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Need to replace Google Analytics to comply with data privacy regulations? Why it could be a blessing in disguise.

Across Europe and the United States, companies and countries are increasingly focused on data compliance and privacy. Whether it’s because customers are increasingly aware of how brands use their data, or regulatory bodies are significantly increasing scrutiny and banning Google Analytics in some countries, it’s never been more important for organizations to consider how data compliance and ongoing data management form a critical part of their business and data strategy.

What data privacy regulations are changing and why?

The data privacy regulatory landscape is evolving before our eyes. Momentum is building towards increased data privacy scrutiny by governments and regulators across Europe and in the United States. Much of the current focus is on Google Analytics – a data analytics tool widely used to understand top-level site performance metrics. Organizations must understand what’s happening, the implications for them, and what data strategies they can implement to remain compliant with changing regulations while continuing to improve the quality of their data analytics. 

In January, Austria’s Data Protection Authority (DPA) announced a decision on the use of Google Analytics, finding that Google’s encryption and anonymization measures for data collected and sent to the US were inadequate. Similar rulings followed in France, the Netherlands, and Italy. With its announcement on 22 September 2022, Denmark became the latest country to act on this issue, with its data regulator ruling Google Analytics illegal as it lets organizations move users’ data outside the EU without the necessary protections.

Meanwhile, in the US, we’re only months away from the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) coming into effect. Amongst other consumer protections, this law emphasizes data privacy obligations to all third parties dealing with businesses. From January, examining third-party vendors will become mandatory for all organizations. 

GDPR compliance health check: Is Google Analytics banned?

Considering the Danish data privacy directive on Google Analytics, the message is that users must put in place a plan to bring their use of compliance to the forefront of their data privacy provisions by implementing additional measures.

When using Google Analytics, one potential technical remedy proposed by the French Data Protection Authority (CNIL) is pseudonymization. The CNIL has created detailed guidance for organizations wishing to explore effective pseudonymization by means of a so-called reverse proxy.

If, after considering their options, organizations are unable to implement effective supplementary measures, they must discontinue the use of Google Analytics and, where appropriate, seek an alternative that provides web analytics and enables compliance with data protection laws, for example, by not transferring personal data about visitors to “unsafe” third countries.

A better alternative to Google Analytics: complete ownership, control, and management of customer data

Since its inception, Snowplow has placed data compliance and ownership at the heart of its platform. It is built around a private SaaS model, which ensures deployment in customers’ virtual private cloud, together with data residency and localization, per customers’ requirements. This model offers customers complete ownership of data and the ability to deliver data directly to their warehouse or lake of choice, with SLA guarantees.

Data created in the Snowplow platform is referred to as first party and therefore not affected or limited by sunsetting third party cookies. The Snowplow platform creates a single unified event stream governed by a centralized schema, and provides full data lineage – making it easy to perform full audits and compliance risk assessments.”

Managing customer data is made easier with Snowplow’s suite of built-in data compliance features – from GDPR consent plugins and GDPR contexts to pseudonymization. Privacy controls like PII pseudonymization record a basis for capture with each event, giving organizations complete control over their customer’s right to privacy while still understanding their behavior.

Replacing web analytics with a platform that supports unlimited use cases

Ever-increasing expectations from customers, partners, and employees define today’s business landscape, so data-led organizations use various applications to engage audiences at scale. 

However, as sophistication grows, so does data complexity. With data being the fuel that powers today’s applications, data teams increasingly rely on a suite of tools, systems, and manual processes to prepare, validate, scale and connect it all. Until recently, many organizations relied on Google Analytics as the only tool data teams used to source web analytics data. 

Yet to drive better, faster business outcomes without risking compliance or privacy, a new approach is needed. 

As the leader in Data Creation, Snowplow enables businesses to collect rich and deeply contextual behavioral data at scale. Thanks to its granularity and explainability, behavioral data is AI-ready by default, making it the richest fuel for the data applications that drive businesses forward – whether that’s for advanced analytics, AI/ML predictive intelligence, or building a composable CDP. 

By creating their own behavioral customer data, data teams can break through the constraints of traditional packaged options and power the data applications to drive their business forward from their data warehouse, lake, or lakehouse. 

In fact, Alex Baskin, the Head of Analytics at Animoto shared that, “For us, Snowplow event tracking has replaced Google Analytics, as GA cannot do everything we need, or even a fraction of what we need, such as easily tying data to individual users.

To learn more about how you can maintain full ownership and control of your customer data with Snowplow, read about our approach to Data Creation here, or connect with a product expert by booking a demo.

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the author

Nick King

President, Chief Product and Marketing Officer (CPMO)

Nick King leads Snowplow’s accelerating business, alongside product, marketing, partnerships, and GTM strategy.

With more than 20 years’ experience, King has a history of scaling market-defining categories at DataRobot, Cisco, VMware, Google, and Microsoft.

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