Help! My Google Analytics has been taken Hostage! - Greater Cincinnati Automobile Dealers Association

Help! My Google Analytics has been taken Hostage!

-George Nenni, Generations Digital

Most dealers have heard of Google Analytics (GA), and they may know it is installed somehow on their website. They might even understand that GA gives them performance data on click-throughs, visitors, leads, etc. What many dealers don’t really know or understand is, who controls the administrative access to their analytics, and why does that matter? It matters because today a few unscrupulous automotive website providers and ad agencies are holding dealers’ Google Analytics access hostage and claiming the dealer does not own this data. When the dealer decides to switch websites or agencies, they are not able to access all of their historical data to do comparisons on past performance.

Let me try to draw a similar comparison: Dealers are certainly in control of their monthly financial statements, but what if a dealership were to lose access to their last 5 years of financial statements? What if the dealer were told they don’t own that data, and the person that owns it (or claims they do), won’t give them access? There would be an uproar, since the dealer could no longer do year-over-year P&L comparisons, or effectively manage their business.

Google Analytics is the free analytics package that is installed on nearly every dealer website across the country. GA allows the dealer to track key performance metrics on their websites. It tracks visitors, traffic sources, percentage of mobile traffic, bounce rates, VDPs, leads, chats, texts, all those wonderfully important web metrics. The more historical data you have, the more effectively you can do year-over-year comparisons to answer questions like, “Am I driving more mobile traffic vs. last year?”, or “Are my visitors more engaged than they were two years ago?”, and many more. Without historical data, you are essentially starting over every time you switch website companies. I educate and advise dealers to immediately secure admininstrative access to their GA (as well as their Google My Business and Google Tag Manager container, but those are for another discussion!).

So how do you find out if you have admin access, and if not, who the admin may be? Start with using the website and find out how many GA instances are loaded on your website.

Write down the UA number for each GA instance (UA numbers are the unique identifiers for each instance of GA). You should then start asking questions. First, ask your website provider and your agencies who controls your Google Analytics? Once you determine who the admins are, find out which GA instance has the most historical information. When you’ve found the admin for your oldest and active instance, you should politely (but directly) ask for the admin access to be turned over to the dealership. You can then add the agency back as a user, but without admin privileges. This one seemingly small move will provide you benefits for many years to come. You will now be in control of your GA data, and never again be held hostage.

Of course, once you get this admin access, make sure you assign it either to the dealer principal or owner, or to a very trusted manager at the store. Keep in mind, if that manager someday leaves, you need to make sure you secure these logins. You do not want to lose the access to your GA, since those are the keys to viewing your historical website success metrics. Once you’ve taken this important step, the next step is to begin educating yourself more on the power of Google Analytics so you can put it to use in holding your advertising agencies accountable for campaigns such as paid search, paid display, and paid social.

I hope this explanation has not seemed too overly technical. If so please reach out as I am happy to help walk you through this process. If you are an automotive retailer, I would love to help you better digital marketing performance with a complimentary audit, including analyzing your paid search and social media spending. I can help you greatly improve your return on ad spend and gain more transparency with your digital marketing investments. Details here:

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