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Analytics: What you need to know about Google’s October updates

If you follow the progression of Google’s marketing and analytics tools, the last couple weeks have been pretty exciting. While Google announces most things on its blog, it can be difficult to know what the impact of each of these tools can have on your business. In addition, access to specific tools can be limited because they are still in closed beta or require acceptance into a public whitelist.

Here’s a general summary of the most prominent product announcements from Google in October:

Tag Manager
This is Google’s entry into the analytics tag management space. Some of today’s common names in the space are Ensighten, Tag Man, Tealium, and Adobe Tag Manager. With Google’s tool only being recently introduced, it’s still in heavy development and additional features have already been added since the original announcement. As a result, it might not be ready to be labeled as an enterprise-level tag management system just yet. Similar to the free version of Google Analytics, it does not come with any service level guarantees. It’s current supported tags are also primarily Google tools (Google Analytics, Google AdWords, DoubleClick, etc.). While you do have the option to create custom tags, its still only a simple container structure and implementing more complex tools might not be possible just yet. With that said, if your current platforms are already primarily Google-related, migrating them into Google’s Tag Manager is fairly straight forward and might be worth the investment to streamline future web analytics updates and upgrades.

What this means for you: Allows you manage all tags from one central location and streamlines QA.

Attribution Tool
“Multi-touch”, “multi-channel”, and “attribution” are the buzz these days, and Google knows it. Last year, they deployed multi-channel funnels in Google Analytics which allowed you to see first-touch, last-touch, and top conversion paths. When Google Analytics Premium became available, they also began providing an Attribution Modeling tool that lets you apply attribution models outside of just first- and last-touch such as linear, time decay, and position-based models. In addition, you can also create your own attribution model by selecting one of the default models and a baseline and applying your own custom weights to that model. There’s no single “correct” attribution model that applies universally to every business, but it’s widely accepted that the default last-click attribution that many analytics tools provide doesn’t tell the whole story. In October, Google announced wider availability of the tool to the general Google Analytics audience. To gain access, you’ll have to request to be on the public whitelist here.

What this means for you: Allows you to understand the importance of your different marketing channels. One can use built in models or create your own.


Universal Analytics
Universal Analytics was announced on October 29th and opens the doors for businesses to make API-based integrations with Google Analytics. The primary benefit that was highlighted in the announcement is the ability to integrate your own dataset into what Google Analytics is capturing by building server-side requests that can send data to the Measurement Protocol that is part of Universal Analytics. In addition, by migrating to Universal Analytics, you also get the ability to create custom dimensions (20 standard and 200 for premium) and custom metrics (200 max) while remaining on the free version of Google Analytics, a feature that was historically reserved for tools like Adobe’s SiteCatalyst or Google Analytics Premium. To gain access to Universal Analytics, you’ll have to request to be on the public whitelist here.

You can read more about the details of the new collection protocol here.

What this means for you:  A simpler install. Only 1 cookie and 80% lighter js file; easy tie in with your CMR system; Additional custom variables ( 20 for free and 200 for premium clients)

Upload Click and Cost Data
If you’ve connected Google AdWords to Google Analytics, you’ve already seen the powerful analysis you can do with Google Analytics to measure the performance of your AdWords campaigns. With that integration, you’re able to analyze the ROI of your campaigns because cost and performance metrics are automatically imported into Google Analytics from Google AdWords, making all the powerful tools like multi-channel analysis and attribution modeling available to you. Starting in late October, Cost Analysis (Beta) is gradually rolling out to Google Analytics accounts and you’ll find it under the Traffic Sources menu within the interface. Once the feature becomes available to your account, you’ll have to create a new Custom Data Source within the Google Analytics admin section and then you’ll have to upload a CSV file (comma separated values) using the Management API For additional information on this part of the process, see this post.

If you’ve properly tagged all your campaigns and you’ve uploaded your cost data, you’ll be able to analyze your ROI from non-Google platforms such as Facebook and Bing directly within Google Analytics.

What this means for you: Any cost data can be imported e.g. Bing ppc, email cost data, affiliates, social media costs etc. In fact, anything up to 50 million rows.