NOTE! 21.9.2022 Based on the current market information, European data processing authorities are requiring changes to the TCF standard. We'll update our blog posts related to the TCF when there is clarity related to the possible upcoming changes. You can find up-to-date information here.
TCF, or Transparency & Consent Framework, is an industry-standard that allows to obtain the required permission for the use of data from consumers and to pass this permission (or prohibition) in an intelligible form to the digital advertising industry. There is a need for a common standard as there is a large number of data-driven players in the market - media, ad servers, programmatic sales and purchase systems, analytics, personalization tools, and data management systems. There is a need for a mutually agreed approach to dealing with permissions and bans on data usage with consumers.
Who does TCF concern?
Everyone working in digital advertising must at least understand the importance of TCF. TCF is particularly important as a standard for those who sell and buy programmatic advertising. In practice, it is the responsibility of the operator of the website, application or other digital service to present to the consumer the CMP (Consent Management Provider) that supports TCF.
Many European countries are interpreting the GDPR and preparing for the upcoming ePrivacy, with all sites asking for permission / offering the ability to refuse data usage. This can also be done with other tools than those applying the TCF standard. But, if you sell digital advertising and / or utilize data in an otherwise programmatically sold / purchased advertising ecosystem, TCF is the only language that the advertising market understands. In other words, if the media asks the public for permission to exploit the data in some other way, this information will not reach advertisers, for example, and programmatic selling will surely be more difficult.
TCF is designed to ensure that the digital advertising market operates in accordance with current and future EU data protection legislation. But it seems that European practices are being copied outside the EU too, which we see as a positive thing.
What do you have to do?
A CMP that supports TCF is required. That means there should be a consent tool that becomes visible to the user when they visit the digital service for the first time. You can do this yourself if you want, or you can buy a ready-made tool from the market. The regulation is then adjusted. For example, the site needs to think about whom to ask for permission. Usually this list contains the site's own analytics, advertising and other technologies, as well as customers’ technologies.
When using a consent management tool that supports TCF, you are well placed to comply with both the law and the regulations, and to ensure that your own advertising sales or marketing does not suffer, at least because of permissions / prohibitions on data exploitation are not collected. TCF has been built in consultation with data protection officers from different countries to ensure that the end result is as consistent as possible with data and privacy laws.
What is the status right now?
TCF V2 was released just after the summer, and all major players in the industry, including Google, are committed to supporting this. Deployment is proceeding with the V2 becoming the only industry-approved standard for data utilization at the end of the first quarter of next year.
On 21.11.2019, IAB Europe released the Consent Management Platform (CMP) Validator and first round test results. The purpose of this tool is to ensure the functionality of the Concentration Management tools that support TCF. CMP Validator was built as a Chrome browser extension that allows the tool to be used on any site to analyze CMP live installations. The list of CMPs that have passed the Validator compliance test is publicly available at: https://advertisingconsent.eu/cmp-list/. Currently the validator supports TCF's first generation, the V2 Validation tool will be released in the near future.
When TCF v2 was released in August 2019, it was announced that TCF v1.1 technical support will be in place until the end of the first quarter of 2020, so that the modifications required by v2 can be completed before the v1.1 support ends. IAB Europe has now announced that technical support will be extended 15th August 2020.