Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Google Analytics Expanding to Google Universal Analytics

Google Analytics is expanding to Universal Analytics. Doesn’t that name strike a clue about what it might be about? When I came across this, I knew Google Analytics is going to encompass a lot of data from different sources, but how far was the question in mind. [1]With Universal Analytics, you can collect more types of data and improve your data quality, so you can get a better understanding of how visitors interact with your business at every stage — advertising, sales, product usage, support, and retention.
As mentioned in the post on multi-channel analytics, earlier, we could confer the credit for a transaction or conversion that happened to a single source. But now, with all the options users access the same website from multiple devices/platforms and also arrive after hopping through multiple channels. Hence, it becomes tough to follow the user pattern. 

[2]Thus, what was initially called web analytics, had to be renamed digital analytics in order to account for all these actions, which not only happens on the website, but also offline and via several digital equipments. Earlier, when we were interested in web analytics, visits metric was of highest priority, and the end of an analysis. However, as more devices were invented, and people started interacting using all these, a need arose for tracking and combining data that would accurately predict user behavior. Thus, as Web Analytics was baptized as Digital Analytics, the priority moved from visits to the visitors/users/customers.
[3] Making assumptions with data is a recipe for disaster, whether you’re conducting a simple science experiment or analyzing a multichannel online marketing campaign.

A customer centric analytic tool is in demand, which would help track user behavior from multiple levels and aggregate it in one place. This is exactly what Universal Analytics is aiming to achieve. With UA, Google is taking a stride in Analytics to resolve these issues, in a simple way.

Features of Universal Analytics:[1][2]

1.      Makes it possible to integrate data across multiple devices and platforms:
With the Measurement Protocol on UA we can measure the interaction of users with all the different devices: smartphones, tablets, game consoles, digital appliances, etc. So by implementing UA, we can get the devices to send the data straight to your Analytics account from the different devices.
2.      Aids in multi-channel Analytics:
I had discussed about the challenges of implementing and tracking multi-channelanalytics. UA is making it all easier by making it easy to sync your offline and online data. Basically, it allows us to add our own data from different channels into the Analytics tool. Integrating our own data allows us to add the metrics that is more relevant to our particular case.
3.      Custom Dimensions and Custom Metrics:
Now you can create your own custom metrics and custom dimensions and drill down deeper into your data, in the direction you want to.

4.      A focused mobile app analytics:
With the increased number of mobile users, companies are also investing much in designing mobile apps and mobile friendly sites. And hence its analytics becomes crucial. A focused mobile app analytics, that would send the data to your Google Analytics account, makes it easier to perceive a holistic view.
How easy is it to migrate from GA to UA?
1.      [4]Migrating would be similar to switching from GA to Omniture SiteCatalyst, or Coremetrics, or any of the other analytics platforms where there are risks involved and you’d probably want to run the two side-by-side
2.      The current users of GA will not be automatically updated to UA. A new tracking code needs to be added.
3.      [5]The entire site has to be retagged. The good news is that this can be done using the free Google tag manager.

Advantages of Universal Analytics:
1.      [6]Unlike Google Analytics, which relies on cookies, Universal Analytics uses a JavaScript library called analytics.js, which is a step towards ensuring privacy and security.
2.      [3]The tracking code is shorter, which implies faster loading times.
3.      [7]Though Universal Analytics add features to Google Analytics its privacy commitment is still in hold and secure.

Universal Analytics Use Case:

[4] “Can you imagine something like this being used at the Olympics? Everyone ticket has a bar code that is scanned at an event – that anonymous info can be sent to GA in real-time to see how people move around from event to event.
Taking that a step further, retailers could use the same bar code as a coupon code in their stores i.e. if you are an Olympics ticket holder, receive a 10% discount in our store today. At the point of purchase that info (and all the transaction info) can be sent in real-time to GA i.e. real-time offline transaction tracking. Exciting times!”
[1]The product is still in closed beta. If you are interested in gaining access, you can place a request here. What do you all think about these new features offered in Universal Analytics? Share in the comments.
[7] http://support.google.com/analytics/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=2838718&topic=2790009&ctx=topic

Image Courtesy:
3.       blogs.position2.com 


  1. That's really interesting. I notice that I access pretty much the same sites from my phone and from my computer, so I've been wondering, is there any way to identify users across devices beside having the user log in? Is that even a useful thing to do?

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