Google is at it Again – Web Analytics III

As promised, an update on this post. As of a couple hours ago, Google Analytics is finally consistently both reasonably fast while also having reports populated with data. My first impression is that this is very slick. The data you get is presented in a useful manner and the amount of data available is significant. It has all the reports you'd expect such as visits, pageviews, etc. It also has some extremely powerful functionality such as conversion tracking, campaign integration, funnels, goals and a slew of other things that marketers will love. Also some slick features such as the Geo Map Overlay. One thing that I noticed is missing now that there is actually data in the reports is the site overlay. It's still in the help section, so I hope it returns soon. I know Web Trends makes a fairly big deal out of that feature. One thing that's either a glaring omission or I just can't find is full referrer info. You can see that foo.com sent N number of visitors, but you don't get the full URL – just the domain. Someone please point out that I am just missing this info ;) All in all a decent offering that should make most happy, especially if you use AdWords. On that note, when I logged into my AdWords account today it asked me to convert my login to an existing Google one. In the end it looks like Analytics, AdWords and AdSense will all use the same login. The amount of correlation Google can do at that point is significant. The amount of data mining Google can do with Analytics alone is significant in fact. With AdSense, they could do a far amount of mining but a large part of the puzzle was missing – they didn't know what % of your pages you ran the code on. If it were 1% vs 100% it would have a significant impact on the information gathered. Since they didn't know, some assumptions couldn't be made. By definition you are usually going to run Analytics on 100% of pages, at least in a given area (which is defined in the control panel). If you didn't, the data would be a bit useless to you. Now, it's not that I don't trust Google. In fact, I trust the Google of today to an extremely high degree. Larry and Sergey have proven their morals and direction IMHO and I think they'll do the right thing. But, what about the Google of tomorrow… or the next day? They sure do have access to a significant amount of data and have shown they know how to use it. They have deep pockets, lofty goals and a huge number of really smart people. In the wrong hands, the data they have could be extremely damaging. Even on the fairly innocuous side of things, how tempting will it be when times get lean (and they will) to see who spends on lot on AdWords and then send them less organic traffic in the hopes that they'll bump up their ad dollars to make up for it. That one seems unlikely as Google clearly gets that having the best search engine is tantamount to their plans, but you get the idea. Let's hope they do the right thing.
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–jeremy

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