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Is user data truly protected in the Google Analytics universe?

Is user data truly protected in the Google Analytics universe

30-second summary:

  • Fair data collection is when folks are ready to share segments of these digital selves without offering the complete picture
  • Googles data empire appears to backfire on its presence in Europe as Italy joined France and Austria in ruling that Google Analytics is overstepping boundaries
  • Whispers soon became shouts once the Italian Data Protection Authority (DPA) discovered that Google wasnt actually doing enough to mask these IP addresses, meaning users could possibly be easily identified
  • What impact will this have on the SEO industry and can more countries join this revolt?

Think about your web data like bits of a jigsaw. All assembled, these create a superior picture of you your Ip, interests, name, and so forth. Look at a couple of pieces at the same time though, and you also cant get much as a result.

This is exactly what is known as fair data collection. Youre ready to share segments of yourself, however, not the complete picture.

GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is partly about making certain businesses like Google dont get enough individual pieces to start to see the whole of you. That is also why their Analytics service gets some bad press right now, particularly in Europe.

The service can be used to track both quantitative and qualitative information regarding people on an internet site, such as just how many active users you can find and what their gender could be. Financial information like revenue or advertising ROI can be available if highly relevant to your site. With regards to user data, there isn’t enough to recognize someone specifically, but there’s enough to greatly help businesses understand their demographics.

However, Italy recently joined France and Austria in ruling that Google Analytics is overstepping the boundaries of fair collection and breaching GDPR rules.

While Google does anonymize data to a certain degree, there have been always whispers that the IP addresses of users were easy to get at. These whispers soon became shouts once the Italian Data Protection Authority (DPA) discovered that Google wasnt actually doing enough to mask these IP addresses, meaning users could possibly be easily identified.

At this time, the empire of technology theyve built is nearly working contrary to the search giant. If they collect so much data, those jigsaw pieces begin to accumulate quickly so when they have all of the tools to place the jigsaw together, thats when countries like Italy need to put their foot down.

The argument of Italy, and soon to be a great many other regions, is that Google simply has an excessive amount of information that isnt masked properly. That is far beyond the normal fingerprints, people leave because they make an online search. Because the data applied to Google Analytics must travel through servers on American soil, in addition they consider this an additional violation citing the 2020 Schrems II ruling specifically.

Plenty of questions still remain. How will this affect the SEO industry in these countries? With GA4 still a good way off, should companies set up another solution? Which other countries will observe suit Japan, California, or any EU country?

Ive teamed up with Laura from Ruler Analytics to create you some tips and facts to assist you both understand, and cope with, whats going on.

Proceed to GA4, the earlier the higher

Google Analytics is defined for change. By July 2023, Universal Analytics won’t be available. Just what Google Analytics 4 will finally appear to be is uncertain at this time.

But what we can say for certain is you’ll want to develop a GA4 account eventually.

By configuring it now, youll have the historic data you have to apply new tools and features too down the road.

Remember, Google Analytics 4 is only going to give you data retention for 14 months. Establishing GA4 now and learning how exactly to utilize the platform can pay dividends later on and keep you prepared for the change.

Despite the fact that the cookie death is in 2024, move away now

Spend money on first-party cookies. Once we saw with iOS 14.5, advertisers like Google and Facebook are hugely impacted with regards to data tracking with third-party cookies.

First-party cookies are cookies that you possess, that go on your site. The info you collect and create can be your own. So you have unbiased data that cant be removed at a whims notice.

Data autonomy, while still respecting GDPR rules, is completely paramount for marketers.

Manage the trust of one’s customers but additionally collect the info you have to create personalized, trackable customer journeys.

After the cornerstone of pay for traffic, third-party cookies will be redundant with platforms like Facebook and Google scrambling to produce a replacement that still works for his or her advertising models.

Stop counting on Google Analytics for a lot more than web analytics

Google Analytics is really a web analytics platform. And an extremely good one at that too.

What Google Analytics isn’t, is really a visitor-level revenue analytics tool.

Which means you cant access data like:

  • Individual full customer journeys
  • Accurate marketing source
  • Closed revenue or pipeline generation

But as Google is continually viewed unfavorably from the data protection standpoint, its likely that people might see more countries fight it.

To get ready for this, you should sort your computer data.

Consider the tools youre currently using and how you may make your tools work smarter for you personally.

Google Analytics will still be an excellent tool for understanding your site analytics. Although it might see tighter restrictions on the info it uses and shares, you need to still access general website metrics. So, with regards to accurately track users from your own website and connecting them to closed leads and revenue, you have to be looking elsewhere.

Marketing attribution is one particular tool which will help. It uses first-party cookies on your own website meaning you have total autonomy over your computer data.

Summary

To summary, another steps are obvious. How exactly we use data is changing. And much more importantly, how tech giants like Google are increasingly being regulated on data is changing aswell.

To obtain before it, create a Google Analytics 4 account first of all. Next, look at what data youre collecting and how youre collecting it. Revaluate your data-capturing journey and practices.

In case you are tracking data like lead conversions, or crave more insight on touchpoint data, you then have to reevaluate your marketing tech stack.

Be ready for the truth that you may lose insight into website visitor data and begin searching for alternatives to ensure you keep up to feed your tools the info they want.


Matthew Rogers is Head of Campaign Management at the very top Manchester-based digital market agency Add People and contains over 14 years of marketing experience. It is possible to follow him on LinkedIn here. He could be also a long-standing person in the Click Z Collective Advisory Board.

Laura Caveney is Head of Marketing at Ruler Analytics.Laura has over 6 years of experience in delivering end-to-end marketing campaigns and discusses the trials and tribulations marketers face daily on her behalf LinkedIn channel.

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