October 17, 2020
Advertising Features significantly increase functionality in GA and are necessary if you want to have the opportunity to remarket your website visitors using Google Analytics data. The main advantages of these Advertising Features are as follows:
Previously, users had to enable Advertising Features separately in the Admin section of Google Analytics. However, now, if you allow Google Signals, Advertising Features are enabled as well.
Please note that GDPR, CCPA and other similar regulatory acts have changed a lot in terms of the practice of using Advertising Features in Google Analytics. Some restrictions have emerged which pay more attention to personal data and privacy. The main one of these is the obligation to get a user's consent when using their sensitive data. This and other requirements are listed in a separate Google Analytics help article:
You will not identify users or facilitate the merging of personally identifiable information with non-personally identifiable information collected through any Google advertising product or feature unless you have robust notice of, and the user's prior affirmative (i.e., opt-in) consent to, that identification or merger, and are using a Google Analytics feature that expressly supports such identification or merger. Irrespective of users' consent, you must not attempt to disaggregate data that Google reports in aggregate.
Therefore, the currently recommended way of using Advertising Features is to keep them enabled only for those users who give their explicit consent. So, silently keeping Google Signals enabled isn't an option today. One of the options to disable Advertising Features is to turn them off in Google Tag Manager. This can be done using the following settings:
This setting will override the property settings enabled in the Google Analytics UI.
It is also possible to set the Advertising Features in Google Tag Manager dynamically and enable them only when consent is received from a user.
In the example above, we keep AllowAdfeatures set to false unless the user's consent is received and passed with a cookie.
Please note that other ways to disable Advertising Features exist other than Google Tag Manager, but I would say that doing it in GTM is preferable and the most convenient method.