Should You Extend The Google Analytics Data Retention?

2019/01/21 08:00

analytics data retention

With GDPR in full effect, this is what you need to do about your data retention settings in Google Analytics.

In case you missed it, The General Data Protection Act came into effect in May 2018 and even though the European Union mandated this initiative, all online businesses were affected by GDPR, particularly in terms of remarketing, analytics and data collection.

Since Google plays such an integral role in online business, naturally they needed to make some changes too.

Google Analytics & GDPR Consent

Prior to the implementation of GDPR, Google released updated policy requirements that are linked to their advertising features.

Google stated that, “When using Google Analytics Advertising Features, you must also comply with the European Union User Consent Policy.”

What this means is that any business that has Google Advertising features enabled will need consent from EU citizens before they can market to them or use their data for marketing purposes.  

Google Advertising features include the following:

  • Remarketing using Google Analytics
  • Google Display Network Impression Reporting
  • Google Analytics Demographics and Interest Reporting
  • All integrated services that use data from Google Analytics for advertising purposes
  • Cross Device Advertising

If your business is not using any of these features with Google Analytics, you won’t need consent.

Google Data Retention Settings

Google’s data retention settings allow you to dictate how long you want Google to store your user data on their servers.

Google started notifying Analytics users of this setting requirement several months before GDPR was implemented, giving all businesses the chance to select an appropriate data retention period.

These settings were activated on 25 May 2018, which means if you didn’t update your data retention settings to “Do not automatically expire”, it will have defaulted to 26 months.

What Does This Mean for My Business?

Unfortunately, if you didn’t update your data control settings before the GDPR due date in May 2018, you will have lost all non-aggregate data prior to March 2016, which includes:

  • Custom reporting
  • Advanced segments
  • Flow visualisation reports
  • Secondary dimensions

If these features don’t sound familiar to you, there’s a good chance it won’t make a huge difference to your business anyway. In order to use these dimensions going forward, you will need to build up historical data again.

The Google Analytics features that will not be affected by these data retention settings, include:

  • Overview reports
  • Acquisition reports
  • Behavior reports
  • Conversion reports

Basically, you will only be able to pull standard reports and won’t have much data available that will help with analysis.

This change is a prime example of why it’s so important to stay abreast of any changes relating to data, which is a key part of marketing. In a world where countless competitors are vying for the attention of your customers, data needs to be a top priority in every organisation, regardless of size or industry.