As we all know, Google has now moved its new analytics solution, “Google Universal Analytics” (UA) from beta to production. Now, after a slow rollout, all Google Analytics (GA) accounts will be migrated over to the new solution. While users won’t notice much day-to-day, other than another change in GA’s constantly updating user interface, but under the surface a lot is changing, including changes to the methods used to calculate sessions and unique visits.
The new platform has been developed to better track the multiple devices and touch points which are now ubiquitous in the digital world. Google has predicted the following benefits for users upgrading to the new system:
Understanding how customers interact across multiple devices
Insights into the performance of mobile apps
Improvement of lead generation and ROI by incorporating offline interactions
Improved latency by reducing client-side demands
Key Benefits of Universal Analytics
Universal Analytics allows tracking of a Unique ID, letting you identify the activity of one user across multiple devices. This means you could track a user from when they start creating their Shopping Cart on their mobile phone, to when they check out later on their laptop
You can set custom dimensions and metrics. If your website has custom features which are not normally included in GA’s metrics, you can collect and segment this data using the new UA interface
Configuration options are now easier to use, and have more possibilities. Previously, GA had a fixed session time of 30mins, but this is now customisable to any period from 1 minute to 4 hours. You can also exclude referrals from particular websites, and modify how organic search traffic is attributed in your account
Beyond Universal Analytics, the future of GA is uncertain. However, Google have made some things clear:
- There will always be a free version of Google Analytics! With the launch of Premium, there had been concerns that this would disappear, but those worries are unfounded;
- Every report, metric and dimension available in the Web User Interface will also be available in the forthcoming API;
- Industry benchmarks will be available in a more useful format, following their previous removal;
- The integration of GA and Google Tag Manager will continue, as the two services become more reliant on each other. This will give the user much greater control over how data is collected and analysed.
The Future Analytics Landscape
Looking beyond Google Analytics specifically, we can identify some key trends in the analytics world over 2015:
Using real-time analytics, enabled by tools such as Google Tag Manager, we should see the emergence of immediate content personalisation, showing users content and promotions tailored to their wants and needs;
So far this has been a limited field, with very few companies offering an API version of the web user experience. This looks set to change, with Google launching an API for Google Analytics and for Google Tag Manager;
It’s no longer enough to have your analytics optimized for your desktop site, regardless of whether you are a small business or a large corporation operating in the real time marketing arena. Users now spend 10 hours per month consuming data via mobile, and analytics needs to reflect that.
Dr. Karandeep Singh is head of analytics and insights at Digital Annexe.