What you need to know about Consent Mode V2

Consent Mode v2 is an advanced feature within Google’s Tag Manager that helps websites adapt to new privacy regulations. How, you might ask? By providing more granular control over how user consent is managed for third-party tags & services. It enables websites to dynamically adjust data collection based on user consent preferences. What’s in it for me? Better compliance and user privacy protection.

All the websites need to know about this to ensure they’re up-to-date with privacy regulations, maintain user trust, and mitigate potential legal risks associated with data collection and processing on their platforms. But, before going into the details, let’s do a recap on cookies, and also understand the WHY behind the Consent Mode V2.

What are third-party cookies?

Third-party cookies are tiny bits of information stored on a user’s device (like a computer, cellphone, or tablet) by a website other than the one the user is currently using. These cookies keep track of the user’s browsing history, allowing for personalized ads tailored to their online activities.

The WHY behind the Consent Mode V2

Google was contemplating the elimination of third-party cookies by the latter part of 2024, viewing it as a huge step in its initiative which is called the Privacy Sandbox.

The decision is addressing competition concerns raised by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority. They introduced a set of rules named The Digital Markets Act (DMA). They were being written to ensure fairness in the digital world. It particularly targets big companies which are seen as digital “gatekeepers”. Ex: Google, Apple, Meta.

These platforms are now required to handle personal data more responsibly. How? By actively seeking user permission to collect, store, and use their data. Additionally, they must obtain user consent to share data between their main services, such as between Google Analytics and Google Ads. The DMA aims to make sure these companies act fair in the digital marketplace, and that they foster transparency.

Google is NOT eliminating all cookies

If you are concerned that your marketing strategies are cookie-dependent and at this moment they risk becoming obsolete – bare with us. You don’t need to worry. Google is not dropping the cookies. It plans to eliminate the third-party cookies on its browser. However, the first-party cookies, which track basic information about users, will not be impacted.

If you’re still unsure about the distinction between first-party and third-party cookies, here’s a brief explanation:

First-Party Cookies: These are codes generated and stored on a website visitor’s computer, focusing on user experience by remembering passwords and preferences. They provide insights into user activities on your site, allowing basic analytics for marketing strategy. However, they don’t track behavior on external websites. For instance, Amazon uses first-party cookies for better user experiences, remembering login details and cart items. As a marketer, you can access basic analytics through CMS dashboards, offering data on web sessions, page clicks, browser types, demographics, and referring websites, but not comprehensive online behavior tracking.

3rd party cookies: These tracking codes, created by websites other than your own, gather information about a visitor’s online activities and send it to the cookie creator, often an advertiser. For advertisers, this data helps create detailed visitor profiles and retargeting lists. For example, if you research a product on one site, you may later see ads for it on another site, triggered by third-party cookie data. While first-party cookies are automatic, visitors must be informed about accepting third-party cookies due to data retention concerns. If you focus on tracking basic on-site behaviors and demographics, the change may not significantly impact you. However, if you rely on robust data for advertising or targeted strategies, it’s essential to stay informed and explore alternative first-party approaches as the phase-out progresses.

Consent Mode V2: Additional parameters added

Consent Mode previously used two parameters, analytics_storage, and ad_storage, to convey user consent for analytics and ads cookies. Following the Digital Markets Act, Google has introduced two new elements to Consent Mode V2 alongside its current parameters (analytics_storage and ad_storage) to specify consent for sending data to Google Ads and enabling personalized advertising (remarketing). Without granting these two new parameters, ad_user_data and ad_personalization, in the EEA region, it won’t be feasible to create specific audiences or conduct personalized advertising on Google Ads. 

Image source: cookie-script.com

Google Consent Mode V2 Implementation

Google Consent Mode V2 Implementation Comes In 2 Flavors: Basic and Advanced.

In the basic version, Consent Mode v2 operates as follows:

  • Visitors arrive at your website.
  • Some opt out of tracking, while others opt-in.
  • Only data from those who opt-in will be processed in GA4 and Google Ads.

In the advanced version, Consent Mode v2 functions like this:

  • Visitors land on your website.
  • Some choose not to be tracked, while others agree.
  • Data from those who agree will be processed in GA4 and Google Ads.
  • Data from those who decline tracking will be transmitted to GA4 and Google Ads using “cookieless pings.”

Cookieless data means that Google only collects the following dimensions for data modeling to fill the gaps between consented and non-consented users:

  • country (ex: Romania, Barbados, etc)
  • device type (ex: Desktop, Mobile, etc)
  • time of the day (ex: 12 AM, etc)
  • browser (ex: Chrome, Edge, etc)
  • conversion type (ex: purchase, form, downloads, etc)

Google claims sending Cookieless data is GDPR-compliant since no PII is stored anywhere.

Asses if you are running remarketing campaigns / or if you plan to run them in the future. If the answer is NO, you don’t have to adjust your tracking. However, if you rely on robust data for advertising or targeted strategies, it’s essential to update your tracking to make sure it follows all the requirements. If you need to implement Consent Mode V2 on your website, feel free to contact us. We will audit the current needs, define the next steps, and help you out with the implementation.

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