NEWS22 March 2010

Google set to hand web users greater control over Analytics opt-out

Data analytics North America

US— Google has set tongues wagging in the analytics industry over plans to allow web users to opt out of being tracked by its market-leading free analytics package.

In a short blog post group product manager Amy Chang revealed that Google’s engineers were working on a browser-based plug-in that would prevent Google Analytics from collecting data.

The data Google Analytics collects from web users helps website owners understand how many visitors they have, where they’re surfing in from, how long they spend on-site and whether they are a returning visitor.

Previously people who wanted to opt out of Google’s Analytics tracking could only do so by disabling JavaScript – not something many web users would know how to do.

With the plug-in, Google intends to make the opt-out process easier. It is yet to be seen how widely the plug-in will be publicised once it has been released and what the likely take-up will be, though were it to become a widespread phenomenom commentators are already speculating that Google Analytics could see its market share start to shrink.

In the UK alone, some 80% of companies report using Google Analytics to track the performance of their website, although only 23% use it exclusively, according to a survey by Econsultancy and Lynchpin Analytics.

Writing on the Econsultancy blog Patricio Robles says: “Publishers using Google Analytics will probably not be thrilled at the prospect that certain data won’t be collected from a potentially larger number of users. After all, when it comes to web analytics, more is better for most publishers.”

Meanwhile over on the ReadWriteWeb blog Frederic Lardinois speculates that the biggest impact of the plug-in might be on other analytics firms.

“While Google Analytics is probably one of the most often used analytics services, other companies like Clicktale, Sitemeter and Woopra also collect large amounts of data from internet users,” says Lardinois. “Those users who want to opt out of Google Analytics will surely also want to opt out of other programs as well.”