Understanding Google Consent Mode

A common educated guess suggests that 30% of your real users account for the ones that opted out of tracking. Google highlights that the behavior of users who don’t consent to tracking can significantly differ from those we measure. This discrepancy means that simply inflating our numbers by a flat percentage could lead to misguided conclusions.

An approach to count for “hidden” users is Google’s Consent Mode. It’s a feature designed to respect user privacy while still providing insights. When users opt out of tracking, traditional methods leave us in the dark. But Consent Mode uses a different approach. It gathers basic, non-personal signals that don’t rely on cookies or identifying data. Think of it as a way to sense the crowd without recognizing the faces.

Google then uses this anonymous info to estimate what we’re missing. It’s like having a sketch artist who can fill in the blanks, giving us a better idea of the overall scene. This isn’t about guessing; it’s about intelligent estimation, which can be incredibly valuable for an e-commerce business.

However, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • This feature is exclusive to Google Analytics 4, so if you’re using an older version, it’s time to upgrade.
  • You need a good amount of traffic for accurate modeling. Just like a survey needs a decent number of responses to be reliable, Consent Mode requires about 1,000 daily users to give you a solid estimate.
  • Remember, it’s still an estimate. While it can enhance your understanding, it doesn’t replace the insights from users who have given consent. And because these are non-consented users, they’re off-limits for retargeting campaigns.
  • For deep dives and complex analysis, you’ll rely on the data from users who’ve said “yes” to tracking.

In essence, Consent Mode by Google Analytics is about adapting to a privacy-first world without flying blind. It’s a step towards more responsible data use, ensuring that while we respect user choices, we still make informed decisions for our e-commerce strategies.

The Role of First-Party Data and UTM Frameworks

Is Consent Mode the ultimate answer for users who opt out of tracking? To address this, we need to shift our perspective. If users decline tracking, our primary action should be to respect their choice. In such cases, it’s essential to diversify our data approach and leverage first-party data. Google Analytics isn’t the be-all and end-all; we must become adept at integrating various data points, whether through first-party data, identity resolution, or a robust UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) framework to connect the dots.

But does this approach comply with privacy regulations? The definitive judgment rests with your legal advisor. Technically, Consent Mode honors customer privacy since it doesn’t involve setting or reading cookies.

The anonymous ‘ping’ collects only:

  • Timestamp, user-agent, and referrer.
  • The IP address may be part of the HTTP protocol communication, which is fundamental to the internet, yet GA4 does not store it.
  • Additional fields in conversion pings, like order ID or transaction value, are included.

As long as no personally identifiable information is intentionally included in these pings, you should technically be on solid ground from a privacy standpoint.