The Future of Google Analytics – GA Summit 2012 [Infographic]

I joined Google just after the acquisition of Urchin in 2005. Urchin was a great piece of web analytics software that I had been supporting for a couple of years, and one that I strongly believed in – as it turned out this was a good hunch! Seven years later, what still amazes me is the pace of development this product is evolving at.

Last week I attended my 8th GA Summit in Mountain View (the first one had just 10 people in the room! Four of that original group where there this year*). For a change, I summarise the highlights – and why I consider them important to you the GA user – as an infographic (click to enlarge):

Infographic GA Summit 2012

*Apart form myself, the other original GA Partners were Matt Trimmer (iVantage), Holger Temple (CODES), Justin Cutroni (now at Google). Now the network has 250+ partners…

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  1. Brian Clifton

    @Jacques – thanks for the discussion. Here are my thoughts…

    If you have the ability to associate an anonymous visitor with a CRM-ID then it means you have an existing relationship with that visitor – and by implication, that visitor is aware of how you treat their PII (separate issue, but that is your responsibility as a website owner).

    So for this set of visitors only, you will have the ability to track them as anonymous individuals, rather than in aggregate (all other visitor types). That will be covered by GA’s Terms of Service. In fact it already is – think how Transaction tracking works i.e. a unique transaction ID is required. However, its been a gray area of the ToS which has not kept pace with the development of the product – who has!

    If you then wish to analyse at the “personal” level, it must to be done by your CRM system and G is now making it crystal clear they are happy for you to do that. However, you will not be allowed to do that within GA.

  2. Jacques Warren

    Good, but then won’t I be infringing GA,s privacy policy regarding PII, since I’ll be able to associate traffic information back to an actual person? I mean, look at the (not provided) and all the BS regarding protecting PII regardless of the fact I could never link a search keyword with a person… And now I’m allowed to link CRM and traffic data?

    Let’s face it, to make customer analytics useful in any way, we’ll need to perform those analyses at the customer level, thus the actual person. Sure, we could anonymize and aggregate that information from an analyst perspective, but from a marketer’s one, that would offer little interest in light of all the hype around one-to-one marketing.

    The discussion in the coming months promises to be very interesting.

  3. Jacques Warren

    Hi Brian,

    I get the gymnastics of getting from visit-centric to visitor-centric analysis, a major improvement, and something I have asked vendors for several years now, but what good would it do to me if I can’t benefit from using my CRM data? If I have to anonymize it, I don’t go from visitor to *client*, but from visitor to *person*, an improvement, Iadmit, but certainly not what the hype around the announcement suggests…

    • Brian Clifton

      @Jacques – think of it the other way round i.e. now that you have your visitors indexed by your CRM key, that data can be piped back into your CRM if you need PII info. Essentially GA is not attempting to replace your CRM system (lots of privacy implications there), but augment it.

  4. Brian Clifton

    @Matt – its been mentioned that I have made myself look slimmer! UA is a big change and one I am still getting my head around the possibilities…

    @Jacques – the position with PII does not change i.e. absolute no PII to be sent to Google. The privacy change however is that Google now explicitly allows you to track individuals – so long as that is clear to them. Previously all reports were anonymous and in aggregate. Now, for your subscribers/customers, you can track them as a visitor (anonymously).

    That makes sense i.e. a visitor has become a customer and by definition they have handed over their PII to you. That therefore enables reports to be visitor centric – rather than session centric. As long as this info remains anonymous in GA and is transparent to your visitor, there should be no problem and this remains with the EU privacy laws.

  5. Jacques Warren

    Very interesting summary. This means, I guess, that Google Analytics will relax their policy regarding collecting PII, since a lot of it will revolve around the actual person, and not the anonymous visitor anymore.


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