E-commerce is booming, and that’s why online shops need to measure how effectively their digital campaigns are driving online sales. The assignment of transactions to the campaign that triggered them is an important metric for online shops. But the data protection authorities in Europe require companies to obtain user consent for tracking user behavior.

In August 2020, Google announced that it had integrated its advertising systems into IAB Europe’s Transparency and Consent Framework (TCF) v2.0. For companies that choose this method of obtaining user consent, Google’s ad systems will read and respect the transparency and consent string so that advertisers can comply with applicable regulations.

For advertisers who choose not to use the TCF v2.0, Google is rolling out a new solution to give them more flexibility in using Google tags alongside their tools for obtaining user consent. The Google Consent Mode introduces two new tag settings that manage cookies for advertising and analytics purposes for advertisers who use the global website tag or the Google Tag Manager.

These two settings can be used to adjust the behavior of the Google tags before and after the consent decisions of the users. This enables advertisers to measure conversions more effectively and at the same time respect the consent decisions of users for ad cookies and analysis cookies.

Use of Consent Mode with the Google ad platforms

The attribution of conversions and transactions to the campaign that triggered them is a critical metric for advertisers. On the basis of this data, ongoing campaigns are optimized. For example, bid strategies and advertising budgets are adjusted accordingly.

With the Google Consent Mode, advertisers can get a better insight into the conversion data and at the same time ensure that the Google tags, which help them to measure the conversions, reflect the consent decisions of the users for ad cookies.

The idea behind it is simple: before marketing or tracking pixels become active, Google is told what a visitor has given their consent to. And that then determines how deeply Google processes this visitor’s data and sets cookies.

As soon as Consent Mode is implemented, advertisers will have access to the new tag setting, “ad_storage”, which controls cookie behavior for advertising purposes, including measuring conversion. If a user does not consent to ad cookies, Google will not use cookies for advertising purposes.

Let’s say someone visits your website and chooses their consent to use ad cookies on your cookie consent banner. With the Consent Mode, your Google tags can determine whether your website has received approval to use cookies for advertising purposes for this user or not. If the user agrees, conversion tracking will continue as normal. If a user does not consent, the corresponding Google tags adjust accordingly and measure the conversions on an aggregated level.

With Consent Mode, campaigns running on Google Ads, Campaign Manager, Display & Video 360 and Search Ads 360 can continue to report conversions – taking into account the consent of the user for ad cookies. And since you can still use the measurement of conversions in your campaign reports, you can still assign the conversions to the correct campaign and continue to optimize your bid strategies and budgets efficiently.

Use of Consent Mode with Google Analytics

The consent mode also works with Google Analytics. This means that Analytics is able to understand and respect the user consent for ad cookies. For example, if the “ad_storage” tag setting is disabled for users without consent, Analytics will not read or write ad cookies, that is, optional functions based on Google signals, such as: B. remarketing will be disabled.

In addition to the “ad_storage” tag setting, Consent Mode offers advertisers a new tag setting, “analytics_storage”, which controls the use of analytics cookies. Let’s say you want to obtain consent for both analytics and ad cookies from users on your website.

You can use Consent Mode to update Google’s tag behavior based on user selection for each cookie type. Analytics adjusts data collection based on the user’s consent for each of the “ad_storage” and “analytics_storage” settings.

Two dimensions that are passed to the Consent Mode API

There are two dimensions that are passed to the Consent Mode API:

  1. analytics_storage for consent to tracking with Google Analytics
  2. ad_storage for consent to Google ad tracking

Both can have the values ‘granted’ or ‘denied’ accept.

If both consents have been given, the Google Marketing Platform and Google Ads tracking will run as usual. It becomes interesting when at least one consent is denied.

The setting of advertising cookies is prevented and cookies that have already been set are not read. Individual 3rd party cookies, which are used to identify spammers and click fraudsters, will continue to be used.

The (anonymized) IP address is sent in order to collect the location of the visitor, but is deleted immediately afterwards.

Without Analytics consent, page views and events are recorded, but completely anonymized and purely on an aggregated basis.

Conversions or other interactions cannot be assigned to any session or user, but the information that the interaction has taken place is available in Google Analytics.

A client ID is not assigned and, if it already exists, not read. In terms of attribution, it can be used to measure where visitors come from overall. So it can be measured how many users came to the website, for example from a Facebook post, but not what they then did on the website.

For example, if a user does not consent to ad cookies (and therefore ad tracking is disabled), but still gives consent to analytics cookies, advertisers can measure website behavior and conversions in Analytics because the “analytics_storage” setting is enabled is.

Establishment of Google Consent Mode

The prerequisite for the use of the Consent Mode is that tracking and marketing tags are integrated via the gtag or the Google Tag Manager, because the Consent Mode API uses the data layer to save the information. The whole thing has to be installed natively on the website, before the integration of the Google Tag Manager or the Global Site Tag. First, a standard setting is made that is valid as long as no consent has been read. Then the adjustment to the consent settings of the visitor takes place, if these already exist. Finally, changes to the consent settings can be reacted to. The code for this can then also be installed via the GTM.

The consent mode must be implemented in such a way that the tags are loaded before the dialog for obtaining consent is displayed. This adjusts the behavior of Google tags according to the selection made by the user in the declaration of consent for cookies. During the implementation, make sure that Google tags are loaded in all cases, i.e. not only if the user has given their consent or Google does not receive the necessary pings for an accurate measurement.

If you are interested in getting started with Consent Mode, feel free to contact our development team. Implementing Consent Mode requires adding a few lines of code over your global website tag or Tag Manager container.