Understanding Google Analytics Premium


By The Drum Team, Editorial

November 14, 2011 | 8 min read

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.
User InterfaceOne thing many people are surprised to learn about Google Analytics Premium is that it doesn’t look any different from Google Analytics Standard Edition. They only physical difference you will see in the user interface is in the ability to download un-sampled reports - that’s all. This fact, together with the way in which Google Analytics Standard Edition can be converted to Google Analytics Premium – by flicking a switch at Google - makes transitioning simple as chances are, the marketing and IT team are likely to be very familiar with Google Analytics already.
Data ownershipAnother significant difference with Google Analytics Premium is data ownership. With Google Analytics Standard Edition your data is owned by Google and for some organisations that’s simply unacceptable. Now with Premium, you retain ownership of your collected data. Service Level AgreementsAnother important part of Google Analytics Premium product is money-backed Service Level Agreements. In the unlikely event that Google is unable to collect data 99.9% of the time in any calendar month then service fees will be refunded. The same goes for reporting availability to 99% in any calendar month and processing data within a maximum of 4 hours 98% of the time in any calendar month. Important features sought by an enterprise customer when contracting with an analytics vendor.More Custom VariablesCustom Variables are really all about visitor segmentation. Whilst Google Analytics can always tells you about your new and returning visitors, what about returning customers? When a user logs into your website, a Custom Variable can be set querying information from the database such as whether visitor is a simply a registered user or an actual customer. Google Analytics Standard Edition enables 5 such variables to be set. However, with Google Analytics Premium 50 are available providing incredibly powerful segmentation around a visitor, visits and pages.Multi-channel Attribution ModellingOne other feature that mustn’t be forgotten about and which is exclusive to Google Analytics Premium is Multi-channel Attribution Modelling. Google Analytics Standard Addition is now equipped with Multi-Channel Funnels which allows you to understand how your traffic sources assist in conversions in addition to how they convert on a last-click attribution basis. Since conception, Google Analytics has reported sales or goal conversion on a last click attribution basis. Meaning the last source of traffic to the site is attributed with winning the conversion. Viewing Multi-Channel Funnels enables you to see a less rigid picture – in other words did specific channels not only convert on a last click but did they also assist in other conversions.Multi-channel Attribution Modelling takes this one step further with the ability to change the attribution model applied for example from last click to even distribution across channels or to even- weighted distribution on first and last click basis. Such modelling allows you to understand the full value of all marketing channels in your media mix and to create hypotheses and test to find the most effective attribution model for your industry and product.
Fixed budgetingThe fixed price of Google Analytics Premium is also as innovative as the original price of Google Analytics Standard Edition. That’s because, unlike all other web analytics products, there’s no penalty for having a successful web site. Virtually all web analytics vendors have pricing policies linked to page views or hits, which makes budgeting very difficult and has to be accounted for when planning traffic generating campaigns. With Google Analytics Premium the price is linked only to a ceiling of 1 billion Hits per month.Implementation, support and training Included in the annual contract for Google Analytics Premium are implementation, support and training from either Google or the Authorized Premium Reseller – ivantage for example. The attraction of using a reseller will often be that a reseller will get to know your business and its website objectives over time, which should be more valuable to you as will be the consulting and insight services only resellers are in a position to provide.


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