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PBS saves time with automated reports

Thursday, 26 January 2012


For most companies using Google Analytics, reporting on website traffic and performance for a few web properties is a straightforward task. However, if your company manages hundreds of web properties, delivering useful and timely reports can become a significant challenge. For many, the only apparent solution is to manually export analytics data for each web property, then combine and compare that data to answer relevant business questions. It’s a slow and costly process and you spend most of your time creating reports instead of carrying out meaningful analysis.

The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) faced precisely this challenge when it made the decision to use GA Data Grabber by AutomateAnalytics.com. GA Data Grabber works within Excel and uses the Google Analytics API. Users create or choose reports and GA Data Grabber automatically retrieves the Google Analytics data from any number of websites. And with multi-login capabilities, users can seamlessly combine data between Google Analytics profiles that reside under different Google Accounts.

Designed for non-technical users, GA Data Grabber generates great-looking visualizations and can automatically highlight important changes in key metrics over a date range. It’s also possible to use Excel’s visualization and data processing features. For example, formulas can be added to calculate Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) based on any set of metrics.




Amy Sample, Director, Web Analytics, Public Broadcasting Service explains the challenges that PBS faced and how GA Data Grabber was able to help. “The PBS.org and PBSKIDS.org web sites are made up of hundreds of individual companion sites to broadcast programs.  From a business perspective, there is a need to evaluate performance of individual program sites relative to each other.” As is common for many large organizations, PBS has separate Google Analytics accounts for each program site. “While multiple accounts works well to evaluate the site content and performance, it makes it difficult to look at all of the sites side-by-side without a lot of manual effort.  Our previous attempts to create this type of report were time-consuming and often subject to data input errors.”

“Using Google Analytics, combined with GA Data Grabber, we were able to create a benchmark report for our program sites. The monthly report pulls a standard set of KPIs from each of the program accounts and ranks the programs by traffic. The report is used as a management tool by both the PBS.org and PBSKIDS.org teams to monitor monthly performance of programs. The teams have also used it to identify opportunities for programs that are no longer being broadcast but still getting significant online traffic.  Our program producers use the report to benchmark their performance against other sites of similar content or size and determine ways to improve audience engagement. As a result of using GA Data Grabber to pull the data, we can produce this report quickly and accurately on monthly basis.”

GA Data Grabber
Mikael Thuneberg, Founder & CEO of AutomateAnalytics.com has been using the Google Analytics API since its launch. “I’ve been very happy with the API. Having developed for several other APIs, I can say that the Google Analytics API is by far the easiest to develop for. It’s logically structured and flexible, the documentation is excellent, and it’s easy to get help through the forum. I’ll certainly continue developing for the Google Analytics API. I’ve expanded to other APIs as well, but Google Analytics is still by far the most important one for my business.”

GA Data Grabber can be found through the Google Analytics App Gallery and can be downloaded from the GA Data Grabber website.

If you’re interested in developing solutions for the Google Analytics platform, visit Google Analytics Developer Program.

Posted by Pete Frisella, Google Analytics API Team

Update to Search Engine Optimization reports

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

In October, we made Google Webmaster Tools available to all users in Google Analytics, allowing everyone to surface Google search data in new Search Engine Optimization reports. Starting today, Webmaster Tools will update how they calculate data to make it better match expectations about what a search engine ranking really means.

Based on their research, the answer to the question "What is your rank in search results?" is the first position of a link to your site. Previously we reported the average position of all links to your site. Now your Google Analytics reports will be updated to reflect the first position.

An example calculation







We anticipate that this new method of calculation will more accurately match your expectations about how a link's position in Google Search results should be reported.

How will this affect my Google Analytics data?
This change will affect your Search Engine Optimization reports, when your data in Google Analytics Search Engine Optimization reports will be calculated using the new method. Historical data will not change. Note that the change in calculation means that the Average Position metric will usually stay the same or decrease, corresponding to the same or improved search ranking.

We look forward to providing you a more representative picture of your Google Search data. Please let us know any feedback you have.

Posted by Chris Anderson, Google Analytics team

A new initiative connects analysts with non-profits

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The Google Analytics Team has always supported the promotion of analytics education and professional development. We’d like to share this guest post by Wendy Greco & Eric Peterson from Analysis Exchange - an initiative designed to provide hands-on training opportunities for aspiring web analytics professionals while providing free web data analysis to the entire nonprofit community.

In the right hands, technologies like Google Analytics can do great things, but unfortunately not every organization is able to hire resources to dedicate to web analytics. What’s more, there are thousands of talented individuals out there who would love to work in this field but don’t have the hands-on experience required to get their first web analytics job.

Two years ago Web Analytics Demystified looked at this problem from both angles and decided to create a solution - The Analysis Exchange. The Analysis Exchange pairs a non-profit organization with pair of web analysts --- one a student wanting the experience and the other a mentor with years of direct work in the field.  The trio work together to have the student learn to use Google Analytics to “tell a story” with the data about how the non-profit can better meet their business goals.

Thanks to the generosity of all of our sponsors and participants, Analysis Exchange projects are completely free. Google Analytics is the standard analytics tool for Analysis Exchange for a few key reasons:
  • No cost means it is accessible to all non-profits
  • Nearly 100% of the non-profits we work with already have it installed
  • Our students find Google Analytics incredibly easy to learn
  • Our mentors, even if they don’t use Google Analytics day-to-day, pick it up immediately
Most importantly, Google Analytics attention to ease-of-use dramatically improves our non-profits likelihood to continue to use web analytics after Analysis Exchange projects.  Our mentors and students teach them to fish, and Google Analytics becomes the fishing pole.

Most Analysis Exchange projects take less than a few hours for non-profits and mentors.  Students spend more time, but students have the most to gain as they develop the types of “Analyst Ninja” skills that are required to get a great job in this field. We’re looking for more partners to sign up to the The Analysis Exchange - who are interested in supporting this initiative.

You can learn more about our effort at www.analysis-exchange.com or write our Executive Director Wendy Greco directly at wendy.greco@analysis-exchange.com.

Posted on behalf of Wendy Greco & Eric Peterson

Google’s updated privacy policy - what it means for Google Analytics users

You may have already heard that Google is rolling out a new main privacy policy on March 1. With these changes, the privacy policy will be easier to read, and will help us create one beautifully simple, intuitive user experience across Google products and services. The new privacy policy makes it clear that if you’re signed in, we may combine information you've provided from one service with information from other services - helping us treat you as a single user across all our products. (To read more about the new privacy policy, check out the Official Google Blog post here.) We know you may have questions about how this affects you and your Google Analytics data, so want to take this opportunity to explain.

Most importantly, the privacy policies and controls you have over your website data will not change. Just as it was before, your website’s data is governed by the data sharing settings, which you control directly. You can still choose how much, if any, of your website’s data to share with Google to help us improve our products, provide anonymous, aggregate statistics, or make enhanced features like Conversion Optimizer available to you. Your website data will not be used for purposes other than those that you specify in your settings, which you may change at any time. You can find more information about data sharing settings here.

The way that we handle information about your website’s visitors is also unchanged. Their data will continue to be governed by your website’s privacy policies, and their actions will remain anonymous in Google Analytics to both websites and Google. The only change for Google Analytics users under the new privacy policy is that now, information about how you interact with the Google Analytics interface may be shared with our other products.

Helping you understand our privacy controls and giving you meaningful choices to determine how you want to share your data is very important to us, and we encourage you to take the time to read through the new privacy policy changes and our data sharing options.

Posted by Paul Muret, Director of Engineering, Google Analytics

The End of an Era for Urchin Software

Friday, 20 January 2012

When I started Urchin Software with a few colleagues back in 1998, it was hard to imagine the scale and impact that Urchin and Google Analytics would eventually have. And yet, I remember rolling out the first version of Urchin to our customers and being blown away by the response. It was clear that Urchin was filling a fundamental need to understand customer engagement in a new medium. Suddenly, it made the intangible packets of traffic flying invisibly all over the world very tangible.

Within a few short years, we built a successful business based on Urchin and “Urchin on Demand”, an online version of the product. In early 2005, we were acquired by Google because it saw the potential of data to create a better web. By liberating this tool we could empower companies of all sizes to become smarter and more effective online. We assigned considerable resources to our online solution and released it to the public for free. Google Analytics has since grown beyond anything that we could have expected.

The success of Google Analytics has been incredibly rewarding and humbling, and we are very thankful for the support of our early Urchin customers and investors. The Urchin Software product has now been completely overshadowed by its tremendously popular offspring. And so, it is time that we now complete the cycle by officially retiring the Urchin Software product and focus exclusively on online analytics. On behalf of the original Urchin crew and Google, we thank you and hope that we can continue to serve you with amazing products.

Urchin has only been available during the past several years through Certified Urchin Resellers, and new sales will officially discontinue at the end of March 2012. We are encouraging Urchin users to migrate to Google Analytics, although expect that current installations of the software will continue to work fine on most systems for years to come. You can learn more about the retirement of this product on the Urchin Website.

Posted by Paul Muret, Director of Engineering, Google Analytics

Is 2012 the year to brush up your measurement skills?

Thursday, 19 January 2012

As investment in digital marketing increases, data and insight continue to be critical assets for marketers and content owners. If 2012 is the year to develop your measurement and optimisation skill set, we have a range of resources to help you.

Individual Qualification with Google Analytics
Whilst you’re improving your measurement skills and campaign results using Google Analytics you can also work towards becoming individually qualified with a recognised Google certification.  Learn more at www.google.com/analytics/iq.

Live Training & Events
We have a stellar partner network who offer a range of courses and live training to help you through the basic and advanced capabilities of GA. Google certified trainers run regular 101, 201 and 301 seminars - you can find a Seminars For Success calendar here for North America, Australia and the UK.

Another great way to learn about GA and meet the GA team is to attend one of the GAUGE events. This series is hosted by our partner network and is a great way to learn from experts within the network and within other companies likes yours. The next event takes place in San Francisco on March 8-9 where Phil Mui, Group Product Manager and other members of the product team will share some of our newest developments and maybe even hint at what’s in store in 2012.

European events are already planned in Brussels (March 20th), Amsterdam (March 21-22nd), and Stockholm (May 8th). Keep an eye on the blog for the schedule and registration details.

Online Resources & Best Practices
We also have published many articles to help you find your way around GA in our help centre and also have a vibrant forum. If you prefer watching to reading, visit the Google Analytics YouTube channel for a range of educational videos and webinars covering our latest feature releases.

What else do you want to see or learn about in 2012? Let us know, leave a comment and we’ll try to accommodate in our curriculum or within our partner events.

Sophie Chesters, Marketing Manager for Google Analytics

An update on the new version of Google Analytics

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Since May of last year we’ve been working on a new version of Google Analytics and quickly adding new features and functionality to provide you with fast access to the insights you need.

We’re extremely pleased with the new capabilities around multi-channel measurement, real-time analytics, flow visualization and improved device reporting to name a few. Our goal was to create a faster, more intuitive platform for the future and I think we’ve met many of these goals.

Before we fully move to the new version we’re ensuring that you have the key functions you’re used to and which enables GA to be integral to your organization. We’re working hard on some priority features - email scheduling and PDF export as a top priority, alongside profile copying and dashboard sharing - and want to let you know that we’ll only fully be moving over to the new version once these are in place.

We’ve collected a lot of feedback on things you love and things you miss - but if there is still something you just can’t live without let us know by filling in this survey.

We’re excited to bring you more in 2012 - we have a lot on our to do list - so keep reading and I hope to hear from you so we can continue to make GA the most intuitive, useful analytics tool available for marketers and site owners today.

Posted by Phil Mui, Group Product Manager, Google Analytics

A new forum for Google Analytics using Google Product Forums

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The Google Analytics Forum is a community of people like you, who enjoy exploring making full use of the features of Google Analytics and also enjoy sharing their knowledge within the community.  It’s a place where you can share expertise or seek out answers. It’s also a great way to escalate bugs and critical issues. Googlers such as myself and many of our Google Analytics Certified Partners are monitoring and can provide speedy help and feedback.

To make the forums even better, we’ve migrated to the new Google Product Forums on January 12, 2012 as they offer increased stability and the potential to add exciting new features in the future - here’s the link to the Google Analytics forum using the new platform. The most popular forum features - including levels and marking a best answer - will continue to be available in the new forum. The old forum will be archived and any links to old forum content will redirect automatically to the corresponding content in the new forum.

Here’s a getting started guide so you can learn about some of the new features.

Top Contributors were given a demo of the new platform at Google’s first ever Global Top Contributor Summit in September and I’d like to give special thanks to Top Contributors Phil Pearce (PPC_Guru) and Bronwyn Vourtis (Whims) for attending the event. Thanks also to Rachaell and Nayan for continued involvement in the community and to all of you who have provided feedback and participated in testing.  We’ll continue to listen to your feedback to improve the platform and ensure the migration goes smoothly.

Aruna, Community Manager - Google Analytics

A look ahead at measurement in 2012

Thursday, 12 January 2012

In 2011, we saw marketing follow the consumer to more screens and more platforms - from apps to mobile sites to social networks to tablets. And in response the analytics industry made strides to unify this complex picture for marketers through device and platform specific analytics, and to connect the dots to measure and value the multi-channel customer path.

With the help of mobile devices and the Internet, consumers also flocked online to fill their shopping carts in 2011. According to aggregate numbers from websites opting in to share their data with Google, there was a 63% jump in the monthly volume of online transactions from December 2010 to December 2011, and on average, the number of ecommerce transactions grew about 1.2% every week in 2011. Last year it became more important than ever for businesses to make sure their online presence and digital campaigns were in check, and that they were measuring what matters.

As we turn the page on 2011, here are our thoughts on what’s in store for the industry in 2012:

Mobile shines on the mainstage
It’s been said that 2011 was the year that mobile turned a corner, and consumers armed with their smartphones show no sign of turning back. In fact, aggregate numbers from websites opting to share their data with Google show us that in the last four months of 2011, weekly volume of mobile visits jumped 40%, with mobile traffic growing at an average of 2% every week. And the weekly share of mobile transactions on overall ecommerce grew 60% in the same timeframe.

In 2012, marketers should expect improved tools to measure engagement on mobile-optimized sites and effectiveness of mobile ads that will help them determine what platforms and formats help them catch consumers on the go.

Measuring social media ROI becomes a reality
Social media has changed the way we shop and interact with brands, but marketers still lack a clear way to measure how their social investments lead to more sales. According to MarketingSherpa, only 20% of CMOs think social media marketing produces measurable ROI, while 62% consider it to be a promising tactic that will eventually yield ROI.

In 2012, better measurement tools will help marketers make smarter decisions about their investments in social. Vanity counters, such as friend counts and reshares, will be augmented with bottom line metrics like conversions and purchases, allowing marketers to measure true social ROI of each campaign and compare the effectiveness with other channels. With additional visibility into off-site activity, enhanced campaign tracking and referral analytics, 2012 is the year that social analytics comes to life. 

Moving beyond conversions to a cohesive view of the customer
In 2012, the analytics industry will move towards bringing the disparate pieces of customer insight together into one cohesive view of the customer. How are your search, display, mobile and email marketing campaigns working together over time to bring a customer to purchase? And once they make that purchase, what can their continued interactions with your brand - both online and offline - tell you about their lifetime value as a customer? Marketers will move beyond individual conversions to make smarter decisions once they understand the entire picture of their customer over time, and we see that picture coming into focus this year.

Right ad, right time - applying analytics in real time
With real time data feeding into remarketing, ad content optimization, and real time bidding systems, advertisers are closer than ever to finding the right customer with the right ad at the right time. As these real time systems converge, there’s huge potential to integrate analytics to pull in deeper and richer information about user intent.

For example, if people who come into the site for more than 10 minutes and watch at least 3 product videos are the high ROI sweet spot customer segment for an online retailer, any such users browsing then abandoning the shopping cart page are great candidates for remarketing. Knowing the likelihood to convert as well as the potential ROI from a sale, advertisers can program these variables into the bid they are willing to pay for showing this customer their ad.

Data will become more actionable
We’ve always believed that businesses make smarter decisions when they have the right data at their fingertips, but the real impact of analytics will be seen when we make the jump from mere reporting to more actionable tools. While full scale experimentation is still complex, controlled experimentation is something that every marketer should take advantage of, from site optimization to attribution modeling. Marketers are asking for sophisticated yet easy to use tools that help them make sense of the data, and ultimately make more dollars - and I think the industry will respond this year.

We’ve only scratched the surface in helping marketers better measure the effectiveness of their campaigns, and as marketing continues to evolve, so will our efforts to make it more measurable and actionable. This year is sure to be an exciting one, so happy measuring!

Posted by Amy Chang, Director of Product Management
 

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