With Google’s update to its Data Retention Policy, Analytics users gain control. Facebook recently drew negative publicity after it sold data to Cambridge Analytica; the way websites capture and manage data is suddenly a high-profile topic. The problem was the way Cambridge Analytica used the data by trying to sway the public’s opinion. Unfortunately, this practice is nothing new; in fact, digital marketers have used it for many years.
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Changing Data Collection
The standard method used for collecting and storing data will change. Over the next several months, you can expect to see the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) introduced. According to experts, this alone is by far the most critical of all changes made to data privacy regulations over the past two decades. Along with that, Google plans to modify its controls over data retention in the Analytics platform.
With this, Google will give Analytics users Data Retention controls. This means you gain power over setting the amount of time that Google Analytics stores data before it automatically deletes user- and event-level information from the servers.
The Reason Behind this Policy Update
The primary reason Google decided to make this change is that, after a four-year preparation and debate period, the EU Parliament finally approved the GDPR on April 14, 2016. In the announcement, Google stated the changes would take place on May 25, 2018. Any non-compliant organizations are subject to hefty fines.
The purpose of the GDPR, which replaced the Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC, is to coordinate and balance data privacy laws throughout Europe, as well as give EU citizens better protection and more power over the handling of their data. Overall, this initiative will change the way that organizations approach this sensitive issue.
If you have an internal marketing team, it needs to brush up on these changes before the deadline. If you need help, remember you can always turn to a respected internet marketing company.
Keep in mind that the retention period applies to both user- and event-level data. You need to pay close attention to anything connected to user-identifiers, cookies, and advertising identifiers; this includes USER-ID, DoubleClick cookies, and Android and Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers. This change will not impact aggregated data.
Google Analytics by default automatically deletes data in 26 months. However, now with more control, you can choose different options, including:
- 14 Months
- 26 Months
- 38 Months
- 50 Months
- Do Not Automatically Expire
How it Works
After reaching the retention period, Google Analytics automatically deletes stored user- and event-level data monthly. By changing the retention period, Google will wait to remove the data until the following month. In other words, if you switch the setting from 26 to 14 months, Google Analytics will delete data older than 14 months during the next month’s process.
Something else to note is that, when modifying the retention period, the change will not go into effect for 24 hours. This provides you with a grace period during which you can go back to the original setting without any impact on the data.
The Bottom Line
As the issue of data privacy becomes increasingly more sensitive, there is a good chance that further changes will occur. As for now, having control over retention settings without worrying about Google Analytics deleting data is a significant step in the right direction.