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[GA4] Enhanced conversions and Protected Audience API

Published
Dec 27, 2023

Google recently revealed that Enhanced Conversions, previously an exclusive feature for Google Ads, will now be integrated into Google Analytics 4. This move is a part of Google's broader initiative to roll out the Protected Audiences API. The incorporation of these features into GA4 is a significant step, as it will enable businesses to maintain connections with their customers in a post-third-party cookie era.

As we explore these features, we will uncover the benefits they bring and the implications they have for the future of digital marketing and analytics.

What are Enhanced Conversions and how to use them

Enhanced Conversions are designed to improve the accuracy and comprehensiveness of conversion tracking. This allows you to collect first-party data from your website (such as names, phone numbers, and email addresses) and send it in an encrypted format using the hashing algorithm. 

For example, a user clicks on your ad, visits your site, and provides their email address. Even if they don't complete a purchase immediately but do so later, the hashed email address provided during the order confirmation allows Google to link the conversion back to the original ad click. It’s also effective in cases where a user might interact with your ad and website using different devices or email accounts, as Google can use other identifiers like phone numbers to link these interactions.

The advantages:

  • The collection of first-party data (like email addresses, phone numbers, etc.) provided by users on your site. This data is encrypted and sent to GA4, ensuring compliance with privacy laws. You don’t have to depend on third-party cookies.
  • Enhanced conversions allow GA4 to match user interactions on your website with their Google accounts, thereby enabling more precise conversion attribution.
  • With the help of Google accounts, GA4 can better understand and attribute conversions that occur across different devices and sessions.
  • While Enhanced Conversions originated in Google Ads, their integration into GA4 signifies a more unified and comprehensive approach to tracking conversions across Google's platforms. This integration allows for a seamless flow of conversion data between GA4 and Google Ads.

Implementing Enhanced Conversions in Google Analytics 4

1. Open your GA4 property and on the left click on “Admin”.  Go to “Data Streams”.

ga4 property data streams stape

2. Choose your web data stream and scroll down to “Google tag”. Then click on “Configure tag settings”.

configure tag settings in ga4 property stape

3. Scroll down to “Allow user-provided data capabilities”.

Allow user-provided data capabilities in ga4 stape

4. Toggle on the “Automatically detect user-provided data”. 

5. (Recommendation). Always be mindful of privacy laws and regulations like GDPR or CCPA. Make sure you have consent from users to collect and use their data, especially for Enhanced Conversions.

6. (Recommendation for linking GA4 with Google Ads). Link your GA4 property with your Google Ads account to leverage Enhanced Conversion data in your ad campaigns.

For detailed guidance and information, you can refer to the full article on the Google Analytics Help page here.

What is Protected Audience API

The Protected Audiences API introduces a new method of audience targeting and data protection. It ensures that audience targeting is not only effective but also compliant with the increasing global data privacy regulations. 

Key features:

  • Browsers can store interest groups, which are categories of users based on their interests. This data is stored directly in the user's browser, rather than on external servers, enhancing privacy.
  • Browsers can conduct on-device auctions. This means that the decision about which ads to display is made locally on the user’s device, based on the stored interest groups, without needing to track the user’s behavior across different websites.
  • The API supports a form of ad rendering that occurs in a controlled environment known as Fenced Frames. This approach isolates the ad from the rest of the webpage content, further ensuring user privacy and preventing any potential data leakage.
  • Retrieval of real-time information. This can be used by both advertisers and publishers for various purposes, such as real-time budget calculation or ensuring policy compliance.
  • Browsers can remember which ad a user is interested in, based on their past web activity, without the need for cross-site tracking or reliance on third-party cookies.

How Protected Audience API can be used

For example, a user visits an online clothing store and shows interest in a particular style of jackets but doesn't make a purchase. Later, when the user browses the internet, the Protected Audience API can enable the browser to display ads from that clothing store, specifically highlighting jackets or related items, without relying on third-party cookies.

Or here’s another use case: a user researches flights and hotels in a specific destination but doesn't book immediately. The Protected Audience API could later facilitate the display of ads for travel deals or hotel offers in that destination while the user is browsing other websites. This approach would be based on the user's demonstrated interest but done in a way that respects their privacy and avoids cross-site tracking.

Basically it works like this:

  • User interacts with the site that wants to advertise its products.
  • Browser joins an interest group.
  • User visits other sites that display ads.
  • Ad auction is run on the user's device. The most desirable ad based on seller code is chosen.
  • Winning ad is displayed.
  • The results about the auction outcome are reported. 

And if you're looking for specific API methods and parameters:

Conclusion

Take advantage of Enhanced Conversions and Protected Audience API, and use the first-party data while adhering to privacy norms. In this blog post, we’ve discussed how they can enhance conversion data accuracy, refine bid and budget management, and overall optimize your ad campaigns. 

For assistance in setting up server-side tracking and to stay ahead in the evolving online advertising landscape in 2024 and beyond, feel free to reach out to us for expert guidance.

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