Cookie Paywall: A Guide to Compliant Implementation for Publishers

Although the adoption of cookie-based paywalls has become more and more noticeable among publishers, it brings some complexity in managing digital data privacy compliantly. In this blog post, we will see what cookie paywall is and how publishers can use it in a compliant way. The article offers a practical guide on implementing cookie-based paywalls, introducing Clickio Cookie Paywall solutions that ensures personalized user experiences and adherence to the best digital policy standards.


The evolution of Cookie paywalls

The use of paywalls in the digital word is not new. Paywall integrations refer to the implementation of a digital wall or access control system on a website or platform, restricting access to certain content or features unless users make a payment or subscribe. 

These systems enable businesses to effectively monetize their digital content, offering users a choice between free or limited access and premium, paid content. Indeed, many big publishers, such as Time, Harvard Business Review or Economist have been using the paywall systems for many decades now. Lately, however, the increasing use of cookie paywalls or “pay or consent” models took place among many digital media, including Meta, Le Monde and others. Under this model, digital publishers present users with a clear choice: either pay for accessing content without being subjected to targeted advertising and data tracking, or consent to data collection and targeted advertising to access the content for free. Users who opt not to pay are asked to provide consent for the collection of their data, which is used for targeted advertising purposes. In return, they gain access to the publisher’s content without monetary charges.

Is it compliant to use a cookie paywall under GDPR?

The “pay or consent” model for digital publishers is a solution that emerged in response to evolving privacy regulations and users’ growing concerns about data privacy. This model is  aligned with privacy regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which emphasize user consent and transparency regarding data collection practices. It empowers users to make informed decisions about their privacy preferences while still allowing publishers to monetize their content through targeted advertising if users consent to it. Moreover, the compliance of the cookie paywall solution has been explicitly recognised by the local Data regulations entities in Spain, France and the United Kingdom. Yet, the implementation of a cookie paywall should follow some rules to ensure complete compliance for publishers.

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How to use a cookie paywall in a compliant way?

Using a cookie-based paywall involves implementing a system that utilizes cookies to manage access to content based on user behavior or subscription status. The integration of cookie paywall may come as a separated solution or already integrated in an CMP. In both cases, cookie paywall should met the following requirements for to stay compliant: 

Fair subscription price: Set a subscription fee that is reasonable and justifiable for the content or service being offered.

Accurate messaging: This involves providing clear and transparent information to users about how their data will be used, particularly in relation to cookies and tracking technologies. Messaging should accurately convey the purposes for which data is collected, processed, and stored, helping users make informed decisions about consenting to cookies or paying the subscription fee.

Easy consent change: Users should have the ability to easily withdraw or change their consent or the subscription mode at any time. This means providing straightforward mechanisms, such as an easily accessible preference center or settings menu, where users can manage their cookie preferences and subscription options.

Clickio Cookie Paywall Solutions

As we have seen, the implementation of the Cookie Paywall is an important step for publishers caring about user’s flexibility and revenue stability. Yet the successful implementation can be tricky given the complexity and ever changing regulatory. Recognising the complexity of the digital policy, here at Clickio, we constantly monitor the evolution of digital privacy regulation while supporting publishers with appropriate and ethical implementation of alternative solutions, such as cookie paywall. Clickio, Google-Certified CMP, offers seamless integration of any paywall solution with opportunity of A-B testing and implementation of customizable message.

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Moreover, for publishers who don’t have the paywall integration, Clickio has developed the Build-in paywall solution that allows the subscription options to users without any additional contactors, as it is easily available in the Clickio Platform.

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