Who really knows the full extent of Google Analytics’ capabilities? There are over 100 reports available even in the standard level platform and even the most avid users amongst us struggle to keep up to speed with the latest additions to the platform, but finally there’s a solution.
At the start of August 2016, Google released a Demo Account for Google Analytics (GA) as a beta version. This GA account is populated with data from the Google Merchandising Store, so is fully active and available to test in real-time. This release has been a long-time in waiting for a large audience keen to be able to demonstrate the advancements and changes that GA has recently made; both agencies and brands alike have been calling for this feature.
The Agency Approach
The development of the GA Demo Account has facilitated a very profitable gateway for agencies. Agency analytics departments tend to have a very small group of different defined product types. One product widely offered is training. The release of the Demo Account allows agencies to highlight, and train users on, the various features available in GA without requiring brand permission or extra development time. This will lead to greater understanding of the platform and, Google will hope, a greater level of the GA adoption, and increase in market share.
The second reason that agencies will benefit from this is increased exposure to the features and complexities of GA before selling their services to brands. Before, there was no way for agencies to test features before recommending them to brands. With the ability brands have now been given to access a demo version of GA with real data before committing to features they are unsure of, it becomes a much more tangible proposition when agencies are describing the implementation, the data processing, and the output that will be involved. It moves features from the conceptual phase to the tangible and achievable.
What does this mean for Brands?
Client-side users will like this too, for a number of reasons, but the greatest is providing business cases internally for development time. The same tangible aspect that applies for agencies, will also give internal web analytics and product teams significant leverage in development time after seeing the effectiveness of the output. Depending on the scale of analytics reliance, brands will see a significant benefit to outlining the specific KPI requirements to measure feature impact.
Within the Demo Account, Google have looked to showcase the available features within GA, these vary in their recency and levels of use amongst analytics professionals. A couple of examples of the most customisable features that are included are:
However, there are a few glaring and quite surprising omissions, and a few limitations, from the setup. There is no UserID view or App property level available – a perfect showcase for the functionality and features these offer. Possibly the most surprisingly, is the lack of GA360 features and beta reports – this seems like the ideal platform to deliver the full enterprise experience and for Google to highlight their areas of progression to a whole host of potential customers.
Overall, it feels like the platform is in a development phase. The introduction of the concept is a significant step forwards in the connection between GA and its practitioners, but there are areas that could do with significant investment, adding value for both users and Google themselves.
Can we use this to sense any signals from Google about what could be next on their radar? It would be foolish to suggest this isn’t part of a bigger plan. Earlier we referred to the areas that are missing from this release; and it is highly likely that the value that would be provided by adding those is the fundamental starting point to ensure Google retains a steady stream of interest in the tool.
Beyond these additions, Google will surely be using this as a beta testing ground. All new reports would benefit from significant testing phases and live data from varying locations, devices and browsers – the product level feedback that could be generated would be invaluable for the GA team.