You’re a mean one, Mr Google - analytics in ’24

Written by Adrian Grigore

My favourite professional joke is that 10% of my job is looking at loading screen, 10% actual work and 80% giving people bad news.

Welcome to the 80%, let’s get sad together.

2024 comes with impactful changes to (mostly) Google-related products. The most important ones are as follows:

Consent Management Changes

  • Cause: Google Update

Sensitive Data auto-capture

  • Cause: Google Update

Privacy Sandbox

  • Cause: Google Update

Google Signals kept back from reports

  • Cause: Google Update

Anti-tracking tech trends

  • Cause: Privacy-first software & hardware vendors

Why you should care: The combined effect of the above is less visibility over what’s happening on your website and (potentially) GDPR breaches (and their associated penalties). These problems are not without solutions, but their fixes are time-sensitive.

Read on for the full-fat article.


Consent Mode - What is it?

Without getting too technical, it's a way of telling different pixels & tracking systems how to behave depending on user cookie preferences. If you need a more in-depth take on what Consent Mode is, Brian Clifton’s article is a great read.

High Level View

Google will be adding 2 new consent signals (ad_user_data & ad_personalization) -- without both of these enabled, no remarketing and ad data can be collected/ processed by Google products; other vendors may follow suit.

Consent management is otherwise handled as before, in 2 ways:

  • Basic Consent Mode --> No consent, No tracking

  • Advanced Consent Mode --> No consent, Some tracking (through 'cookieless pings')

Deeper Dive and Recommendations

Moreover, as per the video linked above, with Basic Consent Mode, tools that do both Tracking & Audience generation (e.g.: GA4) seem to need all 4 signals set to "allowed" to function. This means that if a user objects to at least 1 of 4 (ad_storage, analytics_storage, ad_user_data, or ad_personalization), tools such as GA4 should not be allowed to run.

Advanced Consent Mode is known to be in a gray area from a GDPR perspective, so Basic Consent should be the way to go for maximum GDPR compliance.

There is another effect on client data that will become more prevalent - data modelling. All Google Products already do some form of statistical/ ML modelling to estimate user counts and other metrics. This behaviour will be the new default with no option to opt out of it.

The new Consent Mode API will be available by the end of the month, but Google are known to release buggy software on launch day so my suggestion is to wait until January for the space to fully mature. Moreover, not all CMPs will have updated their own systems in due time, so implementing early would come at a higher cost and potentially slower pace than waiting it out for a bit. I strongly encourage advertisers to reach out to their CMP of choice and ask about when they plan to roll out these updates and when we can expect implementation docs to be available.

For those looking to switch CMPs, here's a list of Google-approved ones:

Consent Mode - Next Steps Checklist

  • Watch the webinar

  • Discuss your stance on Basic Consent vs Advanced Consent with your legal department

  • This will likely influence the implementation below

  • If legal opts for Basic Consent, you may wish to still capture session-level behaviour through some compliant tools (e.g. Piwik Pro). This should also be discussed with legal.

  • Reach out to existing CMP and ask about their plans

  • When they reply, assess the cost (time and material) for updating your setup; the Croc can assist with most if not all challenges from this stage onwards

  • Implement necessary updates

  • Test updates

  • Launch before Feb 2024

  • This should be the target deadline, since you want to be able to collect remarketing data for at least 2 weeks prior to the changes being enforced by all vendors. This is because any changes on their end may force users to re-consent.

Sensitive Data auto-capture

A recent announcement made it seem like Google Tag’s “user-provided data collection” option is going to be enabled by default. The feature aims to improve ad targeting, but it poses a significant GDPR risk.

Simo Ahava has a simple walk-through to disable this setting: . He’s more cautious in his recommendation, but we won’t be – disable this feature for as long as you’re discussing its impact with your legal team and only turn it back on when you have their blessing.

Privacy Sandbox

Google are planning to phase out third-party cookies out of Chrome and replace that functionality with what they call “Privacy Sandbox” ( The promise is to increase user privacy, but there has been a lot of backlash from industry professionals about the finer details of PS. Moreover, this gives Google complete control over what data ad platforms get.

Google Signals kept back from reports

Google Signals are data points associated with visitors who are logged into their Chrome Browser. This enables Google products to identify them across devices and browsers. For the past several years, Universal Analytics and GA4 could use this data to get a better understanding of what cross-device browsing looks like (to mediocre effects). It’s been announced that this data is not going to be available in reporting surfaces, but it will still be captured by Google – once again, Google will know more about your visitors than you. (

Anti-tracking trends

2023 has been rife with announcements from non-Advertising companies about their fight for privacy: iOS17 tracking parameter removal; Firefox joins Brave in opting out by default from tracking,

On the other end of the stick, Google has continued its war on adblockers with their extension Manifest V3 updates.

In the UK, the Information Commissioner has mandated that all Cookie Banners have a “Reject All Cookies” button clearly highlighted.

There are no quick fixes for the last 3 topics. Make the most of the slow start of the year and plan out what KPIs your decisions depend on, how impacted they are by the above and set realistic deadlines to implement changes.



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