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Everything You Need to Know About Google Consent Mode

Osman Husain 1/11/24 1:32 AM
google consent mode

Table of Contents

Google Consent Mode

Google Consent Mode is a game-changer for businesses that want to balance user privacy with cutting-edge marketing strategies. This tool is a proactive solution that upholds compliance standards with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It also harmonizes data-driven insights with user privacy preferences.

Below, we present a comprehensive overview of Consent Mode and its application for businesses:

  • What is Google Consent Mode?
  • How does it work?
  • What services does it work with?
  • What are the benefits of Consent Mode?
  • How do I measure the impact of Consent Mode on conversion?
  • Which strategies can improve conversion uplift?

What is Google Consent Mode?

Google Consent Mode is a sophisticated tool within Google Tag Manager that automatically manages Google Tags and scripts across pages. At the same time, it adapts site behavior based on each user’s consent status. Data is processed normally when a user provides consent on a website, while data for non-consenting users is anonymized and managed separately. It’s a user-friendly way to ensure that all businesses stay in tune with global privacy regulations, such as GDPR or California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

One of the handy features of Consent Mode is its customization potential. Businesses can tailor their data collection strategies based on user consent to balance actionable insights and user trust.

When implemented alongside tools like Google Analytics, Consent Mode allows website owners to track and measure marketing performance without the use of personal or protected data. It also enables conversions to be tracked at the user level rather than in aggregate. It’s just one tool in Google’s arsenal that gives businesses more control over their web experiences.

 

When did Google Consent Mode launch?

Google Consent Mode officially launched in September 2020 as a way to help businesses manage the competing goals of business growth and user privacy. With the rise of GDPR, CCPA, Brazil’s LGPD, and other regulations, companies now face more scrutiny than ever in how they handle user data.

Consent Mode gives users a way to retain as much user data as possible while they still comply with these privacy regulations. When users opt out of site tracking, marketers lose out on valuable information. Consent Mode uses on-site scripts to capture as much data as possible and relay that back to the business in a GDPR-compliant manner.

 

What Google services does Consent Mode work with?

Consent Mode primarily addresses cookie use and consent management, but it extends to integrate with other core Google services that give businesses a more insightful view of marketing operations.

 

Google Analytics

Google Consent Mode allows website owners to adjust how Google Analytics collects and uses data based on user consent preferences. With Consent Mode, you can configure Google Analytics to adjust the data collection and processing based on the user's consent status for cookies and tracking technologies.

Even if users opt out of cookie consent, Consent Mode will monitor non-personal marketing data and provide that information in a way that conforms to compliance mandates. This means that businesses can maintain visibility into website performance at the user level, even when consent is withheld.

Google Ads

When leveraged alongside Google Ads, Consent Mode enables website owners to adapt ad personalization based on user consent preferences. If a user consents to tracking, Google Ads can use the data to deliver personalized and targeted ads. In cases where users do not consent to tracking, Google Ads can still provide measurement and conversion tracking but with limited personalization. This supports a stronger position for remarketing than what users can accomplish through Consent Mode alone.

Floodlight

Floodlight is a tracking technology that measures and optimizes the performance of display and video ads. Like with Google Ads, Consent Mode allows website owners to control how Floodlight tags behave based on user consent preferences. When a user consents to tracking, Floodlight can operate as usual as it captures detailed conversion data. If a user doesn’t provide consent, Floodlight will still function for basic measurement purposes, but personalized tracking will be limited.

Conversion Linker

Conversion Linker is a tool that helps maintain user identity across different domains to ensure accurate conversion tracking. Like other tools, Conversion Linker automatically adapts based on the presence or lack of consent. If a user does not consent to tracking, Conversion Linker will still function for basic measurement but will respect the user's privacy choices.

 

How does Google Consent Mode work?

Once users set up Consent Mode, it changes how certain signals work:

Consent Status Signals (for Google Ads and Floodlight tags): These signals are sent from every page a user visits with consent mode. They also trigger for specific tags if a user goes from saying "no" to "yes" (like agreeing in a pop-up). These signals tell what the site owner initially set for consent and what the user updated it to (like allowing or denying ads and analytics).

Conversion Signals: These signals tell when a certain action, like a purchase, happens.

Google Analytics Signals: These signals are sent on every page of a website using Google Analytics and when specific events occur.

If a user agrees, the tags linked to these signals work as usual. But if a user says "no" to storing ads or analytics info, the connected Google tags (used through the Google tag or Google Tag Manager) will change how they work to respect that choice.

 

How do you implement Google Consent Mode?

Implementation of Consent Mode isn’t complicated, but it does require a systematic approach to ensure a seamless integration that respects user privacy preferences. Below, we break down the implementation process into detailed steps:

Update Google Tag Manager (GTM):
  • Make sure your website is updated to the latest version of Google Tag Manager.

This step sets the foundation for the integration of Consent Mode.

Configure Consent Mode in GTM:

  • Log in to your GTM account and navigate to the desired container.
  • Click on "Tags" and add a new tag for either Google Analytics or Google Ads, depending on your requirements.
  • Enable Consent Mode in the tag configuration settings and customize them based on your privacy policy.
Update Website Privacy Notice:
  • Clearly communicate your data collection and usage practices in your website's privacy notice.
  • Provide users with information on how to manage their consent preferences and ensure transparency and compliance.
Thorough Testing:
  • Before you deploy Consent Mode, conduct thorough testing to be sure that it functions as intended.
  • Test different scenarios, such as user consent and no consent, to verify the tag behavior across your website.
Deployment:
  • Once testing is successful, publish the changes in Google Tag Manager to make Consent Mode live on your website.
  • Monitor its performance and make adjustments as needed based on user interactions and feedback.

With this step-by-step guide, businesses can incorporate Google Consent Mode into their websites and foster a user-centric approach while they maintain compliance with data protection regulations.

 

What are the benefits of Consent Mode?

The “why” of Consent Mode is clear: better data with full compliance. But under this umbrella rests a host of benefits that can improve a company’s operations.

 

  • Enhance User Trust: Create a transparent and user-friendly experience when you respect individual privacy choices. This fosters trust as users see their consent preferences acknowledged and followed.

  • Simplify Legal Compliance: Streamline compliance goals with dedicated tools that simplify and streamline user consent management.

  • Gain Precise Data Insights: Extract precise insights into user behavior and campaign performance when you adjust data collection based on consent preferences. This ensures that analytics data remains accurate and actionable.

  • Deliver Personalized Advertising Responsibly: Tailor and deliver personalized ads to users who have consented to tracking; utilize Consent Mode to create more targeted and effective advertising campaigns without compromising user privacy.

  • Ensure Improved Conversion Tracking: Guarantee the accuracy of conversion tracking across various touchpoints with Consent Mode, coupled with tools like Conversion Linker, to maintain user identity and attribute conversions accurately.

  • Instill Cross-Domain Tracking Confidence: Facilitate cross-domain tracking for a comprehensive view of user journeys by using Consent Mode in conjunction with Conversion Linker. This guarantees that user interactions are accurately tracked across different domains and enhances attribution accuracy.

  • Demonstrate a User-Centric Marketing Strategy: Showcase a commitment to user-centric marketing practices when you respect user consent preferences, build a positive brand image, and foster long-term relationships with the audience.

  • Adapt to Changing Preferences: Stay agile in the face of evolving privacy preferences when you employ Consent Mode to adjust marketing strategies in real-time. This makes sure that efforts align with changing user expectations and industry standards.

  • Mitigate Data Loss Risks: Minimize the risk of data loss associated with user movements across domains when you implement Consent Mode and its robust data-handling mechanisms. This prevents discrepancies and ensures a more accurate representation of user interactions.

  • Improve Marketing Budget Efficiency: Maximize marketing spend efficiency when focusing on audiences who have consented to personalized tracking. This allows marketers to allocate resources more effectively, and it targets users who are most likely to engage with tailored advertising content.

👉 Read about the new Google Consent Mode requirements that affect your ability to deliver ads in the EU

 

Measure the Impact of Consent Mode: Modeling

Customizing how Google tags operate is a breeze with Consent Mode, but how do companies measure the results? To check these results in Google Ads, use one of these two methods:

Tracking Status Hover Card: Access your consent mode impact results through the tracking status hover card in Google Ads.
Conversion Diagnostic Tab: Navigate to the Conversion Diagnostic tab to find detailed insights.

 

The Consent Mode Impact results represent the boost in conversions observed after the implementation of Consent Mode. These are marked as the “modeling start date.” The calculation involves the ratio of modeled conversions to observed conversions:

  • Uplift = Modeled Conversions / Observed Conversions

This uplift metric is computed for each unique domain and country pairing. Each pairing symbolizes a distinct slice of traffic and its corresponding consent mode impact results. It's important to note that this metric undergoes a refresh weekly to make sure that businesses stay informed about the impact of consent mode on your conversions.

However, note that there are a few steps to take before companies can begin modeling. Per Google, modeling is available only after confidence thresholds are met:

After these criteria are fulfilled, models enter training and will begin modeling conversion impact into reports.

Strategies to Improve Uplift Rates

Consent Mode Impact reports tell businesses, in essence, how much data they’re losing through privacy opt-outs. Consent Mode aims to deliver the same cutting-edge, high-impact marketing strategies you always have but balance that with user privacy. Not all companies hit this target. Those who experience lower uplift than expected, should consider these potential issues and solutions:

Consent Mode Detection Issues:

  • Be sure that consent mode is detected on 100% of your pages; confirm that:
    • The global site tag is present on all pages.
    • Consent state is appropriately set on all pages.
    • The default or update call precedes the firing of Google tags.

Low Detected Ad Click Consent Rates:

  • If the consent rates detected from ad clicks on your domain are too low for full modeling benefits, consult your consent banner provider for guidance. Confirm that:
    • Default and update calls are sequenced correctly.
    • The default or update call occurs before the firing of Google tags.
    • Your banner complies with regulatory guidance for your region.

Unblock Tags for Cookieless Pings for Non-Consenting Users:

  • Enhance accuracy and modeling results by unblocking tags to enable cookieless pings for users who do not consent to conversion tracking. Note that cookieless pings lack an ad click identifier if data redaction is set to true. This adjustment can significantly improve modeling precision.

Osman Husain

Osman is the content lead at Enzuzo. He has a background in data privacy management via a two-year role at ExpressVPN and extensive freelance work with cybersecurity and blockchain companies. Osman also holds an MBA from the Toronto Metropolitan University.