New privacy policies like GDPR, California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and the forthcoming removal of third-party cookies make it increasingly challenging to track consumers' activity across multiple devices.

To counteract this, platforms are starting to use first-party customer data to track performance. With this approach it’s possible to pinpoint the ad that captured someone’s attention, regardless of the device they were using at the time.

Facebook has been using this technology for some time with its Advanced Matching feature. And now, Google is catching on and has decided to launch its own technology - Enhanced Conversions - which promises to bridge the gap between privacy concerns with improved conversion data.

What is Google Enhanced Conversions?

Google's answer to Facebook’s "Advanced Matching" is called "Enhanced Conversions". At the time of writing the feature is in beta and available across some accounts.

Like Facebook's solution, Enhanced Conversions allows Google Ads to insert customer data from a conversion action and then match that data back to ads viewed through other devices.

In Google’s own words...

“Enhanced Conversions is a feature that can improve the accuracy of your conversion measurement. It supplements your existing conversion tags by sending hashed first-party conversion data from your website to Google in a privacy-safe way.”

How Does Google Enhanced Conversions Work?

The best way to demonstrate how Google Enhanced Conversions works is with an example...

1. Matt searched for a new skateboard using his business laptop and he clicked on the ad but didn't purchase it right away.

2. Later, using his smartphone and logged into his personal email address, Matt goes back to the skate shop's website and purchases the board. Matt inserts his first-party data during the checkout process to complete the purchase (email, shipping address, and phone number), which is then sent to Google.

3. Even though Matt initially used his business email to do his research, he also used his smartphone as an authenticator, allowing Google to match his purchase phone number with his business email.

4. Google's new Enhanced Conversions creates a profile of Matt as a consumer from first-party data alone.

    Without Enhanced Conversions, the product purchase may not have been attributed by Google to the first ad Matt clicked on earlier.

    However, with Enhanced Conversions enabled, Matt's first-party data will be shared with Google Ads, allowing Google to match Matt's information to known clicks on ads and more effectively attribute his purchase to the related campaigns.

    And yes, the example above may sound like something from a cybercrime movie. However, Google states that its data encryption method (SHA-256) ensures that only Google will have access to a customer’s data, and even then, users can control how Google uses their data.

    What are the Benefits of Google Enhanced Conversions?

    Essentially, what Google is asking you to do is to give back the information you’ve acquired through a successful conversion. This will allow Google to store this information, and use it for more advanced customer matching and provide greater accuracy with client prospecting.

    By using Enhanced Conversions we are expecting to see vast improvements in three key areas:

    Return of Investment (ROI)

    One of the main reasons why you would opt to track conversion rate is to see if the money you are spending on your ads is worth the price.

    Google’s advanced tracking should provide further detail on which ads have the greatest ROI. And this will enable you to make better-informed decisions based on your advertising spend for future campaigns.

    Smart Bidding

    Google’s Enhanced Conversion technology will, in theory, allow you to further utilise other Smart Bidding strategies.

    This flexibility can help you automatically optimise your ad campaigns in accordance with your conversion goals.

    By using Smart Bidding, you will also have access to transparent reporting and status updates. So, you can gain a true understanding of how your bidding strategies are performing.

    Customer Journey Mapping

    Our example above has already proven this point, but we felt it needed repeating. This advancement will provide a clearer and more detailed image of the path your customers take before converting.

    You’ll be able to see how each user behaved across different devices and/or browsers, even when they use different email addresses or logins.

    How to Set Up Google Enhanced Conversions

    There are two ways you can set up Enhanced Conversion Tracking for your Google Ads:

    • Via Google Tag Manager: If you currently use Google Tag Manager for conversion tracking, then you can manually set up enhanced conversions in Tag Manager. This may cause a few minor changes to your ad campaign structure. So, make sure you check your ad campaign after Enhanced Conversions are installed.

      • Via the global site tag: For those of you who currently use conversion tracking via Google’s global site tag, and not within a third-party tool or iFrame, you can also set up Enhanced Conversions manually.

      Final Thoughts

      First-party data is more valuable than ever before. Big players like Google and Facebook are examining new areas in data privacy with tools such as Enhanced Conversions. It’s tools like this that can help you gain first-party data in this new privacy-led digital world.

      And while it’s still in beta, Google’s Enhanced Conversions tracking technology could become the new essential tool you need to measure the success of your ad campaigns.