Digital Analytic Hysteria: the Panic-Free Path Forward
In our conversations with analytics industry leaders and brands, we’ve found that many organizations are nervously anticipating data collection/reporting/CDP platform migrations — what can be done reasonably quickly and efficiently within a broader context of consumer data privacy? While it’s important to take precautions that help you make the right decision for your organization, balancing the potential of massive cost implications and impact to data quality, European privacy directives and the new kid on the block, Google Analytics 4 (GA4), have led to heated discussions about the path forward for digital analytics at many organizations.
- What do the privacy directives mean?
- Is Google Analytics even legal as currently architected?
- Was Google Analytics declared illegal because of the configurations specific to the client who was sued?
- What is the CLOUD Act?
- Can the United States government subpoena my Google Analytics data?
- Can any US-based enterprise analytics platform be used in Europe?
So many questions… and relatively few concrete answers. But the answers to those questions are not the point of this particular post. (If you want more information about how privacy impacts the digital analytics industry, please feel free to check out writings by the well-informed Corey Underwood.)
What we’re talking about is the destination for many organizations — a re-evaluation of digital analytics vendors and strategies. That re-evaluation takes on the form of a formal RFP or a more general strategic re-evaluation by brands and the consultants and agencies supporting their clients.
Brands are asking a few questions:
- What tool is the right tool for us?
- Is this the year we invest in a CDP?
- Is this the year we add more use cases/channels to our CDP?
- What can we do now to prepare?
Vendors and consultants provide varying answers. You may have heard some of them:
- Consultants — Google Analytics clients should begin the migration to GA4 now to ensure 13 months of data and/or do an evaluation during this process using independent consultants (like the Data Sentinel teams’ previous selves! We were previously independent consultants.)
- Vendors — Migrate to our platform!
Brands may see these responses leading to a costly endeavor no matter what direction they are “forced” to take. Migrating to a new tag management platform can cost a lot of money, time, and has major change management implications — no matter what your prospective vendor tells you.
Migrating from Google to Adobe or Amplitude for analytics can be expensive, regardless of the fact that each option can be sold as a “lift and shift” project. We all know that “lift and shift” is used to justify lower cost estimates but in the end, when we’re able to review actuals, the exercise has an eerie similarity to a massive redesign project. And yes, those of us who have worked in consulting know that is exactly what we sell — a nice easy mapping that isn’t so nice and easy in practice.
The term “lift and shift” is used not only for cost savings but also to mitigate risk in the mind of a client. It implies that there will only be a few changes which should result in few “issues” — wink, wink.
Those of us in delivery know that is a bunch of bull. Migrating digital analytics or tag management platforms equates to an incredible amount of work and increases the probability of inconsistency in data collection and degraded data quality.
The inconsistency of data alone makes organizations hesitant to embark on any migration. Combine that with the costs of the “lift and shift” and organizations tend to make decisions that are more conservative than they should be.
There is a Path Forward
You’ll often hear the term: garbage in, garbage out. This is what everyone wants to avoid, especially in a migration which is ripe with opportunity to start fresh. We’ve just outlined how difficult that is. But what if a brand was able to reduce costs and lower the risk of data quality issues to ensure a smoother migration? Would a 40% reduction in cost and an 85% reduction in data quality issues allow you to make the right business decision for your organization? What if this solution could throw in a 95% reduction in the time between a data issue and the fix in production? Would you make a different decision for your organization?
At Data Sentinel, we don’t necessarily care what decision you make, but we want you to do what is right for your organization without staring at a wall of consulting costs and the inevitable overruns in the future.
You can use our platform to perform ongoing regression testing in real-time. By integrating Data Sentinel’s technology into the old “lift and shift” model, you can take a snapshot of the correct data and use that to map to a future state. This takes a hypothetical “lift and shift” model to a real lift and shift with no sarcastic air quotes. It’s now practical and more achievable.
If (read: when) data anomalies are introduced after your migration goes live, you will want an analysis of real-time data for 100% of traffic with the appropriate metadata accessible for review: what operating system is impacted, the distribution by browser, etc. This analysis will allow you to identify issues with the migration and remediate them quickly.
Why is this important? Put simply: data issues are not always universal. Sometimes they exist for a subset of your traffic not covered by your traditional use cases and are tough to catch in standard testing.
A more specific example: let’s say you have a month where you gather 100M pageviews, and PII is sent to Facebook in fewer than 50 instances. This isn’t hypothetical — it happened for one of our clients. Things like this happen all of the time, and most of the time organizations are completely unaware.
No matter what direction you go — Google to Adobe; Amplitude to Amplitude CDP, Google to Amplitude, Adobe Analytics to Adobe AEP — Data Sentinel is here to provide a path forward so that garbage in can lead to clean data out.
Reach out for a demo — we’ll show you how we provide real-time digital data quality monitoring along with the only platform to validate visitor consent for 100% of your traffic in real-time.