Introducing Google Analytics, The Next Generation

Today at the Google Analytics Great User Conference, Phil Mui, product manager for Google Analytics and all around awesome guy, introduced the new version of Google Analytics. This version includes a completely reworked user interface and many, many infrastructure improvements.

Before we get into the deals, I should mention that this version is going to be a fairly slow rollout. So don’t be surprised if it takes a few weeks for your account to see the changes.

How about a video walkthrough to start.

And now some feature descriptions, for the SEO :)

New Navigation

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Google Analytics V5 has a completely reworked navigation system. You no longer need to choose an account and profile. Instead you can choose to immediately jump into the new Dashboard section, My Site (Reports section, Intelligence Reports) and Custom Reports. There’s also a way to jump directly into the admin section from the nav bar.

This is a fairly major shift. I think Google realized that there were just too many plain reports in Analytics, most of which rarely got used. So they simplified the navigation to let you jump directly to the reports that are important. In most cases these are reports that you’ve customized, like a Dashboard or a Custom report.

Another change that is coming is the ability to create sections in the Google Analytics navigation and add reports to the new sections.

New Home Section

Also along the new Navigation bar is the addition of a Home section. When you log into GA you no longer see the Admin section. The new Home section is a list of all the accounts and profiles that you have access to. The list of accounts is searchable which, if you have access to a lot of accounts, is REALLY helpful.

The home section also contains direct links to various reporting sections of Google Analytics. You can direct link to the Visitors, Traffic Sources, Content or Goals section. This should help save a few navigation clicks and make it faster for you to get to your reports.

New Dashboards

That’s right, the old, clunky dashboard is gone. And to be honest, I’m not that sad! While the dashboard was nice I stopped using it when custom reports were added to Analytics. But GA needs some type of dashboarding tool that let’s me display only the metrics I want using different visualizations.

Google Analytics V5 Dashboard

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One of the major drawbacks of the old dashboard was the inability to customize how the data looked on the dashboard. Sure, I could add almost every metric but I could not control how it looked.

The new Dashboard tool has many more data visualizations. These include:

  • Absolute metrics
  • Data over time graphs containing multiple metrics
  • Pie charts
  • Tabular data

You can also apply filters to each widget on the dashboard to further customize the data in the widget. Waaaaay better than the old dashboards.

Updated Custom Reporting Tool

GA still has custom reports, but the actual interface and functionality have significantly changed. This is the enhancement that I’m most excited about. Because the changes are so dramatic, I’ve got a dedicated post to understanding Google’s Custom Reports.

Here’s a brief summary of what’s changed:

  • You can now create a standard Explorer report (think a drill-down into data like the current GA report) or a Flat Table report where all dimensions are represented as columns. This is a HUGE enhancement.
  • You can apply a filter to your custom report. This removes the need to add an advanced segment or in-report filter to your report.

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New Admin Section

While the core contents of the Admin section have not changed much, the location and flow of administering your account is very different.

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You now access the admin section using the Admin item in the top navigation. The biggest functional change in the Admin section is a more clearly defined hierarchy. You can now drill down from an account level, to a web property level and finally to a profile level.

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In the old GA admin you were not able to change the name of your web property. This caused all sorts of confusion as duplicate web properties would show up in a drop down box. But Google has finally given us a way to rename the web property, making it easier to navigate the various properties in our account and then drill into the different profiles.

Once you get to the profile level in Google Analytics you still have most of the same admin settings. You can still configure 20 goals per profile (all stored in 4 goal sets), you can still create the same types of filters, and you can still control profile settings. User access also remains unchanged.

New Word Cloud Visualization

Quietly tucked into the Google Analytics Table view is a new Word Cloud visualization tool.

Google Analytics Term Cloud

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Word clouds, most commonly used for text analysis, display words based on their frequency. Words that are bigger in the cloud appear more often.

While word clouds are not a new tool, they are new to GA. More on these in an upcoming blog post.

Goals as Events!

At long las you can now create GOALS out of events in Google Analytics. This is a HUGE feature. You can create goals based on Categories, Events and the Labels. PLUS you can conditions around when a conversion should be tracked.

As I mentioned the UI for the new Google Analytics is not revolutionary. But many of these changes will make it easier to create reports and data visualizations. They also appear to function of a new, improved middle-layer, thus making it possible for more advanced reporting and analysis tools in the future. But we’ll need to wait and see what Google has up their sleeve.

So what do you think of the new version of Google Analytics? Love it? Hate it? Let me know!

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    1. says

      Found it. The following reports were removed: Visitor’s Benchmarking, Visitor Trending’s Absolute Unique, AdWords’ Overview, Site Search’s Overview, Goal’s abandoned funnels,

    2. says

      Being able to create goals out of events is massive, and I’m shocked that didn’t happen until now. But that’s fantastic. So great.

      Otherwise, it seems like the main features are really structural. One big question for me, though, is if the URLs are going to change if the structures and metric names are changing. I currently pull Analytics data into Excel using .iqy files that read the csv export URL, and I’m wondering if those will break now…

      • says

        Reid: every single report in GA, along with all the settings applied to the report, should have their own distinct URL. This will make it easier to bookmark every single report in GA. However, I believe the new URLs are slightly different. So you may need to tweak your export.

    3. Dean Shaw says

      This will sound petty, but they have taken away the PDF exporting capability. I used that a ton to cut n paste and then embed GA metrics into PPTs so that I could wrap context around the metrics. I’ll miss that a ton

    4. says

      It looks very clean and I love the tag cloud & new views. I wish there was more being done to view data outside just a website – to see the social conversations around a brand. But overall, a great update.

    5. Joan says

      Exciting news!! Goals as events & custom reports with filters…awesome! Will it be a rollout worldwide or by country?
      Thanks for sharing the info in this post!! Look forward to access all of these new features & improved UI

    6. says

      Great summary, Justin. Wish I had been out there for the conference. I am really excited about the word cloud – I think blogger will benefit by seeing their keywords more easily. Goals as events are more practical and give another conversion opportunity that should make sense to the non-tech person. Again, thanks for sharing this.

    7. says

      Seriously looking forward to the new dashboard being rolled out to all our accounts. The events as goals feature is one I’ve been wanting for years!

      • says

        Hi Jeff,

        Great question. Unfortunately there is nothing in the new version about an account level rollup. I know, that sucks. I was hoping for some type of cross-profile reporting.

        Thanks for the question,


    8. says

      I’ve had a play with the new dashboard. Yes, it is now easier to work with, and there’s some nice new widgets there.

      But it is still as useless as it has always been in reporting on those actionable key metrics.

      You mention in the blog post that you can apply a filter to a widget. That would make widgets super usefull!
      I just can’t find anywhere where you apply these filters. Is it me, or is that just not implemented (yet)?

    9. says

      I agree with the points made here about the huge significance of being able to use events as goals.

      One obvious example would be the tracking of error message. In the past I’ve had to advise using virtual pageviews for error messages so that they can be configured as goals to give conversion rates, Intelligence alerts, reverse goal paths etc. But that was far from ideal.

      This new version means that we can use events in a whole load more useful ways.

    10. June Li says

      Hey Justin,
      Thanks for the early look and analysis.
      Appreciate your response to Soeren that widget filtering is coming (definitely need this).

      More questions :)
      * How do we email reports – daily, weekly, monthly?
      * How do we copy / share Advanced Segments (…or ‘sements’ – there’s a typo in left nav)?
      * In the old interface, to ‘save’ reports that have been customized and find-filtered, we’d ‘add to dashboard’. Can’t see any way of doing this in the new version(?) Need to create from scratch in Custom Reports?
      In the old interface, we’d set up a profile for a user, customize their reports and ‘add to dashboard’. If users prefer email’d PDFs or Excel, we’d schedule the whole dashboard to be emailed to them. Can’t see what combination of new V5 features can be used to do this.
      * In the new admin interface, is there a way to create filters in advance and then pick and choose to apply to new profiles? Looks like we have to create as we go. If this is the case, hope Google keeps the old admin interface around for a while.
      * What are Custom Dimensions?
      Thanks in advance!

      • says

        Hi June,

        Quite the list of questions….

        1. Email reports will be coming soon to the new UI
        2. Sharing is also coming soon
        3. Yes, to completely customize a report you need to create a custom version of that report
        4. In the new version this task will be completed using custom dashboards, custom reports and the email feature
        5. Yes, the filter library should be back.
        6. No comment on Custom Dimensions.

        Thanks for the questions!

    11. June Li says

      Thanks for the quick answers! Awesome as usual.
      Happy we can toggle back and forth between the old and V5 version.

    12. says

      Hi Justin,

      Thanks for the insights. However, I hope there are no changes in Google Analytics API. My Google Analytics application uses GA API’s to pull the data. Hopefully I don’t have to make any changes in the code.
      Any idea?


    13. Joan says

      Will it be possible to export the following in PDF format?
      – customised dashboards/widgets
      – word cloud visualisation

    14. says

      Does the new reporting interface still present graphs and other elements in Flash? Would be nice to be able to see all of this new stuff on a device that doesn’t have Flash :-)

    15. Sébastien Brodeur says

      I have been playing with the new beta version since a couple of days now. Love it.

      I’m glad to read email will be back soon. Really hope PDF export too.

      Also, I wishes Tag Cloud view could be available on all reports. I build a custom report base on keyword, and the Tag Cloud view is not available. Hell, Tag Cloud view could be useful on any report, even those not build around keyword or traffic sources.

      Lastly, I realize the comparison of metrics (vs site average) no longer work the same way. Not all metrics are comparable anymore. It seem composite metrics are no longer comparable. For example, I can compare Bounce with site average, but not Bounce Rate. I can compare Pageviews or Visits, but not Pages/Visit. Am I missing something?


    1. Introducing Google Analytics, The Next Generation…

      Today at the Google Analytics Great User Conference, Phil Mui, product manager for Google Analytics and all around awesome guy, introduced the new version of Google Analytics. This version includes a completely reworked user interface and many, many in…

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