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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New Google Analytics Features Inject Intelligence Into Marketing

Amy Chang, Group Product Manager for Google Analytics, notes that when GA was bought and launched by Google, it was "all about democratizing web analytics," bringing more powerful web analytics functionality to a wider audience of businesses than ever before. Mission accomplished. Books will soon be filled with tales of Google's awesome data management capacity (they'll be dry books... but books, nonetheless). Providing such a massive exercise in computing to so many millions of customers -- with multilayered segmentation capabilities -- is a task nearly no competitor could accomplish, least of all for free.

Today Google continues its aggressive pace of development for GA, releasing a long list of enhancements. They'll delight power users and laypersons alike. Chang notes that the more customized (as opposed to customizable) features continue to be part of the trend of analytics moving out of its old role as the sole preserve of IT departments, and putting intelligence directly in the hands of marketers and managers.

On the power user front, we get more custom variable capability. This was available in the past, but it's becoming easier to use. To take an example, GA is now making it easier to track segments like session attributes (logged-in vs. not-logged-in users) or visitor characteristics (member vs. non-member, or even demographics like gender). Don't expect setting this up to be easy, but it's getting a lot easier.

For the rest of us, Analytics Intelligence is evidently the culmination of extensive product development. Rather than having to customize a "what's changed" type of report yourself, or having the canned report be limited to vanilla categories, this alert functionality is tuned so that it's better at predicting which change alerts are the most likely to cause a marketing department, specifically, go "eeek!" (or in other cases, trade high-fives around the M&M's dispenser). Note the slider in the screen shot below: you can set the "alert sensitivity" to "high" or "low". As Google aptly notes: "Now, you can spend your time actually taking action, instead of trying to figure out what needs to be done."

Other new toys include the ability to set 20 goals instead of 4, and custom engagement metrics considered as potential goals, as opposed to clunky custom segments you had to cook up from scratch.


And that good old IT person who formerly had the only set of keys to your marketing statistics, and sent them to you in whatever format she felt appropriate? Expect a lifelike facsmile to be staring vacantly into the camera for the Official GA Photographer, looking every bit like the lonely Maytag repairman.

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