Google Consent Mode Explained
We’ve previously touched on Google Consent Mode here at ROAR, but for this post, we’re getting right into it, including all the messy new information that comes with it.
Across the industry, we haven’t really seen Google Consent Mode explained as effectively as it is needed. Or at least we’ve quite often heard our clients and fellow agencies ask us ‘What is Google Consent Mode?’
Our findings seem to indicate that there is no inbetween, Consent Mode is not just for marketers, but for many smaller businesses with an online presence potentially without the tools and resources to properly figure out their website’s GDPR compliance and user consent settings sufficiently.
Explaining Consent Mode thoroughly could provide businesses that really need it with the beginnings of a user consent and compliance strategy.
The lack of content around Consent Mode could be a result of a few things. Either it seems like Consent Mode is as far away as the sunsetting of Universal Analytics (which isn’t really that far at all), or there’s a breadth of agencies and companies who believe Consent Mode will be easy enough to set up.
We’re here to tell you that is not the case; it’s not as simple as flipping a switch, and you’re sorted. Here’s why:
Google Consent Mode Explained
Google Consent Mode is a cross-service feature that allows businesses to adjust how certain goals or google tags in google services behave based on the consent of the user. It’s been kicking about since September 2020, but not in the same capacity as today.
As you are probably aware, third-party cookies are out the door for Google. What was once an incredibly useful part of a marketer’s arsenal is now a no-go for everyone using Google services to collect user data and analyse their behaviour.
It sure seems like when GDPR specified that third-party cookies would be subject to compliance and could not be tracked without the explicit consent of the user, Google just said ‘screw it’ and chucked them in the bin.
Instead, we have Google Consent Mode to provide what they believe is the best way to implement part of consent management for all googler service users.
Consent management is a whole other kettle of fish, but they should generally do the following:
Data collection consent
Any website that collects personal data cannot do so without the permission and consent of the user. This is typically in the form of a ticky box on contact forms.
Data sharing consent
If a business collects any form of personal data and intends to share it, the user must be made aware of this. You can usually read this as part of a cookies or data collection policy pop-up or dedicated web page.
User consent association
It seems a strange one, but the consent choices of your website visitors must be associated with the right user when stored in any business system.
An organisation must be able to accurately govern and locate a user’s consent choices very quickly and without complication.
Anyways, consent management tangent aside, Google Consent Mode has been purposefully designed to handle the third party element of a consent management strategy.
Using your existing website consent management settings, google services will utilise Consent Mode when users visit your website and have chosen their consent options. The options are stored and will be respected on any future visits from that user.
So, in this way, your third-party data collection is totally GDPR compliant and inline with privacy guidelines, like GPDR.
What Will it Look Like?
This may sound like a thing to include, but one of the things that really helped me get my head around Consent Mode was being able to tangibly see what it might look like. Google Consent Mode will look like code on your website. As it stands, all businesses should provide the option for their users to consent to analytics.
Once Consent Mode has been implemented on the Google services of your choice, the code changes, and a new piece of code will be generated and will need to be uploaded to the code of your website.
It might look like this if you’re using Tag Manager:
Don’t worry, if you’re only using Universal Analytics and Analytics tags you can still implement Consent Mode. It might look like this if you’re just using Google Analytics:
These bits of code are pretty much all there is to it, the rest of the technical stuff works behind the scenes of google services. Things like the tag behaviour or the ability for users to make their consent choices lies on the shoulders of the business. For Google Ads you have something called ad storage, but that’s something we plan to discuss in the future.
Why Use Consent Mode?
To make it as easy as possible, here are 3 simplified benefits of using Google Consent Mode:
- Satisfy part of your compliance with data privacy regulations
- Measure conversions while considering user consent status.
- Ensure that you can fill in the gaps with conversions from based on the user consent choices and tag behaviour.
A Note on Consent Mode and GA4
Please be aware that Google Consent Mode is a stepping stone in your consent management journey. Consent Mode alone will NOT ensure that you are compliant with GPDR and user consent. Consent solutions should be investigated internally within your business.
As far as we’re aware, GA4 will not automatically implement Consent Mode, despite the fact that it will be coming at the same time that Google will ditch third-party cookies.
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