Should you care about the EU's cookies directive if your site uses Google Analytics?
Most websites have a tracking solution used to collect information about visitors to the site. These tracking solutions influence the decisions which increase web traffic.
Google Analytics is a popular tracking solution used by popular websites like Twitter, Washington Post, New York Times, and Mashable. This software is not only powerful, it's also free.
This service provides you with comprehensive statistics about how users interact with your application or website including the geographical location of visitors, average time on site, traffic, and other important metrics. Google Analytics also has marketing tools like remarketing advertising capabilities.
Cookies are used by Google Analytics to provide these services. It's the only way Google can gather information, identify unique users, identify special sessions, and store information.
Most Google analytics accounts have an opt-out setting active to which Google allows to track website metrics.
What is ga.js?
ga.js is a Google Analytics tracking code. This code is able to track events and its size allows for faster downloads. Cookies are browser detailed for ga.js. A user working on Safari on their work PC will have different cookies stored than when using Safari on their home computer.
Google Analytics uses different cookies to note down information. A built-in GA code determines when the cookies expire.
These cookies accumulate a domain hash that links them to one site.
Here's a look at examples of Google Analytics use of cookie.
This cookie contains all the information on the source of traffic for the current visit, the cookie doesn't change if no traffic source information is found for the current visit. This cookie doesn't contain historical information for previous sources. It's the way Google Analytics attributes visit information, such as transactions and conversions to a traffic source. Being a persistent cookie means it expires in 6 months. The only way to refresh it is to change the traffic source.
Utma is the main way through which Google Analytics tracks unique visitors. The cookie stores the date, time of the first visit, and a visitor's ID. Also, this cookie stores information on the number of visits they've made. The -utma cookie can last for up to 2 years. However, you can customize the expiration time in the tracking code.
-utmb is a type of cookie that tells Google Analytics whether a visit has timed out and also how far the visit went. It also stores information of the start time of the visitor's current visit as well as the number of page views in the current visit. This persistent cookie expires in less than an hour. But, each page visit refreshes it.
This is the only session cookie used by Google Analytics. The -utmc cookie registers that the visit ended once the user closed the browser.
A Cookies Policy is a legal requirement under the EU Cookies Directive.
The directive is meant for any website or app directed towards European Union citizens or a website that is owned by a business in the European Union.
Under this directive, it's required to:
You also need to comply with all applicable laws and regulations relating to the collection of information from visitors.
One of these laws is the EU Cookies directive also known as the Cookie Law.
The best way to get consent is to include a banner or a pop-up message on your webpage.
You need to write in language that is easy to understand and place it somewhere that one can notice on the website. You can use two methods to get consent:
With an affirmative action consent, you can place a clickable button or a checkbox in the notice.
The user needs to click on it to consent. You can get implied consent by placing a banner ad that makes it known to the user that continuing to browse grants you the consent.
Zoopla's notification is similar.
Here are a couple of websites that are using Google Analytics:
The AutoTrader website lists Google Analytics as one of the cookies they use on their website. Also, they provide information on how a user can opt-out of being tracked with Google Analytics
Note at the end, they admit to configuring Google Analytics to avoid a user's identification when browsing their website.
Their sole reason of using these analytics cookies is to improve the user experience. They also have a link in which a user can opt-out.
COTY lets the users know that they use Google Analytics to find out what products and web pages their users prefer.
They also have an opt-out link with instructions on how they can change their settings to avoid being tracked by Google Analytics cookies.
The Plexiart site has a conspicuous Google Analytics paragraph that states its main intention of using these cookies.