My Take: Google Analytics Audit with Verified-Data.com

A forensic approach to Google Analytics data quality and compliance.

Image for post
Image for post
Verified-data.com audit of Quebec-cite.com

What’s the price of good data quality? Worse, what’s the cost of making good decisions informed by bad data?

The notion of “good decision informed by bad data” is particularly pernicious. As a decision maker, you might think you can rely on good data when it is not actually the case. You just don’t know it. You confidently make a decision but you’ll realize much later it was an error costing time, money and even reputation.

The Value Proposition

My bag of experience includes the creation of the Web Analytics Solution Profiler (aka WASP) over a decade ago — at the time, it was the first tool specifically created to make data validation and auditing accessible to non-technical marketers and analysts. Over the past 20 years, I have done countless implementations and more often than not had to pick up the mess of a botched implementation or something that was set once and forgotten thereafter. Data quality is a constant battle and nowadays, the requirements and expectations are even higher.

Image for post
Image for post

What’s Cool, New & Improved

Since I reviewed the service six months ago, a lot has changed. Let’s look at some cool features.

Validations

The number and types of validations are quite impressive — over 200 different tests. Here are some of the validations:

  • Misconfiguration — wrong filters, poor segmentation, incorrect Adwords linking, missing ecomm variables.
  • The dreaded collection of personal information, including checks for dimensions containing credit card numbers, email addresses, phone numbers, and many more.
  • Duplicate counting — duplicate tracking pixels.
  • Rogue counting — ghost accounts you are not aware of.
  • Tracking code coverage report — the percentage of pages with the correct tracking code firing.
  • Missing data — are file downloads and outbound links tracked?
  • Error page differentiation — are they tracked correctly?
  • Cookie report — list the cookies set, their properties and validate their consent i.e. for GDPR.
  • Validate cross-domain tracking — so easy to get wrong.
  • Smart checks of campaign parameters and spam referral.

Automations

  • Audits scan can be on-demand or scheduled and either scan new pages or re-use the previous same pages.
  • You can select the region from which you want to do the audit and the browser for the simulation.
  • A nicely laid-out email is sent once a scan is completed.
  • Validation thresholds are determined through some pre-checks and the user is free to use those “auto-adjusted” values or enter some strict values to pick up “warts and all.”
  • Audit results link directly to the relevant Google Analytics reports — support handy!
  • Reports are clearer and easier to read, with improved layout and graphs.
  • Speaking of reports, there’s a cool new API feature coming up which will allow you to bring the audit results directly in your tool of choice (I’m already thinking of a nice Tableau dashboard, although

Compliance

  • In order to make auditing easier, there’s a “consent override” feature so you can review what happens when consent is given — or not.
  • The historical audit scorecard becomes a useful reference if you ever need to demonstrate what you’ve done to ensure compliance.
  • And of course, the risk of personal data collection is thoroughly checked.

Auditing Quebec-Cite.com

There’s nothing better than actually looking at a real site and a real audit.

Image for post
Image for post
Initial audit of Quebec-cite.com

It is very rare to see an initial audit reach a quality score over 70. They must have had a real expert in to help them. — Brian Clifton

Image for post
Image for post
Audit of 75 websites conducted by Verified-Data (Source)
  • Under Data Validity, some events were being fired before a pageview, resulting in missing landing pages. A couple of events had long labels which were truncated. And there was still one referral considered to be spam.
  • The way E-Commerce Tracking is setup up for this site makes the Add to Cart and Checkout steps irrelevant, so as expected, those were flagged as issues.

Despite the depth of my experience, Verified-Data was able to pin-point and help me fix data issues which would likely have remained hidden and unknown.

Image for post
Image for post
Abstract from the comprehensive audit report
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Image for post
Verified-Data offers a comprehensive settings panel

My Take

Image for post
Image for post
Audit results after fixes and adjustments

Written by

All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust. Digital marketer & analyst with a strong interest for privacy and the ethical use of data.

Get the Medium app