The thoughts behind the new Google Analytics

The thoughts behind the new Google Analytics

1st June 2011

March 17th of this year Google announced a new version of Google Analytics. And to my surprise on State of Search we never posted one single article about this new version. A few weeks ago I attended the Google Analytics User Conference in Amsterdam where representatives from Google explained the vision behind the new Google Analytics.

There I learned a little more about the thoughts behind the new Google Analytics and the views from Google on the future developments for the analytics package. In this article I would like to create some insights in these thoughts. I will use quotes from Googlers to illustrate their thoughts on the new Google Analytics.

This isn’t working

The need for a new version of Google Analytics arose from the difficulty developers faced to add new functionality to the old version of Google Analytics. There were a lot of things they wanted to add based on the feedback from users, but the system didn’t allow quick implementation of new functionality. Sometimes functionality couldn’t be developed the way they wanted it at all. That was the moment people at Google said to each other “This isn’t working”. Considering the current growth of the web they decided to make a new Google Analytics that should be ready for the future of the web.

Back to basics

The developers of Google Analytics went back to absolute basics. They sat down with four engineers in a room and started from scratch. “V5 is about rebuilding Google Analytics from the ground up, we rewrote every line of code”. The new version has a complete new core which makes it easy to add new functionality quickly and easily. It’s mainly built for further development. “Instead of redesigning every time a new release came out, we wanted something that’s extendable”. The new platform should be scalable, open for quick development.

“We basically sat down and said: ‘Alright here are 50 things people found annoying, let’s go fix them’.” A few of these problems they tackled with a new user interface. Now it is possible to switch to the exact same report you’re looking at in a different profile. They made it possible to bookmark every single report your watching. They implemented auto complete for all URL fields. All small annoyances for users they tackled in the new interface.

Although the new version is meant to be a starting point for further development a few new features are already officially announced or already implemented. These include :

  • Multiple Dashboards
  • Site speed tracking
  • Multi-Channel funnels
  • Plot rows
  • Events as goals

The future

So the new Google Analytics is built for the future. But what exactly does this future behold? The challenge for Google Analytics is “not the lack of data, but the ability of tools to create actionable insights from that data.” Therefore there are a few focal points for the future of Google Anlaytics: help the company, help the marketer and help the user.

Focusing on companies Google is aiming for a better control for multiple users. This includes more user levels, easier implementation, multiple dashboards and easier sharing across users.

Focusing on the marketer Google announced a few areas they will be focusing on. These are:

  • attribution
  • seo
  • social (focused on Google +1?)
  • mobile
  • display

How they are going to develop these areas is still a little bit vague. The most common response to the different question asked were ‘We can’t tell anything about this yet, but it’s going to be awesome’

The last focal point, ‘help the user’, doesn’t specifically include certain developments but refers to the new way Google wants to develop Analytics: based on user feedback.

On other thing could stated was that the focus is on integration of Google products: data only Google has access to. Think about Google webmaster tools, Google +1, website optimizer, etc. Integration of other external data sources is left to third party developers with the help of Google’s API. On the GAUC Google admitted they cannot build in all the functionality everybody wants, therefore they support third party development through the API as much as they can. They also stated that the integration of external data sources into Google Analytics will be something they look into for the future.

Based on the Google Analytics User Conference I got better understanding of where Google wants to go with this product. This new light made me quite a bit more enthusiastic about the future of Google Analytics. What do you think?


Written By
Jeroen van Eck is a consultant search engine marketing at the online marketing company E-Focus in the Netherlands.
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