Do You Need a Consent Management Platform?

At a glance

  • Consent management platforms (CMP) are a critical piece of modern privacy compliance. Not only do they allow you stay in-line with the consent requirements in GDPR, CPRA, and other state privacy laws, they also help your honor consumers' preferences about how their data is collected, processed, and stored.

  • A good consent management platform will help with data privacy compliance and give you the tools you need to avoid costly penalties and maintain consumer trust.

  • This post offers an overview of modern CMPs, key features you need for privacy compliance in 2024, how to evaluate a consent management platform that meets your need, frequently asked questions, and more.

Table of Contents

Understanding consent management platforms (CMPs)

An effective consent management platform (CMP) is a key piece of any compliant privacy program—helping a company honor consumers' consent decisions and ensuring their data processing practices are in line with relevant data privacy regulations.

The main goal of a consent management platform is to collect, store, and manage users' consent preferences, display a user-friendly consent banner (if applicable), provide data transparency, and maintain a record of consent histories for compliance.

Full-stack consent. Fully customizable.

Transcend Consent is the only consent management platform that governs both client-side and backend user consent—with custom consent experiences for any region, device, or domain.

Explore Transcend Consent

By informing website visitors about the types of data collected and allowing them to opt-out of data collection or provide opt-in consent (as required for sensitive data under certain US state privacy laws), a good consent management platform will empower users to exercise their date rights, inform visitors to your site about their consent options, and collect an individual's consent as needed.

CMPs' rapid evolution has been heavily influenced by the increasing complexity of global privacy laws. Privacy regulation like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in the U.S. have set strict consent requirements—prompting CMPs to develop sophisticated capabilities managing third party cookies, as well as capturing, storing, and managing consumer consent preferences.

Data protection law has also catalyzed the incorporation of user-friendly interfaces in CMPs to help inform users of their consent options, fulfill data subject rights, and effectively manage consent collection.

Key features of top CMPs in 2024

When evaluating a consent management platform, organizations should look for several key features.

Full-stack regulation

Most modern privacy laws require that companies honor and enforce consent preferences across client-side and backend processes. Examples of backend data processing include uploading user lists to a targeted advertising tool, sending user data to an advertising API, or using a customer data platform to distribute data to partners.

Backend data processing is often overlooked, and not every tool on the market addresses this part of compliance. To address the full spectrum of compliant consent and preference management, you’ll need to find a CMP that goes beyond cookie consent management.

The right consent management platform will include downstream regulation to connected systems and backend data stores—operating on every tracker, every server-side system, and every vendor, automatically.

This will allow your company to better address vendor risk management and create custom consent experiences for any region, device, or domain.

Seamless user experience

CMPs that provide a good user experience can support a smoother flow while browsing and even reduce bounce rates, which ties to real dollars for your organization. Ideally, your end user consent interface will be:

  •   customizable to match you business’s branding

  •   straightforward and easy to understand

  •   seamless—disrupting the user experience as little as possible

Ensuring users aren’t confronted with repetitive banners across different touch points is one of the most important parts of a seamless user experience.

A consent management platform that doesn’t remember a user’s preferences across sites, browsers, and devices creates a bad user experience. It also puts your organization at risk of violating regulatory requirements around persistent consent.

Granular shut-offs

Ultimately, consent management is about good data governance. One way to think about governance is as a series of pipes— each with some amount of data flowing through it. Honoring consent preferences boils down to turning off the right pipes, in the right place.

Legacy CMPs act as a blanket shut-off, stopping the flow of data throughout your entire marketing stack when someone opts out. While this approach can be technically compliant, completely shutting off the flow of data from your website can negatively impact business outcomes.

Where legacy CMPs are a blunt instrument, modern consent and preference platforms are the scalpel.

Modern CMPs granularly block tracking data at the network level, while still leaving tags running—an approach that allows you to derive valuable business insights, while still fully honoring consumer data rights.

Continuous visibility

If you’re still relying on old-school “cookie scans” or trusting your marketing team to accurately report what tech they’ve added to the website, you’re effectively running blind. You have no way to proactively monitor or audit when and how you’re collecting and sharing user data. 

The ideal CMP will proactively detect and monitor all tags, technologies, and network requests across every inch of your site.

Better yet, it will offer granular visibility powered by telemetry data from actual user site sessions. That way you’ll receive alerts when new tech that needs review is added to your site.

Robust reporting

Look for a consent management platform that offers a full dashboard view into key metrics, like user preferences, opt-out compliance, and trends over time.

You’ll want key features like data visualizations, audit logs, and records of consent—helping you access the insights you need to report on privacy compliance, vendor risk, user growth, and more.

The right CMP will offer enterprise-level reporting, giving you the tools you need to confidently manage your complex, global digital footprint.

Simple scalability

Global operations often increase complexity and resourcing needs. And while many CMPs offer customization, they often come with cumbersome configurations and account manager bottlenecks.

Choose a platform that allows your team to add new regional consent experiences in just a few clicks. Regulation-specific templates should be a given, but some CMPs also allow you to build custom rules for a given region— ensuring you can evolve quickly as regulation shifts.

Better yet, it will offer granular visibility powered by telemetry data from actual user site sessions. That way you’ll receive alerts when new tech that needs review is added to your site.

You should expect a solution that scales quickly as your company changes. Whether it’s new lines of business, new markets, marketing platforms or new domains, simple scalability is key to staying competitive.

Learn more about how Transcend stacks up against legacy solutions with the full guide + case study.

Why you need a CMP for compliance

Managing consent appropriately is instrumental in helping organizations adhere to privacy laws such as GDPR and CCPA. A consent management platform (CMP) will provide a comprehensive record of consent histories required for demonstrating compliance during audits.

Moreover, CMPs' ability to dynamically adjust to changing data privacy laws and provide real-time updates to users ensures ongoing adherence with regulatory standards.

A consent management platform will increase transparency by clearly informing users about the nature and purpose of data collection, and provide them with the ability to control their own consent choices.

CMPs also uphold transparency by maintaining an auditable record of consent, demonstrating that the organization respects user decisions and follows privacy laws.

CMPs and the General Data Protection Regulation

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is one of several data protection laws that strengthens digital privacy for all individuals within the EU. One of its key stipulations pertains to consent and consent management for data subjects (or folks who live in the EU and fall under the GDPR's scope).

GDPR sets a high standard for consent from data subjects, requiring that organizations obtain explicit, informed, and unambiguous consent from users before collecting, processing, or storing their personal data.

Explicit consent refers to a clear and specific affirmation by the user to allow the processing of personal data. This means businesses can't use dark patterns, unnecessary legalese, or unclear language to muddle consent options.

It also means that uses must give a clear and affirmative signal, such as ticking a box, to indicate consent. Pre-ticked boxes or inactivity doesn't count as valid consent.

GDPR compliance also requires that organizations keep detailed records of when and how someone gave consent and provide users an easy way to withdraw their consent at any time.

Consent and legal personal data processing

Consent management plays an integral role in ensuring a company's personal data processing adheres to data protection laws. An effective consent management platform will ensure data processing activities adhere to the legal frameworks by collecting explicit, informed, and unambiguous consent from users.

Moreover, CMPs can be used to maintain a detailed record of how and when user consent is obtained and what information was provided to the user at that time. This record is crucial for demonstrating compliance.

Consumers can also use a CMP to modify their preferences or withdraw their consent altogether.

Evaluating the right CMP for your needs

There are five basic steps when evaluating a CMP. As with any procurement activity, you'll want to start early and give yourself as much time as possible to get the right stakeholders on board.

  1. Define your requirements: Start by identifying specific needs related to data privacy and consent management. Consider your business size, industry, the jurisdictions you operate in, types of data you handle, and the privacy laws you need to comply with. Your CMP should meet these unique requirements.

  2. Consider user experience: Evaluate how the CMP impacts the user experience on your website or app. A good CMP should provide clear information about data collection and usage, easy-to-understand consent options, and a seamless process for users to change their consent preferences.

  3. Assess compliance capabilities: Make sure the CMP supports compliance with all applicable privacy laws and regulations, including GDPR, CCPA, and future legislations. It should also provide adequate reporting and auditing features for demonstrating compliance when needed.

  4. Check integration and compatibility: The CMP should easily integrate with your existing systems and processes without causing significant disruptions. Check compatibility with your website platform, CRM, marketing tools, and other technologies used in your business.

  5. Evaluate support and updates: Finally, think about the level of support you'll need and whether the CMP provider offers it. Regular updates to the CMP to reflect changes in data protection laws, continuous technical support, and assistance in case of compliance audits are all essential considerations.

Deep dive: Integration and compatibility

The the ability to integrate your consent management platform (CMP) with other organizational tools and systems is crucial when evaluating a potential platform.

A CMP should be able to seamlessly merge with your existing technology stack, including CRM systems, Data Management Platforms (DMPs), and marketing automation tools.

Integration with these systems facilitates a holistic view of customer data, enabling businesses to better understand user preferences and behaviors. This ultimately aids in creating personalized and customer-centered marketing communications.

Moreover, compatibility across various platforms and devices is essential to ensure that data collection and consent management are consistent.

Deep dive: CMPs and user experience

A consent management platform significantly enhances the user experience by fostering an environment of transparency and control. Users are immediately informed about the data being collected and can easily manage their preferences.

This interaction is simplified by user-friendly interfaces, with clear and concise language that demystifies complex privacy terms and conditions. A CMP also enables convenience, offering users the ability to adjust their preferences at any time, promoting a sense of autonomy and respect for their personal data decisions.

The seamless integration of CMPs into an organization's digital environment ensures minimal disruption to the user journey, allowing users to engage with the platform comfortably.

Full-stack consent. Fully customizable.

Transcend Consent is the only consent management platform that governs both client-side and backend user consent—with custom consent experiences for any region, device, or domain.

Explore Transcend Consent

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Can CMPs handle varying international privacy laws?

Yes, well-designed CMP will be equipped to handle various international privacy laws. CMPs should take into account users' geographic location and adjust the consent collection process accordingly. This includes compliance with regulations like GDPR, CCPA, and other regional data protection laws.

Are CMPs suitable for small businesses?

Yes, CMPs are suitable and highly beneficial for businesses of all sizes, including small ones. Despite the size, any business that collects, processes, or stores personal data needs to comply with data protection regulations.

Do CMP's handle Do Not Sell/Share requests?

Yes, a good GMP will offer built-in handling for CCPA's Do Not Sell My Personal Information and CPRA's Do Not Share requirements, without any additional configuration.

In the case of Transcend Consent Management, you'll even able to automatically append the proper restricted data processing flags to communicate opt-outs with the ad platforms you use on your site.

These parameters include Google Consent Mode, Google Ads Restricted Data Processing, Facebook’s Limited Data Use, YouTube’s Privacy-Enhanced Mode, and Vimeo’s Do Not Track. These all come out-of-the-box and do not require additional engineering configurations.

Do CMPs comply with Global Privacy Control (GPC) and other popular privacy signals?

Yes, a CMP should offer easy, no-code compatibility with common Do Not Sell signals such as Global Privacy Control (GPC). Not every option on the market provides this functionality though, so be sure to include that in your evaluation.

Can I customize my site’s cookie banner?

Your CMP should allow you to customize the consent banner to match your site’s branding.

With Transcend Consent Management, you can also go banner-less by quarantining tracking events locally on the user’s browser and then replaying them back to your site if/when the user provides their consent. This functionality is completely optional and configurable.


In today's flourishing online ecosystem, Consent Management Platforms (CMPs) play a pivotal role. As the digital world continues to expand and evolve, so too does the importance of effective consent management.

CMPs serve as an essential mechanism for organizations to navigate the labyrinth of data privacy laws and regulations, ensuring that they remain compliant while also fostering trust with users. They provide a user-focused space where transparency is the norm and control over personal data is offered, dramatically enhancing user experience.

Moreover, CMPs enable businesses to integrate consent management seamlessly into their wider digital strategy, ensuring a holistic and compliant approach to data handling. As the digital landscape becomes more intertwined with everyday life, the role of CMPs in maintaining privacy, legal compliance, and user trust will only continue to rise in significance.

About Transcend Consent Management

For when your legacy solution relies on static site scans, requires tedious maintenance, and still leaks unconsented data. Transcend Consent Management collects consent and automates enforcement across every interface, from websites to mobile apps, offering your organization:

  • Continuous detection of 200+ kinds of trackers across every inch of your site.

  • Automatic network-level enforcement–no manual tag manager configuration.

  • Out of the box support for IAB TCF, Google Consent Mode, and Do Not Sell (eg. Meta LDU).

Reach out to learn more.

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