Consent Mode Data Privacy for Analytics & Advertisers

Summary: This takes what we do with Privacy Policies and goes deeper to keep up with corporate website best practices, consumer protections, maintaining effective marketing strategies, and respecting user privacy.

While other countries have established comprehensive and uniform privacy regulations, the U.S. is governed by a patchwork of state-specific and sector-specific laws (think HIPAA | Healthcare). Consequently, it often falls to website administrators to implement privacy practices based on a combination of industry best practices or [my] ethical considerations.

The US has typically been “reactive” to consumer privacy laws. Occasionally, they may implement laws after high-profile breaches.

Impacts the following tools.

Learn about the benefits, setup processes, and consent mode best practices for website data privacy including GTM, GA4, and Google Ads.
Learn about the benefits, setup processes, and consent mode best practices for website data privacy including GTM, GA4, and Google Ads.
Learn about the benefits, setup processes, and consent mode best practices for website data privacy including GTM, GA4, and Google Ads.

When You First Visit A Website

You may be met with a banner, pop-up, or other features to review and/or accept Terms, Privacy policy, or some notice about Analytics tracking. After you accept (or ignore) it, a few events happen behind the scenes in that split second. There is more to that than just an annoying extra click. Under the hood, the behavior path looks more like this.

Learn about the benefits, setup processes, and consent mode best practices for website data privacy including GTM, GA4, and Google Ads.

Consent Mode Behavior From A Different Perspective

  1. Visitors arrives
  2. Website Consent Mode state default (Denied)
  3. Visitor met with a banner or pop-up
  4. Visitor interacts with the feature (or doesn’t)
  5. Based on their interaction:
    1. OK or Accept – change Consent Mode state (Granted)
    2. Ignore or Decline – Consent Mode state stays (Denied)
  6. Visitor moves on to their purpose

Consent Mode Cause & Effect

The acceptance or decline of Consent affects several things. Check out this reference if you want exact details of how consent mode affects tag behavior.

Consent types include:

  • Ad Storage / Ad Personalization
  • Personalized Advertising Services
  • User Data
  • Analytics Storage
  • Data Redaction

** NOTE: It’s not that data isn’t collected if a user declines to consent, it’s just truncated.

How to Implement Advanced Consent Mode

First, this is heavily impacted by your website. Let’s assume 2 things first that aren’t covered here.

  1. You have Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.
  2. You have a feature to display data privacy confirmation.

Note: I use the Avada theme for WordPress, which has a feature to handle privacy and consent mode.

Learn about the benefits, setup processes, and consent mode best practices for website data privacy including GTM, GA4, and Google Ads.

In Google Tag Manager

1. Open your Google Tag Manager account

2. I used this Vendor Agnostic Google Template to import Tag Configurations. Links to a GitHub.

  • Download the TPL file
  • Import the Tag Type

How do I import a tag template into Google Tag Manager?

Learn about the benefits, setup processes, and consent mode best practices for website data privacy including GTM, GA4, and Google Ads.

3. Create a new tag

  • Name it something like “Default Command
  • Make sure the settings are the same as in the image below
  • I changed “Wait for Update” to 15000 (15 seconds)
    • If the user ignores the Privacy prompt, after 15 seconds, the default state (Denied) will remain.
    • If you leave the default setting (5000), the user will only have 5 seconds to interact with the prompt. In my opinion, this isn’t enough time.

4. Make sure the trigger is set to Consent Initialization – All Pages.

Learn about the benefits, setup processes, and consent mode best practices for website data privacy including GTM, GA4, and Google Ads.

5. Create a second new tag

  • Name it something like “Update Command
  • Make sure the settings are the same as in the image below
  • Be sure to update all the settings to “Granted.”

6. Make sure the trigger is set to Consent Initialization – All Pages.

Learn about the benefits, setup processes, and consent mode best practices for website data privacy including GTM, GA4, and Google Ads.

Test Consent Mode in GTM Preview – Tag Assistant

You can preview that the behavior works using the GTM Preview – Tag Assistant. The visual at the top of this article shows the behaviors you should expect to see in your GTM Previewer.

Helpful Hint: Use incognito in Chome. It was helpful for me to enter my site using a different Chrome profile AND incognito. You need to be able to provoke the prompt feature for privacy and consent mode acceptance. This won’t happen if you’ve previously/recently accepted it.

You should expect to see the Default state begin with Denied. After accepting, approving, or OK’ing (however your website feature works), you should see the state change to Granted.

Learn about the benefits, setup processes, and consent mode best practices for website data privacy including GTM, GA4, and Google Ads.
Learn about the benefits, setup processes, and consent mode best practices for website data privacy including GTM, GA4, and Google Ads.

Confirming Consent Mode in Google Analytics

You’ll find and confirm that Consent Mode is active in Google Analytics here:

Property > Admin > Property Settings > Data Streams > Click Your Stream

You’ll need to come back in a few days before the consent signals settings show as checked.

Learn about the benefits, setup processes, and consent mode best practices for website data privacy including GTM, GA4, and Google Ads.
Learn about the benefits, setup processes, and consent mode best practices for website data privacy including GTM, GA4, and Google Ads.

Confirming Consent Mode in Google Ads

You’ll find and confirm that Consent Mode is active in Google Ads here:

Account > Tools and Settings (top menu) > Conversions > Summary > Diagnostics

You’ll need to come back in a few days before the consent mode settings show as active.

You should see a tile that looks like this:

Learn about the benefits, setup processes, and consent mode best practices for website data privacy including GTM, GA4, and Google Ads.