The Role of Consent Mode in your Path to Privacy-Ready Marketing

Most attempts at organisational change fail because the psychology of change is ignored” – Winum, Ryterband, and Stephenson

While the digital landscape is experiencing an unprecedented paradigm shift towards user privacy, one thing has remained consistent throughout: humans’ reluctance and resistance towards change, especially when it disrupts our routines or threatens our comfort zones. Change can evoke various emotions such as fear, uncertainty, and anxiety, but we tend to forget that change is also at the forefront of versatility, progress, innovation and ultimately success. 

Madi Mhango & Edward Schutte

The way in which we collect data is emphatically changing, and how we approach change will ultimately determine whether we’ll be successful. This holds true for both Digital Marketers and the Organizations who own their data. Google has earmarked 2024 as the year for major breakthrough and development. It’s worth noting that this is not just another “buzzword” for the year, but rather the foundation of how we’ll be collecting data going forward. The EEA (European Economic Area) will lead the way followed closely behind by the US, giving other regions opportunity to take the learnings, but regardless of the level of  regulations and restrictions, everyone needs to similarly prepare for the paradigm shift from observable data towards predictive. 


Consent Mode serves as the cornerstone of privacy-conscious advertising strategies, offering organizations a vital opportunity to navigate the evolving landscape. It provides a robust foundation for precise measurement while prioritizing user privacy throughout. This innovative solution facilitates seamless communication of users’ consent preferences from a consent banner to Google tags/SDK. By doing so, it empowers advertisers and brands to adapt user behavior accordingly and implement modeling techniques to recover lost conversions resulting from unconsented users. 


In essence, Consent Mode acts as a bridge between users and advertisers, ensuring transparent and accurate communication of user consent preferences. This allows advertisers and brands to tailor their marketing strategies accordingly, maximizing engagement and ensuring a positive user experience across the board.

Before diving into why Consent Mode should be on your radar, let’s take stock of the current state of the digital ecosystem. We find ourselves at a pivotal moment in advertising, with significant advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) opening up new avenues for engagement. Ongoing shifts in technology and platforms, including the impending deprecation of third-party cookies, emphasize the necessity of exploring alternative optimization methods such as Consent Mode for enhancing marketing campaigns. 


Additionally, tightening privacy regulations reflect a global trend towards greater scrutiny of data usage, heightening user concerns regarding the practices of advertisers and brands. These regulatory changes have led to a reduction in available data for advertisers, prompting them to increasingly rely on tools such as Consent Mode to gather sufficient data while respecting user consent preferences and optimizing their most effective campaigns.


In March 2024, an updated version of Consent Mode will become mandatory for EEA/EU users, thanks to the Digital Markets Act (DMA). This will feature two additional parameters: ad_user_data and ad_personalisation which align with evolving privacy regulations and enable personalized-advertising consent from users. The ad_user_data parameter focuses on whether users consent to the transmission of their user data to Google for advertising purposes, while the ad_personalisation parameter pertains to user consent for the utilization of their data for remarketing purposes. In essence, this update empowers users to specify their preferences regarding personalized advertising.


Why Consent Mode must be on your radar this year

  • Respecting User Consent Choices – Consent Mode allows for the behavior of your tags and SDKs to be adjusted based on your user’s consent choices. 
  • Enhance User Trust – By respecting consent choices, especially in terms of advertising and personalization, you are earning trust from your users. 
  • Enables Data Modelling – Enables Data Modelling to retrieve “lost” conversions due to unconsented users (Percentage Retrieval +-65%). 
  • Compliance with Regulations – Helps you comply with privacy regulations like GDPR/POPIA, which reduces the risk of penalties & legal action. 
  • Improved Media Targeting – Consented users have found to be between 2-5 times more likely to convert, which improves targeting accuracy. 


How can brands implement Consent Mode? 

‘These are your options for proceeding with Consent Mode:

  1. No Consent Mode: Consent Mode is not implemented on your website at all. All data collected to Google’s services are assumed to have consent from the user. Risks: Penalties and legal action. 
  2. Basic Consent Mode: Consent Mode implemented, but data is collected only if the user grants consent. No anonymous pings are sent from unconsented users.  Risks: Lose out on the Modeling capabilities of Advanced Consent Mode. 
  3. Advanced Consent Mode: Consent Mode implemented, data is collected from users who grant consent, while anonymous pings are sent for unconsented users. 

Note: Without Advanced Consent Mode, you will lose out on the capability to retrieve/compensate/model the data that is “lost” from unconsented users. 


Advanced Consent Mode adjusts Google tags/SDK behavior to respect user consent choices



Basic Consent Mode unblocks Google/SDK if and when consent is granted

Next steps you should take to  leverage the benefits of Consent Mode

Now that we grasp the concept of Consent Mode, you may be wondering, “What are my next steps?” It’s crucial to note that simply having a consent banner doesn’t guarantee the implementation of Consent Mode on your website. To activate Consent Mode effectively, you must ensure that user interactions with your consent banner dictate how their data is collected in GTM/GA4.


If this is a challenge you are unsure on how to tackle, our team is well equipped to assist you. In the meantime, it would be beneficial to consider a Consent Management Platform (CMP). A CMP is a software tool designed to help websites adhere to cookie and privacy regulations, which are increasingly relevant in 2024. Fortunately, Google has established partnerships with various CMPs to simplify this process for you.


While the importance and impact of Consent Mode can never be understated as a concept in itself, we need to remember that it also forms the foundation for all things privacy. Consent Mode is required for the integration of existing tools, technologies and software, but more importantly, it provides a robust, future-proof solution that will allow you to seamlessly integrate with new technologies and tools; which will inevitably continue to appear on the digital privacy radar. 


Consent Mode is your opportunity to showcase your resilience towards organizational change, and ultimately pave the way for how data will be collected in the future. It forms an integral part of how you collect your data, but also how you use the data for advertising purposes. 

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