analytics data retention controls announcement

In Data Protection, Digital Marketing, Digital News, E-commerce, Google, SEO, Web Development by JP Drake

Data Retention Controls are Coming to Google Analytics in May 2018

Like many people, we opened our Analytics accounts this morning and were greeted with a blue message bar advising:

“We’ve recently launched new Data Retention controls that may affect your data starting May 25, 2018. Please review your settings and make any changes required.”

The full explanation of the controls work can be found in the Analytics help centre here.

Many users, frustrated by a lack of clear guidance thus far, will welcome this (perhaps more) direct response from Google Analytics to the upcoming introduction of the GDPR across the European Union on May 28th.

Who Does This Affect?

In short, everyone.

If you have a Google Analytics account, you’ll need to decide how long you want to retain user data for and choose one of the 4 available time periods:

  • 14 months
  • 26 months
  • 38 months
  • 50 months

Crucially, this will apply to both active and legacy Google Analytics – so if you have a collection of accounts, perhaps due to having multiple sites/apps or having had to switch accounts for some reason over the years, you’ll need to change the settings here too.

My View

Whilst it does feel inconvenient to lose historical traffic data (and all that’s associated with it) it’s honestly rare that I find myself looking back to a time period over 50 months ago- so the potential practical impacts to search marketers and business owners alike should be pretty limited.

That said, I think it’s still obviously prudent to keep some form of historical record, at the very least of the following:

Total Traffic per Month – split by Source and with Conversions.

This can be extracted through very simple export as PDF or CSV from the Sources section within Analytics.

Given the high level of the data and lack of personally identifiable information, there should be no GDPR-related risks in keeping said data.

Next Steps

From now, there’s little under 6 weeks to choose your Data Retention time-frame and export any non-personally identifiable data you may want to keep a record of.

*If you select the 50-month window, on the 25th of May 2018, any data recorded prior to (roughly) March 25th 2014 will disappear.

To be safe, I’d recommend exporting everything up to April 2014- and then be mindful that your data will update monthly from that point onwards.

So you’ll have to keep up with exporting your top-level traffic & conversion data before it disappears for good!

Want further advice on GDPR, Data Retention or Google Analytics in general?

If so, contact our team here and we’ll be happy to assist.

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