Google Consent Mode demystified

What is Google Consent Mode

Google Consent Mode is an API that adapts the functioning of Google products to the cookie choices made by users of a website. 

This allows you to continue to measure conversions on a website while respecting users' consents for advertising cookies or analytics cookies. 

Yes, but these alternative measurement methods it offers still collect data from users despite having refused or declined their consent, so they are not GDPR compliant. For this reason you have to make sure, you're working with a really GDPR Compliant Web Analytics.

So... What is Google Consent Mode?

According to Google:

Consent mode allows you to adjust how your Google tags behave based on the consent status of your users and enables Google to model for gaps in conversions. You can indicate whether consent has been granted for analytics and ads cookies. Google's tags will dynamically adapt, only utilizing cookies for the specified purposes when consent has been given by the user. Using consent signals, we apply conversion modeling to recover lost conversions due to consent changes.

What does this mean?

That this consent mode allows campaigns to be optimised to meet business objectives while respecting visitors' privacy preferences. 

Okay, that's what Google says, but where is what we are interested in, what we need to take into account?

Well, when visitors refuse consent, the tags send signals (or pings) to Google instead of storing cookies. This might seem correct to us as it does not store cookie information, but if we look at it, it is tracking our conversions. Which in the end comes to the same thing, tracking our movements but from another angle for the same purposes, to fill us with third party advertising.

If we look at the following reading, rescued from the google blog, about how consent mode data is used: 

“Let’s say someone visits your website and makes their consent selection for the use of ads cookies on your cookie consent banner. With Consent Mode, your Google tags will be able to determine whether or not permission has been given for your site to use cookies for advertising purposes for that user. If a user consents, conversion measurement reporting continues normally. If a user does not consent, the relevant Google tags will adjust accordingly and not use ads cookies, instead measuring conversions at a more aggregate level.” Source:

Here we find the statement that they are still handling the data. This is further developed in the following article:

It gives us arguments about the irony in Google's manoeuvres to collect data even when a user has explicitly stated NO in consent mode. A surprising thing, he says, if we consult the official documentation. (Consent Mode on websites and mobile apps - Analytics Help). Acting on their particular logic to collect "anonymised" data from non-consenting users to model the impact of non-consent.

Taking a last look at the latter, although there is the possibility of rejecting cookies, there is also data capture, which brings us to the same point we mentioned before, copying and pasting the paragraph we referred to "Which in the end comes to the same thing, tracking our movements but from another angle for the same purposes, to fill us with third party advertising." 

How can your website avoid cookie consent banner?

Use privacy-friendly analytics services: Websites can use services such as SEAL Metrics that are privacy friendly and don't require cookiesm even GDPR doesn't apply.

Privacy-friendly analytics is a type of analytics that respects the privacy of users by collecting only the data necessary to analyze user behavior and not collecting or storing any personal or sensitive information. It also ensures that the data is securely stored and access is restricted to only authorized personnel.

Discover the benefits of Seal Metrics cookieless tracking

Nowadays SEAL Metrics is a privacy-first analytics solution that will help to track 100% of your traffic and conversions. It's an excellent Google Analytics alternative and even SEAL Metrics can be a perfectly compatible solution to put into context your GA4 data.

SEAL Metrics can be the only web analytics platform for our clients, but it’s totally compatible with other web analytics, like GA4.

Your business data can’t depend on a single partner that is under the eye of the EU and is not tracking 100% of your traffic.

Does this mean that you can still measure conversions without your tags violating the consents given by your users?

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