Affiliate Window has released a cookie management solution for publishers in response to the revised ePrivacy Directive. The Affiliate Window ePrivacy plug-in is freely available to all network publishers and has been created to comply with the revised European ePrivacy Directive by allowing website users to manage their own privacy settings.
The technology is being offered as a general privacy solution and can be extended to manage all features of a publisher’s site that rely on the range of cookies, not just Affiliate Window’s. More information can be found on Affiliate Window's Wiki. Alternatively you can see the plug-in for yourself at Affiliate Window's demo site.
We asked Affiliate Window Strategy Director, Kevin Edwards, why Affiliate Window chose to build a solution and what the key features of the plug-in are.
What are the key features of the plug-in?
There are three levels to the plug-in. The first is a non-intrusive box that appears in the bottom right hand side of the screen asking a site’s visitors if they’d like to find out more about how information is used on the site. If they choose ‘no’, we assume they are happy with their current settings and consent is implied. Should they click ‘yes’, they’ll be taken to another pop-up that explains what different cookies do and how they can control their settings within the pop-up. Should they choose to disable affiliate cookies, we believe an additional prompt will mitigate the potential lost publisher commissions.
What was the rationale behind the plug-in?
KE: We thought long and hard about what the plug-in should do. We’ve seen a rash of opt-in or opt-out solutions launched and we didn’t want to do something similar. The law isn’t about ticking a box off the back of being presented with next to no information, it’s about educating consumers. Therefore we wanted to pursue a layered approach that explains what different cookies do and then if they want to, consumers can move onto the next level of detail.
There have also been countless surveys recently that have indicated consumers are still uninformed about cookies, so we didn’t want to lose people immediately with confusing technical language. The wording we use is focused on how information is stored and used.
Finally, it’s important we stress that affiliate marketing doesn’t capture personally identifiable information so we wanted to explicitly state what information is stored and how this limited information sustains an industry that poses few threats to consumers, whilst invariably enhancing their online shopping experiences.
How easy is the plug-in to install?
KE: The plug-in is a single line of code that can either be fully implemented or customised to cover all other cookies a website might use. There’s an accompanying technical guide so we’re confident it can be installed with a minimum level of technical expertise. It’s also platform neutral, as we’re conscious there’s no point in trying to seek separate consent for all different affiliate networks. Crucially it’s also free to download from our interface.
Given the less than prescriptive advice issued by the regulator, are you confident the plug-in achieves consent?
KE: The ICO issued further guidance on consent last week and we’re confident our focus on education and information is completely in keeping with this. They have shifted the emphasis more towards implied consent and whilst I think some of the coverage of this is misleading, claiming the ICO has done a u-turn, we believe all they have done is strengthen the case for website owners to inform and educate their users: seek informed consent and implied consent should follow.
What else is Affiliate Window doing given we’re now in a period where the regulator can in theory investigate breaches of the law?
KE: Last week we launched a comprehensive, 24-page guide we sent to all our publishers, agencies and advertisers. We’ve also set up a dedicated email contact address for enquiries. It’s also worth mentioning the new IAB Affiliate Marketing Council consumer facing website that Affiliate Window contributed much of the content to.