Following the general data protection regulation (GDPR) in May, around 90% of ad tech vendors face the prospect of being denied access to consumer data, according to research from Smartpipe and PSB Research.

The study which conducted interviews of 1,204 consumers in the UK simulated three different consent gathering experiences – “Layered”, “Full Transparency”, and “New Entrant”.

The report found that only 50% of consumers consent to a handful of ad tech vendors when exposed to the “Full Transparency” experience on publishers’ websites – where they would give consent to each named ad tech vendor.

On average, only one in 10 (10%) tech vendors end up with permission for consumer data to be used for personalised advertising.

When it came to opting in, consumers were more likely to opt-in to their data being used by larger vendors.

Google and Facebook were the top two vendors with both having a minimum of 28% share of consent while at the maximum they had 54% – highlighting the dominance of digital giants and threatening the future of smaller firms and consolidating the power of the “duopoly”.

Cookie crumbles

In the majority of cases presented, upmarket consumers (ABC1) and older audiences (Baby Boomers) were significantly less likely to grant consent – denying advertisers access to the information of highly valuable target audience.

Only one-in-three (33%) Baby Boomers said they would opt-in to cookies, whereas Millennials and Gen Z pushed over 60%.

When offered the “New Entrant” experience – non-publishing companies such as mobile phone operators, supermarkets and banks – opt-in rates averaged 56% (vs 50% for publishers).

However, when the right data protection message from phone companies – stressing investment in innovative privacy enhancing technology coupled with a “no third party” proposition to place, 83% consented – signalling a significant opportunity for new entrants to supply data into the digital advertising ecosystem

The allure of the “Layered” experience – a “select all” opt-in option – is understandable as the consumer response suggests publishers could achieve an opt-in from 80% of audiences.

When probed post-exposure, on average 45% of users said they would trust a publisher in such a system, but once they were told they could have agreed to allow up to 60 third parties access to their personal information, trust fell to 29%.

“The GDPR was always going shake up ad tech,” commented Chad Wollen, CMO of Smartpipe. “Once you add consumer behaviour into the mix, worse case scenarios are compounded.”

While confirming the findings, Rob Vance, VP at PSB EMEA added that ad tech companies would need to rethink how they approach permissions and start listening to consumers more before taking action.