Holiday Bonus: More Great Features

Monday, December 07, 2009 | 11:00 AM

We all love the holiday season, and so now, here are a few reasons to love it even more! A few weeks ago, we announced a set of powerful, flexible, and intelligent features. Today, at SES Chicago, Phil Mui announced additional features that build on these same themes to make your life as an analyst easier. We hope you'll enjoy them.

Annotations

Do you ever wonder about an inexplicable change in your traffic? Or forget exactly when you launched something, or who was responsible? After scratching your head, did you have to chase down different departments in your company or go digging through old emails to get an answer?

For instance:

  • Was that dip in traffic because the servers went down?
  • When did the new display ads campaign launch?
  • Who's responsible for the checkout page redesign and when did it go live?
Running around asking everyone from marketing, IT, and product doesn't scale. More and more large companies are using Google Analytics, so we wanted to cut down on the mileage you need to cover to account for everything that happens to your website and online marketing.

This week, the wild goose chase is over -- you can now easily denote unexplained dips or spikes and figure out "what happened" with the launch of Annotations in Google Analytics.



Annotations allows any user with access to a Google Analytics profile to leave shared or private notes right on the over-time graph. Building upon the concept of bringing Intelligence to data, Annotations complements existing anomaly detection by capturing the tribal
intelligence of your company, which tends to be the most expensive and easily lost resource of all. A simple note from a colleague can save hours of real work (and frustration) for an analyst who is tasked to explain a usually dry set of numbers. This short video will show you how to use Annotations.



Taking its usefulness even further: Annotations can become your central repository, or logbook, for all online marketing and website design actions within your business. So even if you have multiple marketing teams, agencies, or webmasters, or if you have employee churn or other disruptions, you can always see which events may have caused conversions to increase or decrease. No wonder this has been one of the top requested features in Analytics for such a long time!

Note: Annotations is rolling out a bit slower than planned due to the holidays. New features within Google Analytics are launched on a phased roll out due to the volume of accounts, and the demands of testing as we activate the new feature. Usually this process takes from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the feature. Annotations is being activated to an additional 10% of accounts each week and will be pushed live to all accounts by mid January.

Custom Variables Now Available In Advanced Segments

Custom Variables provide you the power and flexibility to customize Google Analytics and collect the unique site usage data most important to your business. In Google Analytics, not only are you able to define multiple custom variables, each custom variable is a name-value pair and can be assigned one of 3 scopes: page, session, or visitor. Each custom variable name and each value is an arbitrary string defined by you pertinent to your business needs.

When we announced Multiple Custom Variables in October, the only way to view metrics on these Custom Variables then was to open the standard "Custom Variables" report in the Visitors section. This week, a user can create an advanced segmentation based on any key, value, as well as key-value combination of all Custom Variables. In other words, if you've created a Custom Variable such as "Logged In Member", you can also create an advanced segment based on that variable and see it across all of your reports.

The ability to create visit segments based on Custom Variables is critical in maximizing the full potential of Custom Variables. Users can now slice and dice their metrics by decorating their site traffic with the appropriate key-value pairs.

Custom Variables Available In Custom Reports

You can also create Custom Reports with any of the key or value dimensions associated with any Custom Variable. Now, you can see how a segment defined by Custom Variables behaves along any of the metrics available in Google Analytics.

New Analytics Tracking Code Setup Wizard

One of the more daunting tasks in setting up analytics on any site is to manually configure the tracking code for specialized situations, such as multiple subdomains, cross-domain tracking, mobile web tracking, PHP sites, campaign tagging, etc.

Well, fear no more. When you create a profile, you'll notice a new tracking code setup wizard in Google Analytics. This wizard automatically generates the appropriate tracking code according to the setup options specified by you.


New Version of The Analytics API

Later this week, there will be a separate announcement about a set of very exciting features to our Analytics API. Here's a little preview: Support for Advanced Segmentation will now be available through the API.

In addition, new data dimensions and metrics will be made available, including those in our recently announced features.

Enjoy -- and happy holidays from the Google Analytics team!