What is Consent Mode and how to enable it

Last updated on March 1st, 2024 at 02:35 pm

Here’s an explanation and technical overview at how to correctly enable consent mode v2, plus the step by step walkthrough to set Consent Mode v2.

Google’s Consent Mode v2 is the updated consent solution to keep effectively using Google’s Marketing Platform in the Cookie-less web ecosystem unfolding in 2024.

Consent Mode v2 is the updated version of Google’s Consent Mode; it’s a API framework designed to make sure that Google Analytics, Google Ads and similar google tags are fired in a privacy-conservative way, in Google’s continued strife to respect international and diverse web privacy requirements.

The main difference from the standard Consent Mode Beta is based on two aspects:

consent mode v2 difference
From Google Marketing Expert Journey conference on Consent Mode v2

Up to 2023 international and local regulations like GDPR required (amongst various other requirements) website owners to display promptly a cookie consent banner, giving the user the possibility to freely choose which cookies to accept or not, and website owners were supposed to respect this consent choice, thus firing only the relevant tags.

Of course, almost all installations of CMPs were not truly respecting the users’s choice, so here comes Consent Mode v2 in action.

Consent Mode v2 works in two possible ways.

  • Consent Mode Basic configuration: simply blogs marketing tags until the relative consent has been given trough a dedicated CMP (this is also known as asynchronous tagging; you can set it up manually or use Google Tag Manager’s Consent Overview feature).
  • Consent Mode Advanced configuration: sets all consent levels to “denied” before any tag has a chance to fire, allowing tags to fire freely, while not passing any user-sensitive information, and without planting any sensitive cookie on the user’s device. Then, when the consent is given for different levels of consent, Google updates the consent so that any subsequent event firing, si going to be enriched with precise data.
difference between consent mode basic and advanced
From Google Marketing Expert Journey conference on Consent Mode v2

As said, all tags fire when Consent Mode advanced is enabled; wether they fire and place cookies (consent granted), or wether they fire without setting cookies (consent denied).

  • When tags fire with cookies consent granted, every pageview, every event in a physical session, is actually aggregated into a GA4 “sessions”; that’s because the system is able to understand, thanks to the cookie, that the user visiting page 1 and page 2, is the same user.
  • When tags fire without cookies consent, every pageview and every event is received by GA4, but the system can’t group together these events.

That’s where Data Modeling comes into help, using the observed data to create data models accurate enough to show in GA4.

This enables to two very positive outcomes:

  • User’s choices in terms of consent are actually automatically respected for real, because there’s no human interaction between the set of the consent to “denied” and the automatic update reflecting real user choices on the CMP banner.
  • Third party cookies are being phased out anyway; this means that tools like Google Analytics 4 and Google Ads are going to have to rely heavily on modeled data. Passing events and hits without any user information, allows to use the user data with information to re-build the most plausible user journey, recovering most of the traffic and conversion data that you’d otherwise loose without data modeling enabled.

Why is it mandatory to activate

It is therefor mandatory to activate Consent Mode v2 if your business collects users and traffic from Europe (or whichever other country, for that matter). The penalty of now setting up Consent Mode properly, is going to be:

  • Increasingly inaccurate data on specific metrics (eg: New Users vs Returning Users)
  • Large drops in the amount of traffic tracked
  • Large drops in conversion attribution
  • Increasing degradation of the quality of smart bidding in Google Ads
  • Serious privacy compliance issues

and more.

Here’s how to set Consent Mode v2 up correctly. Depending on which approach you’ll decided to take. One word of advise though: consent mode basic doesn’t mean “simple”. It’s actually a more tedious process to implement it correctly when done manually, and overall is a highly disadvantageous approach to data collection. My advice is, always go with the Advanced Configuration, especially if you’re using the rest of the Google Marketing Platform.

I’ll leave here also the Google Marketing Journey conference if any of you would like to watch it.

Web Conference part of the Google Marketing Expert program

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