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Google Consent Mode v2 Explained

A guide on what Google Consent Mode is, and how it will affect your website.

29th Feb 2024
Sean Keaney Senior PPC Executive 29th February 2024

A Brief History of Consent Mode

As marketing experts, we have a firm grasp of how tracking works on Google. This concept of tracking was changed back in September 2020 when Google introduced the original consent mode.

Consent mode is a way to gain additional audience signals from users who do not consent to having their data used for collection. This comes from the cookie pop-up that appears when you enter a website, where each user is asked whether they consent to having their data shared or not.

Those users who consent are tracked as normal throughout the purchase journey. Consent mode was introduced for those who do not consent. Previously this data would not be collected at all, which led to gaps in data and incomplete stats. Consent mode collects audience signals for these users, so whilst we can’t track them, Google is able to model their behaviour based on data taken from those who have consented, meaning no more incomplete data! (yay)

At the end of 2023 Google announced that Consent Mode v2, a new and shiny version of the original, was due to be released and would be mandatory for all websites using Google Services. Why is this relevant now? Because the deadline for implementing Google Consent Mode V2 is the 6th of March 2024.

But don’t panic, because we are here to explain exactly how the update will affect you and the steps you need to take before the 6th. Let’s get into it.

What Is Consent Mode v2?

GCM v1 was focused on increasing user privacy in relation to collected and stored data, while GCM v2 encourages compliance with new and existing EU Privacy legislation relating specifically to data used for targeted advertising. It’s a more advanced version that will require explicit consent for cookies and data usage for users. This includes two new additional parameters – ad_user_data and ad_personalization.

The ad_user_data setting determines whether personal data is sent to Google based on user consent. This relates to services like Google Ads, Google Shopping and Google Play. There are two values that can be generated depending on whether consent is given – granted or denied. Granted will be set if a user agreed to advertising cookies on the cookie banner. Ad_personalization works in the same way where there are two values – granted or denied. 

This is all done to ensure data is handled to respect user choices and legal requirements within the European Economic Area (EEA).

This is beneficial to advertisers and marketing agencies like us, as it helps regain a significant portion of lost data in a privacy-compliant manner. Individual data from non-consenting users is not available, but aggregated data can still offer valuable insights into campaign performance and user behaviour.

So what happens if you don’t implement GCM v2? You’ll sacrifice your ability to be able to capture new EEA users to your audience lists after March 2024 – which impacts remarketing & engagement campaigns. Consent Mode v2 allows us to understand behaviour and performance even when consent isn’t given – by estimating actions taken on your site which may be lost due to their consent preferences.

What Actions You Need to Take

To use Google Consent Mode v2, you need to have a cookie banner in place. This means you need to have, or get, a consent management platform (CMP) running that is in line with Google’s standard as well as the GDPR and the e-privacy directive.

Google Consent Mode v2 ‘runs’ through the CMP, meaning it receives the signals from whether a user has given consent or not via the banner.

It is also you, as a website owner, who is responsible for first collecting consents for all cookies and tracking technologies in use on the site in accordance with the GDPR and other data privacy laws.

After this, you can choose to use Google Consent Mode v2 to get the most out of Google Analytics 4 and Google’s advertising services.

A 4-Step Implementation Process

1. Set up a cookie banner – this can be either through a certified CMP-partner to Google or an in-house solution.

2. Configure to collect user consent – ensure it meets Google’s EU User Consent Policy as well as the legal requirements from privacy regulations in the EEA.

3. Implement Consent Mode v2 – this can be done through a CMP-partner, or you will need a manual implementation if you are running your own.
4. Verify your implementation – via status and diagnostic tools in your ads account.

Overall, this new update is championing safety and privacy for both businesses and customers, without compromising website data sets.

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