A European's View on Google Analytics
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Re: Welcome Aurelie!
  • 10/15/2012 9:16:59 PM

Hi Aurelie, Ah! Thanks for going into such depth here. I'm glad I'm not charged with Web analytics in Europe -- it definitely seems quite complicated, perhaps too complicated for casual use. As for pricing, well, we'll have to watch that one (with your help perhaps?!).

Re: Welcome Aurelie!
  • 10/15/2012 4:12:34 PM

Hi Beth,

The major friction points, in my opinion, are related to the concepts of data controller (the website) and data processor (Google Analytics), and can thus not be limited to one set of data point or another.

There is of course debate about IP adresses and PII but it's the entire logic of how the data subject's data is being stored, transformed and possibly used that is at stake.
The relationship and responsabilities held by the different actors (data controller for the website and data processor for Google) can be solved through a contract between the website and Google, as stated in the article and as already in place for Germany. The upcoming EU Regulation regarding PDP should simplify all this administrative work for non EU businesses adressing EU citizens and customers, making it also obligatory.

To this day, little of all these discussions have really impacted on the use of Google Analytics in Europe, except for some adaptations on Google's side when it comes to improving it's product: opt-out can be included in the privacy policy and IP addresses can be partially masked. In that sense, Google is following up on the law an I'm sure it will continue to do so. I just know of some websites that have decided not to used Google and I estimate it's a growing movement but which for now has not impacted heavily upon the use of a great product such as GA.

GA's price however is another matter entirely, which can be put into question not through Privacy or PDP regulations but through anti-trust anti-competitive behaviour issues regulations. An entire other ball game!

I hope this clarifies it a bit, it's a complicated subject matter that will certainly require companies' increasing attention in the (very) near future.



Re: Managing development
  • 10/15/2012 3:44:48 PM

Thank you Noreen!

Re: Managing development
  • 10/15/2012 3:44:06 PM

Thank you Pierre for your comment, it's greatly appreciated!

First of all, I don't think we are merely talking about specific territories, which are developing strict/stricter data policies. Indeed, as the Internet is present globally and as the implementation of the EU Directive (dubbed cookie Directive) shows in terms of (disastrous?) implications, if privacy is not solved on a global level, it will turn out to be a true procedural headache for many online actors. Certainly in the line of the initial data processes you describe! 

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't want Google Analytics to loose its unique pricing structure. However, I do believe that Google is listening to data protection &/or privacy requirements and is slowly but surely adapting the underlying legal journey implied by it's use. So I'm confident the EU and Google will, in the long term, align. There will be friction, even possibly fines but this will never turn into an internal fight with no end resolution.

However, where I do stumble upon is the notion of data ownership and therefore the underlying business model for GA, which I don't think can be sustainable (and would love to be proven wrong) if the notions of processors and recipient of collected data is not (more) clearly specified.

And yes, I agree with your third paragraph, free is both a blessing and a curse yet I'm confident the positive effects the free use of GA has injected into the online economy strongly out ways it's negative effects of poor staffing, amongst others.

Let's hope businesses, big and small (and certainly SMEs who remain the backbone of our respective economies), will slowly but surely realize the potential of data analysis for their growth and thus ensure they have the right structure and mentality to make good use of this data. Privacy is part of this mentality. Some call it Privacy by Design. 

Welcome Aurelie!
  • 10/15/2012 3:38:08 PM

Hi Aurelie, this is an interesting perspective. I'm curious, from a personal data protection standpoint, what data points tend to be at for those who are concerned about Google Analytics?  And how much, would you say, as the PDP concern curbed business use of Google Analytics in Europe?

Re: Managing development
  • 10/15/2012 2:53:14 PM

Welcome Aurélie! Enjoyed your post.

Managing development
  • 10/15/2012 11:30:27 AM


This is a great post topic (and welcome to the AA site - honored to see a great web analytics leader post here!). I think the answer may lie in encouraging businesses to understand how data is consumed and to tie operational metrics into visitor sources to identify their exposure to territories which are developing strict data policy.  

To your pricing question, I would not like to see Google Analytics turn into a fee-based system. Too many small businesses would take an unneccessary cost hit. It may be plausible to make certain features, such as remarketing, a fee-with-usage benefit.  

But I think pricing is not the issue as much as it is educating businesses that an online precence is a business process that needs to be managed like any other business process. I think in the process of spreading the low cost message about an online presence has also unfortunately spread a message that says do not invest in anything beyond your website appearance.  I am seeing some businesses poorly invest in hosting, and many misunderstanding front end-development or any database development that could yield potential operational improvements.