Google’s update to Consent Mode (known as Consent Mode v2) changes how user data is collected for Google Shopping campaigns. Users will depend on Google’s new modelling to estimate ad interactions and conversions, which could result in underreporting. We’ve compiled what you need to know going forward.

Google’s Consent Mode v2 update rolled out on March 6th 2024 for countries in the EEA, but it also affects any business that’s advertising to EEA countries. Therefore, if you’re a UK or US business and you’re advertising to a country within the EEA, you should implement Consent Mode v2 to avoid missing out on a substantial amount of data. 

From July 31 2024, Google is expanding the EU User Consent Policy to apply to users in Switzerland. This means that advertisers will need to obtain Swiss users’ consent - the requirements will be the same for Swiss users as EEA users mentioned above.

This is important for all Google Shopping advertisers to know, as this policy change will fundamentally impact how user data is collected and utilised for your campaigns.

What is Consent Mode v2?

Consent Mode helps advertisers maintain conversion measurements after implementing consent banners requiring user permission for ad cookies. When enabled, Google’s website tags detect if a user consented.

For consenting users, conversion tracking continues normally. For non-consenting users, no personal data or identifiers are utilised for ad measurement and targeting.

Consent Mode v2 adds data modelling to enable remarketing and ad personalisation while respecting consent choices. It uses machine learning to analyse trends in consented user data.

How Consent Mode’s data modelling works

Conversion data modelling uses machine learning and analyses trends in observable data (from consenting users) to quantify the relationship between conversion rate and user consent status.

Google’s models fill in missing attribution paths using the observable user journeys from consented users.

This provides a more accurate picture of ad performance drivers, even without traditional tracking. Advertisers can then optimise using these privacy-compliant insights.

Google’s modelling learning curve

Once you’ve enabled Consent Mode, be prepared for a 7-day period where Google builds a site-specific model to fill the gaps around non-consenting user behaviour. During this time, tracked conversions may be underreported and plummet. This is only temporary as the modelling kicks in.

This has the potential to trigger automated spend decreases, as your predefined ROAS targets are unlikely to be met initially due to conversions being underreported. Consider preemptively adjusting targets and bidding strategies to mitigate this disruption.

Additionally, it’s recommended to activate the “Advanced Consent Mode”. This allows anonymised click/conversion data to come through for non-consenting users, enriching Google’s modelling accuracy compared to the basic mode.

If you use Google Analytics 4 for Shopping insights, it could take 7-28 days for the modelled data to correctly repopulate your reports and fill in gaps from non-consenting users.

Suggestions for a smooth transition to Consent Mode

If you’re advertising from within the EEA, or to an audience in the EEA, here’s what we suggest doing to help ease the change to Consent Mode v2:

  • Conduct a compliance audit of your existing cookie banners/notices and privacy policies
  • Define the optimal consent solicitation process for your specific business model
  • Implement Advanced Consent Mode via Google Tag Manager
  • Monitor and analyse the machine learning model’s efficacy
  • Fine-tune Google Ads campaigns based on new modelled data flows

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