Everything You Need to Know (so far) About Google’s Consent Mode

by Napkyn

Google released its “Consent Mode” in September 2020. The tech giant launched this feature to help its search engine continue with digital advertising activities while maintaining a greater focus on consumer privacy.

What Does Google Consent Mode Actually Do?

Google Consent Mode is essentially a website measurement solution designed to prioritize user consent when working with cookies. It changes how Google tags, Floodlights, and Google Ads behave based on user-chosen settings.

Let’s say a person visits a website that displays a cookie preferences window. When Consent Mode has been activated, Google tags will operate regardless of the user’s consent. However, these tags will function differently depending on the user’s chosen cookie settings. Using this arrangement bypasses the need for complex tag snippets or special tag firing conditions. 

Google’s Consent Mode relies on five key tags:

  • ad_storage 
  • analytics_storage
  • personalization_storage
  • functionality_storage
  • security_storage

If the website visitor chooses to allow both ad and analytics cookies, Google tags will fire in its default mode.

If the website visitor denies the request for advertising cookies, both Floodlight and Google Ads tags will fire anonymously. Google’s ad platform will then receive this information as aggregate data. With this approach, the ad interaction doesn’t allow the user to be identified.

It should be noted that Google Analytics treats tags differently based on both the aforementioned tag settings. So if a website visitor denies the analytics cookies, Google Analytics will treat the hits as cookieless pings since it can’t utilize cookies in this manner.

If the website visitor chooses to allow analytics cookies but denies access to advertising cookies, the tags should fire normally. However, the only data collected will be limited to user conversions and behavior. As a result, the user’s information can’t be used for remarketing lists.

What Consent Mode Means for Google Analytics 4 Migration

Google Analytics 4 is less reliant on third-party cookies than earlier versions. The company plans to phase out Universal Analytics (UA) in 2023, so organizations are scrambling to migrate their data over to Google Analytics 4. However, this will be tricky given that UA data can’t be directly migrated over to this new system.

This is because Google Analytics 4 utilizes measurement models from events as opposed to the earlier model which was session-based. Google Analytics 3’s session-based model relied heavily on third-party cookies while Google Analytics 4 takes a more privacy-centric approach to collect and tag data.

So how does Consent Mode fit in here? This mode helps users give consent on Google Ads and Google Analytics in a customizable manner. The end result is that you can collect a large amount of information without ever violating the user’s consent choices or privacy regulations.

Benefits of Google Consent Mode

Google Consent Mode offers the following benefits:

Following Privacy Regulations

Google Consent Mode’s main purpose is to help organizations adhere to modern privacy regulations. This includes the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).

The system works in compliance with these modern privacy regulations while still gathering data from Google Ads and Google Analytics. Therefore, it allows you to transfer non-identification data across Google products easily and without the data loss associated with certain cookie compliance solutions.

Tracking Conversions While Following User Preferences

As mentioned earlier, Google Consent Mode was initially introduced to measure conversions while also following user preferences with regards to their consent choices for Google Analytics and Google Ads. The system lets you continue with your ad campaigns as needed even if users deny tag consent. 

Google took things a step further in 2021 by offering conversion modeling capabilities for its Consent Mode. This feature utilizes intelligent modeling techniques and machine learning to fill gaps from users who haven’t consented.

Addressing Data Gaps from Unconsenting Users

The data gaps mentioned above arose due to privacy regulations and the general shift away from third-party cookies, namely ones that could be used in identifying users. This “identifying data” could include many different types of things such as IP addresses or location data. 

It would be difficult to identify a user using just their IP address or their location data. However, putting both of these together makes it far easier to identify users.

When Consent Mode is used, you can collect large amounts of non-identifying data when website visitors deny consent on Google Ads or Google Analytics. This helps fill in crucial data gaps and provides a more complete picture without violating users’ privacy.

Implementing Google Consent Mode

To start using Google Consent mode, you must implement a solution to collect visitor consent on your website. A basic overview of how to do this is described as follows:

  1. Include a code snippet that denies cookie consent on each website page. You can achieve this using Google’s Tag Manager’s Consent Initialization feature.
  2. Once a user chooses to provide or deny consent,  the information must be sent to Google tags. This is possible using tags in Google Tag Manager or using the consent management platform.
  3. Next, you can test and launch your tags. Check to see if they are behaving as intended when Consent Mode is activated.

Learn How to Utilize Google Consent Mode Properly With Napkyn! 

As you can see Google Consent Mode offers many different benefits for marketers and organizations. If you require help with implementing Google Consent Mode, please contact our experts.

Napkyn

Digital Analytics Consulting & Engineering Company

Napkyn Analytics is a digital analytics consulting and engineering company that provides services across Data Enablement, Data Quality, Data Analysis and Data Activation.

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