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How Google Consent Mode Helps Balance Customer Privacy and Customer Experience

3 minute read
Pierre DeBois avatar
As privacy expectations grow, Google has introduced a tag management innovation, Consent Mode, meant to address the need to stay data compliant.

Digital marketing has been increasingly focused on consumer privacy with data. The expectation of privacy grows stronger among customers every year. Thus marketers must look for solutions that help protect permission, especially as technology is evolving.

Google has introduced a tag management innovation, Consent Mode, meant to address the privacy tech conundrum. Consent Mode is a programmatic feature designed to make analytics measurement flexible against consumer consent for data collection.

The Privacy Environment Marketers Face

Consent Mode is a response to European regulations regarding consent. Google is one of many tech companies that supports a initiative called the IAB Europe Transparency and Consent Framework, a global multi-industry agreement meant to guide publishers, technology vendors, agencies and advertisers on transparency and choice requirements under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The initiative also marks as footnote of the industry shift away from cookies — the text files that are added to a website to signal for marketing features such as remarketing. The purpose for cookies has evolved since the early days of the web to include ad and analytics data recalled alongside browser preferences. But many people do not want to be followed with an ad when they face the cookie banner that appears on site. That challenges marketers who still want a way to measure certain visitor activity and honor the visitor's choice. 

I noted aspects of the industry shift earlier this year in a post about the Google Privacy Sandbox program which prevents third party cookies in Chrome. Since the announcement, Google has developed a few efforts to support cookie-less attribution. 

Enter Consent Mode. It continues this trend by offering alternatives that a website visitor can control. The result is a new analytic flexibility for website hosts and better capability to maintain privacy compliance.

Related Article: Google’s 'Badge of Shame': What It Means and How to Avoid It

Learning Opportunities

How Consent Mode Works

Consent Mode consist of two tags that independently serves as a filter for cookie behavior. The “ad_storage” tag controls ad cookie behavior. The second tag, "analytics_storage," controls analytic cookie usage.

These tags can be set such that visitor activity initiates the choice of cookie support based on visitor activity. If the visitor agrees to cookie consent banner, the ad storage tag allows the ad cookies to operate.

If the visitor chooses to decline cookie behavior at the dialog banner, the ad tag will not read or write ads cookies. This eliminates any cookie-based ads or marketing features from being seen by the visitor. The same occurs for the analytics storage tag, again depending on how it is set. The benefit is the visitor can have an ad-free experience while an analytic solution can still count general visitor activity towards its reporting data.

The tags work with the standard Google Analytics tag or with Google Tag Manager, the tag must trigger in the overall website code before the consent dialog appears on the website. Otherwise the settings will not distinguish the consent properly, creating potential compliance and customer experience problems.

Conclusion

With so much happening with Google Analytics thanks to the arrival of  GA4, adding Consent Mode should be included with your analytics task lists. Doing so can keep customers happy with the digital experience they expect from your website or app.

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