Google Analytics is 10 years old – What’s changed?
Google Analytics launched on the 14th November 2005 – the result of acquiring a company called Urchin Software. It was a momentous day for two reasons:
- Google had entered the analytics space with a bang – releasing the first enterprise analytics product for FREE (unheard of then!).
- I was 5 weeks into my new job as Head of Web Analytics for Google Europe.
Clearly with such disruption, not everyone was happy. Free put a lot of pressure on competitors. Advertisers suspected Google had ulterior motives for collecting website data en masse. And Google itself struggled to keep up with demand. Within one week of launch 100,000 new accounts were created. That was 4x bigger than size of the entire industry at that time (see Figure 1)! The result was that we had to close off new sign-ups while literally thousands of new processors where procured in order to take on the new data processing…
Interesting times indeed and I made sure I absorbed as much media training as possible!
Figure 1. The launch of Google Analytics made the industry 4x bigger within one week!
What has changed in 10 years?
Google Analytics is now present on 30 million websites – a 1000 fold increase(!) and it has become the standard for digital analytics collection and reporting, see Figure 2. Though the rest of the industry has grown in terms of account numbers, the main vendors existing now can be counted on less than one hand. That is a great shame – there has always been (and still is) opportunities for competitors to specialise in a way that Google cannot. However, competitor’s lack on understanding about Google’s direction with data contributed to their downfall. Often their reaction was to bad mouth GA and cast aspersions, rather than focusing on their own users and customers needs. As I said, my media training was essential then…
Figure 2. GA adoption has grown 1000x since launch
Features, Features and more Features…
There was a time (around 2009-12) when new features where being release almost monthly. Some were minor, though useful. Others had a much greater impact – both for the analyst, and on the industry. In Figure 3, I list what I consider to have been the most ground breaking features of Google Analytics over the past 10 years…
Figure 3. The Google Analytics major feature announcements
But so what…? Are you using any of these features?
A survey I am currently running (please also complete) is revealing – see Figure 4. It shows just how much opportunity there is to maximise your use of Google Analytics. Why do I say that? Because these 13 features are what I consider essential to use if you are really going to understand and their optimise your efforts for your visitors, prospects and customers.
Figure 4. Feature usage. Green bars represent %usage; Red bars represent %not used.
**Sample size is king when conducting surveys. Please help make this data as accurate as possible by completing the survey yourself (all anonymous)**
Observations so far – lots of red (not used)…
- Only 5.4% of respondents are using Content Experiments (A/B testing). Does this reflect on the difficulty of setting up Content Experiments – an issue I have commented on before?
- Two thirds of respondents are NOT using Multi-Channel Funnel reports (77% are not using Attribution Modelling) – despite this being repeatedly listed by digital marketers over the years as being a “must-have” feature i.e. wanting to understand conversions beyond the last click.
- 41% of respondents are NOT using Segmentation – that to me signals that 41% of users are not performing analysis, just reporting overall basic numbers.
- Custom Reports usage is unusually high at 68% – I wonder if this represents a confusion as to what segmentation is for (see point 3).
Food for thought… I will be returning to this story as the number of survey responses grows (currently at approx. 200). Subscribe to this post for updates…