May 7, 2024

The Rise of Google Consent Mode and Modeled Data

Discover the latest form of tracking user behavior that honors consumer privacy.
The Rise of Google Consent Mode and Modeled Data

And that’s the way the cookie crumbles. Remember those ubiquitous pop-ups asking if you want websites to "remember your preferences?" Those messages that interrupted your browsing experience just to ask you a question you know almost nothing about? Those were powered by third-party cookies, which are essentially tiny bits of code that track your browsing habits across your online journey. Cookies have been the backbone of online advertising for years, allowing advertisers to target users with precision based on their past behavior.

But times they are a-changin’, and the digital world is beginning to heavily prioritize user privacy. Web browsers like Firefox and Safari have already ditched third-party cookies and Google Chrome is following suit. This shift has sent marketers like us scrambling for new ways to track conversions and measure campaign performance. I mean, we’ll be okay, but it’s taking some figuring out. We think this is the fun stuff—you know, keeping us on our toes.

Consent Mode It is

Google's Consent Mode emerges as a beacon of hope for those of us navigating the new privacy landscape. It's a clever solution that allows you to gather valuable data while respecting user privacy choices. Here's the gist:

Consent Mode integrates your Google Analytics 4 (GA4) property with a Consent Management Platform (CMP). Those pop-ups you encounter asking about cookie preferences? That's a CMP. When users accept cookies, Google tracks data as usual. But when they decline, Consent Mode steps in, preventing user IDs and third-party cookies from being attached to the session.

So, how does Consent Mode keep you informed without compromising privacy? It uses a technique called "modeling" to fill in the data gaps. It’s a bit like piecing together a puzzle with some missing pieces. It takes a little inferencing, but by analyzing data from consenting users and anonymized information, Google can estimate user behavior and conversions, even for those who opt out of cookie tracking.

Why Modeled Data Tracking Matters

Let’s say you're running some killer ad campaigns, but your reported conversions only show part of the story. Frustrating, right? That’s when we have those conversations like “Well, we’re doing fantastic, but we’re not really sure why.” With the emphasis shifting to user privacy, modeled conversions help bridge that gap. Here's how it benefits you as a company:

  • Holistic Measurement: Get a more accurate picture of your return on investment (ROI) and the full conversion path across devices and channels, thanks to modeled conversions.
  • Campaign Optimization: Modeled conversions help Google's automated bidding systems make smarter decisions to optimize your campaigns and achieve better results.
  • Privacy-Focused Power: In today's privacy-conscious landscape, modeled conversions let you measure performance without compromising user privacy. It's like having your marketing cake and eating it too, except we’re just getting fat from conversions instead of carbs.

How Modeled Data Tracking Works

Think of it like this: you have a slice of conversions that aren't visible on one browser type, but you can see them on others. The modeling magic happens by analyzing user behavior trends across different browsers. Then, Google uses that data, along with other info like device type and location, to predict the likelihood of conversions from ad interactions on the unseen browser. Seems obvious, but you can probably imagine that things get complicated pretty quickly.

The Accuracy of Modeled Data for Tracking Insights

No marketing tool, especially automation, should be taken as gospel, and modeled conversions are no exception. While modeled conversions are a powerful tool, it's important to remember they're based on estimates, not ironclad facts. Google's algorithms are constantly improving, but they're still predicting behavior. And anytime you’re “predicting” what people will do, you just might be wrong. 

Additionally, the accuracy of these estimates hinges on the amount of observable data Google has to work with. The more data you have (AKA the users who consent to tracking), the better the model can perform and the more reliable your modeled conversions will be. So there are definitely a ton of important factors worth considering.

Conclusion

The digital realm is constantly evolving. It’s our job, and even for us it can be hard to keep up with at times. But we’re constantly learning from other industry players, shaping new trends, and adapting to any of the curveballs that the marketing titans throw at us. For this reason, it’s important to have someone who’s paying attention other than yourself—if you want to have Three Wolf on your side, shoot us a message, and let’s see how we can help each other out. 

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