Noise or Music?

“Advanced web metrics is about doing the basics very well and applying it in a clever way.” Here I write about Google Analytics advanced setup and usage as well as online privacy, GDPR and best practices for organisations wishing to achieve success online – the whole raison d’etre for measurement…!

I love to hear reader’s feedback, so please comment on my posts or share them.

Brian Clifton - Blog

Analytics Predictions 2019

Categories: GDPR & Privacy, Metrics Understanding / Comments: 2

From the recent Forrester Prediction 2019 report:

57% of global data and analytics decision makers are still at the early stages of their insights-driven business. Only 8% demonstrate advanced insights-driven competencies.

Meaning, that despite the hype of recent years around machine learning and artificial intelligence, even the biggest companies struggle to extract value from their data at scale and drive impactful business results.

Mulling over this insight, I wanted to add my thoughts for why organisations are in such a low state of analytics maturity. Based on working with senior managers in large brand-leading organisations, these are my top 3 reasons:

Read more

Google Analytics Audits – An Enterprise Study

Categories: GA & GTM, GDPR & Privacy, Setup Accuracy / Comments: 2

Part of my job involves auditing Google Analytics setups in order to establish the quality of the data collected. This video story brings together some of the extraordinary findings of my work. Its a study of 75 enterprise websites using Google Analytics. I describe the audit methodology and display the results in a visual scorecard format.

The results are somewhat surprising (and depressing) in that they show the general poor quality of data that organisations are working with – an average Quality Index score of only 35.7 out of 100. One surprising metric is that 1 in 5 websites had a PII issue i.e. were collecting personal information into Google Analytics reports…

Read more

Using Google Analytics Anonymize IP – An Impact Study

Categories: GDPR & Privacy, Setup Accuracy / Comments: 0

The Google Analytics feature anonymize IP is a A key recommendation for GDPR compliance, also known as “aip”. As the name suggests, this simple switch drops the last 3 digits from your visitor’s IP address. For example, if a visitor has a public ip of, then Google will obfuscate this to 217.115.40. (and all other visitor ip addresses) when it processes your Google Analytics data. No ip address data is stored. That’s good for GDPR compliance because ip data is considered PII in Europe.

So if the last 3 digits of an IP address are removed, does that impact geolocation data?

The answer is of course yes, but how much of an impact, and should you worry about it..?

anonymizeIP study

Read more

Clarifying the Analytics Data Retention Settings

Categories: GDPR & Privacy / Comments: 24

I must admit that the new Google Analytics documentation about the GDPR specific Data Retention setting is confusing! The assumption from many clients is that ALL data older than NN months is going to be deleted i.e. a cliff-edge effect where any report older than say 26 months is going to be empty. The setting is important, […]

Read more

Google Analytics, GDPR and Consent

Categories: GDPR & Privacy / Comments: 43

In this post I address a key question that is troubling many a website owner using Google Analytics (the “Controller” in GDPR terminology): Is explicit consent required before I can track my visitors?

I am going to assume you are aware of GDPR (who isn’t? And Facebook have successfully heightened the awareness in the US). You should also be aware that even though I work in the data industry, I have been a strong privacy advocate for many years now. I approach the subject as an end-user would. Let’s face it, for many years now the data/tracking industry has a bad reputation in general…

It is interesting to note that although GDPR has been 10 years in the making, Google Trends shows that since the start of 2018, the volume of searches for the term “GDPR” is now more than double that at any period the previous year i.e. this is important:

Read more

Data Visualisation: Black+White versus Colour

Categories: GA & GTM / Comments: 3

My challenge: As with viewing any information containing charts, tables, diagrams etc. reading content in COLOUR is very important to me, more so than the purchase price. Hence, why the book Successful Analytics was in colour – by necessity it uses better quality paper and hopefully by using colour, the points are clearer as well as easier to remember. However colour printing is expensive – it always was. So I need your feedback via this 2 second poll – it will help me to decide what to do with the next version of Successful Analytics.

Would you be willing to pay more for a colour book?

Read more

© Brian Clifton 2019
Best practice privacy statement