Google Consent Mode: A Marketers Guide Amidst Tightening Regulations

Nicholas Hooker - April 3, 2024

Understanding Google Consent Mode is key to staying ahead in the ever-evolving landscape of digital privacy. This post breaks down what you need to know and how the effects of privacy regulations may impact your organization.

You’re probably wondering what is Google Consent Mode?  Short answer, it’s Google’s way of protecting the confidentiality and security of website visitor data with third-party sites based on their consent. It’s a standardized approach to comply with privacy regulations for websites and applications.

The concept is not new but has become increasingly important. The first version, “Google Consent Mode,” was launched back in 2020, followed up by “Google Consent Mode v2” that was released just last November 2023. The updated version features key enhancements that aim to boost trust and give visitors more control of their data.

Why has Consent Mode become increasingly important?

As you have likely noticed over the past few years, there has been a significant uptick in the calls for transparency and control over personal data. This shift in digital privacy is reflected by regulations and new legislations like the GDPR and the ePrivacy Directive. Google Consent Mode helps businesses navigate these requirements while leveraging digital tools.

How does Google Consent Mode v2 work?

Google Consent Mode v2 evaluates Google tags and scripts, adjusting visitor data handling based on consent status. It’s not a standalone feature. You need to have a  consent banner and a Consent Management Platform to implement Consent Mode, like the one seen below.

When a visitor interacts with a consent-banner like this, Google is alerted that a visitor has either given consent for cookies like Analytics or Marketing, or that they’ve declined consent. This sounds simple, but the technical setup is quite complex.

Cookie categories like Analytics and Marketing are displayed with a description of their purpose and usage to provide visitors with transparency on how their data is being handled. You will notice that these categories have some sort of control mechanism like a toggle-button or checkbox to let Google know of the visitors’ consent status. These mechanisms enable visitors to opt-in or out of specific consent types that are part of Google Consent Mode v2 framework.

Here is what you need to know about Consent Types:

Consent Type

Description

ad_storageEnables storage (such as cookies) related to advertising.
ad_user_dataSets consent for sending user data related to advertising to Google.
ad_personalizationSets consent for personalized advertising.
analytics_storageEnables storage (such as cookies) related to analytics.
functionality_storageEnables storage for site functionality, such as language settings.
personalization_storageEnables storage for personalization, like product recommendations.
security_storageEnables storage for security, authentication, and fraud prevention.
ads_data_redactionEnables Google to delete all data already stored when consent is revoked.

 

For each Consent Type, its status controls how Google tags and scripts handle visitor data.

First, the consent-banner will send the “default” consent state to Google (this happens only in Advanced mode, but more on that below):

window.gtag = function() { dataLayer.push(arguments); }

window.gtag(‘consent’, ‘default’, {

ad_storage: ‘denied’,

ad_user_data: ‘denied’,

ad_personalization: ‘denied’,

analytics_storage: ‘denied’

});

Then, if a visitor decides to accept a specific cookie type like Analytics, then Google Consent Mode v2 will update the visitor’s preferences like so:

window.gtag(‘consent’, ‘update’, {

analytics_storage: ‘granted’

});

Think of Consent Mode as a permission slip. It allows Google to know how to adjust its tracking in a compliant manner. And it does this by cross-referencing each consent type status with internal consent checks to decide how specific tracking codes should behave.

Like I mentioned, this sounds simple, but the technical setup can be quite complex.

What are your options with Google Consent Mode v2?

There are two versions of Google Consent Mode v2 , each catering to different requirements and consent handling strategies:

  1. Basic Consent Mode v2
    • This version does not load Google tags and scripts until a visitor interacts with the consent-banner.
    • No data is sent to third-party sites before a visitor consents – not even the default consent type status. The consent states are set after the visitor’s choice like outlined in the example above.
    1. Advanced Consent Mode v2
      • This version loads Google tags and scripts with default consent types set to denied (unless configured otherwise) when a visitor opens the website or app.
      • The consent states update based on visitors’ choice. When consent is denied, consent state and cookieless pings are sent. When consent is granted, cookies are set, and all measurement data is sent.

      When deciding whether to implement Basic Consent Mode or Advanced Consent Mode for your business consider the landscape of privacy regulations, the expectations of your website visitors, and your technical readiness. It’s a balancing act between ensuring compliance, maintaining user trust, and capturing essential data insights.

      Things to keep in mind

      For organizations targeting visitors in the European Economic Area (EEA) and the UK, Google requires the adoption of a Google-certified Consent Management Platform (CMP) working in tandem with Google Consent Mode v2. Without this integration, ads performance will be affected in these regions. While no specific data on enforcement has been shared, it’s believed to have started in March, 2024.

      You can find a list of Google-certified CMPs here.

      How we can help

      Navigating the complexities of Google Consent Mode requires not just a technical skillset, but a partner who understands the intricacies of digital privacy regulations and data management.  That’s where our expertise comes into play. Our team specializes in the technical nuances of tag logic and cookie control tools, ensuring your business not only complies with the latest regulations but also leverages data insights to their fullest potential.

      If you want help in understanding more about Google Consent Mode V2 or need any assistance in getting set up. Connect with us at info@morevisibility.com, and let’s work together to overcome the challenges of digital privacy and consent management, ensuring your organization remains both compliant and competitive.

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