The Transform team is at the Wired Conference 2018, and tech bloggers are buzzing around interviewing attendees. They spot me and ask, “What’s the next big thing in tech? Without hesitation, I say, “Privacy!” The blogger may have raised an eyebrow in skepticism back then, but today? Privacy comes first.
When did it start?
It started in Europe with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018, which was created to keep our personal data safe and sound. More recently, you might have heard of a little legality that dropped on January 1, 2023 - the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). This law protects Californians and ensures businesses are transparent about their data collection and sharing practices. This is just the start; privacy-first laws continue to become more prevalent over time, so why not just embrace them as a benefit?
Who’s doing it?
Apple positioned its approach to privacy as a product benefit. Their devices are built from the ground up with it in mind, always asking before sharing. It's one of the reasons why I switched my family's personal email away from Google Workspace to iCloud.
We also decided to adopt a privacy-first approach. In fact, take a look at our Privacy First Policy. It's a great example of turning an often legal must-have into our promise to take our client data and privacy seriously.
Taking a privacy-first approach eliminates friction in the UX (User Experience) caused by cookie banners and other dialogs asking users to opt-in. It's also a great way to see ALL the analytics. Since Google Analytics 4 (GA4) isn't truly GDPR compliant, its use will often trigger the requirement to use a cookie banner.
Google made a big move and phased out Universal Analytics (UA) in early 2023, bringing in GA4 instead, which comes with some much-needed privacy controls. But as of November 2023, GA4 still isn't GDPR compliant and requires user consent via a Cookie Banner.
Did you know that removing all those third-party pixels and switching to a lighter-weight analytics solution will help speed up your load times, and it's a great way to be privacy-focused? You'll also stop sharing your visitors' data with ad networks and social platforms. Win-win, right?
Since we are a privacy-first agency, we do not install any analytics tool by default (except for Cloudflare Web Analytics for our fully managed DNS clients). Personally, I'm a big fan of Cloudflare's analytics, but it's important to note that they have only a 6-month retention, and no UTM tracking, which may prevent it from being a practical solution for large marketing efforts. There are a lot of alternatives to GA4, take a look at this web analytics comparison to see which one makes sense for your needs.