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Google Analytics: modeling user behavior post cookies

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Operating systems and browsers are continuing to adapt for a world where cookies are no longer the primary form of behavior tracking and retargeting.  Although users can still opt-in to tracking cookies on-site, we are seeing this translate into an incredibly small minority of users. Re-targeting data pools are dwindling and optimizing activity to on-site conversions has become a real challenge.  For B2B the ramifications are huge, as we seek to re-engage multiple decision-makers across substantial buyer journeys.

Google, being one of the leading technology providers in the world of course, is setting both limits and benchmarks for what can be achieved in this new reality – not least with it’s Privacy Sandbox.  Google plan to continue to create more private approaches to key areas, including ad measurement, delivering relevant ads and content, and fraud detection. Chrome is now looking to phase out third-party cookies over a three month period, starting in mid-2023 and ending in late 2023.

But Google is not just looking at its browsers. Google Analytics has long been a popular part of the measurement stack, with companies relying on it for insights on user behavior and conversion. Google are leveraging machine learning to build new capabilities into the platform, alerting users to optimizations for their campaign performance and now modelling user behavior when cookies are not available.  

“The principles we outlined to drive our measurement roadmap are based on shifting consumer expectations and ecosystem paradigms. Bottom line: The future is consented. It’s modelled. It’s first-party. So that’s what we’re using as our guide for the next gen of our products and solutions.”

Publishers first party data is increasing in value, as brands and agencies lean on their behavioral knowledge to prioritize and optimize campaigns – and Google has a wealth of this.  They are designing methods to work with “consented data” and are improving integrations with tools like Google Tag Manager. Google Consent Mode allows you to adjust how your Google tags behave based on the consent status of your users, particularly in EMEA. You can indicate whether consent has been granted for Analytics and Ads cookies. Google’s tags will dynamically adapt, only utilizing measurement tools for the specified purposes when consent has been given by the user.

Now, Consent Mode will enable conversion modeling to recover the attribution between ad-click events and conversions measured in Google Ads. Google reports early results from Google Ads have shown that, on average, conversion modeling through Consent Mode recovers more than 70% of ad-click-to-conversion journeys lost due to user cookie consent choices. A bold but welcome claim.

As brands consistently re-evaluate their tech stack looking for their source of truth for measurement, developments in GA will have a vital role to play. We welcome this evolution, and look forward to the results these betas will bring.

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