If a Service is Free, You Are the Product

When you use Google Analytics to optimise your website, Google is using your website to optimise someone else’s.

A post from Webtrekk CEO

Christian Sauer


Google is a great company. They build great products, and most of them are free for the customer.

One of these great free products is Google Analytics (GA), which millions of websites use to track their visitors.
Between GA and Google Analytics Premium, which is like GA on steroids, Google tracks a huge chunk of global internet traffic – and never deletes the data. This drives Google’s server costs through the roof – and drives their data centres out to sea – but in return the company accumulates data that is absolutely priceless.

Because while Google Analytics is available for free, there is indeed a transaction taking place.

With every morsel of data that goes from your website to Google via Google Analytics, Google’s advertising gets that much better. And while that might include advertising for you, it also includes advertising for your competitors.

Let’s look at targeting. What usually happens is that marketing agencies define a target audience for you, based on demographics, geolocation, general interests and so on.

So they might say your target audience is female, 25-35 years old, highly educated. This target audience can be reached through Google. So far so good.
But with digital media, a very important new data type for targeting evolved: intent. You show intent once you click on a product, a service or search for a flight. Intent is strong, and will always be stronger than all other forms of targeting.

Take two women from your target audience. Do you know what they will purchase next? No! One might buy a car, the other one a bra. Target groups don’t tell you that. Intent data does. That is why intent is so powerful.
Google was the first company to realise how valuable this data is. Most of the companies out there, even today, have not fully captured what kind of information and value they have with the data of their website usage.

With Google Analytics, Google collects a major share of all intent data. At the same time, Google offers the biggest network for targeted advertising in the world.
That makes total sense in Google’s eyes. But does it make sense for advertisers to give Google their data? This data, after all, is absolute gold for advertising.

So just remember that if you are using Google Analytics to optimise your website, Google is using your website to optimise someone else’s.

Let's talk