Enhanced Conversions and Consent Mode Changes (Google Ads)

Google just announced that it will update its advertising and analytics platforms and introduce enhanced conversions and consent mode changes with enforcement starting in March 2024. This move aligns with the Digital Markets Act, which came into effect in November 2023 and imposes new compliance requirements on advertisers.

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This new update will particularly affect advertisers and businesses operating within the European Economic Area (EEA).

Let’s take a quick look at these features as we outline their importance, implications, and steps advertisers should take to ensure compliance and efficiency before the March deadline.

Understanding the Updates

The updates focus on strengthening the enforcement of Google’s EU user consent policy across websites, apps, and data uploads. Specifically, these changes affect how personal data from end users in the EEA is handled for ad personalisation, measurement, and remarketing purposes. Advertisers must now obtain explicit consent for using personal data and share these consent signals with Google.

Enhanced Conversions and Consent Mode are integral components of Google Ads designed to respect user privacy while allowing advertisers to optimise their campaigns based on accurate data. 

Enhanced Conversions

Enhanced Conversions improves the accuracy of conversion measurement. Traditionally, conversion tracking relied heavily on cookies, which posed challenges in environments where cookies were blocked or restricted. Enhanced Conversions addresses this using first-party data (such as email addresses) that users provide during their online interactions, like making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter. 

This data is then stored and sent to Google in a privacy-safe manner, allowing for more accurate conversion attribution across different devices and browsers.

For example, when an online retailer notices discrepancies in conversion tracking due to cookie restrictions, they can implement Enhanced Conversions to accurately track conversions that would have otherwise been missed, providing a clearer picture of advertising ROI.

Consent Mode

Consent Mode is Google’s response to the increasing emphasis on user consent under privacy regulations like GDPR in Europe. It allows advertisers to adjust how Google’s advertising cookies are used based on a user’s consent preferences. Essentially, it modifies the behaviour of Google tags (analytics and advertising) to align with the consent provided by the user, ensuring compliance with privacy laws.

For example, if a user does not consent to use cookies for advertising purposes, Consent Mode can ensure that Google’s tags respect this preference and adjust the data collection accordingly.

There are two primary settings in Consent Mode:

  1. analytics_storage: Controls whether Google Analytics can measure site interactions and gather analytics data.
  2. ad_storage: Controls whether Google Ads can use cookies for advertising purposes, including remarketing and conversion tracking.

Consent Mode helps advertisers comply with privacy regulations by respecting user consent preferences while allowing for some measurement and personalisation. It uses machine learning to model and estimate conversions that might need to be added due to users not consenting to cookie use, helping businesses understand the impact of their advertising efforts without compromising user privacy.

Implications of the updates

Enhanced Conversions and Consent Mode are part of Google’s ongoing efforts to balance effective advertising with privacy concerns. But what does that mean for business and advertisers?

  • For Advertisers: Adopting Enhanced Conversions means that advertisers can now rely on a more robust data set for their campaign analysis, leading to more informed decisions and optimised ad spend. However, this requires an initial setup to ensure that first-party data is collected and hashed correctly, adhering to privacy standards.
  • For Users: Consent Mode changes underscore greater respect for user privacy, giving individuals more control over their data. This aligns with legal requirements, and fosters trust between users and advertisers.

Navigating the Changes

To effectively navigate these updates, advertisers and businesses who trade within Europe should:

  • Review their current tracking setups to identify opportunities for integrating Enhanced Conversions. This might involve working closely with web developers to ensure that first-party data is correctly captured and transmitted.
  • Evaluate their consent management practices to ensure they align with Consent Mode requirements. This may require updating consent banners or dialogues to ensure user choices are accurately captured and respected.
  • Conduct thorough testing to assess the impact of these changes on their campaign performance. A/B testing different configurations can help identify the most effective strategies under the new system.

The deadline for implementing these changes is March 6, 2024. Advertisers and businesses operating in the EU must prioritise setting up a consent management banner and integrating Enhanced Conversions with Consent Mode to stay compliant and maintain effective advertising and analytics capabilities.

If you need advice or assistance with setting up Enhanced Conversions, Consent Mode, or making sure your advertising strategies are compliant and efficient, get in touch with our team.

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