guardian audience. This is particularly important in a year full of big cultural moments like the Olympics and the Euros.

We're delighted that brands such as Monzo have already run campaigns through Guardian Light to great effect. Less data means faster load times. We've seen significantly improved viewability scores (as high as 90%) and CTRs.

Advertising is extremely important to the Guardian. It helps fund our unique and vital journalism. Responsible advertising stretches beyond the brands that we work with, it also applies behind the scenes too.

We think we have taken a massive step forward with this change and we hope others will join us.

Thank you.

Imogen Fox, chief advertising officer, The Guardian

Campaign UK

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