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After landmark rulings by the Austrian and French data protection authorities, Corentin Hue, communications manager at France générosités, questions whether this is the end of the road for Google Analytics and tracking cookies. In this blog, he looks at what this could mean for nonprofits and how they communicate with donors.
Online giving is booming. Here in France, online donations were up by over 70% in 2020, according to our annual barometer. Digital is becoming increasingly important for nonprofits, but the environment is becoming more restrictive and therefore a riskier space.
After a historic decision by the Austrian Data Protection Authority that the continuous use of Google Analytics contravenes data protection regulations (GDPR), the French Data Protection Authority CNIL has now followed suit, sanctioning the use of Google Analytics in transferring data outside the EU and saying:
“While Google has adopted additional measures to regulate data transfers within the framework of the Google Analytics functionality, these are not sufficient to exclude the possibility of access by American intelligence services to this data.”
Several thousands euros of lost donations
For France générosités, CNIL’s approach is not surprising. Indeed, Google Analytics hasn’t been classified as being exempt from consent and, during discussions with the CNIL, their team explained their view that Google’s solutions were not compliant.
For years, the members of France générosités have been working to comply with the GDPR. When it comes to cookies compliance, the impact has been felt astutely. Our member associations and foundations have recorded an average of 50-80% data loss on their CMP (Cookies Management Platform).
This has a real consequence on the acquisition of donations, restricting organisations’ abilities to optimise marketing campaigns or to source digital leads for donation. For some of our members, this loss was valued at several thousand euros a year. But it’s challenging to measure the full picture reliably and the true cost to the sector may well be considerably higher.
Should this “cat and mouse” game continue?
We are seeing a change within this digital era, which includes Apple’s policy update and web browsers that default to block tracking cookies and the weariness of Internet users towards cookie notices. Should this “cat and mouse” game continue? Do we really need to keep optimising these tools and looking for lost data on Google Analytics?
Even while waiting for a response from Google Analytics to the latest CNIL announcement, it seems clear that we need to start changing our practices. It’s time to recognise the utopianism of free data provided by Google Analytics and to be ready to invest in sourcing and managing reliable, relevant and essential data for our collection strategies.
The CNIL has already referenced 15 digital tools, which in a certain version and in a certain configuration (accuracy is the key to our business apparently) are “compliant” alternatives to Google Analytics. And at France générosités, we’ve set up a working group to co-build a comparison matrix of new measurement tools, sharing their feedback and experiences across the network. Our comparative table will be finalised by June.
What is the future for digital marketing?
New compliant solutions are being worked out between Google, site editors, online advertising players and data regulation authorities to develop alternative tools to third-party cookies that comply with GDPR, such as Topics from Google (recently replacing FLoC).
In the meantime, audience measurement tools can offer a wide variety of features at prices ranging from €100 per month to €50,000 per year. What investment are we willing to make to have access to this data and finesse analysis? These alternative technologies provide statistical and attribution data that is very different from Google Analytics.
Many players (like Apple with IOS 14) are changing their attribution models to better match today’s constraints. However, repetition is the key to transformation, so why continue to obsess over this data?
According to Adfinitas, 53% of the messages our associations and foundations send to donors are not personalised. We must then rethink our KPIs to seek qualitative data and develop our loyalty cycles to reduce attrition.
At France générosités, we will continue to support the sector and our members through all these new constraints to develop the generosity of the French people and support the professionalisation of fundraising. The first step will be to report back on our assessment of the 15 alternative tools to Google Analytics, which we’ll share the comparison matrix through Fundraising Europe this Summer and report online at www.francegenerosites.org.
About Corentin Hue
After taking an MBA in communications and marketing strategy, Corentin worked with Caritas France, French Food Banks, and Humanity & Inclusion. He joined the syndicate France générosités three years ago, where he leads on institutional communication, promotion of generosity with the platform Infodon.fr and runs the annual campaign #VosDonsAgissent. Corentin supports NGO members through digital and innovation in fundraising, coordinating the organisation’s many working groups.