Is Google Analytics and GTM blocked in China?

Is Google Analytics and GTM blocked in China?

Google Analytics is the most popular digital analytics tool in the world, but there is just one problem – it doesn’t work like it’s supposed to in a country that has more Internet users than the entire population of the United States.  In 2010,  Google/Alphabet had a ‘fight’ (http://www.businessinsider.com/google-pulls-out-of-china-2010-3) with the Chinese government, which resulted in Google puling out of China, and the Chinese government blocking all Google services.   Google Analytics is one of the victim in this ‘fight’.

 

Is Google Analytics blocked in China? No and Yes

No because….

Google Analytics data collection is NOT BLOCKED, and it has been this way for the past 5 years.  I have clients that are using both Adobe Analytics and Google Analytics(Free and 360) in China, so I have the opportunity to compare traffics in both tools on the same site.  Unique Visitors and Page Views from China reported by both tools are in line with each other, and I know Adobe Analytics is definitely not blocked by the Chinese government.

According to greatfire.org, both “https://www.googletagmanager.com/gtag/js” and “https://www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js” are accessible inside China for as long as it started recording.  I travel to Shenzhen regularly, and even when using a residential ISP, Google Analytics library is always accessible.

Yes because….

Google Analytics reporting interface is completely BLOCKED. This is the same for Data Studio, Google Optimize, and other related services.  If you are inside China, and using a residential Internet service,  you will not be able to access Google Analytics reporting interface.  So you can collect the data, but you cannot view them.  I am guessing it is because Google Analytics reporting interface is ‘analytics.google.com’, and since anything under ‘google.com’ is blocked, Google Analytics is blocked as well.  There are several ways to get around it .  1. If you work in a multi-national company, your company’s network is likely not affected by the Firewall, so using your company’s VPN is an option.  2. Use a 3rd party platform such as Domo for reporting, these tools get data directly using Google Analytics API from one cloud to another. They have no conflict with the Chinese government, so they are not affected by the Firewall.   Of course, this is not going to be as flexible as using GA’s native interface.  You are basically recreating all of the reports you want from Google Analytics in Domo.

Is Google Analytics library slow in China?

You will notice a difference in response time when accessing the GA library inside vs outside of China.  It is still generally acceptable, it should not be a concern if you are implementing Google Analytics without GTM, directly using ‘https://www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js.

Google Analytic’s display feature is BLOCKED or often times extremely slow in China.  This feature enables the demographic and interest report in GA, and also your remarketing campaigns with DoubleClick.  My advise is to turn this off, here is the instruction to do so, https://developers.google.com/analytics/devguides/collection/analyticsjs/display-features.

I visited Slack.com while I was in Shenzhen China, it is just several miles away from Hong Kong where Google services are not blocked, and here is what I got:

What about GTM?

As you can see from above screenshot, the tag library (https://www.googletagmanager.com/gtm.js) will work.  GTM’s configuration interface(https://tagmanager.google.com) is still BLOCKED, I think it is because it’s under ‘google.com’.  My advise is to not use GTM if your site has a lot of Chinese visitors.

What are the alternatives?

Pretty much everything else, and as far as I know, GA is the only digital analytics tool that’s having issues in China.  Despite GA is ‘semi-blocked’ in China, many companies still keep using it.  I think it is because there isn’t another free tool in China that is as good as GA.  We know Google Analytics can handle the enormous traffic from China, it’s just a matter of lifting the ban, and I think this ban will lift eventually.

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