Google Analytics: Consent Mode VS Demographic Data

September 29, 2021 - Written by

I don’t know if you noticed it, but from 15/09 socio-demographic data such as age, gender, interests, etc. are in constant free fall in Universal Analytics reports, while they are completely absent in GA4.

What is the reason for the drop in data?

Simple: we must refer to what is reported in the official guides of Google Consent Mode!

Google Consent Mode

For those who have never dealt with the topic, Consent Mode is a “variable-status” that is modified according to whether or not the user accepts cookies.

It connects in “semi-automatic mode” with the main platforms of CMP (Cookie Manage Platform) and it is directly integrated into the tags inside GTM. At the moment it mainly involves Google Ads (remarketing and conversions), Conversion Linker, Floodlight and Google Analytics.

So how do they affect demographic data?

Google Analytics socio-demographic data derive from third-party Doubleclick cookies for the web and from IDFA for app. Basically we are talking about Google Signals.

We are therefore in the presence of “third party elements” to which, in addition to fire the activation from the Analytics panel, the user must give explicit consent to generate the required tracking.

Consent Mode and Demographic Data

As reported above, the user must therefore give explicit consent to the tracking and this translates into the following Google Consent Mode variables: ad_storage, analytics_storage and, in the case of TCF (Transparency and Consent Framework of IAB) allow_google_signals.

Starting from the latter, it can assume the values ​​true or false: if it is true, no Google Signals data will be used by Google Analytics, vice versa, in the case of false, the Google Signals data will populate the various Google Analytics reports.

ad_storage and analytics_storage

In this case the activation possibilities are slightly different, based on the combination that can be “granted” or “denied”.

Let’s try to visualize the two main cases using two lookup tables.

Case 1) The user accepts all types of cookies proposed

ad_storage=’granted’ and analytics_storage=’granted’

WebMobile apps
Cookies pertaining to advertising may be read and written.
IP addresses are collected.


The full web page URL, including ad-click information in URL parameters (e.g., GCLID / DCLID) is collected.

Third-party web cookies previously set on google.com and doubleclick.net, and first-party conversion cookies (e.g., _gcl_*) are accessible.
Advertising identifiers (e.g., Advertising ID / IDFA) may be collected.

The app-instance ID generated by the Google Analytics for Firebase SDK is collected.

Case 2) The user does not accept advertising cookies

ad_storage=’denied’

WebMobile apps
No new cookies pertaining to advertising may be written.

No existing first-party advertising cookies may be read.

Requests are sent through a different domain to avoid previously set third-party cookies from being sent in request headers.

Google Analytics will not read or write Google Ads cookies, and Google signals features will not accumulate data for this traffic.

Full page URL is collected, may include ad-click information in URL parameters (e.g., GCLID / DCLID).
Ad-click information will only be used to approximate accurate traffic measurement.

IP addresses are used to derive IP country, but are never logged by our Google Ads and Floodlight systems and are immediately deleted upon collection.
No Advertising ID, IDFA, or IDFV may be collected.

Google Signals features will not accumulate data for this traffic.

IP addresses are used to derive IP country, but are never logged by our Google Ads and Floodlight systems and are immediately deleted upon collection.

The same indications relating to Google Signals also apply in the case of use of ads_data_redaction: true.

Obviously, if the user denies consent to the Analytics tracking (analytics_storage: denied) no data will be uploaded to Google Analytics.

This loss of data certainly represents an excellent opportunity to start working on Consent Mode, especially in terms of GA4 and Google Ads, thanks also to the machine learning implied by the two tools!

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