Google Analytics has retired two dimensions, Service Provider and Network Domain, that helped marketers produce more accurate reports on website traffic and performance.
Google dropped the two dimensions without warning on Feb. 4, 2020. It was something of a surprise — the company usually gives several months’ notice before pulling the plug on a feature or functionality. Google hasn’t explained why it made the change, but apologized for the inconvenience, saying “we ourselves had little notice in this case.”
Potential Impact from Losing Network Domain, Service Provider
So why are some marketers upset about losing these two dimensions?
Service Provider showed the Internet Service Provider (ISP) for the visitor to a website, while Network Domain listed the official domain for that ISP. Both dimensions could be used to create filters that excluded certain visitors from the website’s reporting.
For example, some companies would use Service Provider or Network Domain to exclude visits from their own employees to the company website. It also made it easier to identify and exclude traffic from bot-related sources. Leaving out those two audiences produces performance reports that are often more representative and meaningful for decision-makers.
Now that Google Analytics isn’t filtering for Service Provider or Network Domain, users might notice an increase in traffic and sessions to their website.
Many B2B marketers liked these dimensions because it allowed them to see if a potential client was checking out their website, how long they were there and what pages they visited. (If those visitors were listed as their own Service Provider, as many large companies were.)
Losing Network Domain and Service Providers could affect Google Ads or Display & Video 360 results, too, if an ad campaign employs a Google Analytics-built Audience that incorporates the two dimensions.
What Should Marketers Do?
Alight Analytics has always advised our clients to use IP address range to exclude internal users from their website reporting. (Google Analytics continues to support this option.)
But we still recommend that users review any Google Analytics reporting that might be using Service Provider or Network Domain and remove those dimensions from their reports.
Still committed to using them? Google suggested this potential work-around:
For clients who still want to use the two deprecated fields, Network and Service information may be available from various third-party data providers. For customers who rely on this data, you can look into gathering the data from a third party and sending it to Google Analytics as a custom dimension.