Google Analytics Removes Service Provider and Network Domain Dimensions
In early February of 2020, the Service Provider and Network Domain identifiers in Google Analytics were removed… deprecated… and replaced with the dreaded (not set).
Read below for my take on the impact for B2B lead generation, and some potential workarounds and alternatives to recover or replace these previously useful GA dimensions.
Last Updated: Jan 17, 2021
What Happened to Service Provider and Network Domain?
Two Google Analytics Network Dimensions… Gone Forever
Early in February 2020, I was doing some GA work for a client and stumbled upon this issue.
For this B2B client, I have RegEx filtering in place to look for customers and prospects who have specific text string patterns in the Service Provider and Network Domain dimensions.
It’s a very rudimentary B2B IP Lookup function for lead generation and follow-up purposes, and my client liked getting weekly automated reports with these insights.
Here’s a quick example of what that might have looked like for a specific filter on the Service Provider dimension, with Network Domain as the secondary dimension.
Then I noticed that the activity line for this custom report dropped to zero starting in early February. Not good!
I had a strong feeling this was not a coincidence. Something else was going on here.
Finding the Service Provider (Not Set) Problem
A quick look at the unfiltered GA data produced the A-ha! moment for me.
In early February 2020, the Service Provider dimension went almost completely to (not set)! Network Domain started showing (not set) as well.
This was (not good) for me and my client!
My custom RegEx filter to find “interesting visitors” was suddenly rendered useless.
Why Did Google Analytics Drop Them?
Looking for a Full Explanation
I did some quick research by Googling “google analytics service provider not set” and found several helpful posts… and a potential cool workaround to restore these dimensions.
At the time, I only saw a brief explanation from Google on this action. See the ClickInsight article (link below) for that.
Here are five resources that go into greater detail. They also do a nice job of explaining the many helpful uses of the Service Provider and Network Domain dimensions.
A helpful article from ClickInsight, including a brief (and vague) explanation from Google.
A support thread from Google here. (Active through at least March 11, 2020.)
An Analytics Community forum discussion here. It’s helpful and still active as of ~ mid April 2020.
An article covering the loss of the ISP dimensions in GA from Seer Interactive.
A post from the founder and CEO at Leadfeeder, one of the industry leaders in website visitor identification software for B2B sales and marketing teams.
As these articles and discussions show, common use cases for these dimensions also include identifying and filtering out spammy incoming traffic, excluding internal company network traffic, etc.
In my particular case, though, I was using them for B2B sales prospecting by identifying visiting company names that might be of interest for my clients’ sales and business development purposes.
This is also what Leadfeeder performs, although in a much more sophisticated, feature-rich, and sales-friendly way.
You can give them a test drive for free via the 14-day trial offer below.
Note: I have an affiliate marketing relationship with Leadfeeder. I may be compensated for customer signups that come via this website.
How To Restore Service Provider and Network Domain
A Potential Workaround
It’s possible to restore these lost GA dimensions through a workaround provided by Jerre B. over at IpMeta. In this approach, new custom dimensions replace the two that Google Analytics removed.
I haven’t tried this yet but will do so, either for a client situation or for my own website(s).
(If you’ve tried IpMeta already and have results to report, please drop a comment at the bottom of this post… thanks!)
Impact on B2B Lead Generation
Other Options for Identifying Website Visitors
For those like me who use the Service Provider and/or Network Domain dimensions for B2B IP tracking purposes, I see two decent paths forward.
Option 1: Try the IpMeta approach and then continue using GA as before, only with the new custom dimensions in place for filtering, etc.
Option 2: Take a close look at the 3rd-party software tools built specifically for website-based B2B lead generation using visitor identification and tracking.
Note: Just be sure the vendor’s software hasn’t been hampered by the loss of these two GA dimensions. See the Leadfeeder article (also linked above) for more on that potential issue.
I’ve researched these tools and offer more insights and resources in my group of website visitor tracking posts here.
For more about the software solutions in this space, see my vendor summary and links here. Or hit the button below. (New tab/post will open.)
Goodbye to Service Provider and Network Domain
So, it looks like as Google Analytics evolves, we’ll have to learn to adjust to big and unexpected changes like this one.
And… maybe start taking a more serious look at some Google Analytics competitors.
At this point, I’m definitely missing the Service Provider and Network Domain dimensions and will be pursuing options… both for B2B clients and my own websites.
Comments and Feedback
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How did you formerly use the Google Analytics Service Provider and Network Domain dimensions?
Is their removal a major or minor issue for you?
Have you looked into the workaround provided by IpMeta?
And/or does this boost your interest in using 3rd-party tools for B2B IP Tracking benefits… for lead generation and sales follow-up?
Drop a quick comment below if you have feedback, questions, or any other insights to add here.
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