What to do about the announcement on Google Analytics data retention settings for GDPR
The announcement from Google about changes to Google Analytics data retention settings that come into place on GDPR day (25th May) is displayed at the top of your Google Analytics dashboard and also in notification emails being sent out by Google – so they are giving us every chance to act:
We’ve recently launched new Data Retention controls that may affect your data from 25 May 2018. To dismiss this message, please visit your property’s Data Retention settings under Admin > Property > Tracking Info and click ‘Save’.
Google notification email about changes to Analytics that come into place on GDPR day (25th May)
How do you update Google's Data Retention controls?
If you do nothing to update your Google Analytics data retention settings then your Analytics data will be retained for the length of time specified in the Data Retention settings which defaults to 26 months. (NB: this time period is extended with the ‘Reset on new activity‘ toggle switch which effectively sets the start point for the retention period to the last time a user event is recorded so re-starting the retention period clock countdown.)
To change the ‘User and event data retention‘ time period is straightforward, just follow the steps below or watch the video.
Open Google Analytics and display your home page (if you have multiple accounts navigate to the correct account ).
NB You will need to have administrative level access to Property
Select the ADMIN option at the bottom of the left hand menu bar
In the admin display you will see three columns:
ACCOUNT | PROPERTY | VIEW
In the PROPERTY column click on .js Tracking Info
This will display a sub-menu where you select DATA RETENTION
With the User and event data retention screen displayed you will see the default settings implemented for your property.
The default is commonly set to 26 months with ‘Reset on new activity‘ set to ON.
To modify these click on the User and event data retention drop down to view the available options. The maximum data retention option is to set for ‘Don’t automatically expire‘. You can however select any of the data retention periods from 14 months upwards.
In addition the ‘Reset on new activity‘ toggle switch should be set to ON. This ensures that user activity effectively sets the start clock for the retention period back to zero i.e. your retention period starts again from the last user activity.
Once you are happy with the revised settings for User and event data retention just click the SAVE button at the base of the display.
You will see a SUCCESS button at the top of the screen indicating that your Google Analytics data retention settings have been implemented.
Yikes! I only just saw this and it's past May 25th. What can I do?
Well the first thing is to act quickly!
Yoru Google Analytics is still alive and kicking and tracking and storing data, but Google will have set your analytics data retention defaults to 26 months and they will have started deleting data that is older than that date.
For most companies that is not a problem, but you don’t want to lose any more if you want to do any tracking analysis past 26 months.
So login to Google Analytics, and follow the steps above or watch the video. But do it now.
Google Analytics data retention settings for GDPR – where to find out more
If you’d like to learn more about GDPR and how it affects your marketing strategy, read our blog article “3 top tips for successful marketing post-GDPR.”