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Google Analytics Declining in Effectiveness because of GDPR and Apple

The Relative Decline of Google Analytics
The Relative Decline of Google Analytics

Google Analytics is in decline, lower stats, and less informed

Apple and GDPR are KO'ing Google Analytics

Third Party Site Analysis Trackers are Hitting a Wall, and Google is no exception

Many Affino site owners are starting to see a dramatic decline in traffic registering on Google Analytics, and these are increasingly diverging from the actual site traffic on brand sites running on Affino.


There are two key drivers affecting the decline in Google Analytics stats: GDPR and Cookie Blocking, in particular by Apple. These are long term trends and we see no return to the days when GA will be able to provide accurate statistics to site owners. It is crucial to take on board that these stats are not going to come back to the full level on Google Analytics, no matter what is done, in the near future.


What’s Changed with Affino and GDPR

It was flagged to us by one of our major clients that the Google Analytics cookie integration should only be activated when the user agrees to do so. We made that change in a recent Affino release, so that users now have to agree to being tracked before Affino enables the integration / cookie.


To make this easier, we added a setting that you can use to pop up the cookie preferences right from the outset so that the user can make that choice. If that option is not enabled, they can still do so from the Cookie Bar, or when logged in through My Preferences.


What’s Changed with Apple and Blocking

Apple made a major change with Safari in the most recent generations of Safari and iOS. It now automatically blocks Google Analytics. In fact you can see it in action on your browser on any page running GA, and Apple provides a report of how many times it protects you as an individual browsing the web from invasive 3rd party trackers.


Early next year, Apple’s terms and conditions will block all third party trackers from all apps on the Apple App Store as well. Meaning even less stats being captured through to GA.


Apple Safari now blocks Google Analytics
Apple Safari now blocks Google Analytics


What is Google doing to Mitigate the Issue

There is a real limit to what Google can do. This is in part because anything they do on a personal level will require users to agree to cookies, and because those cookies will largely be blocked by the other major browsers from Apple, Mozilla, Brave and any with privacy plugins or corporate security measures installed.


There is the potential for Google to remove entirely capturing personal information, or any personal identifiable information, but that massively undermines the whole proposition of GA, and is not what brand owners are looking for.


Crucially neither of those initiatives will result in all the audience being tracked, nor provide the level of insight into audience behaviour which is required by the brand owners.


Affino already delivers the Most Accurate Audience Traffic and Engagement Stats


Over the years we have invested heavily in capturing and presenting the key site statistics in Affino. We focused last year on rolling out actionable analytics throughout Affino, meaning that brand owners, marketers, sales teams, security managers, authors and editors all had far more ready access to all the site engagement and interaction stats.


We rolled out core analytics reports including the article and account reports, and moved forward Affino’s sales and marketing automation, built on top of the automated customer ladder and conversion events, with many new automations, more triggers, and scalability.


This year we have been focused on standardising all the statistics and reports across Affino. Since they were originally rolled out using their own underlying data sets, moving them all to the same underlying data set and time-based reporting has been a major undertaking.


The Key steps we’re making to improve Stats in Affino

The next Affino release sees a number of key improvements in Affino stats and how they are captured and aggregated.


The first update is that we’re making it very simple to Accept cookies, or to Manage them (we have to make both really easy to be GDPR compliant, i.e. can’t favour one over the other). For this dialogue to be presented to the user, you simply need to change your cookie policy and the dialogue will be re-presented to the user .


We are also capturing far more detailed statistics on Accounts, Editions, Videos, Podcasts and Media library content in general. These all then benefit from the core actionable analytics capabilities so that you can see what the stats are, the referers, which accounts and contacts are viewing the content, and optionally add those to specific contact lists. You can also see the overall reach and average daily reach for each content type.


We are additionally rolling out an enhanced bot detection engine into the message campaign stats to better exclude bots from message reads.


In the following release, we’ll be extending each of those further, adding read v viewed for articles, watched v impressions for videos and listened to v impressions for podcasts. We’ll also have better presentation of the download stats for PDFs and documents.


We are furthermore adding a host of new conversion event triggers around media, and content interactions, to further drive your marketing automation and audience profiling.


Later this year / early next, we will be rolling out the 3D interest graphs, with the new topic analytics and insights.


All the while minimising as far as possible the data load on your sites and ensuring that they are as fast and responsive as possible, while still providing in-depth analytics and insight.


That way you will have incredible insight into your audience and the value and impact of your content, with no drop-off in your ability to track the engagement with your content.


For insight into setting up the Cookie Preferences to open up when the user hits the page, please see the related help guide and FAQ, and for more insights in to Affino’s analytics as a whole there are a number of release posts also to explore.


If you want a more in-depth conversation with myself, or a member of the product team then reach out to us through the forum, or to me directly, and we can explore how best to get you the insights you need.

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