Google is working on a browser plug-in to let users opt out of being tracked by Google Analytics. Will opting out limit the effectiveness of Google Analytics? If so, how might Google mitigate the loss of fidelity? Forrester Research analyst Joseph Stanhope expects minimal impact because most users won't use the opt-out plug-in. In any case, the move that could mollify privacy watchdogs concerned about the company's ravenous appetite for collecting data about users. This would be helpful in the wake of the Google Buzz backlash.
Google is working on a browser plug-in to let users opt out of being tracked
by Google Analytics, a move that could mollify privacy watchdogs concerned
about the company's ravenous appetite for collecting data about users.
is the search engine's suite of business intelligence software to
help advertisers determine
whether their AdWords and AdSense campaigns are
The Analytics suite tracks Website traffic, telling site publishers how many
users are visiting their site and from where. This information helps
advertisers make their ads more relevant for users who visit their Websites.
However, one of the knocks on the suite has been that it also threatens
users' privacy because it tracks them, not by personally identifiable
information, but by their browser cookies and IP addresses tethered to their
That will change soon, according to a March 18 blog post from Amy Chang,
group product manager for Google Analytics.
"Over the past year, we have been exploring ways to offer users more
choice on how their data is collected by Google Analytics," Chan wrote
. "We concluded that the best approach would
be to develop a global browser based plug-in to allow users to opt out of being
tracked by Google Analytics."
Google is testing the opt-out tool and will make it available for users in
the coming weeks.
Questions remain about this tool, which may only be answered upon its
implementation. Will opting out limit the effectiveness of Google Analytics? If
so, how might Google mitigate the loss of fidelity?
Forrester Research analyst Joseph Stanhope expects minimal impact because
most users won't use the opt-out plug-in.
"And even if the numbers drop a bit, the trending data will remain
valuable and Web analytics experts will learn to quantify and manage any
resulting bias," Stanhope wrote on his blog March 18
. "This may be analogous
survived despite the fact these things can be easily deactivated because
relatively few consumers actually take advantage of those options."
Moreover, Stanhope said, Google Analytics adoption may actually increase in
the wake of the opt-out plug-in because it shows good faith to regulators and
paves the way for Google Analytics to work in Europe,
where privacy regulations tend to be more stringent. This may boost GA usage
and ultimately drive more advertising revenue, he said.
The opt-out effort may be welcomed by privacy advocates who fear Google,
which has taken several steps in the last several months to be more open in the
face of increased regulatory scrutiny in the United
States and overseas.
For example, the Google Dashboard provides
a summary of the application data associated with Google
accounts to provide people with transparency and control over their data.
However, Google has also trampled
on user privacy with Google Buzz, a social service that
exposed users' contacts in their Google profiles. The company is still trying
to recover from that misstep. An opt-out for Google Analytics may be another