This year, data protection authorities in several European countries - Austria, France, Italy, and Denmark - ruled to halt using Google Analytics (GA) for data transfers to the United States without further safeguards.
The authorities declared that a website using Google GA without the safeguards set out in the EU GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) violates data protection law because it transfers users’ data to the US, “a country without an adequate level of data protection”.
As a result, the authorities urged local companies to stop using GA and consider whether the use of the tool is within the parameters of the EU General Data Protection Regulation.
Denmark’s Data Protection Authority, Datatilsyne, became in September the latest EU body to rule regarding the usage of Google Analytics. The decision indicates that more countries in Europe are likely to adopt similar measures in the future, rendering GA obsolete.
Google Analytics 4, which will replace Universal Analytics in 2023, provides stricter privacy controls. Nevertheless, these changes have been ruled as not sufficient to provide enough protection to data subjects in the EU.
What does Google Analytics' ban mean for marketers?
Google Analytics is a powerful tool to understand your customer journey, which measures traffic and engagement across websites and apps. GA provides access to a vast amount of data to improve digital marketing strategy and website performance. It shows what are the most popular pages on your website, what people do there, what devices they use, and where they are located.
The tool allows configuring reports for specific business needs. For example, if the purpose of your website is to generate leads, setting up conversions in Google Analytics will help you to understand whether customers take actions that you want them to take.
GA offers hundreds of metrics to measure the effects of marketing campaigns. Without it, marketers may find it challenging to explore who their customers are and what drives their interest.
On the bright side, the limitations put on Google Analytics encouraged businesses to offer alternatives that will comply with the EU data protection policies. Let’s have a look at the tools that can give brands insights into audience characteristics and behavior.
GDPR-compliant web analytics tools
Mixpanel offers a wide range of analytics, from measuring funnel conversion to seeing what users do if they drop off. The company offers interactive reports, group analytics, segmentation, and data management services. The free plan includes up to 100,000 tracked users, and the paid version starts from $25 per month.
Smartlook analytics platform comes with four key features — session recordings, events, funnels, and heatmaps. Smartlook offers many opportunities for qualitative research, allowing you to uncover what users do and why they do it. For example, session recordings capture a user’s entire session on your site or mobile app, with every interaction in it. This means you get to see the full context behind users’ actions. There is a free plan, and the paid options start from $31 per month.
Fathom is a website analytics tool with a big focus on privacy. It’s easy to use, as it’s only a single, user-friendly dashboard with quantitative stats and metrics about a site’s traffic. Fathom also claims to bypass ad-blockers and that its embed code loads faster than GA’s, making it better for SEO. There is a 7-day free trial, and the plan starts from $14 per month, depending on how many monthly pageviews your site generates.
While GA is the most popular tool for collecting website traffic data, the combination of alternatives can offer even more comprehensive insights into consumers’ behavior.
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