News | 8/12/2017

The GDPR Guide to PPC Display and Remarketing

Posted by Lawrence Greenlee


With PPC becoming an ever more prominent digital marketing channel because of the monopoly it has on both the search and display network, it’s important that you get it right or you could be jeopardising upward of 50% of your monthly revenue.

In this blog we’re going to help you get your display advertising and remarketing in order so that you can continue your day-to-day operations without falling foul of GDPR restrictions. You should be able to walk away confidently understanding:

  • Changes to AdWords advertising policies that affect the work you do
  • Opt-in and opt-out of cookies and how this will affect your audiences in AdWords
  • How to handle your data with the new regulations
  • Safari audience data collection on iOS devices
  • Changes to YouTube and Gmail remarketing

Things you’re probably doing wrong

Assuming you’re not affected

The first mistake that any advertiser can make is to assume that these data regulations won’t affect you. Even minor changes can have a big impact on the safety of your business and your customers. Ultimately, as Google writes in its Terms and Conditions:

“Customer [you] is solely responsible for its use of the Programmes.”

Delaying your opt-out option

While no common practices will be subject to change, remarketing and display lists (affinity and in-market audiences) may decrease in size due to the new opt-out option on cookies.

To stay ahead of the decline, implement your opt-out option on site as soon as possible so that you can address more quickly how many new customer acquisition campaigns you may need to implement. Also, ensure that your users have a reason to opt in, for this will need strong content and persuasive advertising copy.

“Certain disclosures must be given to and consents obtained from end users in the European Union where EU data protection law requires such disclosures and consents.”

Ignoring changes to Safari

Apple has recently updated Safari in an attempt to tackle GDPR; these changes have affected the way that cookies are being treated within the browser.

The intelligent tracking prevention (ITP) feature will stop agencies and businesses alike from capturing browsing data across sites, which will impact largely on advertising audience and targeting.

To condense, cookies are said to be available for 24 hours after your customer has visited your website. After that 24-hour window, the cookie can still be used for things like username, email and password logins, but won’t be able to do a lot regarding most forms of tracking (remarketing). After 30 days, your cookie will have been completely devalued.

This may make you feel that smaller businesses will have their advertising efforts limited by more than just their smaller budgets. Rest assured, this move by Apple can be regarded as the next big step in ensuring that your advertising is as targeted as possible, while at the same time uprooting advertisers who use remarketing cookies as a way to spam customers with low quality ads – the people that give advertisers a bad name! You’re more likely to increase return visitors (to refresh the cookie time limit) if you’re targeting customers at the right time and place, as well as with ad copy or deals that appeal to them. In essence, dynamic remarketing could be more vital than ever on iOS devices.


Similar to other Google advertising products, YouTube advertising is affected by those formats which use prior knowledge of a user to their advantage; it’s this use of data that matters, rather than the platform it is advertised on. The ad formats which need to gather some form of consent are:

  • Remarketing
  • Affinity audiences
  • Demographics
  • In-market audiences
  • Similar audiences

The formats which aren’t as affected are:

  • YouTube Search Results
  • YouTube Videos

Things you need to do now

  1. Include an opt-out button on-site for your cookies.

“You must use commercially reasonable efforts to disclose clearly, and obtain consent to, any data collection, sharing and usage that takes place on any site, app, email publication or other property as a consequence of your use of Google products.”

  1. Include further information on what customer data is collected from cookies and how it is used by you and third parties (agencies):

“You must use commercially reasonable efforts to ensure that an end user is provided with clear and comprehensive information about, and consents to, the storing and accessing of cookies or other information on the end user’s device where such activity occurs in connection with a product to which this policy applies.”

  1. Only use data collected by Google advertising products to ensure GDPR and general data compliance in AdWords advertising, and do not try to gather further customer data from adverts.

“The Customer will not use any automated means or form of scraping or data extraction to access, query or otherwise collect Google advertising-related information from any Property except as expressly permitted by Google.” 

In essence, you want the amount of people coming to your site naturally (without remarketing) to increase. To do that, you need to give users a reason to choose you over competitors. To achieve this, you need to understand what your audience want, how they want it and the best way to deliver it to them – and to find that out you need to understand your data. If you need help understanding your data and marketing to your audience, please get in touch and our PPC team would be happy to help.


Please note that all the information contained in this blog is for guidance only. If you are concerned about the impact of GDPR and would like bespoke advice for your business, please call 01273 208913 or email