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Act now to implement Google Consent Mode by March 2024

  • By 3chillies

Google Consent Mode allows your website visitors to opt in or out of Google-related cookies, in particular relating to the use of Google Analytics, the Google Marketing Platform and Google Ads. As part of Google’s move to meet EU regulatory requirements around data privacy and protection, Google Consent Mode has been updated and requires websites to implement Google Consent Mode by March 2024 to ensure the continuing use of these services.

In this post we’re going to explore what Google Consent Mode is, the wider context around what’s happening with cookies, and how you can implement Google Consent Mode.

Consent and cookies

Over the last few years, the importance of gaining explicit consent for how a user’s data is managed has grown and grown, including relating to the use of cookies. Of course, that’s mainly because of GDPR and other data privacy regulations, but it is also a reflection of wider concerns and expectations from consumers about the privacy of their data.

One of the outcomes of this is that user consent around cookies now has to be properly managed on your website. Thankfully, there are cookie management and consent management solutions that can do a lot of the heavy lifting for you. For example here at 3Chillies we help clients install Cookiebot, one of the leading solutions. This enables the ability for users to opt out of different cookies and also helps busy teams to manage cookies, something which is not always straightforward. We’re proud to be a Cookiebot reseller and implementation partner.

Another and more profound outcome is what some observers have dubbed the “cookie apocalypse” – the eventual demise of unnecessary third-party tracking cookies. This is providing some nervousness among digital marketers who currently rely on cookies to successfully get data and analytics on user behaviour, support advertising and more. It will also reduce cookie-driven personalization available on sites.

While the “cookie apocalypse” has been mooted for some time, in 2024 it really is moving forward due to action from the major browsers. Google, for example, will remove support for third-party tracking cookies in Chrome during 2024. As part of this move, it is requiring websites to implement Google Consent Mode, allowing them to continue to use essential Google services that digital marketers rely on, but in a way where consent is fully managed and therefore GDPR-complaint.

What is Google Consent Mode?

Google Consent Mode is a facility that was set up in 2020. It allows website teams to manage Google tags in a way that aligns with the consent status of your users relating to any Google-related cookies, for example for Google Analytics, Google Ads, Google Tag Manager and Floodlight (a part of the Google Marketing Platform).

Given the high number of sites that use either Google Analytics or Google Ads there’s a good chance your site has some relevant cookies. The Consent Mode means you can keep on using Google cookies where the user has given their consent but remains compliant with GDPR when they haven’t.

The Consent Mode is also clever in providing some continuity for Google Analytics (specifically GA4) as information is pinged to Google but in an anonymised way so that Google can then use AI to model any gaps in its analytics and reporting, all while remaining GDPR compliant. Essentially, this means there should be continuity and consistency in your website reporting.

How does Consent Mode work?

At a high-level Consent Mode works like this:

  1. Some script is dropped on to your website’s source code to enable Google consent mode and there may be some additional configuration required via your cookie management or consent platform.
  2. When a user visits your site the consent mode will enable the consent status to be pinged to Google
  3. Google will configure how the user’s data is processed accordingly.

For a deeper dive into how Google Consent Mode works from a technical perspective, you can view the relevant page from Google as well as this page for developers.

Note that is something you will need a developer to do. It’s something we’re currently helping a number of clients with.)

What Google Consent Mode V2 is when the deadline?

Implementing Google Consent Mode on a website that uses services like Google Ads and Google Analytics is mandatory by March 2024.

Specifically, you need to implement Google Consent Version 2 (V2) which was introduced in late 2023. This added additional parameters relating to Google Analytics and Google Ads (analytics_storage and ad_storage).

What happens if I don’t implement Google Consent Mode?

If you don’t implement Google Consent Mode by the end of February 2024 it’s possible that you won’t be able to use the Google digital marketing tools your organisation relies on. For example, there may be gaps in your GA reporting.

How can I implement Google Consent Mode?

Implementing Google Consent Mode is straightforward, and can be done relatively quickly, but it is fiddly and is a job for a development resource who is familiar with working with Google products and ideally with cookie management solutions. If you do not have an internal team you may need to hire an external resource.

Need help with Google Content Mode? Get in touch!

If you need help with Google Content Mode and the deadline feels uncomfortably close, don’t panic!

We are currently helping a number of our clients implement Google Consent Mode V2 – so if you think you may need assistance then get in touch.

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