analyzing the impact of google analytics opt-out

Google Analytics is the preeminent web analytics tool. It’s easy to implement, regularly upgraded, incredibly useful, and free. So what would you say if I told you there’s now a way for users to prevent the tracking of their navigation and behaviors on your website, making it impossible for you to fully measure clicks, click through rate, and other key analytics for determining the success (or failure) of your SEO and marketing and advertising campaigns?

Well, this, in a nutshell, is what Google did by releasing its Google Analytics Opt-out Browser Add-on. This opt-out plugin for the three major browsers, Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Google Chrome, prevents a website’s Google Analytics tracking code from collecting information on any user that has added the plugin to their browser.

We understand the call for online privacy and security measures, but this could have a significant impact not only on the website and business but on online marketing agencies like Dragon360 as well.

the business’s perspective

large businesses

Large businesses use Google Analytics as their primary web analytics tool to track site visitor navigation and behavioral statistics, as well as ecommerce and lead generation activities, such as contact form submissions, downloads, and other types of conversions.

Large businesses may also have a separate smaller software package that specifically tracks ecommerce and conversions, but this tracking does not show the source that produced such actions — only that they occurred.

If the Google Analytics Opt-out becomes a huge sensation for Internet users, large businesses won’t be completely lost, with the ability to continue to track ecommerce and conversions; however, they will no longer know how the site is performing in regard to navigation, bounce rate and other factors, impacting their ability to improve their website.

Some large organizations may be able to afford costly web analytics software packages, such as WebTrends or Acronym Media’s ROI Engine, but the added cost would mean cutting budget elsewhere.

small businesses

Small businesses do not have the luxury of significant cash flow or resources, compared to large business. In addition, small businesses likely rely even more heavily on the data collected by Google Analytics. Not only is Google Analytics free, this web analytics package is likely the lifeblood of their venture.

If the small business is an ecommerce website, it likely has a separate software package specifically tailored to recording and distributing orders; however, this business runs into the same problem as the larger business in that it is unable to determine what source produced the transactions.

Meanwhile, small businesses that use their website for lead generation will still know a conversion has been produced but will not be able to easily quantify the amount of conversions or credit those conversions back to their website entry sources, such as PPC, organic, or email blast.

For small businesses, which likely can’t afford any other web analytics package, Google Analytics Opt-out could have a far greater impact. It could mean not knowing what users are doing once they reach the website, and no insights for improving performance, making marketing decisions like continuing or suspending PPC much more difficult.

online marketing agency perspective

An online marketing agency’s success is predicated on delivering results; but what happens when you can’t track those results?

The inability to track not only traffic to a client’s website but whether those visitors purchased a product, submitted a contact form or resulted in some other type of conversion can leave an agency nervously shifting in their seats when it comes time for the monthly performance meeting with a client. But wait, it gets worse.

The Google Analytics Opt-out squashes the ability for online marketers to analyze results from and make appropriate changes to their PPC campaigns, SEO activities and other vehicles the agency is currently leveraging on behalf of their clients.

Imagine the horror of not having any conversion statistics to analyze in order improve click through rate, cost per click, ROI, impression share, or the other million items a PPC manager looks at to increase overall performance.

In essence, the Google Analytics Opt-out leaves you driving blindfolded with your arms tied behind your back.

final thoughts

In all honesty, doomsday scenarios are likely never to arise; however, we all have to think of the ramifications of the Google Analytics Opt-out being used widely. To that end, we leave you with this question:

How will you counter the effect of the Google Analytics Opt-out if it becomes a problem for your website and online marketing initiatives?

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