The search engine we’ve all learned to love…and hate is planning to release a browser add on which will give visitors the opportunity to block any site running Google Analytics from collecting user data.
Yep, you read correctly.
Before I start blasting this idea and making accusations such as, “why even use Google Analytics if I can’t trust the data…” or, “I bet this is just another PR move to improve the “Don’t Do Evil” Image, let’s go another direction.
It’s not just another PR idea…releasing a tool for users to DOWNLOAD so they can block another Google program, is not only a GREAT idea for the PR and news junkies to latch on to and make users feel they have a choice in what data Google collects.
In fact, this is exactly what the Mountain View people are saying.
According to the Official Google Blog…
We created Google Analytics to help website owners aggregate and analyze their traffic so they can improve and update their sites. Like traffic pattern reports tell you about traffic on a highway or street, Google Analytics provides general trends for a website (numbers of visitors, average time spent on one page) without revealing any personally identifiable information.
Makes sense doesn’t it?
In theory, yes.
I download a simple add on and…ba-da-bing – Google won’t track me.
However, judging from some of the comments left on Tuesday’s post…I’m not so sure everyone is as equally thrilled.
- “How crazy – more choice for web browsers, less reliable data for analytics users.
Considering the most important information is sent to and can be logged by your web servers, this seems pretty pointless and will become a reason not to use Google analytics. Everyone will eventually start using other means of tracking their users and Google will no longer be able to analyse web traffic, serve the most targeted ads and make money in the same way it has before.
99% of the time the data is used to enhance your browsing experience so its only the users that will suffer.”
- “Completely terrible move. Woopra is starting to look really good.”
- “So why should a site owner bother using Google Analytics now? This is a cynical ploy by Google for good PR, since GA does not reveal any personal info to the site owner, while all of Google’s other tracking (in search, adsense, etc) is much more likely to get tied to individuals and compromise their privacy….“
Of course some are more direct….
- “This is the stupidest idea. This is what we get when we push the “privacy” issue too far. Google has just rendered Analytics useless.
And I agree. The first comment says it all.“
Even though I don’t think this is another sinister plot of Google take over the world (as the already achieved that) – I do think if users really catch on to the idea it could seriously skew stats, as some have opinionated above.
My question is…how many people have really heard of Google Analytics? The average user cares nothing above this free service offered to web developers – heck, many site owners are not aware of it. And, the ones who do..will probably not opt out. Why? What is Analytics hurting?
The main thing Google is trying to do is ease relations with its European counterparts to avoid another Germany Smackdown.
Either way, don’t ditch this great program over a few minor disagreements…in the mean time – consider using Piwik, a free open source web analytics program…again, don’t stop using Google Analytics but it will make a great compliment!
As always, let me know what you think. As seen in the comments above, feedback is a good thing.