Google Analytics Data Compliance Guide

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Today’s average digital consumer is more aware and concerned about how their online data is being used. With online usage increasing by 47% in Q1 of 2020, data privacy has dictated much of the future of digital marketing. 

Industry regulations are also tightening up, CCPA is now enforceable by law as of July 1st of this year. This means businesses slow to revisit how they manage their data could face serious obstacles, both in losing customer trust and (in some cases) facing legal penalties.

The good news is you have full control of how your data is used in Google Analytics! 

According to Google, Google Analytics allows you to adjust data controls at any time in three different ways:

  1. Control data settings in your account
  2. Control use of data for ads personalization
  3. Remove data from Google Analytics

1. Control Data Settings in Your Account

Dive straight into your Google Analytics "Admin" section to access data settings controls. 

Accept Data Processing Term

This is the European Economic Area General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

Although these may seem like regulations that only apply to specific geographies, we recommend reviewing the terms and accepting under Account Settings as a best practice. Accept the terms via Admin > Account Settings > Data Processing Amendment.

Disable Some or All Data Collection

This is especially useful for those affected by GDPR or CCPA, or similar data regulation. (Google resource on how to disable data collection programmatically)

Custom Set the Data Retention Priod

You can specify how long Google Analytics retains user and event data in Property Settings. After that period, data will automatically delete from your account and from Google’s servers.

Custom set the retention period via Admin > Property Settings > Tracking Info > Data Retention. 

💡 Changes made to the data retention period takes effect after 24 hours.

Change Your Data Sharing Setting

Google Analytics collects data that is then shared with their support teams to maintain and protect their system’s operations, but you can select exactly what gets shared with Google in your Account Settings. This way, users can be as open or restrictive as they want to be with their data.

Change your data sharing setting via Admin > Account Settings > Data Sharing Settings.

Change Google Signals settings

Enabling Google Signals allows aggregated data from Google users who opted into Ads Personalization to flow into: 

  • Remarketing with Google Analytics
  • Advertising Reporting Features
  • Demographics and Interests reports
  • Cross Device reports

Google Signals lets you build a comprehensive view of user behavior across different browsers and devices, basically, unlocking new levels of reporting!

You can control these settings in order to limit ad personalization. Change Google Signal settings via Admin > Property Settings > Tracking Info > Data Collection.

2. Control Use of Data for Ads Personalization

This method of data control is all about how it’s used in digital advertising. 

Ads personalization levels up your advertising game by allowing you to use Analytics audiences to custom tailor ads to users, improving campaign performance and cost efficiency. Here are key ways that Analytics data can be customized for ads personalization:

Control / Disable Ads Personalization for an Entire Property

Users can disable ads personalization for an entire property, or by geography via Admin > Property Settings > Tracking Info > Data Collection.

💡 Click the gear icon to either disable ads personalization in all geos, or select specific geos to disable. 

Control Ads Personalization by Event  or User Property

If you have an App + Web property, you can customize ads personalization as specific as event type or user property. 

💡 Excluded audiences won't be eligible for export out of Google Analytics to create custom ads. Rather, this will limit data use to measurement only.

3. Remove Data from Google Analytics

The third method of managing your data is by scrubbing it out entirely. Data deletion can be done on several levels:

  • Delete data from Analytics servers
  • Delete a property
  • Delete data for individual users

Delete Data from Analytics Servers

If you want your Analytics data nixed from Google’s servers, simply open a request and specify a date range for deletion via Admin > Property Settings > Data Deletion Requests.

There is a maximum of 250 pending requests per property. To check in on the status of your request, check the full list in the admin section. Deletion process uses Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) as opposed to your account’s time zone, so be sure to adjust for that when specifying the date range for deletion.

Delete a Property

Users can scrap entire properties and their views from Analytics accounts.  Once you move the selected property into the trash can, its data is permanently deleted after 35 days, at which point you will no longer have access to its historical data. Delete a property via Admin > Property Settings >  click “Move to Trash Can”.


But let’s say you accidentally delete a property and want to recover it within those 35 days. You can recover that data via Admin > Account > Trash Can > select the item to restore > click Restore.

Delete Data for Individual Users

Perhaps you’re noticing personally identifiable information (PII) come in for a specific user. You can delete this single user’s data from your account via a little-known report called the User Explorer report.

The User Explorer report allows you to inspect individual user behavior at the session level. Once you drill into a specific ID, Analytics gives you the option to delete that user’s data by clicking “Delete User”.

Delete data for an individual user via Audience > User Explorer > click into user ID > click Delete User.

💡 Deletion requests are completed within 72 hours.

Privacy is a Top Priority for Digital Marketers

The digital landscape is evolving, placing privacy as a top priority for consumers and businesses alike. Industry regulations and user expectations are placing new (and enforced) pressures on businesses to manage how their data is used. 

Well, now you know three different ways to do that! 

Use this guide to catch up to the new standard of data privacy and compliance and options to manage your data.

Stuck on a step? Reach out to us on Twitter (@SeerInteractive) or in the comments below and we’ll do our best to help!

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Chanton Phan
Chanton Phan
Sr. Associate, Strategy & Analytics