Adopting consent-based analytics for long-term marketing success

Practical insights for implementing consent seamlessly in your digital analytics strategy amid evolving privacy laws and user expectations.

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It’s important to start monitoring consent management as part of your digital analytics strategy. Apart from the EU, various privacy laws in the U.S., Canada, UK, Australia and other regions require notifying users about using cookies at least in your privacy policy or through an opt-out banner if any personal information is being collected.

Users are becoming increasingly aware of their privacy rights, opting out of tracking cookies more than ever (call it the fear of being stalked). Without a robust consent mechanism allowing people to accept analytics cookies, you risk losing valuable insights into user behavior. The repercussions? Major players like Adobe and Google won’t accept event data without consent. It’s time to act.

Choosing the correct tools

Implementing consent doesn’t have to be scary. Finding a third-party tool that aligns with your content management system isn’t hard. From WordPress to Shopify, there’s a solution out there for you. But don’t just settle — ensure seamless integration with your analytics tool for maximum efficiency.

Take the time to research and find the tool that is the right fit for your needs. Make sure it integrates with your analytics solution. Some are compatible with Google Analytics and Adobe, while others are designed to work with only one. If you’re using a different analytics tool, consult your provider for help.

Remember, while some options are free, most come with a price tag. Fees vary widely depending on factors like the number of pages on your site, the number of domains (including subdomains) and the traffic volume. Consider additional factors like ongoing support when making your decision. After all, investing in the right tool now can save you headaches down the road.

Dig deeper: How consent management platforms support data privacy compliance

Implementation considerations

An implementation plan is a must. Consider the user’s choices regarding which cookies they’ll accept. Within your tag management system, ensure that it correctly reads the user’s consent choices. Define which events can be tracked with your analytics management platform.

For example, if the user opts out of marketing cookies, you cannot execute any tracking pixel code scripts provided by your ad platform (Google Ads, Meta, etc.). You cannot use conversion pixels, as they report user activity to these third-party ad platforms.

If you’re not sure about getting permission from users because you don’t think it’s necessary, consider this: Nowadays, many users are blocking cookies, so can you really trust the data you get from analytics? 

For example, with Google Analytics 4, if you properly set up V2 Consent and your website gets enough visitors, your data might be improved with a feature called Data Modeling (but users have to choose this in their settings). This means Google Analytics attempts to fill in the blanks of user activity on your site (excluding transactional data and some other elements) with modeled data.

Dig deeper: 3 privacy-centric solutions for marketing compliance

Addressing concerns and misconceptions

Implementing consent may seem daunting, especially if you’re worried about losing some analytics data and how accurate your reports will be. Yet, it is a step toward a more transparent and trustworthy relationship with your users. 

Worried about data accuracy? Consider this: even with a slight drop in precision, your analytics data remains a powerful tool for informed decision-making

First, consider how precise your data was before implementing consent. No single third-party analytics software is 100% precise. Yet, most businesses have been treating this data as if they are.

How many times have you tried to reconcile the data reported by your ad platform for ad clicks with those recorded and reported in your digital analytics software? Have you ever reconciled these numbers to 100%? The answer is no.

Analytics data has always been a sample of data with various calculations applied to provide you with insights into user behavior. Typically, for the past 15 years or so (since the general rollout of analytics cookies), the data sample rate has ranged from 90-98% (generally accepted by the industry). At the low end of 90%, this equates to the data being accurate within 0.5% 19 times out of 20.

If you’re concerned about this drop in accuracy, think about it like this: U.S. Presidential polls sample a fraction (between 700 and 3,000 out of 161 million) of eligible voters, yet they drive major policy decisions with an accuracy of +/- 5% nine times out of 10. With a significantly greater accuracy of your analytics data and despite the slight drop in accuracy, analytics data is still an extremely valuable and remains a powerful tool for informed decision-making.

Our research found no more than 10% opt out of cookies and it’s usually less than 5%. This means 80% to 90% of all site users still accept the analytics cookie (tracking). This lower sample size means an error rate of less than 1% 19 times out of 20. Previously, the error rate was no more than 0.5%. So the difference is minimal.

Implement a robust consent option for your users. This choice has minimal negative impact and opens the door to exciting potential benefits, such as GA4 and advanced data modeling.

It’s time to take action. Start developing a rollout plan for implementing consent today before legislation forces your hand. 


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Alan K'necht
Alan K'necht an independent SEO, social and analytics consultant, a public speaker, award-winning author and a corporate trainer (SEO, social media marketing and digital analytics).

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