Dusseldorf Tourism: How the Company increase its GDPR-compliant Google Analytics Data by 40%

Like many companies, Dusseldorf Tourism uses data from the web analytics tool Google Analytics to improve the user experience on its website. DWC assisted in setting up a Google Server Tag Manager, which significantly improved the amount and quality of the data. At the same time, an effective data protection strategy was implemented through the transition to first-party data.

Results of the Collaboration with dwc:
  • Full data control by bypassing all common browser tracking preventions and ad blockers

  • At the same time, the use of Google Analytics and the Google Tag Manager is ensured to be in compliance with data protection laws through first-party tracking

  • The End Result: GDPR-compliant increase of the Data Volume by 40% with increased Data Quality

About Dusseldorf Tourism

Dusseldorf Tourism GmbH is a modern urban tourism organization that promotes Dusseldorf as a tourist destination nationally and internationally. With their inspiring, dynamic, and hometown-loving products, services, stories, and events, they aim to make the vibrant city attractive. The company works closely with local, regional, national, and international partners. Their services for guests range from hotel accommodations and city tours in the incoming sector to the tourist information. Presenting always current travel occasions, Dusseldorf Tourism represents the destination in relevant source markets and locally supports the industry with the B2B networking event "Travel InDUStry Forum". Various communication measures present events, culture, shopping, and culinary attractions in a way that is appropriate for potential visitors.

The Approach

The Problem

Dusseldorf Tourism GmbH is run by a public body. Compliance with German data protection laws such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Telecommunications-Telemedia Data Protection Act (TTDSG) is therefore a top priority. The use of Google Analytics, a web analytics software from an American provider, was internally criticized due to the transfer of personal data to the USA. This is particularly frustrating since most of the metrics analyzed by Dusseldorf Tourism (page views, popular products, entry and exit pages) are not personal data. However, due to the functionality of client-side tracking, even when tracking a single page view, a large number of metadata, some of which are personal (IP address), are sent directly to the web analytics provider (in this case Google). Due to these metadata, client-side tracking always requires consent. With consent not granted and additional browser tracking preventions (e.g., in the Safari browser) or ad blockers, a significant amount of available data was lost.

The Challenge

The challenge was to implement data protection-compliant tracking to personalize the customer experience while meeting high data protection requirements as a public body. Dusseldorf Tourism wanted to ensure that all customer data is protected while still enabling effective tracking to generate tailor-made recommendations and offers. The previous cookie banner led the company to miss out on many consents and thus essential customer data for analysis purposes. For this reason, the company was looking for a consulting firm specializing in Consent Management and server-side tracking.

The Solution

Several problems needed to be solved: No processing of basic data due to the renunciation of personal data possible, reduced data basis due to missing consent and browser tracking prevention, and a lack of control over the data sent to Google.
To solve these problems, a Server Tag Manager is now being used. This first-party server accepts the data from the browser and transmits different information to Google depending on the consent status. If a website visitor has not given consent, no personal data is collected or cookies used – the Server Tag Manager only transmits the basic data (see below for an example) without meta-information to Google. Users who have consented to the processing of their personal data via the Consent Management tool continue to be tracked fully. However, the First Party Server Tag Manager prevents browser tracking preventions or ad blockers from taking effect.

The Collaboration

The Path to dwc

In search of an expert in Consent Management and server-side tracking, Dusseldorf Tourism came across DWC. The decision was made for dwc due to its solid expertise and long experience in the area of Consent Management and server-side tracking. The interface competence between data protection, digital analytics, & cloud management was ultimately convincing.

The Implementation of a server-side Tracking Software

The Implementation of a server-side Tracking Software

The first-party construct consists of a Google Server Tag Manager in the cloud and the content delivery network Cloudflare. Within the construct - depending on the consent - personal data is removed, data is enriched and sent on to Google Analytics.
The infrastructure ensures efficient use of cloud resources and thus a cost-effective overall model. Caching and a firewall keep the load on the origin server low, which results in less traffic and computing power being charged in the cloud. The App Engine is a cloud product that stands out particularly for its fast, automatic scaling with increased traffic and short latencies.

Functionality of "Basic Data Collection"

While users who have given consent are fully tracked, the data collection for users without consent is limited to so-called "basic data". This basic data consists only of non-personally identifiable values such as:

Functionality of "Basic Data Collection"

This information is transmitted to Google together with a user ID. The user-ID is - unlike in tracking with consent - not stored in the browser in the form of a cookie but calculated server-side using various characteristics of the visitor, supplemented with a date stamp and a salt (security key) and encrypted with SHA256. Neither Google nor Dusseldorf Tourism has the ability to read original values from this ID.

The Result

The collaboration between Dusseldorf Tourism and dwc provides a significant added value for the customer. Through the implementation of a proprietary tagging server, Dusseldorf Tourism now receives 100% of customer data and is simultaneously data protection compliant. Compared to client-side tracking, the amount of collected data has increased by almost 40%. By analyzing the customer data, the company can better understand the preferences and needs of visitors and offer customized content. This leads to higher customer satisfaction and contributes to the long-term achievement of business objectives.
The implementation of a first-party data collection grants the customer full data control. As a result, Dusseldorf Tourism is also flexibly positioned for the future. Updated data protection policies or new tracking services can be implemented quickly and easily.
The close collaboration between Dusseldorf Tourism and dwc enabled the customer to implement the project in the shortest possible time and cost-effectively.

Logo Düsseldorf Tourismus
Technologies used:
  • Cloudflare

  • Google Server Tag Manager

  • Google Web Tag Manager

Data Protection Compliance according to:


#Digital Analytics
#Google Cloud