Richard Foster
UK Director Ad Solutions | TRUSTe

The recent EU Cookie Directive put third party tracking and online behavioural advertising under the spotlight in the UK and required advertisers, publishers and brands to consider their data privacy practices and how they communicated these to their users.

Despite the UK regulator, the ICO, giving companies a 12 month-grace period there were notably few visible compliance solutions by the start of the year. It wasn’t until the final week in May, with the deadline for enforcement looming, that companies started to show their hand and high profile websites such as and unveiled their proposed solutions.

Three months on we decided to review the current state of play and conducted an in-depth analysis of the efforts undertaken by UK websites to address the EU Cookie Directive. During July and August we analysed 231 top UK websites using website usability tests and TRUSTe’s Tracker/Cookie Monitoring service. The sites selected included top consumer brands and some of the most trafficked UK websites in the publisher, travel, e-commerce, finance, technology, consumer goods and entertainment sectors.

Our findings, published here today, show that in the last three months nearly two in three top UK websites have implemented at least some measures to address the Directive, and several, have put in place robust and user-friendly solutions.

Toyota, for example, made it very simple for users to control cookie settings on their site and provided individual descriptions of the purposes of each cookie e.g. “locate your dealer with Google Maps”.

Similarly Barclays’ website displayed a clear privacy notice directing users to a page explaining the purpose of each cookie whilst giving the user readily accessible cookie preference controls.

Companies have also worked hard to ensure that the messaging is applicable to their users and consistent with their brand as in Aldo Shoes’ implementation of TRUSTe’s Consent Manager on their site, where customers who click on “Cookie Preferences” are asked if they are “Cool with cookies?”

At the same time it is clear that some companies, including those with a very high number of third party trackers appear to still be playing a waiting game. 56% of the sites we looked at had more than 25 third party trackers on their site but within this group only 17% has implemented robust compliance solutions.

At TRUSTe we will continue to work alongside industry bodies and regulators to help companies to implement solutions that are right for their business. With the UK ICO committing in a recent press statement that they will issue an update report in three months time it will be interesting to see whether this final group of sites are yet to unveil their proposed solutions or really are waiting to how this particular cookie crumbles.