The amount of third-party cookies on European news sites has fallen by 22 per cent since the introduction of GDPR, according to a study by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. Some of the biggest declines have come in advertising and marketing cookies, and social media content, according to the research.

The study, Changes in Third-Party Content on European News Websites after GDPR, examined the impact of the new European regulations by analysing over 200 “prominent” news sites across seven Europe countries before and after GDPR came into effect in May.

It found that while there was little change in the amount of pages with some form of third party content or third party cookies, there was a 22 per cent decrease in the number of cookies set without user consent and “an observable decrease in third-party social media content”.

The study, authored by Timothy Libert, Lucas Graves and Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, analysed over 10,000 page loads, one million content requests and 2.7 million cookies, from news sites in Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, and the UK. The data was collected in April and July.

The UK had the biggest drop in third-party cookies per page, falling 45 per cent, followed by Spain, down 33 per cent). France and Italy both fell 32 per cent. Germany only fell 6 per cent and Poland actually increased 20 per cent.

However, the study notes that some of the Polish news sites studied grew substantially during the analysis, a change which may have affected the results.

“We find that the overall number of third-party cookies on news sites is down 22 per cent, including significant drops in advertising and marketing (14 per cent) and social media (9 per cent) cookies, and a seven percentage point drop in the number of news sites that host third-party social media content, such as sharing buttons from Facebook or Twitter,” the authors write.

US tech giants Google (96 per cent), Facebook (70 per cent) and Amazon (57 per cent) are the most common third party presence on EU news sites, according to the study. But only Facebook saw a significant drop (-5 per cent) in reach following GDPR.

The authors concluded that following the introduction of GDPR there had been “significant reductions in the volume of third-party cookies set without consent on many European news sites”.

“Some of the biggest declines have occurred in advertising and marketing cookies as well as social media content, indicating that news sites may have recognised the potential compliance risks posed by some of this content and removed it or tied it to affirmative opt-in from users.”

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