Is Google Ads Remarketing GDPR-compliant at all and can I still use Google Ads Remarketing? This is a question that worries many advertisers.

For remarketing via Google AdWords, you can choose to use remarketing via Google Analytics, Google AdWords Remarketing Tag or the DoubleClick remarketing pixel.

If you use remarketing via Google Analytics, use our checklist for the data protection-compliant use of Google Analytics.

If you use the Google AdWords Remarketing Tag or DoubleClick directly, note the following points for the GDPR-compliant use of Google Ads Remarketing:

Data protection:
Point out the use of remarketing via Google AdWords in the data protection declaration.

Opposition option:
Point out the opt-out options. Google offers two options here, both of which you should link: Google AdSettings and the cross-provider deactivation page of the Network Advertising Initiative.

Does the GDPR require prior consent for remarketing?

From a data protection point of view, remarketing functionalities are fundamentally more critical than pure web tracking, for example via Google Analytics. The reason for this is: With web tracking, the activity of a user can be tracked on a single website (1st party tracking). With remarketing, the activity of a user can be tracked across different websites (3rd party tracking).

When weighing the interests between the “legitimate interests of the website operator” and the “protective interests of the user”, it is therefore not clear which interests are more important. It is therefore not clear whether remarketing functions such as web tracking can be used without the prior explicit consent of the user. This will only be decided by case law in the coming years. However, the German data protection authorities have given the first signs that remarketing can be used without prior consent and that an opt-out is sufficient.

Conclusion: can remarketing be used in compliance with GDPR?

For the time being, many companies continue to use remarketing without prior consent – otherwise there would be significant restrictions or competitive disadvantages. For a 100% legally compliant solution, you would have to obtain approval in advance and accept the resulting restrictions for your online marketing activities.