Announcing GA Support for Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Analytics

Thursday, January 28, 2016 | 11:06 AM

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When Google was a few years old, we wrote up a list of Ten things we know to be true. The list includes items like “Focus on the user and all else will follow” as well as “Fast is better than slow.” It would be tough to say that much of the mobile web has adhered to these principles. Users often get frustrated by poor experiences in which sites load slowly or will lock up trying to load resources that clog their data connections.

The Accelerated Mobile Pages Project (AMP) is an open source initiative that aims to address these problems by enabling content to load instantaneously and provide a better web experience for all. AMP introduces a new format that is a flavor of HTML. It’s built to prioritize speed and a fantastic user experience. One way that AMP provides reliably good page loading performance is by restricting the ability to add custom JavaScript to pages and instead relying on built in, reusable components.

Today, the AMP team announced the launch of an analytics component that will enable measurement on AMP pages. The Google Analytics team is committed to helping our users measure their content wherever it appears. So, for publishers looking to use AMP to provide an improved user experience, we’ve released Google Analytics measurement capabilities for Accelerated Mobile Pages. AMP support in Google Analytics makes it easy to identify your best content and optimize your user experience.

How Google Analytics Support Works

Analytics on AMP is handled by an open source, reusable component that the Google Analytics team helped build. The <amp-analytics> component can be configured with Google Analytics specific configuration parameters to record pageviews, events, and even custom dimensions. That configuration works hand in hand with a global event listener that automatically detects triggers like button presses. As a result, there’s no need to scatter custom JavaScript throughout your page to detect actions that should trigger events and hits. Instead, you can define which actions should trigger hits within the configuration section and let the magic of AMP do the rest.

How to Get Started

Before you get started with AMP Analytics, you’ll need to get started with AMP itself. The AMP website contains a great introduction to getting started. Once you have an AMP page up, it’s time to start thinking about how you’d like to measure its performance. 

We recommend that you use a separate Google Analytics property to measure your AMP pages. AMP is a new technology that’s going to mature over time. As such, some of the functionality that you’re used to in web analytics won’t immediately be available in AMP analytics right away. AMP pages can appear in multiple contexts, including through different syndication caches. Because of that, a single user that visits an AMP version of a page and a HTML version of a page can end up being treated as two distinct users. Using a separate Google Analytics property to measure AMP pages makes it easier to handle these issues.

Once you have your AMP page and new Google Analytics property set up, you’ll want to reference the requirements for using Analytics on AMP pages as well as the developers guide for instrumenting measurement.

What’s Next

Multiple technology partners, including Google Search, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn have announced that they’ll start surfacing AMP pages in the coming months. The Google Analytics team is excited to support AMP from day one and look forward to growing our offering as AMP’s capabilities expand.

Posted by Dan Cary, Product Manager and Avi Mehta, Software Engineer

Data-Driven CMOs: Leaving the Information Age

Thursday, January 14, 2016 | 1:34 PM


Originally Posted on the Adometry M2R Blog

Remember the so-called “Information Age”? Once a catch all for all things technological, over time the term came to refer to the transition to a society in which individuals had access to a wealth of information to aid in decision-making – a global democratization of knowledge. From a marketing perspective, the Information Age also came to represent a fundamental shift for data-driven CMOs away from simple push tactics to a dynamic, real-time ebb and flow of information between brands and customers.

With this transition has come all sorts of complexity. An argument can be made that demands on marketers have never been higher; yet, in some respects the evolution towards data-driven marketing has simplified or even solved some of the profession’s biggest pain points, such as:
  • Gaining an ability to track performance at a granular level
  • Understanding consumer behaviors within the marketing funnel
  • Gleaning insights about how marketing impacts consumers’ inclination to make a purchase decision
In short, the Information Age now has less to do with access to information as it does with the ability to utilize it effectively.

Moving from Information to Insights

In a previous interview with, I was asked what I now know that I wish I had known earlier in my marketing career. My response?
“Today’s marketing leaders are a combination of creative, technologist, analyst and strategist. Success in modern marketing is predicated on being agile, having great vision and being able to effectively manage change across the organization. To be clear, the advice would not be to blindly chase shiny new objects. Rather, it would be to proactively set aside the time and resources to foresee, evaluate and test opportunities on the horizon.”
So how do marketers manage change across their organizations? It starts identifying where marketing can offer unique value by transforming raw information into insights.

“Big data really isn't the end unto itself. It’s actually big insights from big data. It’s throwing away 99.999% of that data to find things that are actionable.”

The comment above was made previously by Bob Borchers, Chief Marketing Officer for Dolby Laboratories, at a Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference. It should go without saying...but to reiterate; data isn't the same as knowledge. Data without context is no more useful than knowing your current driving speed without understanding which direction the car is headed.

Another way to think about this is to consider the difference between building a data-driven marketing culture and a truly data-driven organization. We’re already witnessing this maturation happening within organizations that were early adopters of “big data”. Led by marketers who invested in foundational elements – attribution measurement and analytics, cross-channel allocation and alignment, etc. – these organizations are now taking the next step to integrate marketing with other disciplines, such as finance. In doing so, discussions about marketing performance start to sound less like functional assessments of campaign efficacy and more like part of a strategic, holistic business plan. Now impression and click-stream data can be discussed through the lens of media costs (online and offline) and supplier value, linked directly to sales.

Using a data-driven attribution measurement solution offers additional clarity by showing exactly how individual channels, publishers and creatives contributed to revenues. By looking beyond simple metrics and getting a more complete view of performance across channels, marketers suddenly have a sense for how to proactively manage towards overarching business objective (e.g. top-line growth) while also maintaining a sense for costs and ROI.

So is this still the Information Age or something else? What’s clear is that simply gathering and organizing information is no longer the endgame, it’s only the beginning.

Posted by Casey Carey, Google Analytics team

Google Apps Script: Tracking add-on usage with Google Analytics

Thursday, January 07, 2016 | 8:55 AM

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The following was originally published on the Google Developers Blog.

Editor's note: Posted by Romain Vialard, a Google Developer Expert and developer of Yet Another Mail Merge, a Google Sheets add-on.

Google Apps Script makes it easy to create and publish add-ons for Google Sheets, Docs, and Forms. There are now hundreds of add-ons available and many are reaching hundreds of thousands of users. Google Analytics is one of the best tools to learn what keeps those users engaged and what should be improved to make an add-on more successful.

Cookies and User Identification

Add-ons run inside Google Sheets, Docs, and Forms where they can display content in dialogs or sidebars. These custom interfaces are served by the Apps Script HTML service, which offers client-side HTML, CSS, and JS with a few limitations.

Among those limitations, cookies aren’t persistent. The Google Analytics cookie will be recreated each time a user re-opens your dialog or sidebar, with a new client ID every time. So, Analytics will see each new session as if initiated by a new user, meaning the number of sessions and number of users should be very similar.

Fortunately, it’s possible to use localStorage to store the client ID — a better way to persist user information instead of cookies. After this change, your user metrics should be far more accurate.

Add-ons can also run via triggers, executing code at a recurring interval or when a user performs an action like opening a document or responding to a Google Form. In those cases, there’s no dialog or sidebar, so you should use the Google Analytics Measurement Protocol (see policies on the use of this service) to send  user interaction data directly to Google Analytics servers via the UrlFetch service in Google Apps Script.

A Client ID is also required in that case, so I recommend using the Apps Script User properties service. Most examples on the web show how to generate a unique Client ID for every call to Analytics but this won’t give you an accurate user count.

You can also send the client ID generated on client side to the server so as to use the same client ID for both client and server calls to Analytics, but at this stage, it is best to rely on the optional User ID in Google Analytics. While the client ID represents a client / device, the User ID is unique to each user and can easily be used in add-ons as users are authenticated. You can generate a User ID on the server side, store it among the user properties, and reuse it for every call to Analytics (both on the client and the server side). 

Custom Dimensions & Metrics
In add-ons, we usually rely on event tracking and not page views. It is possible to add different parameters on each event thanks to categories, actions, labels and value, but it’s also possible to add much more info by using custom dimensions & metrics.

For example, the Yet Another Mail Merge add-on is mostly used to send emails, and we have added many custom dimensions to better understand how it is used. For each new campaign (batch of emails sent), we record data linked to the user (e.g. free or paying customer, or Google for Work / EDU user) and data linked to the campaign (e.g. email size, email tracking activated or not). You can then reuse those custom dimensions inside custom reports & dashboards.

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Once you begin to leverage all that, you can get very insightful data. Until October 2015, Yet Another Mail Merge let you send up to 100 emails per day for free. But we’ve discovered with Analytics that most people sending more than 50 emails in one campaign were actually sending 100 emails - all the free quota they could get - but we failed to motivate them to switch to our paid plan.

Click for full-size version

As a result of this insight, we have reduced this free plan to 50 emails/day and at the same time introduced a referral program, letting users get more quota for free (they still don’t pay but they invite more users so it’s interesting for us). With this change, we have greatly improved our revenue and scaled user growth.

Or course, we also use Google Analytics to track the efficiency of our referral program.

To help you get started in giving you more insight into your add-ons, below are some relevant pages from our documentation on the tools described in this post. We hope this information will help your apps become more successful:
Posted by Romain Vialard, Google Developer Expert. After some years spent as a Google Apps consultant, he is now focused on products for Google Apps users, including add-ons such as Yet Another Mail Merge and Form Publisher.

Use Smart Goals, powered by Google Analytics, to optimize in AdWords

Thursday, December 10, 2015 | 9:00 AM

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To advertise smart, you have to measure smart.  And a key metric for almost any business is conversions, also known as “that moment when users do the thing that you want them to do.”  

Many AdWords advertisers are already measuring their website conversions, using either AdWords Conversion Tracking or imported Google Analytics Ecommerce transactions.  Measuring actual conversions is ideal, because it allows you to optimize your bids, your ads and your website with a clear goal in mind.

However, hundreds of thousands of small and medium businesses aren't measuring their website conversions today.  Some businesses may not have a way for users to convert on their website and others may not have the time or the technical ability to implement conversion tracking.

The Google Analytics team is committed to helping our users use their data to drive better marketing and advertising performance.  So, for businesses that don’t measure conversions in AdWords today, we’ve created an easy-to-use solution: Smart Goals. Smart Goals help you identify the highest-quality visits to your website and optimize for those visits in AdWords. 

"Smart Goals helped us drive more engaged visits to our website. It gave us something meaningful to optimize for in AdWords, without having to change any tags on our site. We could tell that optimizing to Smart Goals was working, because we had higher sales than usual across our channels during the testing period."

- Richard Bissell, President/Owner, Richard Bissell Fine Woodworking, Inc

How Smart Goals Work

To generate Smart Goals, we apply machine learning across thousands of websites that use Google Analytics and have opted in to share anonymized conversion data.  From this information, we can distill dozens of key factors that correlate with likelihood to convert: things like session duration, pages per session, location, device and browser.  We can then apply these key factors to any website.  The easiest way to think about Smart Goals is that they reflect your website visits that our model indicates are most likely to lead to conversions. 

Step 1: Activate Smart Goals in Google Analytics

To activate Smart Goals in Google Analytics, simply go to the Admin section of your Google Analytics account, click Goals (under the View heading) and select Smart Goals.  The highest-quality visits to your website will now be turned into Smart Goals automatically.  No additional tagging or customization is required; Smart Goals just work.  

To help you see how Smart Goals perform before you activate them, we’ve built a Smart Goals report in the “Conversions” section of Google Analytics.  The behavior metrics in this report indicate the engagement level of Smart Goals visits compared to other visits, helping you evaluate Smart Goals before you activate the feature.

Click image for full-sized version

Step 2: Import Smart Goals into AdWords

Like any other goal in Google Analytics, Smart Goals can be imported into AdWords to be used as an AdWords conversion.  Once you’ve defined a conversion in AdWords, you’re able to optimize for it.

Click image for full-sized version

Step 3: Optimizing for Smart Goals in AdWords

One of the benefits of measuring conversions in your Adwords account is the ability to set a target cost per acquisition (CPA) as opposed to just setting a cost per click (CPC).  If you aren’t measuring actual conversions today, importing Smart Goals as conversions in Adwords allows you to set a target CPA.  In this way, you’re able to optimize your Adwords spend based on the likelihood of conversion as determined by our model.

Smart Goals will be rolling out over the next few weeks. To be eligible for Smart Goals, your Google Analytics property must be linked to your AdWords account(s).  Learn how to link your Google Analytics property to your AdWords account(s) in the Analytics Help Center or the AdWords Help Center.  Note that your Google Analytics view must receive at least 1,000 clicks from AdWords over a 30-day period to ensure the validity of your data.

Posted by Abishek Sethi (Software Engineer) and Joan Arensman (Product Manager)

Digital Analytics Association San Francisco Symposium: ‘Tis the Season for Data

Monday, November 30, 2015 | 9:40 AM


The fourth annual Digital Analytics Association (DAA) San Francisco Symposium is coming up! Join us on Tuesday, December 8th as we host the symposium at Google’s San Francisco office. This year’s event is focused on how all businesses use data to optimize, personalize, and succeed through the holidays. 

Our lineup of great speakers includes:
  • Jim Sterne, Target Marketing and the DAA
  • Kristina Bergman, Ignition Partners
  • Adam Singer, Analytics Advocate, Google
  • Prolet Miteva, Senior Manager Web Analytics Infrastructure, Autodesk
  • Joshua Anderson, Senior Manager Analytics, BlueShield
  • Michele Kiss, Senior Partner, Analytics Demystified
  • David Meyers, Co-Founder/CEO, AdoptAPet
  • and other great speakers

Theme: Optimization, personalization, and how to succeed through the holidays
When: Tuesday, December 8th, 2015. Registration starts at 12:30. Program runs from 1:00 to 5:30, followed by a networking reception. 
Where: Google San Francisco, 345 Spear Street, 7th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105
Cost: $25 for DAA members/$75 for non-members
Event website and registration: register here

Space is limited so register early!

San Francisco locals, this Symposium is organized by local DAA members and volunteers. We encourage you to become a member of the DAA and join our local efforts. Become a member and reach out to one of the local chapter leaders, Krista, Charles or Feras.

Happy Holidays!

Posted by Krista Seiden, Google Analytics Advocate

Engagement Jumps 30% for Wyndham Vacation Rentals With Help from Google Analytics Premium

Tuesday, November 24, 2015 | 9:47 AM

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Wyndham Vacation Rentals runs 9,000 North American rental properties from the mountains of Utah to the beaches of South Carolina.  As you can imagine, that many guests and destinations creates some interesting challenges for Wyndham's online booking system.  

They turned to Google Analytics Premium and Google Tag Manager for help, and we've just published a new case study showing the results. (Spoiler alert: property search CTRs are up by 30%.)

Wyndham did some very clever things with both tools. For instance, they used Google Tag Manager to implement Google Analytics Premium Custom Dimensions to capture user behavior around metrics like rental dates and length of stay. Then they used Google Analytics Premium to dig into the details and gather insights. That's how they learned that, while a "good view" is one of the top things customers included in searches, the scenic view attribute actually had a lower conversion rate than other features offered in their suites.  

As a result, Wyndham redesigned its search results to put the properties with the most profitable mix of attributes on the first page. The Wyndham team also learned how far in advance people begin searching for various vacations, and have adjusted their campaigns and spending to match the peaks in demand.

With changes like these, Wyndham's customers are maintaining more interest through all stages of the funnel. Wyndham says its property search CTR has skyrocketed by more than 30%. Here's what Nadir Ali, their Director of eCommerce Analytics, has to say about this success:
“Google Analytics Premium is helping us connect the dots. As a data-driven organization, we strive to approach each business challenge objectively and back our assumptions with data. Google Analytics Premium gives us the flexibility to customize the data we collect in a manner that makes it easy to answer our business questions.” 
We're always happy to see the creative ways partners use Google Analytics Premium and tools like Google Tag Manager. Congrats to Wyndham on some excellent (and ongoing) results. donations rise 5.4% with help from Google Analytics

Friday, November 20, 2015 | 5:54 AM

The American Cancer Society has been working for more than 100 years to find a cure for cancer and to help patients fight back, get well and stay well. Today, the Society uses a number of websites and mobile apps to provide information on cancer detection and treatment, offer volunteer opportunities, and accept donations. 

The Society knew they were being visited by users with different needs and goals, but it was a challenge to isolate these customer segments and to help them achieve their goals. The Society also wanted to address concerns with the Google Analytics implementation on its sites, monitor how its users changed behavior over time, and remarket to all segments once they were identified. 

In order to find the data and insights necessary to answer the challenges above, the Society partnered with Search Discovery, a Google Analytics Certified Partner. To achieve these goals, they analyzed the website user segments and created personas to represent them. Then, they used segmentation and custom metrics to score each group based on how it was behaving on the website.

To learn how the American Cancer Society and Search Discovery worked together to implement a process to understand, optimize and monitor the overall health of the site for each user segment, download the detailed case study. And if you want to help saving lives, donate today

According to Ashleigh Bunn, Director of Digital Analytics: 
“The insights we’ve gained from Google Analytics and working with Search Discovery continue to influence the Society business decisions for the positive. Not only are our marketing decisions well informed, but our digital content is driven by user experience and engagement. We’re looking forward with enthusiasm and optimism.”

Posted by Daniel Waisberg, Analytics Advocate