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The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which has been designed to protect personal data in the EU, has been in force for just over four months. But what has specifically changed since 25 May? What are the effects of GDPR on the tracking landscape in Europe? The Munich startup Cliqz and its anti-tracking specialist Ghostery address these questions in a study, comparing the use of trackers one month before and after the commencement of GDPR. The study is based on data by Whotracks.me, a joint initiative of Cliqz and Ghostery, which provides structured information on tracking techniques, market structures and data exchange on the internet and creates more transparency.
Fewer trackers on the internet
If you compare the tracking landscape in the EU in April and July, it becomes clear that there is a declining development: The average number of trackers per website decreased in the period observed by just under 4 per cent. The effects of GDPR on the European tracking landscape are observable across all categories of websites. Most trackers can still be found on news websites: On average, these incorporate 12.4 trackers. This is a decrease of 7.5 per cent compared to April. The average number of trackers on e-commerce sites has decreased by 6.8 per cent to 9.5. On travel portals, there are 10.7 trackers per website, a minus of 6.7 per cent. This is similar when it comes to almost all other website categories. Banking sites are the only exception. The USA see an opposite trend: The average number of trackers per website increased by 8 per cent in the same period.
Smaller advertising trackers lose out – Google wins
The results of the study looking at the use of trackers in April compared to July are unambiguous: Smaller advertising trackers in particular have lost reach and market shares. The loss amounts to between 18 and 31 per cent. Facebook had to accept a decrease of just below 7 per cent. By contrast, the market leader Google was able to even increase its reach slightly (plus 1 per cent).
What is clear is that Google benefits indirectly from the effects of GDPR on the online advertising market in Europe, because the dominance of a few big providers is increased. The industry’s top player was able to use the general insecurity relating to GDPR to its advantage and consolidate its top position. However, many smaller competitors have been losing market shares continuously since the General Data Protection Regulation has been in force.
More data for the few
On the method:
2000 of the websites visited most often by Europeans were analyzed to study the tracking development in the EU. In order to determine the reach and the relative market share of the advertising trackers, the study analyzed how many websites incorporated them over the course of several months.