Joe Pascoe is chief marketing officer at Victorian Plumbing, one of the U.K.’s leading e-commerce retailers in bathroom products. Here, he shares how the company is adapting its approach to Search advertising for a privacy-first web.
Paid search is the jewel in the crown of our growth marketing strategy. As the biggest investment the business makes towards driving revenue, it has helped us become one of the U.K.’s leading bathroom retailers, with an annual turnover of more than £285 million.
The continued success of our Search campaigns hinges on our ability to measure and understand the impact of every pound spent — but the phasing out of third-party cookies across browsers is making this significantly harder.
Plugging a gap in conversion data
Since bathrooms represent a significant and infrequent investment, our Search advertising primarily focused on acquiring sales from in-market customers. The more insights we can gain from how shoppers interact with our ads and website, the more effective and efficient our campaigns become.
However, with a number of users opting out of marketing and analytical cookies on our site, this left us with a substantial gap in our conversion data. Addressing this swiftly became a top priority to maintain the company's growth.
Our exploration led us to Google’s consent mode and enhanced conversions. Consent mode uses AI-based modelling to recover lost conversion data while respecting user privacy preferences. Enhanced conversions uses anonymised first-party conversion data to attribute conversions to specific ads, even when cookies are blocked.
How consent mode works
How enhanced conversions works
While we saw a strong opportunity to improve our campaign measurement, we had to create a robust business case to move forward. We needed to show stakeholders across the business how these tools could solve our data issues and improve our marketing performance while respecting people’s privacy choices.
Alignment brings success
We are fortunate at Victorian Plumbing that our legal team actively facilitates decision-making and business growth, rather than creating obstacles or unnecessary bureaucracy. They understand what our goals are — and the wider company — and what we need to get there. There is no secret sauce; it’s an effective partnership built on communication and agility.
We worked with our data protection officer (DPO) and Google to demonstrate to stakeholders how consent mode and enhanced conversions could help our existing measurement set-up while meeting stringent GDPR requirements.
This included a comprehensive review by our legal and data teams to ensure satisfaction with the product’s roles and our data handling methods. We also checked our user journeys, site functionality, and that we were using clear language to ensure no negative impact on the user experience.
Privacy isn't solely the preserve of our legal team; the entire business understands that responsible data handling is crucial for business growth. This alignment makes discussions about privacy easier. Following our thorough checks, we were given the green light for implementation.
Positive results in full flow
Having a consent management platform (CMP) and Google tags already in place meant the hard work was done. It was largely a matter of enabling consent mode and enhanced conversions on our site and Google Ads account to start seeing more conversion data.
Since its implementation, consent mode has led to a 12% uplift in modelled conversions, and correctly attributed millions in revenue to Search over a 10-month period.
We are now confident in our measurement capabilities: we can see precisely where our ad spend makes a difference and optimise accordingly while ensuring the highest possible protection for people’s data.
In the evolving landscape of ad privacy, all businesses — including ours — face similar challenges, such as regulatory shifts and browser changes. These external factors are beyond our control, but being prepared is the key to thriving and gaining an advantage. For Victorian Plumbing, this means ensuring that privacy and performance can co-exist — and utilising the right tools to achieve this goal.
3 takeaways for privacy-first marketing success:
- Marketing and legal collaboration is key. The closer these two teams can work together, the more readily a business can adapt to current and upcoming regulations. By working with our DPO and Google on this project, we were able to find the right solutions, build the business case, and optimise our search marketing strategies for a privacy-first web.
- Ad privacy is an iterative process. Delivering on both privacy and performance isn’t something that can be solved with a single tool or one-off strategy. Privacy is a continuous journey rather than a fixed destination — and solutions such as consent mode and enhanced conversions can play crucial roles.
- Privacy isn’t a choice. Compromising on privacy in response to fluctuating performance isn’t an option. However, a balance is achievable through the use of advanced technologies such as modelling, effective teamwork, and taking a proactive approach to change and challenges.