Google Analytics just announced a new set of features that definitely brings Google Analytics to a next level. Among the features unveiled are: custom reports, segmentation on the fly, API, revamped account and profile management, motion charts and integration of Google AdSense. As a Google Analytics Authorized Consultant and permanent beta tester, we have had the chance to test some of these features for a couple of time now.
Let's start with the most exciting feature in my opinion: Advanced Segmentation, commonly known as segmentation on the fly. I have been playing with it for a couple of time now and let me say that this opens a whole new world of analysis options inside Google Analytics! Advances Segmentation is available from the left pane of Google Analytics, and below the date frame selection:
Advanced segmentation lets you create segments of visitors, based on pretty much all metrics available in Google Analytics. While profiles let you create segments of visitors in a similar fashion, they cannot be used on existing data and do not offer the same level of user friendliness. Advanced Segmentation lets you create and compare custom segments for data already gathered by Google Analytics, letting you slice and dice the deepest piece of data, even if it was measured one year ago. The following screenshot shows the segment selection pane:
Multiple criteria can be combined to create complex segments. How about creating a segment with first time visitors that came to my website after 6pm and saw the contact page? I have put up a video demonstrating how to create and manage advanced segments:
On the not so good side, i find it odd that the segments are shared between all your accounts. While there are some generic segments that can definitely be used within multiple accounts, i am sure you will end up creating a lot of specific segments that you will not want to see in your other accounts. As an agency that manages a lot of accounts, i would love to see the ability to make a segment "public" or "private".
Revamped account and profile management
Accounts and profiles can now be compared side to side on several metrics. The date range is fixed and compares the last month to the preceding month. In order to really appreciate the account comparison feature, i need a way to choose which sites i want to compare. Adviso is managing almost 100 accounts, therefore the inability to choose which sites to compare makes this feature useless to me.
In my case, the profile comparison feature is more interesting since it lets me compare the performance of profiles based on different groups of visitors or different objectives easily, without the need to go back and forth between profiles. On the other hand, I find it sad that Google Analytics did not include more metrics like conversion rates and e-commerce metrics:
A couple of features have been added to simplify the day to day maintenance and follow up. Profiles are now grouped by domain name and tracking number, making it easier to test and manage. Renaming profiles is now only a click away, so there are no reasons to leave those messy accounts unordered! Finally, we now have the ability to star profiles, in the same way we can star a discussion in GMail. While this does not appear as a big deal, i find that it allows the creation of more profiles, with the by letting us identify the most important ones.
Custom reports, Motion charts and Integration with AdSense
At time of writing, i did not have the chance to use these new features.
I am currently anxiously waiting to find out if the custom reports module is a serious contender to the upcoming report module from Yahoo Web Analytics, previously known as Indextools.
On the other hand, motion charts is supposed to unleash the power of multi-dimensional analysis, by allowing us to analyse how custom metrics interact over time, in a graphical manner.
Finally, AdSense receives the same treatment AdWords received in Google Analytics: specific reports that let you analyze the performance of your ads, combined to the abundance of data Google Analytics offers.
Application Programming Interface
After segmentation on the fly, this is a dream come true! We have been waiting for a long time for this one, the ability to retrieve data from Google Anaytics using an official and documented API. This opens up a a lot of possibilities; custom dashboard and automatic data manipulation are now closer than ever.
We will be playing with the API in the next weeks and will let you know what we think about it.
I think Google has managed to meet and surpass our expectations (once again). With the rise of Yahoo Web Analytics promising a lot of enterprise features for free and the price dropppings of major web analytics vendors, it could not have arrived at a better time.
We are still waiting for a true integration with Website Optimizer to be perfectly happy. Until then, we have a lot to experiment and test.