Monday, March 22, 2010

Google Analytics Opt-out Browser Plug-in

Late last week Google Analytics announced a browser plug-in that will allow users to opt-out of Google Analytics tracking.

Here is an offical statement from Amy Chang, group product manager at Google Analytics:

As an enterprise-class web analytics solution, Google Analytics not only provides site owners with information on their website traffic and marketing effectiveness, it also does so with high regard for protecting user data privacy. Over the past year, we have been exploring ways to offer users more choice on how their data is collected by Google Analytics. We concluded that the best approach would be to develop a global browser based plug-in to allow users to opt out of being tracked by Google Analytics. Our engineers are now hard at work finalizing and testing this opt-out functionality. We look forward to make it globally available to our users in the coming weeks.

How does it impact the website stats reported by Google Analytics

This is the biggest question everybody is asking. Since I don't have the full information on how this plug-in will exactly work, let's take a look two potential ways this plug-in can work.

  • The plug-in will not collect any sort of data for the user
    Let's assume that this plug-in will ensure that absolutely no data about the users behavior on any of the site that user visits will be collected. Which means that Google Analytics will completly ignore the presence of that person (computer) as if that person never visited the site. In that case all of the data, i.e. visitors, visits and page views, conversion etc., will be under reported.
  • The plug-in will collect the data but then destroy the cookie after every session (visit)
    In this case, a session level cookie will still work but this cookie will be removed from the users computer after every session. This will result in the accurate count of visits (sessions) and page views and all the data that is reported at visit or page view level. However, the visitors count will be inflated since same person (computer) will get a new cookie for every visits.

How big the impact will be?

Well, it is not clear how widespread the use of this plug-in will be. Currently, there are 3rd party tools available clear or block Google analytics cookies but the use of such tools do not seem to be an issue for Google Analytics tracking. So I wonder if this plug-in will have any huge impact on Google Analytics data. However keep in mind that there will be some impact.

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1 comment:

  1. "opt out of being tracked"

    That sure sounds like disabling the GA javascript so page tags do not fire to me.

    Even if cookies were cleared after the visit, all views and events would still be "tracked" if page tags were still enabled & firing...


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