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Google Analytics and GDPR – A modern David and Goliath?

by Maaike Geys, Jan 28

The Austrian DPA (data protection authority) has ruled that the use of Google Analytics cookies is now illegal. And just like that… they’ve made a big statement that could have implications for all EU countries.  

Google Analytics illegal in Austria? 

The Austrian Data Protection Authority has ruled that Austrian website providers using Google Analytics are in violation of the GDPR. The problem is not that Google Analytics places cookies, but that it processes information and sends it to the Google eco system, which is not only stored in Europe, but oversees in the US as well. 

Privacy committees of other countries are currently evaluating if their guidelines will rule out the use of Google Analytics and sending information to Google. In theory a visitor should give explicit consent to send information to Google and not only allowing an analytical cookie to be placed. What this means for EU countries is yet to be defined, but we’ll keep you posted! 

In the meantime, Google published a blog post to reassure it’s Google Analytics users. Click here to read about their data privacy practices

What’s the alternative? 

When talking alternatives, there’s two ways to go. On the one hand, you have integrated analytics in your digital marketing platform (Think Sitecore, Kentico….) if it is available in your set-up. On the other hand, we can point you in the direction of Google Analytics alternatives, that provide similar data, reporting & functions. 

Integrated analytics in your digital marketing platform

Depending on the digital marketing platform you are using, it is possible you have integrated analytics features. In today’s post, we’ll talk about Sitecore Experience Platform and Kentico Web Analytics. 

Sitecore Experience Platform 

If you are using the Sitecore experience platform, you’re probably familiar with Sitecore Analytics. It shows you all the visitor interactions with your website across audience, acquisition, behaviour, and conversion – just like Google Analytics. Like Google Analytics, you can also assign and track events, goals and conversions. Important note: this tracking needs to be set-up properly. 

What’s different from Google Analytics? With Sitecore Analytics, you can track visitor behaviour and assign values to it. This metric is called engagement value. You can also synchronize data from, for example, your CRM, so you have a 360° view over what content is interesting to your customers or prospects. All this data can help you to serve personalized content, adapted to each visitor. 

Where Google stores data in the US, Sitecore allows you to have full control over your visitors’ data. Data is stored in the Experience Database, and this can be hosted in a public cloud (e.g. Azure), private cloud or on premises. 

Kentico Xperience 

If you are using Kentico Xperience (EMS) as CMS, you can count on Kentico Web Analytics for the necessary insights. With Web Analytics, you’ll be able to track where traffic is coming from (acquisition), how your visitors behave throughout the website, what they are looking for and when they leave. You can leverage real-time statistics, like Google Analytics, based on page views, traffic source, referral traffic, campaigns, conversions, browser types, and so on.  

Similar to Sitecore, you can choose where you store your data, so you have full control.  

Matomo analytics as alternative solution 

If you are looking for a GDPR friendly alternative to Google Analytics, we can point you towards other analytics tools. One of the tools we have experience with is Matomo Analytics. This is a great solution for marketers who want to leverage similar functions, data and reporting as Google Analytics, while staying privacy compliant. 

The best thing about using Matomo? You’re not required to display a tracking consent screen. When using Google Analytics, you are legally required to display a tracking consent screen for your website visitors. They must either give or deny consent, which could mean that you are potentially losing out on customer data when this consent is not given. 

Another great Matomo feature: you can import your historical GA data, so you don’t lose important insights. You can choose between an on-premises or cloud hosting, giving you full control over your data. Although Matomo is a paid solution, you are 100% sure that you are ensuring the privacy of your users and their data. 

Not sure where to start, or do you just want to talk about the possibilities for your business? Maybe you’re already working with a CMS, but you’re unsure if there’s an analytics module included in your set-up? Don’t hesitate to get in touch – we’re happy to help and advise you to find the best possible solution for your business.

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