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Implementing consent for Google ads personalization: A comprehensive guide to the Google Ads compliance alert

Google Ads’ notification to "implement consent for ads personalization" isn't just a policy change. It's a significant call to action, reflecting a global pivot to user-centric data privacy practices. Learn what it’s all about and what you need to do to stay compliant with Google’s requirements.
by Eike Paulat
Feb 23, 2024
DMA Marketer
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As consumers become more data privacy-aware, Google is taking proactive steps to ensure that the privacy compliance requirements placed on them and other large tech companies by new regulations are also met by their third-party business customers. This helps ensure privacy compliance in the full digital ecosystem. As part of these enforcement efforts, Google has introduced strict requirements for verifiable user consent, particularly to enable continued access to Google ad personalization features. With a direct potential risk to companies’ bottom line, this move and other new requirements by Google could have a more significant impact on data privacy enforcement — and more quickly — than some government regulations and their enforcement by data protection authorities.


Have you received this notification from Google?


Shirin Eghtesadi, Google’s Director of Product Management, underscored the importance of these new measures:


Google’s EU User Consent Policy (EU UCP) reflects the requirements of two European privacy regulations, the ePrivacy Directive (ePD) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and requires marketers advertising with Google to obtain and respect end-users’ consent. Starting this year, we will enhance enforcement of the EU UCP for audience and measurement solutions.”


Google has also implemented a range of tools and features to help advertisers comply with their consent policy requirements and government regulations while still reaching their marketing goals. This guide delves into the essentials for obtaining and signaling consent for Google ads personalization and how to achieve and maintain compliance with Google Ads requirements in Europe.

Implement consent for Google ads personalization – You are not providing EEA end-user consent signals required for ad personalization features. Take action before March 2024 or your campaign performance will be impacted.”


This prompt in your Google Ads dashboard isn’t just a suggestion. It’s a critical update that represents a fundamental shift in how advertisers must manage user data.


Google’s introduction of the consent requirement is not arbitrary. It’s a strategic response to the global call for data protection, with regions like the EU/EEA and the UK setting stringent privacy standards with the regulations they pass.

Why has Google introduced this requirement? Adapting to the privacy-centric trend


Google has introduced the new requirements to their ad tech customers to align with an evolving regulatory landscape that prioritizes user privacy. With the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the ePrivacy Directive, there is a clear mandate for companies to ensure that personal data is processed lawfully, transparently, and for a specific purpose. Google’s consent requirements in ad tech and measurement tools aim to help advertisers meet these legal obligations and maintain trust with their users.


According to Google, these changes are part of their ongoing commitment to give users more transparency and control over their data, while providing advertisers with the tools they need to be privacy-compliant.


In short: If you saw the Google alert, you’re likely running ad campaigns on Google ad tech platforms or using Google Analytics to measure your ad revenue impact in Europe, but aren’t yet complying with all the recent requirements. Taking action to comply will ensure uninterrupted ad revenue after March 2024, when enforcement starts.

Implement Google Consent Mode with Usercentrics CMP

Be prepared for compliance with Google’s consent requirements on your website or app. Start your 30-day free Usercentrics CMP trial – a Google-certified CMP for Consent Mode v2.

The GDPR and ePrivacy Directive are the primary regulation and directive informing Google’s EU user consent policy, together with the Digital Markets Act (DMA). The GDPR, in particular, affects any business that processes the personal data of EU residents, in many cases requiring explicit user consent for data processing activities. These laws have significant implications for digital marketing, where personal data is critical for targeting and personalization.


With the GDPR, the data privacy framework has shifted to empower users and place greater responsibility on advertisers.


The GDPR has several legal bases for the lawful processing of personal data, but for digital marketing purposes, the most commonly needed one — user consent — mandates that it be freely given, specific, informed, and unambiguous. For advertisers, this means deploying clear consent mechanisms that are easy for users to understand and act upon before any personal data is collected or processed.

User rights front and center


The GDPR stipulates that users have the right to access their personal data, or have it corrected or deleted. Additionally, if a user rescinds consent for data processing, advertisers must cease collecting and processing it immediately. Therefore, advertisers must implement processes that enable users to learn about and exercise these rights easily, without obstruction.

Data minimization as a strategy


The principle of data minimization — collecting only the personal data that is necessary for stated purposes — compels advertisers to refine their data strategies, focusing on quality over quantity. This leads to more targeted, efficient, and effective advertising efforts.

The implementation of consent for ads personalization can result in reduced visibility into user behavior, and, consequently, less data for optimizing campaigns. Advertisers might observe a decrease in the size of remarketing lists and a reduced ability to measure the performance of ads accurately.


The requirement for user consent can lead to a paradigm shift in campaign strategy and execution:

  • Targeting challenges: limiting the use of detailed personal data for ad targeting without explicit consent may decrease the precision and relevance of ads, which can impact campaign performance metrics.
  • Performance metrics fluctuations: as users exercise their right to opt out of data sharing, advertisers may witness changes in key performance metrics. This underscores the importance of adapting campaign strategies to remain effective under the new consent-based framework. Google suggests that advertisers should be prepared for these changes and understand that users’ consent choices will directly impact the data available for ad personalization and measurement.

To comply with Google’s EU user consent policy, advertisers should ensure that they have a viable and provable legal basis for collecting, sharing, and using personal data. In most cases, this will need to be valid user consent. Advertisers must provide clear information about their data use practices and obtain affirmative consent from users in the EEA/EA.


Google provides Consent Mode, which helps advertisers manage how Google tags behave based on user consent. Advertisers are encouraged to use this feature to maintain privacy compliance while still collecting valuable data where consent is given. Google’s tools also help to fill in gaps with modeling to provide data for insights even when users decline consent.


Noncompliance with Google’s EU user consent policy carries risks, including potential loss of revenue and access to Google’s platforms, as well as a loss of user trust. However, there are also opportunities to build stronger relationships with users through transparent practices and to innovate in targeting and measurement with privacy in mind.


User’s personal data that is collected with proper consent will be processed according to the user’s choices, helping to ensure privacy compliance while enabling advertisers to personalize and measure ad performance for those who have consented.


Failing to activate Consent Mode before March 2024 if you run ad campaigns targeting users in the EU/EEA or UK, you will see the following consequences in your Google Ads account.


1. Remarketing audience limitations

Population of remarketing audiences will cease. There will not be an abrupt halt to all remarketing campaigns by March 2024, but the audience list will gradually diminish in size until it becomes ineligible due to size reductions.


2. Discontinuation of feed-based dynamic remarketing

The feasibility of implementing feed-based dynamic remarketing will be compromised. This feature is especially effective for running shopping campaigns and retargeting users based on the shopping products they have previously viewed.


3. Inoperability of New Customer Acquisitions (NCA) bidding

New Customer Acquisitions (NCA) bidding will cease to function when the remarketing list dwindles below 1,000 active members.


4. Inability to create lookalike audiences for Demand Gen

Crafting lookalike audiences for Demand Gen will no longer be feasible. Given that this capability is integral to this campaign type, it’s advisable to implement Google Consent Mode.


5. Limitations in customizing audiences and loss of audience insights data
Customizing audiences based on parameters such as “recent users 30 days” will no longer be possible. Additionally, valuable audience insights data will be lost.

Constructing a GDPR-compliant framework

Compliance with the GDPR and Google’s requirements for advertisers can be a strategic opportunity to reinforce trust and improve the quality of interactions with your audience. A robust GDPR compliance framework encompasses several critical elements:

  • Comprehensive consent management: Implementing a Google-certified consent management platform (CMP) from a Google CMP Partner like Usercentrics is essential for managing and documenting user consents in a transparent and verifiable manner, and a requirement that Google has announced.
  • Transparency as a trust builder: Clear communication about data practices not only satisfies GDPR requirements, but also builds user trust. Users are more likely to provide consent when they understand how their data will be used and see the value in providing it.
  • Empowering user autonomy: User control over data is a key tenet of the GDPR. Advertisers must ensure that users can easily manage their consent preferences, thereby respecting their privacy and autonomy.

The potential loss of data following the implementation of consent mechanisms is a critical concern for advertisers, but with the right strategies, this challenge can be mitigated.


To maintain data quality and limit the impact on conversions, advertisers can employ several proactive approaches:

  • Anonymization and aggregation: Collecting data in aggregate or anonymizing user data allows advertisers to continue to gather useful insights without infringing on privacy.
  • Advanced Consent Mode implementation: Google’s Advanced Consent Mode is a flexible solution that adjusts tracking and data collection based on user consent. It enables advertisers to retain a level of data collection and tracking for users who give consent while respecting the choices of those who do not.

Meeting the consent requirement for Google ads personalization involves a multifaceted approach that marries compliance with effective marketing.

To navigate the consent landscape successfully, advertisers should consider a multi-step strategy.

Choose a Google-certified CMP


If you’re using Google Ads and/or Google Analytics or Google Marketing Platform for serving personalized ads in the EU/EEA and UK, you need to review the way you obtain and signal consent from end users. A Google-certified CMP like Usercentrics CMP for web and mobile apps can help you obtain and manage valid user consent, and it integrates seamlessly with Google Ads.


In November 2023, Google announced an update to Google Consent Mode. Advertisers must ensure that Google advertising products are properly configured to respond to consent signals from users, obtained via a consent management platform, enabling continued data collection in a compliant manner.

Educating users


Providing users with clear notifications about data sharing and compelling information about its value can improve consent rates and help ensure a positive user experience.

How to minimize the impact of potential data loss from CMP implementation and maximize conversions

To minimize the potential impact of losing data from Consent Management Platform (CMP) implementation, Google advises adopting privacy-safe methodologies for measurement, like conversion modeling, which uses machine learning to estimate conversions.


Advertisers should also leverage first-party data, contextual targeting, and privacy-centric machine learning models. By focusing on these areas, they can maximize conversions while respecting user privacy and compliance requirements.

Google’s updates to Consent Mode offer advertisers a sophisticated tool to navigate the new consent requirements without losing valuable data.


Consent Mode enables adaptive strategies for data collection that respect user consent.

  • Dynamic data collection adjustment: Google’s tags can dynamically adjust their operation based on the user consent provided, ensuring that advertisers can maximize data collection within the boundaries of user preferences.
  • Innovative conversion modeling techniques: For users who do not consent to full tracking, Consent Mode employs statistical methods to estimate conversions, enabling advertisers to maintain insights into campaign performance.

While consent banners may result in reduced data collection, there are strategies to mitigate this impact and continue to derive valuable insights from your campaigns.


Adapting to the reduction in data requires a proactive and informed approach.

1. Adopting privacy-first technologies


Usercentrics’ server-side tracking and other privacy-first technologies enable advertisers to collect and use data in a responsible and compliant manner.


Transparent communication about the benefits of data sharing can lead to higher consent rates. Users are more likely to share their data when they understand the value proposition and personal benefits.


A well-designed consent experience with a focus on user interface and user experience best practices can significantly improve user interactions and potentially increase the rate of consent, thus preserving the flow of valuable user data.

Advanced data collection with Usercentrics

Usercentrics provides a suite of consent and preference management solutions that enhance privacy while enabling effective data collection.

  • Prioritizing user privacy: Usercentrics’ technology is built with privacy as a core value, helping ensure that advertisers can collect data in a manner that respects user rights and complies with regulations.
  • Server-side tracking: Usercentrics’ server-side tracking reduces the reliance on third-party cookies and provides a more secure and privacy-compliant way to gather user data.
  • Universal consent: Collect, centralize, and activate zero-party user data, consent and preferences, giving your website and app users full control over their marketing permissions to deliver truly personalized brand experiences.

Embracing privacy-centric tools for ad measurement

Google offers a range of tools designed to help advertisers measure campaign performance while navigating the evolving privacy landscape and the gradual phasing out of third-party cookies.


Advertisers can use these tools to maintain campaign effectiveness in a privacy-first environment.

Advanced conversion modeling


Google Consent Mode’s conversion modeling provides advertisers with estimated conversion data, helping to compensate for any decrease in full tracking data from users who decline consent.

Improved measurement capabilities


Enhanced measurement accuracy enables a deeper understanding of campaign performance, enabling better decision-making and optimization efforts.

Adopting new tracking paradigms


As the advertising industry moves away from reliance on third-party cookies, adopting new tracking technologies such as server-side tagging helps advertisers stay competitive and privacy-compliant.

Unlock consent-driven marketing opportunities with Usercentrics Web and App CMP and Google Consent Mode v2

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How can I ensure Google ads personalization is privacy-compliant and effective?

Google ads personalization can be both compliant with privacy regulations and effective by integrating a Consent Management Platform (CMP) such as Usercentrics CMP. This helps you to ensure that user consents are managed properly and that data collection practices are adjusted accordingly. Google Consent Mode can then be configured to adapt tracking based on the level of consent obtained, allowing personalized ads to be delivered to users who have consented while maintaining privacy for those who have not.

What is the EU user consent policy in Google Ads?

Google’s EU user consent policy requires advertisers to obtain explicit consent from users within the European Union, European Economic Area, and the UK before collecting personal data using cookies or similar technologies for advertising and analytics purposes. This policy aligns with the GDPR and other regional data protection laws by ensuring that users are informed about and have control over their personal data usage.

What is Google's Additional Consent Mode?

Google’s Additional Consent Mode is an extension of Consent Mode that enables advertisers to request additional consents beyond what is managed by Google’s default settings. This is particularly useful for cookies and tracking technologies that require separate consent, such as those used by third-party ad tech providers. Additional Consent Mode helps advertisers maintain compliance with specific consent requirements and provides users with more granular control over their data.

What is the new Google Consent Mode?

The new Google Consent Mode (v2) is an updated tool that enables organizations to adjust the behavior of their Google tags based on the consent status of their users, thus ensuring compliance with data privacy laws like GDPR and ePrivacy Directive. The updates include additional consent signals ad_user_data and ad_personalization, which enable more granular control over how user data is used for advertising purposes, as well as modes like Basic and Advanced Consent Mode, which dictate how data is collected based on user consent. The latest version of Consent Mode also enables signaling user consent information to Google, a requirement now in Europe.

What steps are involved in activating Google Consent Mode?

Activating Google Consent Mode involves configuring Google Ads and Google Analytics GDPR settings to recognize and respect user consent signals. This typically requires integration with a Consent Management Platform (CMP) to collect and manage user consents and ensure that Google services respond appropriately. Advertisers need to verify the correct integration of Consent Mode with their CMP to ensure that data collection and processing practices are aligned with user consent preferences.

How can I confirm the implementation of Google Consent Mode?

To confirm the implementation of Consent Mode, advertisers can conduct an audit of their Google Ads and Analytics setups to ensure that consent signals from the CMP are being correctly interpreted. Google provides diagnostic tools and reports that can help verify the functionality of Consent Mode and the proper collection of consent-based data.

Is the use of Google Consent Mode a legal requirement?

While the use of Google Consent Mode is not a legal requirement, it is a best practice for advertisers who wish to align with the requirements of the GDPR and other privacy regulations. Use of Consent Mode is a requirement of Google for advertisers in the EU/EEA and UK that collect personal data. Consent Mode provides a structured approach to adjust data collection and processing based on user consent, helping advertisers respect privacy while still accessing valuable data for advertising and analytics.

Does Google Consent Mode align with GDPR standards?

Google Consent Mode is designed to support GDPR compliance by enabling advertisers to customize their data collection practices based on the consent provided by users. This aligns with the GDPR’s emphasis on informed consent and user control over personal data processing, helping to ensure that advertisers can continue to operate within the legal framework of privacy regulations.

What impact does Google Consent Mode have on Google Ads data?

Google Consent Mode impacts Google Ads data by enabling advertisers to continue collecting essential analytics and conversion data in a way that respects user consent. When users do not consent to certain types of tracking, Consent Mode employs conversion modeling to estimate conversions based on aggregated and anonymized data. This helps advertisers understand campaign performance and make data-driven decisions without relying on full tracking.

What are the key benefits of using Google Consent Mode?

The key benefits of using Consent Mode include the ability to maintain data-driven advertising strategies while respecting user privacy choices. Consent Mode helps advertisers collect analytics and conversion data in a privacy-compliant manner, providing insights that inform optimization efforts. It also allows for continued personalization and measurement of ad campaigns, ensuring that performance metrics remain robust alongside the privacy-centric shift in data collection practices.

What are Google third-party cookies and how do they relate to Google Consent Mode and Google Ads?

Google third-party cookies are small files typically activated on a website that collect various types of data but are stored by a third party, in this case, Google. They are commonly used for tracking user behavior on and across different websites for purposes such as targeted advertising. When Google Consent Mode is implemented, it changes the behavior of third-party tags that create or read cookies, such as those for Google Ads and Google Analytics. This means that the traditional reliance on third-party cookies for tracking user behavior and targeted advertising has been reshaped as advertisers can now adjust tag behavior based on user consent choices. Digital marketing is moving away from reliance on volumes of imprecise, unconsented data to more sophisticated and privacy-compliant strategies and tools.

How does Google Chrome handle third-party cookies and what impact does this have on online advertising?

Google Chrome has initiated a phased approach to restrict the use of and eventually deprecate third-party cookies. This started with 1% of Chrome users as of January 4, 2024, and is planned to gradually lead to 100% of users by the end of 2024 The Privacy Sandbox initiative, introduced by Google, aims to reduce cross-site tracking while preserving essential functionality, despite challenges posed by the deprecation of third-party cookies in areas such as sign-in, fraud protection and advertising.

Eike Paulat
Product director at Usercentrics
Strategy | Leadership | Privacy

Eike Paulat is Director of Product at Usercentrics, based in Denmark. As a passionate product leader focused on customer-centric innovation, he’s been instrumental in pioneering the privacy tech market. Spearheading our Google Consent Management Platform (CMP) Partnership, he’s also Usercentrics’ primary liaison for Google service integrations and privacy developments.

Eike’s unique blend of tech-savviness, clear product vision, and unwavering commitment to positive impact doesn’t only contribute to building great products but also makes working alongside him a thrilling experience, whether you’re part of his team, a tech partner or customer.

Connect with Eike for insights on privacy tech innovations and leadership in product development.

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