Google Analytics Wishlist

Google Analytics Wishlist

The other day, while updating my Amazon wishlist, it came to my mind that I should also update my Google Analytics (GA) wishlist. Even though the tool is great, there is always one or two improvements that wouldn't hurt. Who knows, someone might be interested to give me an analytics gift... So here is my wishlist and why I believe these features are important for the end users.

Adsense Clicks as Ecommerce Transactions

As I built Online Behavior, I integrated my Adsense account with Google Analytics, an integration that brings many interesting insights. However, I think it could be a good addition to the AdSense integration to add a "track as ecommerce" button to it. Many sites use Adsense as a primary or secondary source of revenue and it would make sense to have it integrated in a way that would provide even more detailed reports. If an ecommerce integration would be too big a hassle to the developers (which I doubt, since they are Google developers), it would already be very beneficial if we could set goals as "Adsense clicks" (preferably with the goal value being the click value).

As I see it, each click should be counted as a transaction for websites that use Adsense as their revenue model. This is important because not all clicks are counted equal, and this would enable the web analyst to optimize based on the revenue the clicks generate. For example, currently GA reports the number of clicks and Adsense revenue per page. I could calculate the average of revenue per click, but I suspect that the average is not good enough (as Avinash Kaushik says on disappointing measurement techniques, "averages have an astonishing capacity to give you "average" data, they have a great capacity to lie, and they hinder decision making"). If I discover which pages drive the highest Adsense click values (not the highest revenue or the highest average), I can chose to promote them, because those pages are the most likely to generate high value clicks. I imagine there is a clear differentiation between expensive and cheap clicks, and this could be the product name. The affiliation would be the page from where the click was generated. The category would be Adsense.

There are tons of websites out there that have their main revenues as advertisement, be it Adsense or Double Click (to mention two Google tools). GA intends to serve both the head and the tail of websites and I believe the ecommerce feature serves mostly the enterprise and medium+ businesses. And I don't see any difference between $10 earned from Adsense and $10 earned from selling a T-shirt on my website. They are both ecommerce to me.

Import API for Marketing Campaign Data

Google Analytics has built a perfect integration with Adwords, providing sets of reports that enable the analysis of virtually any metric that could be thought about. However, platforms like Yahoo! advertising and Facebook are growing stronger, and it is very time consuming to add UTM tags to campaigns, let alone keywords. Therefore, it would be a great addition to GA, as a unified analysis platform, to integrate with other ad platforms.

This integration should be easy to do, just like Adwords: you give permission, click on a few buttons and BAM, you have a whole new set of data on GA. It should also be complete, being able to import cost data so that analysts would be able to analyze ROI and compare all acquisition channels equally (but even an "Auto Tagging" button on Facebook would be very helpful, just like Google did with Feedburner).

Website Optimizer / Webmaster Tools integrations

Google has done a great job integrating tools like Adwords and Adsense into Analytics. However, in order to create a true Online Marketing suite, we need Testing and SEO integrated into Analytics too. This would enables us, Web Analysts, to find insights and immediately correlate them with all Marketing Optimization efforts and take action. It would facilitate the work of Analysts looking for insights and it would facilitate the work of agencies "selling" Google Analytics to clients. Here are a two ideas on how it could help:

  • I am looking into the landing pages report, trying to understand which pages are underperforming. Google Analytics could use the Intelligence engine they built not long ago and present me a message in front of a page: "we noticed that this page underperformed significantly for your Adwords campaign. If you want to create a test, just click here".
  • While surfing my Google Analytics data I am noticing that a specific page has a huge bounce rate. Getting deeper into this page information, I discover that the same page has a crawling error. Search Engines cannot crawl a link fron this page. This would raise a flag: if a crawler can't go into this link it might be that users are having problems too.

To be honest, I believe all Google tools should be centralized into Google Analytics (am I biased here?). A place you come for customer acquisition, customer understanding, retention and website optimization. This makes sense since the analysis and insights that can be acquired through data should be as close as possible to customer acquisition and retention.

What is Your Google Analytics fantasy?

One of the best ways to improve a product is to get users feedback on it, so that is my little contribution. If you have ideas for improving Google Analytics, feel free to add them to the comments section below. I am sure they will be glad to read it.

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Steve | June 2010

These are all very good ideas...

Gabi Endress | June 2010

Excellent article. My top wish for Google Analytics is to add the ability of custom correlations. There are times I'd like to correlate data between two metrics that Google Analytics does not currently support and it really hinders my analysis (Omniture has me spoiled on this).

Also a really nice to have would be a way to classify campaign data similarly to how Omniture does it with it's SAINT tool.

Jiri Brazda | June 2010

Hi Daniel

You should check out this site http://google-analytics.ideascale.com/ that collects new ideas & features from Google Analytics users.

Even though GA is a good tool, the wishlist is growing and some of the things really are a pain.

Cheers

Jiri

Nathan Decker | June 2010

I'll second "automated cost data" in GA. This seems like it would be a fairly simple thing to do, at least for the major marketing partners out there like Commission Junction and the Comparison Shopping Engines.

I'd also like to see the Ecommerce section improved. At a most basic level, I'd like to see conversion rate by product sku ("product detail page visits" / "purchases of that product") and category ("sum of all product detail pages in a category" / "sum of all items in category").

Finally, the "Ecommerce" section of the custom variables report is blank. This is getting at a similar type of metric in our setup: product performance. In the current world of GA, the Ecommerce metrics are too isolated from the content level and visitor level metrics.

Massimo Paolini | June 2010

In addition to the above suggestions I would add the ability to add customized segments, alerts, and reports to a client's profile so the when it's added it's visible from all profiles.

Jorge Guzman | June 2010

I don't really like Google data visualization, it's pretty hard and time consuming to explore data in ways you haven't setup. Two more things: creating custom segments is hard and not very manageable (or at least has been for me), and, being a developer myself too, debugging is a big issue.

There have been a number of times when a client is having problems and it turns out is a code issue with the implementation. It'd be great if Google would spit error messages when these things get implemented and something looks off to them.

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