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Friday, Dec. 14, 2007 at 1:43 pm

Google Analytics Updates — Next Stop, “Event Tracking”

By Robert Gorell
December 14th, 2007

The Google Analytics team just announced some nice updates. Yes, the interface has been translated into Thai, Filipino, Indonesian, Czech, Hungarian, and Portuguese, but there’s another story happening between the lines about the switch from “urchin.js” javascript to the new “ga.js” standard, which doesn’t require tagging an entire Web page just to measure a single action. The big news is how the switch to ga.js javascript will change how Google Analytics users plan and optimize their online marketing.

The change in script reflects the fact that “page views” are dead (although some have replaced them with zombie metrics). Additionally, this round of GA updates makes it easier to track ecommerce transactions and see how metrics relate to each other. But you can’t see how visitor actions relate to each other — yet.

Now that visitor action can be called “events” and tracked with ga.js tags, it’s going to be much easier for GA users to see how a series of actions tie together. Fortunately, Google has built an “event tracking” interface to help you take advantage of the more robust ga.js script. For now, it’s in closed beta, but when it launches, the reports will look something like this:

From Marketing Pilgrim

The challenge for marketers, analytics specialists, and anyone who’s a little of both — either by training or necessity — is to realize that standardized metrics aren’t enough. Event Tracking isn’t about measuring how many times visitors complete one-off actions. (If you do only that, the feature will be, in most cases, meaningless — or “cool,” which can be even more misleading.) Nope. Event Tracking is about measuring scenarios.

Since it’s designed to help you measure the relationships between actions and content, the to-be-launched Event Tracking interface should encourage GA users to do a better job of planing the visitor experience and to not be content with the same old generic data.

Looks like 2008 will be good year to be in the scenario planning and optimization business! ;)

[Image credit: Marketing Pilgrim. If you'd like to learn more about how to use the latest version of Google Analytics, these updates aside, Avinash has you covered. To read more about the use the most recent updates, see WebProNews and ProBlogger.]

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Comments (16)

  1. Robert,

    Any idea about when google is making it public.

  2. No idea. I’m curious whether the beta testers even realize what they’re sitting on. This is a much bigger deal than it seems, but it’s only going to be important to people who know that big conversion rate increases demand better planning if you want better measurement — and that it’s actually possible to optimize the entire experience. That’s all we do.

    But my bosses, the Eisenbergs, have been telling the market the same thing for almost ten years — and showing the results — but businesses have only just begun to talk seriously about “conversion rate,” “personas,” “scenarios,” and so on. My guess is that this will be overlooked by most online marketers and analysts until they see the results for themselves. They’re not going to suddenly be able to plan better just because they have a better measurement tool. My hope is that this will at least incentivize scenario planning according to customer motivations.

  3. Thanks for your insights

  4. This “news” has been out since mid-October:

    Or was there another announcement?

  5. Adam,

    The news is that they made some additional updates. Event Tracking still hasn’t launched, so the real news — as I framed it — is where this update is headed.

    Actually, the screenshot here is from Marketing Pilgrim’s coverage of the Emetrics Summit announcement you linked to. Although Event Tracking was announced back then, they’re most recent announcement (also linked to in the post) is a step toward that.

    This post was intended more as an effort to connect the dots, not just to report the news.

  6. Would you be willing to write a tutorial when this is made public how to integrate scenarios of Eisenbergs into G Analytics? Would be welcomed I hope not only from me.

  7. About time – the market has been crying out for event driven tagging and reporting for years. This will make my life a lot easier as we can finally throw away the useless page-based metrics we’ve been collecting and ignoring for years.

    All our marketing planning and optimsation here is based around customer journeys and lifecycles with touchpoints of various value along them – being able to track them more simply will make life a lot easier.

    Now if only Google will look at making multiple attribution models and cookie durations available on the marketing tracking, we’d be really happy!

  8. Marcis — Absolutely. We were already planning on it, so it’s great to know you’re interested.

    Ian — Thank you for the comment. Hopefully, you speak for countless others when you say this: “This will make my life a lot easier as we can finally throw away the useless page-based metrics we’ve been collecting and ignoring for years.” :)

  9. I’ve switched to the new ga.js tracking. So far, it seems to be working except for the e-commerce transactions, where the tracking stops after about 33 transactions. The pattern of 32 transaction is fairly constant from day to day. Anybody else experimenting the same symptoms?

  10. “where the tracking stops after about 33 transactions”

    Man, if only I could experience that. I’m on the order of about 1 transaction every two days :(

    Hopefully this scenario planning stuff will work well with the public release of event tracking.

  11. If some of your guys are having trouble accessing the functionality you can simply hack the Google Analytics URL to gain access to the data.

  12. Superb post, numerous amusing points. I recall 3 of days ago, I have saw a similar article.

  13. Helal olsun valla ne güzel yazmış yaaa tebrikler

    10.Sınıf Coğrafya Kitabı Cevapları

    10.Sınıf Coğrafya Kitabı Cevapları

  14. How often does Google Analytics update the numbers?

  15. If your site includes interactive elements like PHP, Javascript, cookies, and Flash, implementing GA should be planned, resourced, and tested like any other major IT project.

  16. Robert, thanks for the great entry. I’m looking for instructions to turn the feature on for my website. Any sites you can refer me to?

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