Introducing Universal Analytics – Google Analytics Summit Keynote 2012 with Paul Muret

Next Generation Measurement

The following is a live blog of the Google Analytics Partner Summit 2012 Keynote where Universal Analytics is announced. It was written in haste while taking in all kinds of information, so please forgive any mistakes in accuracy. I will try to correct once the excitement dies down.

Paul Muret Keynote

Paul Muret Keynote

Paul Muret has been working on the Google Analytics product for 12 years – ever since it was called Urchin. As far as I can remember, this is his first time giving a keynote for the product and he absolutely earned it.

Paul starts off by telling us about our audience. There are people here from 46 countries and 250 unique companies. I would estimate about 400 people in attendance.

Pace of Innovation in Google Analytics

Pace of Innovation in Google Analytics

Quickly, the direction of the keynote moves to a recap of what Google Analytics has done in the past 12 months. There is an amazing list of innovations in Google Analytics in the past year:

  • Real Time Analytics
  • Social Media Analysis
  • Attribution modeling (Last click attribution is imperfect)
  • Mobile App tracking (new methods, new SDK and more)
  • Remarketing through Google Analytics
  • Tag Management with Google Tag Manager
Pace of Innovation

Pace of Innovation

In fact, there was so much to announce that they didn’t even mention Content experiments or interface improvements.

It’s been a big year for Google Analytics to say the least!

Now we are starting to get into some of the future of Google Analytics.

Winning the Moments that Matter

Winning the Moments that Matter

Looking to the future of Google Analytics

Here is where we get to the announcements about the future of Google Analytics. In listening to the hints that the team has been dropping, my guess has been that Google Analytics is going to be branching into more channels than just web analytics, and may even rebrand the product to be something more broadly reaching than just the web.

Our Objective is to Make Money

Our Objective as marketers and analysts is to Make Money

If our objective is to make money, how do we make it easier? How do we find people who are top converters online? For starters, we need to optimize around our primary objectives. But that can be hard with device fragmentation.

Keynote photographing US

Keynote photographing US

Paul surveys the crowd to see how many people use 3 or more devices. The majority of the crowd uses at least 3 devices to connect to the Internet at any given time, with one person using 7 devices.

Measurement Challenges

Measurement Challenges

This has created an issue with measurement across multiple devices and touch points, because these devices do not talk to each other. Traditional web analytics tools are meant for just that – the web. We need for technology to help accomplish the goal of tracking users across devices.

The Root of the Problem

Analytics platforms are built on a premise that is no longer true: that users have a single touchpoint and access on a single device. This is rooted in cookies stored on a single machine that stores data about how that web browser visits the site.

Current Google Analytics Cookies

Current Google Analytics Cookies

Paul looks through the code and tells us what everything means. He then takes a pause and says “Why did we create this? This is crazy!”

Simply put, cookies just won’t work anymore for what we need to accomplish to measure our digital marketing efforts.

Universal Tracking IDs

Universal Tracking IDs

What if we could use just a single ID to track people across devices? It’s coming people!  Paul says that this is the biggest change that they have made to the platform since they made Google Analytics.

Introducing Universal Analytics

Universal Analytics

Universal Analytics

Universal Analytics is designed to help track users across multiple devices, giving a much better picture of user behavior as an individual and not a series of disparate sessions. It accomplishes this 4 ways.

1) New Measurement Protocol

New Measurement Protocol

New Measurement Protocol

It all starts with how we track people. Legacy event tracking was complicated.

Legacy Event Tracking vs. New Event Tracking

Legacy Event Tracking vs. New Event Tracking

New event tracking is much simpler and easier to use. Simple simple tracking.

Reduce Cookie Size

Reduce Cookie Size

Cookies are almost no longer necessary at all in Universal Analytics, because all cookies are handled in the back end of Google Analytics. You can significantly reduce the number and size of cookies that are sent

Supported Libraries

Supported Libraries

The JavaScript analytics.js has been updated to accomplish this and open source libraries are being developed for more advanced integrations. If you need  a library on your new site, use an open sourced library being developed for all major development platforms..

Live Demo of User Centric Measurement

Live Demo of User Centric Measurement

Interactions can be done through things like swiping your employee badge. There is a live demo where Nick Mihailovski and a fellow engineer demonstrate how this works by scanning their badges and watching the interaction in Real Time Google Analytics.

User ID Control

Measurement is challenging for marketers. From just desktop websites and mobile devices and apps, you can now measure just about everything in Google Analytics using a common ID.

The Many Areas to Measure

The Many Areas to Measure

Even better, you can use your own ID’s for tracking Google Analytics, not just Google’s!

Session Based Analytics

Session Based Analytics

User Centric Analytics

User Centric Analytics

Now we can shift from a visit centric view to a real user centric view. In the past, we only measured visits by a device, but did not have data about who this person actually was. Google Analytics now allows you to track users across devices, mediums, platforms and more!

The engineers working on this project do a live demo of how this works while using a tablet and his computer. The first visit is driven by email marketing on a tablet. The second visit is on a desktop computer from a direct visit. In traditional Google Analytics, this would be treated as two different visitors and Direct visits would get the credit for the sale.

But that was the old Google Analytics. This also lead to the quote of the day:

Let’s go back to the “Old” Google Analytics – the Google Analytics that existed 10 minutes ago

This ability to track the same user across multiple devices can be a game changer for some businesses. It is under a limited pilot that will roll out over the next few quarters. The major focus is user-centric cross-device reporting

3) Offline Analytics

Not All Conversions Happen Online

Not All Conversions Happen Online

Not all conversions happen online, though. In fact, most transactions still happen in person, through retail, on the phone or through other analog methods. This has made tracking sales back to digital drivers almost impossible. But now this is no longer.

You can now track offline conversions in Google Analytics by integrating with your offline data. This is especially useful for Lead Generation companies where the purchase does not happen online. It’s also useful for retail purchases driven by online.

This allows for a much more complete picture of your ROI, and Google Analytics can become a single place where you can track all of the of your activities

 

Track Offline Dimensions

Track Offline Dimensions

For the type of websites I work with, this is probably the biggest announcement of the day. I’m very excited to see how this rolls out.

4) Dimensioning Widening

The last element is a huge opportunity that I have been waiting for since I first got into Google Analytics – the ability to augment the data that they collect with data from your own systems.

Dimension Widening

Dimension Widening

Yes, you will soon be able to upload data from your CRM system or CMS into Google Analytics as a CSV file and enhance your report through secondary dimensions in your Google Analytics Reports.

And this is coming in Q1, 2013!

Widen Your Google Analytics Dimensions

Widen Your Google Analytics Dimensions

Universal Analytics is Coming Soon!

When can we expect to see Universal Analytics? Sooner than you think for some elements. Here is a product roadmap for when things will roll out.

Universal Analytics Timeline

Universal Analytics Timeline

I know that the term “game changer” gets thrown around a lot, but Universal Analytics is truly a game changer for small, medium and large businesses looking to measure marketing activity across channels. As we go into a multiple device, multiple screen and multiple interaction world, being able to track behaviors across each medium is imperative for success. Google Analytics has struck first in trying to make this work. I’m excited to be along for the ride.

You can read Google’s announcement at the Google Analytics Blog

Related posts:

About Jeff Sauer

Jeff Sauer is an independent Digital Marketing Consultant, Speaker and Teacher based out of San Francisco, CA.

  • http://www.webranking.com/ James Svoboda

    Well done Jeff!

  • http://twitter.com/tonyfelice tonyfelice

    Great write-up! I first read the GA blog, then Cutroni’s perspective, but this brought it all into focus. Thanks a ton.

  • http://twitter.com/raymondchau Raymond Chau

    Great post Jeff!

  • Langa

    Nice post Jeff

  • http://twitter.com/jperdomoz Jorge Perdomo

    None of these features seem ground breaking at all actually. Instead it seems like Google is just being a fast-follower on the innovations. For example, the new cookie structure is exactly how SiteCatalyst does it, where most data is held in a virtual cookie on Adobe’s servers, while the user only carries an ID. As for the addition of offline data to online IDs, that’s also something that has been possible in SiteCat via SAINT for quite a while. To be perfectly honest, I don’t see anything new in the industry here, just Google rounding out a few of their more glaring previous faults.

    • http://jeffalytics.com/ Jeffsauer

      I would say that it’s ground breaking to offer this level of capabilities to the mass market in a free product makes it groundbreaking for the small to middle market. This is what has made GA such a success even when they went into a market with countless incumbents in place. Even if they are doing the same things others have done, they are doing it at a larger scale, less exclusively and with a better presentation. At least for me personally, it will have a large impact on what I am able to measure and help others measure in the future.

      • http://twitter.com/kimwatkins Kim Watkins

        Is it the case that this is being offered in the free product? I wasn’t clear on that. If so, that is great.

        • http://twitter.com/jeffsauer Jeff Sauer

          I don’t have a firm indication if it is premium only or part of the free product, but my guess is that nearly everything will make it into the free product.

        • http://jeffalytics.com/ Jeffsauer

          Kim – It now sounds safe to say it will be available in all versions of Google Analytics

    • http://www.erikbigelow.com/ Erik B

      What’s ground breaking is the paradigm shift from session to user. That’s the take away from universal analytics. The other things were just filling in the gaps, and very nice to have (needed to have to be a full product).

  • http://www.ferreemoney.com/blog/ Neil Ferree

    Well done Jeff ♠ session based vs. user centric analytics and off-line conversions will reveal a lot of useful intel ♠ too bad we don’t get this until after Black Friday 2012

  • http://www.facebook.com/blackwash Deepak Nair

    XLNT Post . kudos to GA for coming up with this fantastic capabilities .. not sure tho all would be part of the free version.Nevertheless this is good …

  • http://www.safeharbor.com/ Dmitry M

    Very cool! Especially exited for the ability to track conversions offline. Thanks Jeff.

  • jkinnisch

    Whew, big changes ahead, thanks for the insight, Jeff!

  • Jay

    however.. you already do a great work jeff.. really proud of you.From Indonesia

  • Ann

    Will it work in Russia?

    • http://jeffalytics.com/ Jeffsauer

      Ann – it should work anywhere that this level of tracking is allowed. I don’t know the specifics of what is allowed in Russia, so can’t speak to it more than that if they allow tracking to this level, then it should be available.

  • gopmatt

    My Father is a professor in the University at Buffalo in Amherst NY. He teaches Business Analytics.
    The reason I am contacting you, is I noticed that every attendee of the GACP Summit received a particular toy that resembled the Android OS mascot. It had line graphs going around the 3″ toy’s body. I know it was given away for free, but if you or any of your Co-workers would be willing to help me in acquiring one for my father.
    I know he would put this item surely on his desk in his office, where students sighs be able to see it and create a nice conversation piece. I understand or was a souvenir and I would be willing to pay you or your fellow employees a fair price for it to alleviate the loss of the souvenir. I believe they give new ones at every GACP Summit from 2011, 2012 and future events.
    I would really appreciate if you could possibly be willing to part with this plastic toy, and maybe make a few bucks to take you and a friend out to a nice dinner.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this request.

    Gratefully,

    Matthew Macri