Updated August 23, 2022.
Consent is becoming a turning point in the internet economy, making our digital platforms more sustainable by striking a balance between data privacy and digital advertisement – something Cookiebot has been working for since 2012.
Google Consent Mode is a way for your website to measure conversions and get analytics insights while being fully GDPR compliant when using services like Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager (GTM) and Google Ads.
With the Google Consent Mode, your website is able to make all Google services run in one simple way: based on the consent of your end-users.
Cookiebot consent management platform (CMP) and Google Consent Mode integrate seamlessly to offer you plug-and-play compliance and streamlined use of all Google’s services in one easy solution.
What is Google Consent Mode and why is it a big deal?
In a nutshell, Google Consent Mode bridges the gap between data privacy and data-driven digital advertising by making sure that your website’s analytics and marketing can run seamlessly based on each specific user’s consent choice.
Until now, mass collection of personal data from users for targeted advertisement on websites and beyond has created a rift between, on the one hand, protecting users from abuse and privacy infringements, and on the other, securing marketing revenue and analytics for websites of all sizes, who rely on this to not only survive but provide the free content and information that has come to define the Internet as we know it.
Consent is becoming a stable requirement of most data privacy laws in the world, including the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which assigns the responsibility of obtaining consent from end-users prior to processing personal data to website owners and data controllers.
Google Consent Mode is a big step forward in building a more sustainable internet economy that brings both elements into greater balance – moving towards a consent-based dynamic system that respects the privacy and dignity of each individual user without breaking the underlying business model of large parts of the Internet.
So, how does Google Consent Mode work?
Google Consent Mode is an API that lets your website make all of Google’s services run based on user consent, i.e. making the consent state of your users be the determining factor for how Google’s tags and scripts behave on your website.
Google Consent Mode introduces two new tag settings that will manage cookies for analytics and advertising purposes on your website –
With the “analytics_storage” tag setting, Google Consent Mode controls the behavior of statistics cookies on your website based on the consent state of your end-users – making Google Analytics adjust its data collection based on the granular consent choice of each individual user.
If users don’t give consent to statistics cookies, your website will still receive aggregate and non-identifying basic measurements and modeling data such as –
- Timestamps of visits to your website
- User agent, i.e. whether users landed on your website
- Referrer, i.e. how the user landed on your website
- Whether current or prior page in user’s navigation includes ad-click information in the URL
- Random number per each page load
Your website will be able to show contextual advertisement based on anonymous data instead of targeted advertising based on tracking of personal data, if users do not give consent to marketing cookies.
Google Consent Mode enables your website to measure conversions related to a specific campaign on an aggregate level rather than on an individual user-level – making sure that you get insights into the performance of your website’s marketing in a fully GDPR compliant way without the use of personal data.
Additionally, Google Consent Mode allows Google tags to change behavior if a user later changes their consent state and to configure Google tag behaviors to specific regions, e.g. automatically ensuring that no cookies are activated without consent for users inside the EU, while using cookies for users in the US.
Google Consent Mode supports –
- Google Analytics
- Google Ads (Google Ads Conversion Tracking and Remarketing)
- Google Tag Manager
- Conversion Linker
Google Consent Mode supports all third-party tags, not just Google’s own, in Google Tag Manager and Google Tag Manager 360.
This means that you can now use Cookiebot CMP and Google Tag Manager together to control all tags on your website based on the consent state of your end-users without manual configuration.
Using Google Consent Mode with Cookiebot CMP ensures that you receive vital insights and analytics through conversion modeling and non-identifying data if your end-users choose to opt out of cookies.
An additional feature, the Consent Initialization, enables tags that require user consent choice to fire before all other tags.
With the Google Consent Mode updates to Google Tag Manager, you can now see and customize each tag’s consent settings, as well as see which types of consents each tag requires in the Consent Overview.
Conversion modeling for Google Ads
Another feature of Google Consent Mode, introduced in April 2021, is conversion modeling – a probability-based privacy-friendly measurement tool for ad interactions and conversions on your website.
Conversion modeling offers you anonymous analytics data on the users of your website who choose to opt-out of cookies, “filling in missing attribution paths” by using observable data from people who chose to opt-in to cookies and thereby giving you an estimate of how the anonymous user might have behaved on your domain too.
Conversion modeling will be integrated automatically in your Google Ads campaign reports.
Cookiebot CMP and Google Consent Mode
Google Consent Mode is an open API, which means that your website needs a consent management platform that can communicate your end-users’ consent choices to the API, which then controls the behavior of your website’s Google Tag Manager or Gtag that govern services like Google Analytics and Google Ads.
Cookiebot CMP by Usercentrics is the world’s leading consent management platform that scans and detects all cookies and trackers on your website, then automatically controls them based on the consent of your website’s users.
Cookiebot CMP fully integrates with Google Consent Mode right out of the box!
Cookiebot CMP also comes as a standard tag in Google Tag Manager for the protection of end-user privacy through strong and automatic consent management.
Cookiebot CMP and Google Consent Mode fit like hand-in-glove and makes compliance on your website simple and seamless, no matter how big or small your domain is.
Cookiebot CMP and Google Consent Mode work together like this –
- Cookiebot CMP scans and detects all cookies and trackers on your website, and automatically blocks them until your end-users give their consent.
- Cookiebot CMP enables users to give their consent through a highly customizable consent banner on your website that is both simple and easy-to-understand for end-users, but also has the option of being unfolded for details on each specific cookie (such as purpose, provider and duration).
- Cookiebot CMP forwards the consent state of the user to the Google Consent Mode, which then determines the behavior of all tags and scripts from its services based on the consent state, e.g. through Gtag.
Once users give their consent through Cookiebot CMP, only the consent state is forwarded to Google – i.e. no personal data is sent from Cookiebot CMP to Google, but only the specifics of the anonymous user’s consent (e.g. whether they have accepted marketing cookies or not).
Example: Cookiebot CMP x Google Consent Mode at work –
A user visits your website and is presented with a Cookiebot CMP consent banner that shows them four simple cookie categories up front and the possibility to see how many cookies and trackers the Cookiebot scanner has found on your domain.
The user chooses not to give their consent to any analytics or marketing cookies, and Cookiebot CMP keeps blocking all such trackers from activation, respecting the user’s choice of consent.
Cookiebot CMP sends the user’s consent state to the Google Consent Mode, and this specific consent state becomes the basis of operation for all Google services that you are using on your website, e.g. by controlling Google Analytics data collection based on user consent states.
All in all, the groundbreaking novelty of the Google Consent Mode is that it enables websites to have e.g. Google Analytics, Tag Manager or Ads running without the use of analytics and marketing cookies, respecting the individual user’s choice of consent, at the same time as e.g. making sure that your data-driven analytics and marketing programs keep measuring conversions and providing you with important insight into vital statistics for your website.
Try Cookiebot free for 30 days… or forever if you have a small website.
Consent is sustainable, targeted advertisement is not
With the launch of Google Consent Mode, the world’s leading tech company takes a decisive turn towards a more sustainable internet economy by bringing user consent and data protection closer to its center.
A wild west of mass data harvest and abuse has existed for years on the Internet, but only surfaced to public knowledge over the last five years, when massive data breaches and illegal election interferences became major news headlines, creating a general distrust in big tech alongside a new public awareness of data privacy.
Landmark data protection laws emerged as a response, most notably the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that empowers individuals inside Europe with enforceable rights over the data they generate every day, and defines clear rules and responsibilities for websites and tech companies when processing this data.
Google, consent and the “hard block”
Consent management platforms (CMP) are a safe and effective way for websites to become compliant with the GDPR, by handing over the controls for the activation of cookies and trackers to the user – through consent.
But when users choose not to consent to analytics and marketing cookies through a website’s CMP, this often means a hard block of the domain’s analytics and marketing services, which run on such cookies and trackers, effectively cutting off vital analytics insights and marketing revenue streams that are crucial for the commercial survival of not only major tech companies or media domains, but smaller, independent websites and blogs as well.
Ad blockers and privacy browsers have acted as self-defense tools for end-users, but have not been able to solve the larger, structural issues around the coexistence of data privacy and digital advertisement – partly because of their blanket approach to blocking everything, partly because many users don’t have the time or the skills to defend themselves in this way to begin with.
Add to this that research shows targeted advertisement to provide only marginal results compared to contextual advertisement that isn’t based on users’ personal data, and the industry move away from mass personal data collection for privacy-infringing behavioral advertisement seems to have been an event horizon coming ever closer.
Google moves the Internet, again
That event horizon jumped a good way closer on September 3, 2020, when Google launched their Consent Mode.
Now, it’s no longer a choice between protecting user privacy and optimizing opt-in rates for websites big and small.
Google Consent Mode is an important indication that the largest tech company in the world sees the legal landscape changing in favor of user protection and hears the public outcry of distrust.
Harvard Professor Emeritus Shoshana Zuboff argues in her book by the same name that surveillance capitalism – the business model of mass data collection for user behavioral predictions – started when Google in 2002 decided to commodify the unfathomable amounts of data their search engine collected.
In 2020, Google’s decision to move the digital advertising industry in the direction of consent with the launch of the Google Consent Mode marks a defining chapter in this story, providing a way forward to a more safe, private and fair Internet.
We at Usercentrics, the parent company of Cookiebot CMP, work tirelessly to offer a sustainable solution to data privacy on the Internet, pushing for true transparency and real data privacy on websites that doesn’t break the online economy for big and small websites alike.
Consent in the making
Consent is the basis of the EU’s GDPR and other emerging data laws around the world, such as Brazil’s LGPD, because it empowers individuals with enforceable rights over all the digital traces of their lives, they leave online every day.
But in practice, the term consent keeps evolving. It was once a mere scroll on a webpage, it was once pre-ticked checkboxes on cookie banners, it was once continued browsing on a domain.
In 2018, the GDPR carved out a clear definition of consent that many data laws in the making around the world have adopted or at the least reflected, and together with courts and data protection authorities this fundamental digital right of people keeps evolving.
The GDPR defines consent as the informed, prior, clear and unambiguous indication of a user’s wishes, i.e. that users must be made aware of exactly how your website processes personal data, what cookies and trackers are in use (including their purpose, provider and duration), and that users give their explicit consent to each of these before any processing of their personal data can take place.
Cookiebot CMP has pushed to shape consent since 2012 as a no-nonsense term with real-world application: the explicit, informed and empowered voice of the individual person being the governing force for the processing of personal data on our digital infrastructures.
The launch of the Google Consent Mode is a milestone in the making of consent, and in making websites able to balance user data protection with digital ad revenue.
Try Cookiebot CMP free for 30 days… or forever if you have a small website.
What is Google Consent Mode?
Google Consent Mode is an open API developed by Google that lets your website run all its Google-services, such as Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager and Google Ads, based on the consent state of your end-users. Google Consent Mode governs the behavior of all Google tags and scripts on your website based on the user consent sent by your websites consent management platform.
How does the Google Consent Mode work?
Google Consent Mode receives the consent state of your website’s end-users from its consent management platform. No personal data is sent to Google, only the specifics of the user’s consent, e.g. if the user has chosen not to consent to marketing cookies. Google Consent Mode then operates based on the consent state, e.g. displaying contextual advertisement on your website without the use of personal data if the user didn’t consent to the activation marketing cookies.
What is conversion modeling in Google Consent Mode?
Conversion modeling is a way for Google Consent Mode to give you anonymous analytics data from users on your website who haven’t consented to cookies. What conversion modeling does is to offer you insights into user journeys on your website from end-users who chose to opt-out of cookies by using observable data from people who did consent to cookies, thereby giving you an estimate of how that end-user’s journey on your website looked like.
The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation requires websites who have users from inside Europe to ask for and obtain their explicit consent before processing any of their personal data. Cookies and trackers used for analytics and advertisement on your website process personal data from users, such as unique IDs, IP addresses, search and browser history, which is why you must inform users and ask for their consent for their activation.
How does my website get users’ consent?
Using a consent management platform on your website can help you obtain the granular and GDPR compliant consent from your end-users that your website needs in order to activate its cookies and trackers. Through a consent banner on your website, users will be able to filter their selection of cookies and give a specific consent to their purpose, provider and duration.
Try Cookiebot free for 30 days… or forever if you have a small website.