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Consent Mode V2 – What do you need to know?

 

TLDR:  Starting March 2024, your advertising platforms, such as Google Ads and Google Analytics 4, will be restricted in what data they can collect from new EEA users without Consent Mode v2.

Introduction

In the ever-evolving landscape of digital privacy, Google has introduced an enhanced version of its Consent Mode – Google Consent Mode V2. This updated tool is a pivotal step towards aligning with the stringent requirements set out by the Digital Markets Act (DMA), a landmark EU regulation.

So, what’s the big deal with Consent Mode V2? Well, it’s Google’s way of making sure your website and its users are on the same page when it comes to cookies. But here’s the twist: Consent Mode V2 is not just an upgrade, it’s a must-have and you need it by March 6, 2024, or you might just lose out on some serious measurement and personalisation features. No pressure, right?

What is Consent Mode?

Consent Mode is like the peacekeeper between websites and Google. As a feature of Google Tag Manager, it’s all about checking if users are okay with cookies and data tracking. It helps websites respect user privacy preferences by adjusting the behaviour of Google tags accordingly. For example, if a user declines cookie consent, Consent Mode steps in, allowing the tag to fire, but restricting the data that will be sent from the client.

What’s New?

So, you may be wondering what’s the difference. Not only does it ensure that you are up to date and compliant with GDPR and other new data privacy regulations. There are now two new players in the consent game: ad_user_data and ad_personalization and it all boils down to user consent.

ad_user_data is the gatekeeper for letting Google use your data for ads. Users must be all in and agree to share their info with Google, and that starts with a cookie consent banner.

Then there’s ad_personalization, the boss of deciding if your data gets used for those personalised ads (think remarketing). Same deal here – users got to give the green light through the Cookie Consent banner.

The OG Consent Mode tags (analytics_storage and ad_storage) were all about collecting data. But these new Consent Mode v2 tags? They’re stepping up the game, not just collecting data but also dishing out the details on how it’s used and shared.

What Happens If You Don’t Upgrade:

Picture this: March 2024 rolls around, and you haven’t upgraded to Consent Mode V2. Well, there are a number of features that will no longer be accessible, potentially the most impactful of which is the loss of remarketing. Between data being obscured and your services not knowing who to bid to, you’ll be on the back foot in this digital landscape.

Implementing Consent Mode

To swiftly and effectively implement Google Consent Mode V2, organisations are advised to collaborate with a Google-certified Consent Management Platform (CMP). Whilst also ensuring compliance with Google’s EU User Consent Policy and meeting legal requirements outlined in the privacy regulations of the EEA.

If you are running one of these CMP’s through Google Tag Manager, and already restricting your tags from firing based on consent, then it’s a quick-fix to get your Google Tags manoeuvred over to Consent Mode. just make sure you’re updated to the latest version and follow one of Google’s handily provided templates for success.

Although it is possible to implement consent mode through other platforms, the process is far less streamlined and compatibility cannot be guaranteed.

If you’ve got a personalised cookie consent notice, no worries! It can still team up with Consent Mode, but it might need a bit of extra integration effort. Our advice? Have a chat with the developers handling the setup; they’ll be the wizards who can guide you on how to make it happen.

Conclusion

In a world where rules change faster than you can say “cookie,” Google Consent Mode V2 is your golden ticket. It’s not just a tech upgrade; it’s your passport to compliance and keeping your digital strategy top-notch. So, don’t sleep on this – get Consent Mode V2 implemented!

The Imminent Disappearance of Google Signals

If you need a quick refresh on what Google signals are, Google itself can help:
“Google Signals are session data from sites and apps that Google associates with users who have signed in to their Google accounts, and who have turned on Ads Personalization. This association of data with these signed-in users is used to enable cross-device reporting, cross-device remarketing, and cross-device conversion export to Ads.”

Towards the end of last year, Google Analytics users and admins were hit by an unexpected notification: the fast-approaching termination of Google signals. They’re set to be removed from the reporting identity on February 12th, which, as early Valentine’s treats go, is more than a little spicy.

But if there’s anything Google loves more than minimalism, it’s obfuscation, so you’re not alone if you were mildly confused by their wording on their removal. The data-mining monopolist assured its users that Analytics would “still collect signals, when enabled, to be used in demographics and interests reporting.” But what use would they have outside of reporting? Talk about mixed signals.

When signals are removed from cross-device reporting, GA4 will omit data from signed-in, consented users from your reports – specifically demographic and interest-based data. Which means their discontinuation can only be a detriment to reporting accuracy. Where, then, is Google’s incentive?

In the absence of a definitive explanation, we can only speculate. Many analysts have expressed frustrations with signals over the years; while they’re better for attribution, they’re worse for granularity. This is because connecting the same user between multiple devices will reduce the sample size of your dataset, increasing the chances of automatic thresholding being applied to protect anonymity.

But including signals in reports was always optional, easily avoided by switching your reporting identity – so to say that their removal serves as a benefit to the user doesn’t quite hold up to scrutiny.

It’s worth pointing out that, although signals will no longer be factored into reports, they’ll still support audiences and conversions, so will still serve as a vital ingredient of remarketing and conversion export into Google Ads. Plus, culling signals comes with no downsides to Google – although they’ll be showing less data, they’ll still be collecting it, and hence able to bring it back into the fold for future GA4 features.

If you’re interested in how the termination of signals will affect your GA4 specifically, fire us a quick email at hello@digitalbenchmark.co.uk. What have you got to lose? Well, reporting accuracy, that’s what.

Cookie Policy: A Minefield in a Cookie Jar

The digital landscape is subject to more regulation nowadays than ever – and its importance is only set to grow.

That’s why understanding the role of under-the-radar elements on websites is paramount for both operators and users. Cookies (small pieces of data stored on users’ devices) are one of the main pillars of regulations.

Cookies play a crucial role in enhancing user experiences. However, with great power comes great responsibility – specifically the responsibility for websites to disclose how user data is utilised. This disclosure is not just a courtesy; it is a legal requirement to comply with regulations like the GDPR, CCPA, and other international data privacy laws.

By providing transparency about data usage, websites build trust with users and ensure adherence to stringent privacy standards. It remains a question whether users really read what goes into cookie policies and other terms on websites, but this article will equip your charity with all the information about cookies moving forward.

Setting Up a Cookie Consent Program for Charities

 

Cookie consent is when a website asks if it’s okay to save or get information on user devices, like your computer or phone. This info is usually used to make user experience on the website more personal, like showing you content or ads that match your interests.

Most websites use cookies, and previously, your web browser was probably used to accepting them automatically. Nowadays, websites have to ask for your permission before they save or get any info on your device. And, if they want to use new cookies or change how they use the ones they have, they need your permission for that too.

Getting cookie consent can happen in different ways:

  • Your web browser might ask if you want to allow or deny cookies the first time you visit a website. This can vary as first party or third party cookies.
  • Some websites show a message telling you they use cookies and give a link to learn more, like in their privacy policy.
  • Other websites might send you to a different page where you can choose which cookies you’re okay with – which is our favourite method!

Discovering the right strategies is necessary to not only meet legal requirements but to foster transparency and trust with users as a charity. A well-executed cookie consent program not only ensures compliance, it enhances the overall user experience.

So cookie consent goes beyond the conventional banner seen on many websites. It involves a nuanced understanding of the comprehensive elements essential for obtaining and managing user consent for tracking.

A pivotal aspect of this process is the implementation of a robust cookie policy. This policy is more than a legal necessity; it is a tool to demonstrate a website’s commitment to ethical data processing and user privacy. Understanding these layers is vital for legal compliance and the establishment of user trust.

Make it Easy to Accept AND Reject

 

We all know how annoying it is when you have to expand the cookie choices and trick your mind into not clicking the obvious button that’s coloured differently – it’s a trap!

Also, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has previously issued guidance that organisations must make it as easy for users to “reject all” advertising cookies as it is to “accept all”.

The next step is to disclose as much information about the various cookie types and have the users confirm their choices easily – or reject.

Why Do Websites Collect Personal Data?

Delving into the reasons behind websites collecting personal data unveils distinct categories of cookies.

From strictly necessary cookies that ensure basic functionality to functional cookies enhancing user experience, performance cookies optimising site performance, and targeting cookies delivering personalised content, each category serves a unique purpose. 

Users benefit from these collections as they enable an efficient, tailored online experience, showcasing the symbiotic relationship between data collection and user satisfaction.

Creating a Cookie Multiplier: Estimating Your Needs

 

The concept of a cookie multiplier introduces a strategic approach to optimise cookie usage while ensuring compliance with regulations. Understanding how to calculate the multiplier needed for a website involves a nuanced exploration of usage patterns, user preferences, and regulatory requirements.

Insights gained from this process allow website operators to strike a balance between personalised experiences and privacy compliance, enhancing the overall efficiency of cookie usage.

Our recommendation here would be to collect only the data you are planning to utilise. Your charity digital marketing agency or agency team would be able to provide insights into the most effective cookie policies.

GDPR Compliance: Updating Your Cookie List

 

GDPR and cookie policies in the UK are pretty straightforward. Be transparent about the motivations behind using cookies and keep the data secure, then you should be fine. Ensuring compliance involves not only the technical aspect of maintaining an accurate list; it requires you to communicate those changes to users.

From working with session cookies to persistent cookies, all websites should implement a consent mechanism that allows users to learn and control the setting of all cookies that are not strictly necessary.

The Consequences of Neglect: Why You Need a Cookie Consent Policy

 

Without beating around the bush, this is not a risk a charity would want to take. Also, there are quite favourable reasons to comply anyways.

We all know that the website users, especially younger users, are quite educated about these regulations and considerate of their personal data. That’s why neglecting the implementation of a cookie consent policy, beyond legal repercussions can lead to eroding user trust and compromising the overall reputation of the website.

Understanding the importance of transparency in data processing is not just a matter of compliance; it is a fundamental aspect of maintaining a positive online presence and ensuring the loyalty of users.

The Future of Cookie Laws: Anticipating Changes

 

Those little games some website owners are playing are not appreciated by educated users, and it’s been more on the focus of legal bodies as well. That’s why exploring the evolving landscape of cookie laws is crucial for website owners who aim to stay ahead of the curve. 

Anticipating future changes provides insights into potential shifts in regulations and their profound impact on online practices. By staying informed, and keeping their users informed, website operators can proactively adjust their strategies to align with upcoming legal developments, ensuring ongoing compliance and sustainable online operations.

Standards for Charities: Navigating Cookie Policies

 

For charities operating in the UK and internationally, navigating cookie policies requires a nuanced approach.

It looks like the UK and EU is in a better position than the US, but understanding the specific standards that apply to charitable organisations ensures compliance while tailoring approaches to meet unique requirements in the global front. 

By aligning cookie policies with the principles of charitable work, these organisations can maintain transparency, build trust with their audience, and fulfil their missions effectively.

The Charity Digital Benchmark (that’s us!) allows charities to compare their data against industry averages, identify trends, and learn from the rest. When your charity signs up to the Benchmark, we will perform a free and comprehensive data audit – which includes a review of your cookie policy and implementation. Your org can only benefit from being part of the fast-growing Benchmark community – so why not reach out now?

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