On Thursday, the Google Analytics blog announced an upcoming browser-based opt out for Google Analytics tracking. This is huge news for not only webmasters who use Google Analytics tracking, but also on us PPC marketers who rely on this data to make marketing decisions. Details are scarce at this point, but it looks like Google will allow users to opt out of Google Analytics tracking by installing a plug-in in their browser. Granted, not every user will be savvy enough to install this on their web browser, or even know what this means. But I’m willing to bet that there are enough web users concerned about their privacy that we’ll start to miss a significant percentage of Google Analytics data once this thing goes live.
This is clearly a reaction to recent uproars about internet privacy, such as last year’s threat to ban Google Analytics in Germany. Google really needed to throw a bone to its critics, and I guess this is it. They are definitely running the risk of incurring the wrath of their PPC advertisers, though.
I must admit I’m a little ambivalent about this development. The internet user in me applauds Google’s advocacy for the privacy of their users. However, the internet marketer in me laments the loss of precious web analytics data that will help me make decisions about my PPC campaigns. But take my opinions with a grain of salt. After all, I am one of those hypocritical marketing types who spends all day managing web ads, then installs ad blockers in his home computer’s web browser.
So will this mean the end of Google Analytics? It’s too early to tell. But once this plug-in situation is finalized, I’ll be interested to see how it affects my Google Analytics data. Keep an eye out for this implementation to make sure you don’t get blindsided by a loss of stats in your own Google Analytics account. If you see the plug-in implementation take a wrecking ball to your site usage data, it might be time to consider a move from Google Analytics to a more complete analytics package like Omiture, Woopra, Yahoo Web Analytics, or any number of other analytics providers. I really like Google Analytics as a tool, but a web analytics package is only as good as the completeness of its data. If Google wants to stand up for privacy at the expense of its advertisers, then I may have to make the painful choice of going with another analytics provider.