Many web users don’t mind GDPR cookie consent prompts, OWI survey finds

Web users around the world have been bombarded with cookie consent popovers since the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation went into effect in May, but a new survey from OWI has found that many users find the prompts seen while browsing the web to be more reassuring than annoying.

Note: OWI’s latest research, “Trust, Safety & Compliance: A Survivor’s Guide to GDPR-mageddon,” is now available to download.

Cookie consent popovers now show up on many major websites on the internet, and in some cases will block a portion or all of the content on a page, asking for a user’s permission to use tracking cookies.

Websites that operate in the European Union must now issue these prompts to comply with GDPR, a sweeping law that gives users more control of their digital identity. And rather than revise their web code for other markets around the world, many websites simply show the same prompt to all visitors.

OWI, in collaboration with Lucid, polled internet users in France, Germany and the U.K. regarding these cookie popovers, asking those browsing the web whether they find them “reassuring” or “annoying.” In all three countries, the vote was decidedly split.

In France, users were found to be most appreciative of cookie prompts, as 59 percent of those surveyed said they found the popovers to be “reassuring.” More than half appreciated them in the U.K., as well, where 55 percent chose “reassuring” over “annoying.”

The only country polled where most users did not prefer the prompts was Germany — but even there, the results were split, as 46 percent still said cookie consent forms were “reassuring.”

In all, OWI and Lucid surveyed 259 web users in the U.K., 233 in France, and another 151 in Germany. Respondents were asked the question, in their native language, how they “most feel” about GDPR cookie prompts on websites. The two choices: “They’re reassuring,” or “They’re annoying.”

Aside from cookie-related nuisances, GDPR has had some other effects on end users since it became law in May. Last month, social networking giant Facebook revealed that it lost a million active monthly users as a direct result of GDPR.

In addition, a recent poll found that 10 percent of corporate execs said GDPR compliance would cost their company over $1 million.

OWI Insight: User experience is usually designed around reducing or eliminating user friction. But website popovers and popups are perhaps some of the most annoying examples of user friction. Therefore, some may be surprised that such a large number of consumers find GDPR cookie compliance popovers to be reassuring. However, user acceptance of these prompts shows that consumers are thankful to be able to gain back some control of their data and digital identity.