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Consent Fatigue

What Is Consent Fatigue and How to Combat It?

After the European Union introduced the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the EU cookie law, websites have been obligated to ask their European users for cookie consent before placing cookies on their device. The GDPR was followed by other privacy laws around the world, which also require websites to get Cookie Consent.

Failing to comply with privacy laws could lead to huge fines. For example, in 2021, Amazon was fined €746 million due to their practices of getting Cookie Consent. Multi-million fines related to getting Cookie Consent from their users were also applied to Instagram, Facebook, Google, and other services. 

As a result, websites must feature a cookie banner and get cookie consent. Cookie banners prompt people to provide user consent for data collection, data processing, and cookie placement on their devices. This data is needed for tracking or advertising purposes.

All websites that users visit for the first time ask for Cookie Consent, and people are being bombarded with requests. This overexposure to consent banners leads to a phenomenon called consent fatigue.

Read this blog post to learn more about consent fatigue and explore methods to mitigate consent fatigue.

What is Consent Fatigue?

Cookie consent is mostly collected using cookie banners, or popups that appear on the screen, present a cookie notice, and prompt users to go over the data collection intention from the website and grant or reject Cookie Consent. Cookie notices usually inform users about their data collection and purposes, why websites or apps need their data (like for tracking or advertising purposes), whether are there any third parties with whom the data will be shared, etc.

Cookie Consent banners are an effective means of presenting information to users about data collection and usage. However, given the volume of cookie notices on many websites, users often bypass cookie banners or accept them even without reading the cookie notice.

Consent fatigue emerged in recent years in the European Union, which gas the strictest privacy regulations. There are an increasing number of apps and websites that require users to provide user consent for various data processing activities. This leads to the new phenomenon called Consent fatigue.

Consent fatigue refers to the exhaustion and indifference that people may experience due to the constant need to provide consent for data collection and processing activities. Frequent and repetitive requests to grant permission can lead to a lack of user engagement with a Cookie Banner and an automatic rejection of Cookie Consent.

What are the reasons for consent fatigueWhy are your users experiencing consent fatigue?

The problem is twofold, from the consumer side and the organization side.

Consumer side: over-exposition to consent banners

As mentioned above, the frequency of these consent requests can sometimes be overwhelming. Users must read the cookie notice and provide or deny consent to non-essential cookies. Moreover, there could be a granular option to accept or reject just specific categories of cookies. Studies show that people prefer to accept a binary choice (accept or reject) compared to the granular cookie usage for each category of cookies.

While cookie banners are supposed to offer a possibility to control users’ personal data collection, they instead raise privacy concerns and annoy users. Moreover, sometimes websites try to improve Cookie Banner acceptance rate, experimenting with Cookie Banner design or even using dark patterns to get Cookie Consent.

Experimental data shows that even small changes in Cookie Banner design affect cookie consent opt-in rates.

Such over-exposition of consent banners leads to consent fatigue.

Organization side: Poor Privacy UX practices   

Organizations should also take responsibility for consent fatigue. Some practices for collecting cookie consent are illegal, and used on purpose to affect user behavior, while other practices could arise due to the lack of knowledge of the privacy regulations.

Users may encounter the following poor privacy UX practices:

  • Cookie walls. They deny access to a website by blocking the content of the website and require users to accept all cookies without a real choice to reject them. Cookie walls are not allowed by most privacy laws.
  • Dark patterns. Dark patterns are used by websites to trick users into accepting cookies and sharing as much data as possible. For example, popups could use tricks, or manipulative wording, or it could be difficult to reject cookies. Like cookie walls, dark patterns are also illegal.
  • Bad Cookie Banner experience. Many publishers offer a poorly designed, even unpleasant Cookie Banner experience. Cookie banners could use unclear cookie notices, too small font to read, etc. While this practice is not illegal, it leads to consent fatigue.
  • Too much information. A Cookie Banner may overwhelm you with a mass of information, especially about third parties like vendors or advertisers. It discourages you from exercising your rights, encouraging you to accept cookies by default.

Even if websites or apps don’t use such poor privacy UX practices on purpose, many sites have not made the effort to build pleasant and sustainable cookie banners. Some publishes may use Consent Management Platforms (CMPs), which offers little customization. This poor-quality experience leads to consent fatigue.

Why Should You Combat Consent Fatigue?

Consent fatigue is a significant phenomenon, and it impacts your performance measurement. If your website users experience consent fatigue, they most probably will deny cookie consent, and you will not get their data.

Publishers need user consent to increase cookie consent opt in rates needed for data analytics and targeted advertisement.

First, you need user consent for data analytics. Publishers need to boost the percentage of consented users to collect more data. If your users experience consent fatigue, you will get poor data analytics.

Consent fatigue could lead to collecting consent from users who actually do not consent. This makes it difficult to establish a relevant KPI for measuring brand engagement.

Second, cookie consent is needed for targeted advertisements. With more accurate user data, you can deliver targeted advertisement, tailored to your website users’ needs, and get more conversions. Google Analytics 4, the most popular analytics service, relies on precise data. There are techniques to fill the data gaps for non-consented users, like Behavioral modeling or Conversion modeling, but you still need data from consented users.

Best Practices to Mitigate Consent Fatigue

Even if cookie consent banners could lead to consent fatigue, cookie banners are the best tools we currently have to ensure privacy and control of personal data. Thus, cookie banners shouldn’t be eliminated, they will continue to be used.

Publishers need to mitigate consent fatigue to increase cookie consent opt-in rates.

Use these best practices to combat consent fatigue:

  • Simplification of consent requests. Make cookie notices as simple and clear as possible. If you use plain language and highlight key information, it can help people make more informed decisions and ultimately grant cookie consent.
  • User-centric design. Even small changes in Cookie Banner design affect cookie consent opt-in rates. Make a user-centric cookie banner design and provide information when it's most relevant. Design user interfaces that facilitate understanding and decision-making. Optimized cookie banner design can enhance engagement and reduce fatigue.
  • Educate users. Increasing public awareness about the importance of informed consent and the potential implications of ignoring consent requests can result in individuals paying more attention to cookie banners and providing informed decisions.
  • opt-out and granular options. Provide clear options for users to decline or customize cookie consent. Such cookie consent would be more meaningful.
  • Regulatory Measures. Governments and regulatory bodies could play an even more proactive role by enforcing standards for consent requests to ensure they are standardized and comprehensible.
  • Browser-based solutions. Another option to fight consent fatigue could be to provide automated solutions like browser settings or plugins, that would allow users to choose default settings on their browsers regarding popups. In this case, users would need to make a decision just once, selecting their browser settings.
    However, this option would be impractical. When user choices can reach a high level of automation and complexity, how can we ensure that they are accurately respected and carried over? Are the users aware of their decisions, made some time ago? What if browser settings were chosen by another user?
  • A new and widespread industry framework. The Transparency and Consent Framework (TCF) is the initiative from IAB Europe to assist publishers, technology vendors, agencies, and advertisers to comply with the GDPR and ePrivacy Directive. The IAB TCF v2.2 was launched on May 16, 2023. Up till now, it’s an optional solution, that would require massive adoption throughout the data privacy and advertising industry, with the support of major organizations and institutions. But its outcomes are promising.

Conclusion: Combat Consent Fatigue with a User-Friendly CMP

Currently, almost all websites provide privacy notices and cookie banners and ask for cookie consent requests. This leads to consent fatigue, which makes a significant barrier for both users and organizations. Users fail to make informed decisions, and either do not share their data with websites, losing possible benefits and user experience, or share too much personal data. Publishers fail to collect cookie consent and thus don’t get data, needed for data analytics and targeted advertisement.

The best solution to combat current consent fatigue is to employ a user-friendly Consent Management Platform (CMP).

CookieScript CMP offers advantages for both website owners and users. With CookieScript, you can get optimized and user-friendly cookie banner, that complies with privacy laws.

CookieScript CMP allows cookie banner behavior adjustments, and design customization, and has a self-hosted code option. You can change all the aspects of your cookie banner. Perform an A/B testing of your cookie banner design and behavior and see what works best for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Consent Fatigue?

Consent fatigue refers to the exhaustion and indifference that people may experience due to the constant need to provide consent for data collection and processing activities. Frequent and repetitive requests to grant permission can lead to a lack of user engagement with a cookie banner and an automatic rejection of cookie consent. With CookieScript CMP, you can avoid consent fatigue and collect increase the number of cookie consent.

What are the reasons for consent fatigue?

Consent fatigue could arise from the consumer side and the organization side. Consumers are over-exposed to consent banners, which leads to consent fatigue. Organizations may also use poor privacy UX or illegal practices for getting consent like using cookie walls, dark patterns, and providing too much information on the cookie popup. Employ a user-friendly CMP like CookieScript CMP to combat consent fatigue.

Why should you combat consent fatigue?

Publishers need user consent to increase cookie consent opt-in rates needed for data analytics and targeted advertisement. When customers experience consent fatigue, they are less likely to grant cookie consent or provide inaccurate data. This could make it difficult to establish a relevant KPI for measuring brand engagement. Use CookieScript CMP to create an optimized cookie popup and mitigate consent fatigue.

What are the best practices to mitigate consent fatigue?

Use these best practices to combat consent fatigue: simplify consent requests, provide a user-centric design of your cookie banner, educate users, and opt-out and granular cookie banner options. Use CookieScript CMP to mitigate consent fatigue, which can provide an optimized cookie banner for your website or app.

New to CookieScript?

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