How is Google Analytics data being used? Are you really in control of the data in your analytics account?

As time goes by, consumers’ expectations are becoming increasingly high, while industry regulations have set stricter standards for user privacy and data protection. This has led many companies to revisit how they manage the data in their google analytics account.

To solve this problem, Google analytics has come up with various features geared towards helping control how their data is used.

Here is a breakdown of these updated controls that govern how your property’s data is collected, stored, and used…

Google Updates Since 2020: Additional Control Options to Marketers

The government has tightened its reins when it comes to data collection, and tech companies have found themselves on the receiving end with a multitude of lawsuits for data violations. 

To solve this, Google is making it easy for marketers to comply with the set laws by giving them data collection tools. Advertisers now have the ability to choose the data they would like Google to collect.1

Google also recently updated its control options to include six additional privacy options. You can now:

  1. Disable advertising features (App and web)
  2. Programmatically turn off any data collection for advertising features from devices running Android and iOS apps that utilize Firebase, Google analytics android, and Google Analytics iOS.  
  3. Shut down data collection for advertising features from App + Web properties.
  4. Disable advertising personalization (App and web)
  5. Allow for / Disable Ads Personalization for any property

How Can Businesses Manage Their Data in Google Analytics?

Managing your organization’s data has never been as important as it is in this digital age. Your data volume is probably increasing each year and to protect your organization from liability, you need to be incharge of the data in your analytics account.

How can you effectively manage your business’s data?

  1. Be in Control of The Data Settings in Their Analytics Account

There are several settings in your analytics account that can help you manage how you collect, store, and share data. You can:

Make the IP addresses for your Web property anonymous

Web properties are a point of reference like blogs, websites, apps, etc. that are associated with a unique tracking ID. These are typically used to represent individuals and companies.

Once you opt to anonymize the IP of your web property, Google Analytics will effect it quickly based on the technical feasibility. This is effective when it comes to attaining compliance with government regulations and company privacy policies.

IP anonymization is enabled by default for all Apps properties and App + Web properties. It also offers more robust information security, and reduces risk when transferring information.

Decide on whether to accept the Data Processing Terms

Data Processing Terms, which are optional, are aimed at businesses that are subject to the terms of the European Economic Area General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and other related regulations. 

These regulations typically give individuals more control over their personal data as well as simplify the regulatory environment for businesses. This is why a delicate balance has to be struck to ensure the data businesses have access to, do not infringe on individual privacy rights and freedoms.

You can easily check out and accept the terms in your google analytics account located in the account settings.

You can set a Data retention period

You now have the option of specifying how long User-level and event-level data is kept in storage by analytics and whether new events can reset during that period. 

Once the specified time frame elapses, the data gets scheduled for automatic deletion from your account and Google’s servers.

Opt to have some or all data collection disabled

You also have the alternative of partially or fully turning off all data collection for any of your analytics properties. Those who use Chrome have the option of choosing to disable all forms of data collection using the Analytics opt-out Add-on. 

Review your settings for Google signals

This is a setting that enables you to activate extra features in your analytics accounts, such as demographics and interest reports, cross-device reports, and remarketing. 

The google signals setting can be further customized to keep it enabled when reporting while limiting or completely disabling advertising personalization.

Restrict the data you share with Google and your support team

In the data sharing settings, you have the option of choosing whether to share analytics data with Google. 

This includes whether you will allow the Google technical support representatives and Google marketing specialists to access your account whenever you are in need of support when using the product or for performance recommendations.

  1. Choose whether you would like your data to be used for ads personalization

Online marketing is a great way of reaching your target audience digitally and driving conversions within your website or App.

When ads personalization is enabled in your analytics account, you gain the ability to use your analytics audiences for the personalization of digital ads. This, in turn, increases the effectiveness of your campaign.

Google signals is a Google Analytics Cross-Device report that resembles the User-ID report. However, once activated, Google Analytics tracks sessions and the device type of all users who signed in to their google accounts and were converted.

It enables the recognition of the device from which the first click was made, other clicks made from various devices in the course of the customer’s journey, and finally, the device that led to a conversion. Incredible, right?

Some of the options you have relating to ad personalization include:

  • Controlling ads personalization of the entirety of your analytics property

You can now disable ad personalization for an entire property, which results in all incoming events under that property being marked as not for use in personalization efforts. To manage this, simply visit the property settings of your account and disable it. 

  • Geographically controlled ads personalization

If you would like to set ad personalization according to geographical locations, you now have the ability to enable or disable this setting according to specific countries. You can even adjust this setting further onto the state level in the United States.

  • Individual event or session ad personalization control

You can manage whether a session or individual event should be utilized in ad personalization. For instance, when you have to obtain consent before a setting can be enabled, you can dynamically disable ad personalization at the start of the session as well as each subsequent event until consent is given.

Users also have the option of controlling their own ads personalization settings for their google account independent of the ads personalization controls offered to advertisers by analytics. Once this setting has been turned off, Google stops using its information to personalize ads.

How to Disable Ads Personalization in Your Google Analytics Account

To enable or disable ad personalization for users, you use advanced settings in Property settings. 

Disabling ad personalization does not affect your ability to use data from that property for measurement and content personalization. However, should you disable ads for a given region, all events from there shall be marked as not eligible for further use in the ad personalization module.

Additionally, any end-user originating from a disabled location shall not be included in any lists that may be exported to linked ads accounts. The good news is that lists that had been previously exported will remain unaffected.

All events that had been collected under the property, as well as any audiences based on the collected data, will remain available for use in analysis, reports, and audience building. It can also be exported to non-advertising products, such as optimize.

The effectiveness of this setting begins as soon as you configure the following:

  • Analytics integrations that help with the Import/ Import of conversions and audiences related to advertising and other items
  • Inclusion/exclusion of events and user properties that are related to ads personalization

Steps of Disabling the Use of Property Data in Ads Personalization

  1. In an App + Web Property
  2. Sign in to your Analytics account
  3. Click on Admin
  4. On the property column, select Data Settings> Data Collection.
  5. Expand the panel under the Advanced Settings to Allow for Ads Personalization
  6. Click on the Settings Icon
  7. Switch off the geographical regions you’d like to exclude the click on Apply

  1. Removal of Data From Analytics

You can also opt to remove all your data from Google Analytics at any time. You only have to request that all the data gets deleted from the analytics servers or delete information belonging to an individual user.

How to delete data from your analytics account:

Should you need to delete data within the Analytics servers, you can use the Data Deletion Requests feature to issue a request. You can have as many as 250 pending requests for any given property.

Follow these steps:

  1. Log in to your Google Analytics account.
  2. Click on the Admin menu then navigate to the Relevant Property option.
  3. On the property column, select Data Deletion Requests (The table contains recent requests)
  4. To create a new deletion request, click on the Create Data Deletion Request.
  5. Select the start and end dates (Note that the deletion process uses the UTC time zone).
  6. Select the data fields you would like to be deleted. Here you can either delete all data for the property or select individual fields.
  7. Click Submit. Once submitted, all users with Edit Permission (Administrators) will receive email notification of the request. A notification is also sent when the deletion process begins as well as when it ends.

More Tips on Data Deletion Requests

7 days grace period

Analytics offers a seven-day grace period starting from when the request is made before the process of deletion begins.2 All administrators have the ability to cancel the request before the grace period ends. A similar function is set to be available in App + Web properties in the near future.

Data deletion for individual users

You can also opt to delete data for a single user from your analytics account. Those with edit permission for the account can do this through the User Explorer technique in the Analysis module in App + Web properties or User Explorer report in Web properties.

Data associated with the user whose data is to be deleted will be completely removed from the report within 72 hours, followed by deletion from the analytics servers when the next deletion process takes place.

All your reports based on previously aggregated data such as user count in an Audience Overview report shall, however, remain unaffected. Should you need to delete the data of a number of users, you can use the Analytics User Deletion API.

Deleting a property

If you have edit permissions, you can move a property to the trash can. This action will move your property along with all its reporting views into the bin, and you receive a 35 day grace period, after which the data will be permanently deleted.

Once permanent deletion happens, you will not be able to recover any historical data or reinstate reports relating to the deleted property.

Google Analytics Updates Since 2020: Are You in Control of Your Data?

Google has a way of providing marketers with answers to their unasked questions. The rise in data violation lawsuits brought about an opportunity for Google to give marketers more control over their data.

You can now:

  • Be in control of the data settings in your analytics account
  • Decide on whether your data should be used for ads personalization
  • Remove data completely from your analytics account.

These new updates enable businesses to manage their data with ease and without the worry of violating the set privacy regulations.

References

  1. Google Analytics Shifts More Data Privacy Control to Marketers – https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-analytics-privacy-settings/376556
  2. Data deletion requests (Web) – https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/9450800