Q3 2020 Edition of The Refresher

Monday, Oct 5, 2020

In today’s edition:

  • Ecommerce for App & Web
  • CCPA signed in to law
  • Server-side GTM
  • IDFA on iOS

But first, a word on the fractured state of privacy protections in North America and how that is going to make our jobs as marketers much harder.

Canada and the US are both in need of major updates to privacy protections. California is taking the lead with the newly-finalized California Consumer Protection Act. But this highlights what will be a major challenge for marketers in the future.

We may struggle with GDPR, but at least it covers the 27, but soon-to-be 26, EU member states.

In North America, states and provinces have had to take the lead on privacy. Virginia, Florida, and Nevada are all in the process of updating their privacy laws. Canada is starting a review of privacy laws which is an improvement on the process that spawned our current laws that were enacted federally after BC, Alberta, and Quebec took the lead with their own protections.

This patchwork of legislation creates confusion for marketers who are on the compliance front-lines of privacy laws, and it creates excessive legal risks to online businesses operating in North America.

As North America catches up to Europe and some Asian countries giving actual enforcement mechanisms to a new generation of privacy protections, marketers are going to be increasingly occupied with compliance.

The wider the privacy net, the easier this new future will be.

Google launches server-side tag management for Google Tag Manager

This doesn’t sound like a big deal but it really is. Browsers are taking action against companies that profile your online behavior by limiting cookies and other storage.

Web analytics is not the target but it is collateral damage so, depending on what browser you are using, a significant proportion of returning visitors are being tracked as new visitors after just one week or, in some cases, after just one day.

Server-side tag management fixes this.

It also gives you more control over how data is shared with services like Google Analytics and marketing automation systems. This has many benefits like reducing the chance that you inadvertantly break your privacy policy or a privacy law, as I have done shhh…, and improving data quality.

The drawbacks are that you need to pay for your own tagging server, which should run about $100 per month for most SMB sites, and that you need a developer to manage your tags, although community templates will alleviate this problem over time.

If data quality is really important to you, you should be jumping on this. For most of you, you should be keeping an eye on this since it will get cheaper and easier over time.

Apple Kills IDFA on iOS

IDFA was the Apple-sanctioned device identifier used for in-app advertising and analytics.

In it’s place, Apple is requiring users opt-in to advertising and analytics. You will be getting a lot less data for in-app analytics and remarketing is basically dead on iOS, as it already is on Safari and Firefox.

There might still be some work-arounds that work at this time, but Apple’s been very proactive in eliminating alternate tracking mechanisms.

If you need to track an app, your developers need to be making adjustments now. If you are relying on in-app advertising, you need to be preparing new strategies because your world just got flipped on its head.

Ecommerce Released for GA App & Web

Google Analytics App & Web is version two of Google Analytics. No past changes compare to the difference between the Universal Analytics that we are all familiar with and App & Web.

The advantage of App & Web is that it uses an event-based data model treats all data equally. Most of the why-can’t-I-get-that-from-GA moments I encounter are because of the difference between page views and events or quirks related to sessions.

These problems are all solved with App & Web.

Ecommerce is now supported, but it’s not at feature-parity with Universal Analytics yet.

If you are starting a new site, you should start with App & Web. If you employ at least one full-time analyst, you should start running App & Web in parallel with Universal Analytics. Everyone else can still wait.

California releases final version of privacy regulations

California’s new privacy regulations has technically been in force since the beginning of the year, but they only finalized CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) in August.

The law is modeled after GDPR with some significant differences. The biggest is that tracking under CCPA is opt-out.

It also applies to companies that do business in California or collect data about residents of California, that includes Californian students studying abroad.

CCPA typically only affects companies with over $25 million USD in revenue. Exceptions include companies that sell data (the definition of sell includes trading data so any sort of sharing of data should be vetted by lawyers) and companies that market to children.

If you sell data, sell goods or services for children, or have $25 million USD in revenue and do business in California, you should be working with your lawyers and technical team to get compliant. If you are not sure about these things, then monitor the situation because a lot of details need to be clarified through litigation.

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