Consent mode is no longer a 'nice to have' but will at least have to comply with a basic implementation from March 2024. Fact is that website users must consciously give permission to place cookies. This allows advertisers to collect less data than before. Google wouldn't be Google if a privacy-friendly solution was offered, namely Google Consent Mode. To meet this requirement, I will guide you through the what and why of Consent Mode in a few minutes. If it is still not clear after this blog, don't panic. We can always help you!
More data, more insight
It was already up in the air, but the new EU law on digital markets will come into effect on March 1, 2024. In short, the introduction of this law in 'digital markets' will ensure:
- fair competition for digital businesses;
- more innovation;
- better consumer protection.
It is suspected that Google has announced Google 'Consent Mode V2' in response to this new legislation. Google Consent Mode was created to gain more insight into the effect of the campaigns, even if a website visitor does not accept cookies. And the latter is especially important, because as a marketer you want to know whether the campaign contributed to the conversion. From the user perspective, Google Consent Mode ensures that Google cookies (such as Google Analytics, Google ads and Google Tag Manager) are only activated if the user has given explicit consent.
If the user does not consent to the cookies, Google Consent Mode will still anonymize certain events based on data streams in a manner that is in accordance with the AVG/GDPR. As a result, only limited data is forwarded to Google Ads or Google Analytics.
Setting up the basic or extended implementation of Consent Mode has two advantages;
- You comply neatly with privacy laws and regulations and;
- You lose less data.
Version 1 vs. Version 2
In contrast to version 1, how could it be otherwise, version 2 is a more advanced variant. Version 2 asks explicit permission for cookies and data use, in particular for personalized advertisements and analyses. For this, two additional parameters have been added to pass the correct permission;
“ad_user_data” (this determines whether personal data is sent to Google based on user consent) and,“ad_personalization” (this setting determines whether personal data may be used for e.g. remarketing. The user's data can therefore be used for ad personalization).Version 2 has been fully operational since November '23. If Consent Mode is not implemented, the negative effects for advertisers will become visible from March '24.
Within Google Tag Manager there is the option to change the permission settings per tag. This applies to both Google tags and third-party tags. Tags such as Meta or Bing Ads can also be set to be privacy-proof. It is important that the Google Tag Manager container has this feature enabled. More about the settings within GTM at the bottom of this blog.
Google does all this with the help of Conversion Modeling, which in turn uses Machine Learning. This form of AI has been becoming increasingly important in online marketing for several years. Conversion Modeling uses variables to quantify the relationship between users with and without the consent of certain cookies.
Conversion Modeling fills in missing attribution paths using user journeys. Based on this, a more complete and accurate estimate of the number of conversions generated by that same group of users can be made. This estimate is then passed on to GA4 and Google Ads. A great advantage for the marketer while the website visitor's consent choices are respected.
Complicated matter for sure! Below is a visual representation of the relationship between the share of cookies with consent and modeled conversions. The difference in conversion rate is visible without (5%) and with (5.9%) Consent Mode.
Consent Mode is at the intersection of digital marketing, data, and analytics. Every marketer has an advantage with technologies like Consent Mode and every web analyst benefits from clean data. There is a good chance that a technical web analyst or web developer will be required to implement the basic or extended Consent Mode. There are several options to set Consent Mode. The easiest way is to do this via GTM and a CMP (Consent Management Platform).
Consent Management Platforms such as Cookiebot, CookieYes, or Usercentrics act as a director for compliance with the privacy rules. Please note that the Google permission mode must be set manually via the chosen CMP. In addition, Google Tag Manager offers the ability to work with Consent Mode to protect previously set tags from activation. Access can be given to the consent overview via the admin -> container settings -> additional settings (“enable consent overview (beta)). Once enabled, each tag (e.g. Google Analytics, Google Ads) can enable Consent Mode for the required parameters mentioned earlier in this blog (analytics_storage and ad_storage). After this has been set, GTM's debug mode helps to double-check whether everything went well. Under 'Consent' it is indicated per event whether the parameters have been refused or granted.
Altogether it is still complex, but with a clear need to put this in place. For example, retargeting with Google Ads will require Consent Mode v2 to be implemented in Europe from March 2024.
Do you need advice or help implementing Google Consent Mode V2? Or need help setting up Google Tag Manager properly? We are happy to help. Feel free to contact us!