How to protect your Google Analytics data against Ad Blockers

Ad Blockers block Google Analytics. ~30% of your visitors use Ad Blockers and this number is growing. By the end of 2020 ~50% of internet users will be using Ad Blockers.

What does this mean for you as a website owner and what can you do about it? Let’s find out.

Google Analytics, and the Battle against Ad Blockers

Ad Blockers have come on the rise in the past few years. Where most people had never heard of them 5 years ago, Ad Blockers have now become quite common.

Why? Privacy.

For years we thought we were anonymous on the internet. But recently we have become more aware of the data we share and — more importantly — how data’s collected.

This growing awareness has had all kinds of consequences, one of the best known examples being the GDPR, which triggered the flood of cookie notices and changed the internet forever.

Another example is Ad Blockers.

Ad Blockers are basically the middle finger towards all tracking and remarketing platforms, including Google Analytics.

Google striked back silently by getting rid of the Web Request API in Google Chrome. Severely impairing Ad Blocker extensions for their browser.

Meanwhile Firefox — a huge advocate for privacy — added Enhanced Tracking Protection.

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  • The impact of Ad Blockers for Website Owners

    Whether you are aware of it or not, these changes have severely impacted you and your website.

    The number of internet users using an Ad Blocker was ~30% by the end of 2019 and it’s expected that this number grows to ~50% by the end of 2020.

    The story of Jimmy the Bartender

    Do you know Jimmy the Bartender? Of course you don’t. I just made him up.

    Today, Jimmy will show us how Ad Blockers were damaging his business and what he did about it.

    This is Jimmy. A fashionable bartender.

    Jimmy is a fashionable bartender, but he’s a bit slow and daydreams a lot. He’s continuously caught off guard by his pub’s visitors. They always want to blindfold him for the sake of privacy.

    They sit around, walk around, touch everything, make a mess and leave. Without interacting with Jimmy. Every. Single. Day.

    One day some guy takes off Jimmy’s blindfold and says: “I saw you make a mean cocktail. Can I get a Drunken Sailor?”

    Jimmy’s confused and asks: “How did you know that?” To which the guy answers: “Oh, I’ve been here before.”

    This is a rather simplified example, but it illustrates the biggest problem Ad Blockers create for Website Owners: you don’t know anything about your visitor unless he/she decides to tell you!

    How can Jimmy accurately measure his conversion if he doesn’t know the total number of visitors? He should — at least — be allowed to know who’s been in his bar. Right?

    Before we continue, let’s revisit GDPR.

    Privacy: Rights of visitors vs. rights of Website Owners

    Since the introduction of the GDPR it’s a Website/Store Owner’s obligation to inform a visitor about the information he’s collecting, i.e. the Privacy Policy.

    When this information contains anything that might identify an individual, the Website Owner is required to offer a possibility to accept or decline the collection and sharing of this information, i.e. the Cookie Notice.

    Data Collection ≠ Privacy Violation

    Just like you, Jimmy has the right to know that a man wearing a gray cap, a pink shirt, green pants and G-Unit sneakers visited his pub. As long as he doesn’t know the man’s name, he’s free to use this information however he wishes. Even judge his sense of style.

    When Mr. Fashion Choice Disaster wants to open up a tab and tells Jimmy his name, Jimmy is obliged to inform him that he is storing his personal information and why.

    Just because data is collected, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re violating your visitor’s personal privacy.

    The Impact of Ad Blockers on your Google Analytics Data

    On the internet, post GDPR, you are Jimmy and ~30% of your visitors are blindfolding you. Meaning you can’t make accurate data driven decisions.

    When you miss about 10-30% of your data, it has a major effect on your campaign attribution, budget allocation & SEA optimization.

    Regardless of how politely you are informing them. Whether they accept your cookie notice or not. You will not know they’ve been there.

    Ever.

    Prevent Google Analytics from being Blocked

    What if Jimmy had an assistant to take off the blindfolds?

    CAOS’ Stealth Mode technology is this assistant for your WordPress site.

    Since v2.7.0 CAOS is packed with Stealth Mode Lite and can be enabled within the plugin’s Extensions tab.

    Jimmy’s voluntary assistant can’t remove all blindfolds, simply, because some visitors are more persistent than others.

    Jimmy decides to hire a paid assistant who never leaves his side.

    Meet Stealth Mode Lite’s bigger, more muscular (and a tad more handsome) brother.

    The name’s Stealth, Super Stealth

    On my 35th birthday (April 21st!), I publicly launched CAOS Super Stealth Upgrade: a premium add-on for CAOS’ Stealth Mode Technology.

    CAOS Super Stealth Upgrade removes all blindfolds. All the time.

    Starting at € 29,- per website (volume discounts and unlimited licenses available) CAOS Super Stealth Upgrade bypasses all Ad Blockers and protects your Google Analytics data.

    The impact of Ad Blockers on Google Analytics. Before and after.
    With CAOS Super Stealth Upgrade I found out that almost all my visitors use an Ad Blocker and uncovered 70% of my (otherwise hidden) traffic!

    The above image illustrates perfectly what CAOS Super Stealth Upgrade is capable of.

    It also illustrates the amount of damage (depending on your type of audience) Ad Blockers can do to your marketing objectives, budgets and overall business operations.

    Be smart, like Jimmy.

    Get CAOS Super Stealth Upgrade and never allow your visitors to blindfold you. Protect your Google Analytics data against being blocked by Ad Blockers and make your Google Analytics Data 100% accurate.

    Daan van den Bergh

    Daan van den Bergh is a carefully seasoned web developer. His methods consist of thinly slicing your website’s beef and serve you with a platter of the best performance carpaccio on a bed of rocket — the only thing he’s more passionate about is food. Hire him at ffwp.dev.

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