Understanding Google Analytics Premium
One of Google’s latest and more significant announcements recently was the launch of Google Analytics Premium- a paid version of Google’s very popular web analytics system - Google Analytics.There has been a fair amount of industry talk since its launch with some people asking the obvious question, “This is leading up to the end of the free analytics system we’ve all enjoyed for the last six years, right?”Wrong, it’s not. It’s not even operating in the same space. Matt Trimmer, Principal Consultant and Managing Director of ivantage explains…So, what is Google Analytics Premium and who needs it?Firstly, let me explain a little about ivantage. We are a Google Analytics Authorized reseller and have been a Google Analytics Certified Partner since 2005 – since the beginning in fact. We were one of only two original Urchin resellers in the UK – the company and product acquired by Google in 2005, providing Google with the foundations for Google Analytics. We are one of the first in a wave of authorized resellers for Google Analytics Premium authorized by Google to sell, implement and support Google Analytics Premium and provide data interpretation and training services.We’ve been providing services to Google Analytics users for six years and are part of Google’s Seminars for Success programme where we train to an approved syllabus on Google products in London, UK and Austin, Dallas and Houston in Texas, USA.Lifted limitsGoogle Analytics Premium has massive processing power. It can process up to a one billion hits per month in real time. What’s a hit? Well a hit is every utm.gif request made to the Google servers that for your site could include Page views, Events, E-commerce Transactions and Items, and Custom Variables. Every time Google Analytics sends data back to Google’s servers to build your analytics reports, it does so using an image request for a 1x1 pixel called the __utm.gif. You never see this on your web pages but it is requested and displayed.Using Google Analytics Standard Addition (as it’s now known) on a very busy website utilizing advanced features like Event tracking, E-commerce and Custom Variables might possibly hit some data processing limits. We all know Google Analytics is free, but it’s free up to 5 million page views per month per account. After that, Google’s Terms of Service request that the Google Analytics Account is linked to an active Google AdWords account. This limit is actually extended to 10 million hits per month, but to use Google’s own words: “You should not send more than 10 million hits per month. If you exceed this limit, there is no assurance that the excess hits will be processed..”. So with Google Analytics Premium, the data processing limit is considerably lifted – to 1 billion per hits per month. That’s a lot of web traffic.Another, more physical limit that larger websites might experience when using Google Analytics Standard Edition is what’s known as the 50,000 table limit. Google Analytics Standard Addition will only display your most common 50,000 unique entries in a given processing day. That’s a lot – think of 50,000 unique keywords in your Keywords report or 50,000 unique URLs in your Top Content report. However, with Google Analytics Premium that limit is lifted to 1 million. If you are fortunate to have a website this busy that breaks the 50,000 unique entries limit, your Keywords table or Top Content table might have entries in them announced as “(Other)”. This is usually a clear indication that your site is reaching the 50,000 unique entry limit and Google Analytics Premium might be worth considering. It might also be a good idea to get some expert advice, as there are some configuration settings in Google Analytics Standard Edition that might need tweaking. Another lifted data limit involves sampling. In Google Analytics Standard Edition, when a non-standard report is requested that involves more that 500,000 visits for the date range selected, only a sub-set of the data is displayed to speed response – so called “Fast Access Mode” (see graph below). With Google Analytics Premium, the sampling kicks in at 50 million visits – only then is the data sampled. So again, for large websites, more data can be seen and better decisions made.