How does GDPR affect online news publishers?
April 1, 2018

GDPR is the EU’s data protection law. It came into effect in May 2018 and it applies in all EU countries. This means it applies to all websites that individuals in EU countries can access, including news websites. So, how does GDPR affect online news publishers?

It Only Applies in Europe

The first thing to remember is GDPR only applies to countries in the European Union plus countries in the European Economic Area (Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway). The UK has said it will implement a law exactly the same as GDPR when it leaves the EU as a result of Brexit.

Some of the impacts of this include:

  • News publishers based in Europe with European readers must comply with GDPR
  • News publishers based in Europe with international readers only need to comply with GDPR when European readers access their websites
  • International news publishers based anywhere in the world must comply with GDPR when their website is accessed by an individual who is in the EU or any of the other compliant countries


GDPR affected advertising in two ways. Firstly, some brands reduced programmatic spends because they were uncertain about the level of reader opt-in. In other words, they didn’t want to invest in advertising when there could be a substantially smaller group of people to advertise to.

Brands also had concerns that some publishers didn’t yet have technical solutions in place to ensure their websites were GDPR compliant.

Regarding the latter concern, it still has an impact. While all major European-based news publishers have the right technology in place to get user consent, many international publishers don’t. An analysis in August found there were still 1,000 US-based news websites that were not available in Europe. This figure is likely to have decreased since then, but there will still be some publishers who don’t yet have a GDPR-compliant solution.

In terms of concern about readers opting in to receive ads, those have been somewhat resolved. This is because research indicates opt-in levels are running at about 75 percent.

That said, brands no longer have as much third-party data to tailor their programmatic campaigns because of the restrictions put in place by GDPR.

So, while brands are still investing in programmatic advertising, many experts believe many will now switch increasing levels of spend from programmatic to direct deals with publishers and strategies that involve contextual targeting.

Email List Subscribers

Email list subscribers must explicitly opt-in to receiving communications from a news publisher or news website. In addition, the subscriber must be told what information you will be sending them.

Crucially, news publishers must be able to show documented evidence of when a subscriber actively opted into the list and where they signed up.

Paid Subscribers, Contact Forms, and Classifieds

GDPR also places enhanced obligations on publishers to protect the personal data of anyone contacting them. This includes paid subscribers, people buying classified ads, and people getting in touch via a contact form.

Not only must you ensure this private data is secure, you can only keep it on file for as long as you need it. It must then be destroyed.

In general, there is now very little wiggle room with personal data in Europe as a result of GDPR. News publishers are impacted by this just like many other businesses.

Worried about your newsletters not being GDPR compliant? Check out Magnet for PublishersGDPR-compliant automated personalized newsletter service.

Klangoo NLP
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