Three GA Changes that Predict the Future

The Future of Google Analytics
There has been a modest buzz this week over some leaked screen shots of the Google AdSense integration into Google Analytics. I don’t think this addition is a surprise to anyone, but it is very exciting to see Google pulling more data into GA. As I’ve said in the past, it’s only a matter of time before Google includes data from its various apps into GA.

But over the past few weeks Google has rolled out a few other subtle changes to GA that may indicate changes and future enhancements.

1. Easier Login

There’s a new button to log into GA! Awesome, a new BUTTON! Woo Hoo!

Just kidding, while there is a new button, the real benefit is some added functionality that makes it easier for all of us that are in and out of GA on an hourly basis to access into GA.

You will now remain logged into GA even if you navigate away from GA or close your browser, just like you do when using GMail.

This is not a major deal, but I think it ties GA closer to other Google services. Combined with the layout and access changes to Website Optimizer (which is now organized more like GA), I think it moves us one step closer to the Google Business Platform. The same functionality already exists for Google AdPlanner, Google Insight for Search, etc. How long before all these tools are linked together?

2. Revamped Profile List

Google recently added website domain to the list of profiles that appears when you first log in:

Google Analytics proifle list.

While this change may not seem like a big deal, I think it signals a shift in the way that we think about profiles. For a long time I’ve been stressing that profiles are not websites, they are segments of traffic. That’s why we can, and should, create lots of profiles for a single website. This change facilitates that line of thought.

Changing the profile list to include the website URL makes it easier for us to name profiles something more descriptive, like ‘Segment: New Visitors’ or ‘Segment: CPC’. The addition of the domain simplifies profile naming and promotes the use of profiles as segments.

Could this have something to do with segmentation of data or might profiles fundamentally change? I’m not sure, but I know that it’s now a lot easier to organize all of the various profiles that we create for clients.

3. Bye, Bye Segments, Hello Dimensions!

This one came as a complete surprise to me. Google changed the ‘Segment’ drop down to a ‘Dimension’ drop down. The options in the drop down have not changed, and the functionality remains the same.

Does this mean we’ll be doing ‘di-mentation’ rather than ‘seg-mentation’? HA!

Google Analytics Dimension drop down box.

Not only did they change the name from Segment to Dimension, but they also changed the location of the drop down. It moved from above the data table to within the data table. This reinforces that we need to start thinking in terms of Dimensions rather than Segments.

Now the important question, why this change?

I’m not sure. But I think this is a pretty big deal. I think this has something to do with the way that we segment data in GA. Given the change to the profile list, maybe segmentation will change into some type of ‘profile mashup’ tool, where you can mix data from different profiles into a single profile in order to do segmentation.

Who knows what will happen, but it’s Friday and I’m having fun with this.

What do you think these changes indicate?

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    Comments

    1. says

      I’m glad about update #1, that I can now STAY logged in to GA! It was a pain logging back in constantly. #3 Makes me curious. I wonder what Google has up their sleeves with the “dimension” change.

    2. Bhagawat says

      Hi Justin,

      All the changes are good to see. But we will enjoy that revolution if it works perfect as functionally.

      Since I have observed that Dimension is not working properly under lot of reports where segmenting was working well before.

      So what will be the use of modification google if it doesn’t support and creates problems.

      Thanks,
      Bhagawat.

    3. Tim Leighton-Boyce says

      I’m most interested to see whether the ‘dimension’ change does herald some new functionality.

      I certainly like the thought that some new, higher, level of segmentation may be on the way.

      As a dedicated user of multiple profiles on the same site for segmentation, as you recommend, I also like the idea of some form of profile mashup facility.

      For example, I sometimes have ‘brand search only’ and ‘generic search only’ profiles and occasionally an ‘all search only’ one as well. Working with these is painful, though worth the effort. It would be great to be able to do things like this better.

    4. says

      Hi found the change into dimension yesterday and I guess there are resons for this change:

      1. Segmentation in Google Analytics isn’t actually segmentation but “get more deatils”. Real segmentation in commercial tools is much powerfull tool.

      2. For non-professional web analysts (for them the GA is meant to be) don’t even understand what segmentation could mean.

      3. Dimension moved to more visible position. I met a lot of people who didn’t even know there is something like segmentation in GA.

    5. says

      Bhagawat As Roman points out, the segmentation of data in GA is not true segmentation, but simply shows more details about the data you wish to investigate. True segmentation in Google Analytics can only happen by creating new profiles and applying more filters.

      Roman I really like how you call segmentation “get more details.” That’s a great description!

      Thank you all for the comments.

      Justin

    6. says

      Yeah I think #3 was just trying to be semantically correct. But who knows.

      For the folks who have trouble with dimension working properly, I found that after selecting my first dimension then I was unable to go to another. I hit the ol’ back button and it worked. So just start out on the main page before dimensioning. There’s the workaround anyway.

    7. says

      Thanks for the comment Gahlord.

      I believe we can only look at one dimension. That’s always been one of the limitations of GA. You can only drill into the data once, but no further.

      Maybe I’m just confused about what you’re looking at?

      Justin

    8. says

      Hey Justin,

      Great post. I’m looking forward to the potential of “GA Dimensions” (the next twilight zone episode?). However, I think event tracking will be big for GA in relation to its competitors. Do you have any idea as to when we can access event tracking or its beta?

      Thanks,

      ~helen

    9. says

      Hi Helen,

      Great reference to the TwilightZone! Who knows what the GA team has in store for us :)

      As for Event Tracking, I’m hoping that rolls out soon, but I have no hard date.

      Thanks for the note!

      Justin

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    1. [...] Non sono il solo ad interessarsi del futuro di Google Analytics, evidentemente. Un po’ perché lo strumento che usiamo bene o male lo conosciamo già e quindi è un buon esercizio immaginare cosa potrà essere domani, un po’ perché se le previsioni saranno azzeccate potremo fare un bel post “ve l’avevo detto” Comunque sia, i ragazzi di EpikOne hanno ragionato su 3 ulteriori indizi: [...]

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