After all the talk and worry mounting for months (before plateauing for a week or two as many marketers gave up caring, or at least pretended to), the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is finally here, and finally enforceable.

With each of the affiliate networks choosing to take their own route to consumer data compliance, deadline day today will have seen the rollout of solutions hard in the making for a number of weeks. While an early morning browse over the affiliate industry’s bread and butter – the voucher code sites – finds little in the way of striking differences from yesterday, one network’s approach to acquiring affirmative consent is drawing out the end-of-week ire in certain members of the industry.

It is CJ Affiliate by Conversant that is bearing the brunt of the critical affiliate eye today, owed to a rather verbose pop-up message on any attempt to access one its partner’s offers – in this case, a 10% TUI discount code via  

Contained in the CJ-branded message is a detailed explanation of how the voucher code publisher has partnered with the network for use of its “advertising and analytics technologies (including cookies)”, which enable it to grant a commission on any purchase made by the consumer as a result of using a voucher code.

The message continues; “We use these technologies to collect data to better understand your browsing activity on this site and other third-party websites and apps. We use this data to serve you with interest-based advertising and for analytics purposes, and may share this data with our service providers for those same purposes.”

The consumer is then instructed to either click ‘Continue to site’ or close the banner in order to provide consent to the use of cookies on TUI’s site and “other sites that work with us”. A ‘Learn more’ button, meanwhile, shows a checkbox list of partners involved in the transaction – in this case, just the network itself – which consumers can select in order to decline access to their data.

It is, seemingly, just CJ Affiliate by Conversant that has such measures in place, with offers placed by merchants under various other networks bypassing any such consent tool on the path to purchase. In fact, the network is one of the few which is taking a blanket approach across publisher and advertisers according to comments made by the group’s European head of strategy, Owen Hancock, to PerformanceIN recently, in an interview with multiple networks. 

“The implementation of GDPR will change the definition of consent in the current ePrivacy Directive,” said Hancock; “Sharing the Consent Tool industry-wide means that we can help bring best practice, ensuring affiliate is not at the centre of compliance controversy after May 25th.

Competing networks, however, have taken different tacts, many requiring advertisers to seek their own consent, in some cases with an adaptation of the ubiquitous cookie banner alert; while others have encouraged partners to use “whatever tool they wish”, as long as it plugs into the IAB Europe’s Consent Framework.

However, while CJ Affiliate by Conversant’s approach may seem somewhat interruptive to the user and brand experience at present, it is still early days in the new world of GDPR, and perhaps a blanketed, universal approach to gaining consent could hold strong as a sensible decision in the longer term.

Let us know what you think below…