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BVDW's Comprehensive market overview: PUR models in Europe – legal framework and future prospects in English

Nov 02,2023
Amy Mazzola
KnowledgeHubPUR models

The world of digital service providers has experienced significant changes in recent years. A current market overview of PUR models in Europe shows how providers and users alike can benefit from this development. 

What are PUR models? 

PUR models offer visitors different options for using a website and experiencing its content and services. In the classic PUR model, there are usually two options available: The user can either give their consent to advertising and data processing that requires consent (e.g. tracking), or pay a fee to use the website without advertising or tracking. “PUR” is not an acronym, but rather stands for “free from tracking and advertising that requires consent”. Here it is up to the individual to decide whether to pay for services or to refinance them in another way - for example through target group-specific advertising. 

As part of informational self-determination, PUR models are a way to empower people to make decisions about the use of his or her data. The PUR approach harmonizes the rights and needs of users with the economic needs of service and content providers without patronizing. This approach therefore represents a legally compliant refinancing option for free content and services on the Internet. It therefore supports media plurality and strengthens a democratic and multi-layered discourse. 

Admissibility and data protection issues 

The admissibility of PUR models is currently assessed according to various criteria, as the BVDW market overview analyzes. The various positions of the data protection supervisory authorities from Germany, Austria, France and the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) are also analyzed. The German data protection supervisory authorities assess the voluntary nature of consent based on granularity, which is how detailed the user can select and deselect purposes on the second level of the consent banner. Other European institutions such as the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) and the French National Commission for Informatics and Liberties (CNIL) assess admissibility based on the question of whether the PUR subscription represents an equivalent alternative to consent. 

From the perspective of the Federal Association of the Digital Economy (BVDW), it should be emphasized that the classic PUR model does not affect the voluntary nature of consent in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The GDPR allows consent to be given for multiple purposes as long as it is transparent and non-influencing. The specific design and transparency towards users are crucial factors and must be examined on a case-by-case basis. 

Market overview 

The BVDW market overview highlights the European market for PUR models based on various criteria. There are a variety of variants; a distinction must be made between PUR models with additional paid services and those that are limited to ad- and tracking-free use. Some models also offer reduced prices to existing customers. Another differentiating feature concerns freedom from tracking - some of the offers only allow unpersonalized advertising, while others are completely ad and tracking-free. There are also website-specific PUR models as well as cross-website variants where users can take out a subscription with a third-party provider. The granularity of data processing consent is another factor: some PUR models do not offer choices for certain data processing categories, while others allow limited configuration. Finally, the legal basis on which the models are based varies - some are based on consent, others on contract law.

What all PUR variants have in common is the consent to data processing that requires consent; alternatively, a payment option is offered for ad- and tracking-free use. 

Conclusion and future developments

Service providers find both economic and regulatory advantages in advertising- and tracking-free subscriptions, which the BVDW market overview summarizes.

In terms of data protection, it can be said that PUR models can lead to legal compliance of services and fewer conflicts with regulatory authorities. Economically, PUR models partially stabilize and increase approval rates and the associated marketing revenue. Users can exercise their informational self-determination and decide how they can do their part to refinance the content and services they use. 

Overall, PUR models show promising opportunities for the future of data-driven business models based on data processing that requires consent. However, the specific design of the PUR models and their data protection assessment will continue to develop dynamically for some time. This can be seen, for example, in the fact that PUR is gradually being discussed outside of German-speaking countries. It remains to be seen how the legal framework will develop further. The BVDW will accompany this development closely and constructively. 

Disclaimer  

The market overview of PUR is updated regularly and was commissioned by the BVDW from conreri digital development GmbH. The author is David Pfau, Head of Data & Privacy at conreri. The Lab Consent Management of the Data Economy department contributed to the report. 

Download the updated report in english below.

iconDownload - 2.28 MB

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