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Google Consent Mode for Hotel Marketeers

Google Consent Mode for Hotel Marketeers

In 2023, Google overhauled their web analytics platform from Google Analytics 3 to Google Analytics 4 (GA4). This changed the way Analytics tracks website visits and events and increased the accuracy of collected data, and matched new GDPR regulations. Now, in 2024, Google introduces another major update to their advertisement systems: Google Consent mode. As European data protection laws tighten Google developped a new feature for website and apps to manage data collection in a more privacy-compliant manner. What does this mean for advertisers in the hospitality industry? Let's have a look.

Google's Consent Mode actually exists since 2020, with updates in recent years. Google Consent Mode was developped to allign with Europe's changing GDPR regulations. The most recent version - v2 - will become mandatory starting March 2024. This means that from then on, website developers and advertisers have no choice in whether or not they use Consent Mode.

The Biggest Changes

Google Tag Manager is a system being used to record user interactions with your website. Tags are 'fired' for every interaction your user has with your website. With Consent Mode, Google will still track events on your website like it did before. As it works now, Google sends event data (clicks, page-views, Newsletter subscribes, purchases, etc) from visits to their Google Analytics and Google Ads services, combined with some personal data. This happens the moment someone lands on your website with Google tags 'installed'. A visitor will then see and interact with the cookie notification, and will choose to what extent they want to allow cookies. Even with the most basic settings, Google Tag Manager loads and usually is able to collect some personal data.

Google Consent mode will change this process. Instead of loading Google Tag Manager immediately when the website loads, the Google tags will only load after the visitor chose their cookie settings. The amount of information these tags send data to Google's servers depends on the visitor's choice. If the visitor grants cookie access, the tags on your website will function like they did before, and will report on user interactions and data. However, if the visitor denies cookie-consent, the tags on your website will still report events, but will do so with limited information on who triggered these tags. If Google can't read or write any cookies it will still report accurately on events on the website visit, but with less information about who made the visit. How much less exactly remains to be seen.

Google Consent Mode (source:

Now what?

Firstly, some technical modifications on your site are required for your website to abide by the new Consent Mode rules. It is important to implement changes to your Google Tag Manager and to the website back-end to comply with these changes. You can find detailed information on the technicalities of making the required changes to your website backend here. Important to keep in mind: you'll need to define a 'standard' state that includes the settings being loaded for every first visit. Make sure the page loads properly before asking for consent. Even if someone says no to cookies, you can still load Google tags for event reporting, only the amount and quality of data they send about who made the events will change. Offer consent options quickly and record the visitor's choice. Let people choose which types of data storage they're okay with. Also, consider different privacy laws in different regions and adjust your settings accordingly, especially if you need to deny consent by default in certain areas.

Secondly, the effect of these changes on Google Analytics and Google Ads reporting. As visitors that deny cookies will now essentially visit your website 'anonymously', a lot is still uncertain on the effects of this mode on reporting quality. Google mentions that Analytics will be missing data for users who decline consent. Google's systems will attempt to make up for this gap in information by implementing advanced behavioural modeling. Behavioural modelling helps to understand the actions of users who decline cookies based on insights from the behaviour of similar users who did accept cookies. This modelled data enables you to extrapolate valuable insights from your Analytics reports while respecting your users' privacy preferences.

Effects on Marketing Efforts

At the time of writing, no large-scale tests have been conducted on the exact effects of the changes for marketeers. Therefore, nobody can say for sure what the effect of these changes in reporting will mean for Google Ads performance. Overall, sources seem to agree that data reporting will likely become less accurate, which may hurt ad performance.

Key Take-aways

In conclusion, Google Consent mode will:

+ Still track events, which are used to analyse behaviour on your website like you did before

+ Abide to various privacy laws, avoiding potential fines

On the other hand:

- You may lose individual-level insights for personalised attribution and marketing to an unknown degree

- Data based on modelling may be less accurate than data collected pre-Consent Mode

- A technical setup is required for the new tags to function properly

- The new system will become mandatory starting March 2024, leaving only limited time for set-up

- If your website does not have Consent Mode implemented, you might be refused access to other Google services

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