Heads Up! Google Analytics Updates ‘Data Retention’ Settings for ALL Users

Data Retention

as provided on Google: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/7667196?hl=en

The Google Analytics Data Retention controls give you the ability to set the amount of time before user-level and event-level data stored by Google Analytics is automatically deleted from Analytics’ servers.

These settings will not take effect until May 25, 2018.

User and event data retention

The retention period applies to user-level and event-level data associated with cookies, user-identifiers (e.g., User-ID) and advertising identifiers (e.g., DoubleClick cookies, Android’s Advertising ID, Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers).

Keep in mind that standard aggregated Google Analytics reporting is not affected. The user and event data managed by this setting is needed only when you use certain advanced features like applying custom segments to reports or creating unusual custom reports.

You can choose how long Analytics retains data before automatically deleting it:

  • 14 months
  • 26 months
  • 38 months
  • 50 months
  • Do not automatically expire

When data reaches the end of the retention period, it is deleted automatically on a monthly basis.

If you change the retention period, then any affected data is deleted during the next monthly process. For example, if you change from 26 months to 14 months, then any data older than 14 months is deleted during the next monthly process.

Whenever you modify the retention period, Analytics waits 24 hours before implementing the change. During this 24-hour period, you can revert your change and your data will be unaffected.

Reset on new activity

Turn this option ON to reset the retention period of the user identifier with each new event from that user (thus setting the expiration date to current time plus retention period). For example, if data retention is set to 14 months but a user initiates a new session every month, then that user’s identifier is refreshed every month and never reaches the 14-month expiry. If the user doesn’t initiate a new session before the retention period expires, then that user’s data is deleted.

If you do not want the retention period for a user identifier reset when that user has new activity, turn this option OFF. Data associated with the user identifier will be deleted automatically after the retention period.

Set the options

You need to have Edit permission for the property to set these options.

  1. Sign in to Google Analytics..
  2. Click Admin, and navigate to the property you want to edit.
  3. In the PROPERTY column, click Tracking Info > Data Retention.
  4. User-data retention: select the retention period you want.
  5. Reset on new activity: turn the switch on or off.

The important takeaway is that you now have control over this data within your Google Analytics accounts and this does not mean you will lose all data (sessions, page views, etc. will stay intact), but you will lose anything that could be considered user-specific, like demographics and location.

If you do nothing then, as of May 25th, your settings will be automatically adjusted to have user-specific data expire in 26 months.

If you’re in the category of businesses that are affected by the GDPR our advice is to let Google change that setting to 26 months. Then, depending on how you’re using that data, the type of business you’re in and how ‘high risk’ it is – you may need to adjust it to be an even shorter time frame. To be sure you’ll need to reach out to the regulatory authority in your country. If you’re in the EU there is an easy chat option for ICO. If you’re not in the EU then unfortunately, Search Engine News (Webrite’s Resource) haven’t found any specific authority figure to turn to yet.

If you only service US and Canadian customers and do NOT have a privacy/use policy stating otherwise, then Search Engine News recommend that you change this setting to do not automatically expire.

The more data you can gather the better when it comes to marketing and it’s important that you don’t lose valuable information if you don’t have to.

You’ll find and adjust these settings within your Google Analytics account under:
Admin Settings > .JS Tracking Info > Data Retention

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