Much as been made recently about Facebook and User Data Protection. I personally don't watch the news, or really pay attention, as it's completely out of my control and if I spent time worrying about it or thinking about it I'd be far less efficient and effective as a worker.

Now, Google Analytics, on the other hand, has recently spent effort communicating to anyone who creates an account with them that they are agreeing to the terms set forth for GDPR, the new General Data Protection Regulation set to take place in Europe this May, replacing the 1995 EU Data Protection Directive.

Here's what you (a person responsible for control over your organization's Google Analytics account really needs to know about all of this).

1. Google Analytics has always been more about aggregating data, and not focusing at all on individual user data, thus making how we all use Google Analytics and how we see and access data within Google Analytics somewhat unscathed. In other words, I don't expect to see much change within the platform itself that effects us as marketers and analysts.

2. This basically means that all of these notifications, including the email you all likely received on April 11, telling you that Action is Required in your Google Analytics account, somewhat just Google covering their ass (which they should). Do you really need to do anything? Not really.

3. Now, when you set up a new Google Analytics account, you have to agree to the new shiny T&Cs Google put together for the GDPR (you'll see). Read them if you want, but generally they focus on the fact that specific user data has a period where it lives, before it gets deleted.

4. Data Retention Controls are really all you need to know about. You will also have to take action like I stated above, meaning you'll have to go into your Google Analytics account and select a time period for which their user retention data will be deleted or reset.The Google Analytics Data Retention controls give you the ability to set the amount of time before user-level and event-level data stored by Google Analytics is automatically deleted from Analytics’ servers. The retention period applies to user-level and event-level data associated with cookies, user-identifiers (e.g., User-ID) and advertising identifiers (e.g., DoubleClick cookies, Android’s Advertising ID, Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers). Aggregated data is not affected. This has traditionally been 30 days and has been reset by Google. This means that the data associated with stats like "New and Returning Users," stats related to events involving referral sources that include remarketing advertising using user cookie data need to be reset according to the new laws and Google is now ensuring it gets deleted but also putting it on each Analytics user to select the time period before deletion. To me, this feels like a win for everyone.

5. Here's how to perform the task Google is saying you have to perform...

  1. Sign in to Google Analytics..
  2. Click Admin, and navigate to the property you want to edit.
  3. In the PROPERTY column, click Tracking Info > Data Retention.
  4. User-data retention: select the retention period you want.
  5. Reset on new activity: turn the switch on or off.

My recommendation?

So I just went and did this for my web property, and read even more about it as I made my decision. I decided not to change anything, and I also decided that I can't even really think of a use case as to how this would apply to myself or any of my clients or partners. Thus, this is mainly just Google covering themselves against new laws.

Thanks for reading - and have a great day!

Paul Hickey has created and grown businesses via digital strategy and internet marketing for more than 10 years. His sweet spot is using analytics to design and build websites and grow the audience and revenue of businesses via SEO/Blogging, Google Adwords, Bing Ads, Facebook and Instagram Ads, Social Media Content Marketing and Email Marketing. The part that he’s most passionate about is quantifying next marketing actions based on real data.

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