All posts tagged Google Analytics Premium
In our previous post, we discussed the importance of micro conversions in setting and tracking the specific goals of your website. Google Analytics now allows you to experiment with different variations of your content to see how these are affecting both your micro and macro conversions.
Announced earlier this month, Google Analytics’ Content Experiments will now allow you to optimize for the goals you have already set up on your site’s account by delivering actionable data on which page designs, layouts, and content are most effective for driving conversions. It’s a similar tool to Google’s Website Optimizer, only instead of being integrated with AdWords, it’s built into Analytics. As a result, Website Optimizer will be phased out over the summer with the last day of access scheduled for August 1, 2012.
Some early critics of this offering have mentioned the inability to run multivariate testing (testing various combinations of components on a single page) within the tool, but this is actually a totally different type of testing. In theory, Content Experiments would be a more dynamic form of testing than standard A/B or multivariate. By combining a robust new statistical engine with an intuitive layout, it promises:
- A setup wizard providing step-by-step instructions for setting up experiments and quickly launching new tests
- Reuses existing GA tags so that you only need to add one additional tag to the original page
- Provides insight into which content performs best and identifies a “winner” once statistically significant data has been collected
By offering different variations of your site’s content, you’re essentially letting your audience decide how your site should look and function. Google is rolling this out gradually, so it won’t be available for all sites for at least a few more weeks. Once available, it is simple to set up:
- Under the Content section, click Experiments
- Add the URL for the original page, then the variations you’ve uploaded
- You can add up to five full variations of the page you’re testing (or six, according to their rollout video)
- Select which goal you’d like to improve, and what percentage of visitors to include in each page experiment
- Once the code is added to your site, you can review the full experiment and go live
Once live, it tracks how visitors convert and compares the experiments to the original page while in progress. During the testing phase you can also see the likelihood of the variations to outperform the original – giving you quicker, predictive data that you can act on without having to wait for a clear-cut “winner”.
The SEO industry has been crying foul since October over the controversial decision by Google to make Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) search the “default experience” for signed-in users. Why? Because SSL allows Google users to encrypt their search queries, and as a consequence, stops passing query data to analytics software – including Google Analytics. Once the switch was made, analytics users began to see “not provided” appearing in their data, indicating that the search had been encrypted and the keyword data was therefore not available.
Google’s reasoning, ostensibly, was to protect the privacy of its signed-in users. As they explain on their blog, “(Secure Sockets Layer) is a protocol that helps provide secure Internet communications for services like web browsing, e-mail, instant messaging, and other data transfers.” Though this may be true, there are a few glaring holes in this move towards increased “privacy”:
- Google’s rapidly expanding suite of services and social media encourages users to stay logged-in, depriving webmasters the necessary data on their users to improve their content and engagement.
- Part of the reason they made the switch was to reduce the effectiveness of their competitor’s products. Google has accused Bing of using Google data to boost their own search algorithm on a few occasions, and they’re attempting to block as much of this data as possible from being seen by anyone but Google.
- Google is giving PPC advertisers exclusive access to query data while refusing to provide insights to site owners who want to grow and improve the traffic organically. So it seems that the privacy protection does not extend to you if you click on a paid ad.
- It appears to be another bold move toward boosting their expanding social network, Google+. They crave the “+1”s that users add while logged-in, so that they can recommend sites to the people in your circles. Since their main rival at the moment, Facebook, has had a few major headaches in the past over privacy issues, Google continues to position itself as the more private, secure network.
But what benefit, if any, does this provide the user? The general consensus is that it does not accomplish much of anything, other than making analytics users’ lives more difficult. That, in and of itself, is not necessarily a horrible thing; however, if the user’s privacy and online experience is in no way enhanced by these changes, then it seems like a questionable decision .
And bear in mind that HTTPS (what shows in the URL field) is not a catch-all solution for online security. While it is good for protecting login pages and forms that handle sensitive information, essentially forcing much of the web to use this protocol could be considerably expensive, while providing minimal benefits:
- HTTPS uses more bandwidth, requiring more power and more servers.
- Pages usually load more slowly – especially on mobile devices and congested networks.
- Offers no real security advantages for static HTML pages – you can still be spied-on while browsing.
- It can cost a few hundred dollars per annum, per domain to set up HTTPS. For a small business that may be a prohibitive expense.
Obviously, we have not been thrilled with the news here at RSO. Not allowing us to see where some of our clients’ organic traffic is coming from (and it remains to be seen what percentage of the data is being blocked) is not so much detrimental to us, but to our clients’ business. Tell us what you think.
Google just announced last week that they are introducing a Google Analytics Premium Service geared towards their largest customers, some of the new additions announced in their Sept, 29th posting:
- Extra processing power – increased data collection, more custom variables and downloadable, unsampled reports
- Advanced analysis – attribution modeling tools that allow you to test different models for assigning credit to conversions
- Service and support – experts to guide customized installation, and dedicated account management on call – all backed by 24/7 support
- Guarantees – service level agreements for data collection, processing and reporting
GA Premium was developed in close coordination with the same large clients that it is intended for. During the extended pilot phase, Gucci, Travelocity, TransUnion, eHarmony and others. During this period, the Premium service was tailored to their needs and addressed their issues with the original Analytics.
So for a yearly fee, Google will provide a stronger server to run custom reports, a dedicated account manager, and a 24/7 support and service level agreement (SLA). What’s missing from the announcement? The price tag. Various sources have reported that it will be in the neighborhood of $150,000 per year. It may seem like a hefty price, but by comparison, paying over $100K a year for Adobe’s Omniture SiteCatalyst platform is not unheard of, and considering the size of most of these companies, $150k is a drop in the bucket.
Besides the price, this announcement begs two other important questions. The first is whether or not it’s worth the price. If you are already using a paid service and paying per pageviews or hits, GA Premium offers a higher level accuracy and can handle around 1 billion hits per month. It also allows you to switch back to the regular Analytics if you lose your web analytics budget, all without losing any data or having to switch tags again. Also, the premium version allows you to turn off data sampling at higher volumes, powering the collection and processing of this information at higher data limits (1 billion hits a month). The expectation, according to some analysts, is that reports should load faster and data will be fresher, even at these larger volumes. And lastly, you can now get 50 custom variables for advanced audience segmentation (it is currently 5), allowing for a more in-depth analysis and more accurate audience targeting.
The second question, understandably, is whether Google is now going to neglect the free version of Analytics. According to Google, this won’t be the case, and so far they have delivered on that promise by delivering a slew of powerful new updates over the past 3 months, and releasing Google Analytics v5 recently. This news is really just an indicator that Google is now targeting the enterprise level by addressing customer concerns over the limitations of their free service, and offering it at a comparable price to other web analytics services.