NEW! Google Analytics Mobile App Tracking: Data & Reports

Mobile App Tracking Overview Menu

The world of digital analytics has been changing fast, very fast! One of the primary drivers has been the development of mobile devices and apps. Google analytics has lagged in measuring mobile apps. It’s always done a good job at mobile web, but not mobile apps.

But that all changes with Google Analytics Mobile App tracking and reporting.

This post is all about the new mobile app data and mobile app reports. To read about the technical aspects please refer to my Google Analytics Mobile App Tracking: Technical Details post.

The only technical thing I will say is that mobile app tracking takes more setup. You don’t slap a piece of code in your app and get data. You need to architect a tracking solution.

You should feel right at home with the new app reports. They’re based on standard Google Analytics web reports and have all the same features. This includes:

  • The ability to change the date range
  • The ability to apply a secondary dimension to report data
  • The ability to plot multiple rows of data
  • Weighted sort (for use with % metrics, like conversion rate)
  • Multiple data tabs (for Goals, Ecommerce and App data)
  • Advanced segments for slicing the data an infinite number of ways
  • The ability to trend data by day, week or month
  • Custom reports to create cool reports that are better than the standard reports
  • Custom dashboards still work the same way
  • Table filters… still there… still the same :)
  • Data visualizations (pie charts, comparison to site average, bar charts and pivot tables)
  • The ability to trend 2 metrics over time… OMG

You guys get the point. It’s basically Google Analytics for mobile apps. It should support almost all of your mobile app key performance indicators.

Reports and Data

One of the main differences in mobile apps reports is the information architecture. Data and reports are organized based on four main principles:

Acquisition: Your new users and what drives them to your app
User: Demographic info about users
Engagement: What they do and how your app performs
Conversions: Business outcomes in your app

I think it’s importnat to mention that there are a LOT of new metrics that will support almost all app business models. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling a product, creating a brand experience for the user or publishing content, there are a suite of metrics that will help you r accurately measure businesses performance.

And don’t forget, there are lots of nuances to app usage. Things like app switching, background time, offline usage. Almost all of these can be accounted for using some of the new coding techniques in the development tools.

This makes it even MORE important to clearly define the objectives of your app and the SPECIFIC metrics you want to track. Make sure you communicate clearly with your developers, or the business owners if you’re a developer, about HOW the implementation will change the data.

Overview Report

From a business perspective, this gives you a few key performance metrics from each phase of the app life: acquisition, engagement, outcomes.

The overview report contains a few key metrics from each section. So, for acquisiotn it has new user and active users. If you come from a strictly web tracking world there is a slight difference between a user and a unique visitor. There are no cookies in the app tracking (more on this in the tech overview).

Google App Tracking  Overview: Acquisition & Users

Acquisition and User data includes active users and demographic information.

[ click for a larger view ]

An active users is basically anyone that has ever been identified in the app metrics. This includes the new users.

A new user is a count of all the new people (identified with a unique id) that we see in the data.

There is also some nice demographic information, like device and geo-location.

Just a note about the geo data. Mobile location can be hard to define. A lot of it depends on data from carriers, which can be difficult to discern. Don’t be surprised if your exact location, down to the city, is off now and then.

Engagement metrics and outcome metrics are similar to web tracking, but they’ve been adjusted for a mobile app world. Instead of Pageviews we have screenviews. Instead of avg time on site we have avg session duration and instead of pages/visit we have screens / session.

Google Analytics Mobile App Tracking Overview

The Google Analytics App Tracking Overview reports shows a number of engagement and outcome related metrics.

[ click for a larger view ]

The outcomes metrics are similar to the web versions. Total goal completions and in app revenue. Goal completions can be events or screen-views. The configuration is almost identical to the web version of GA.

In app revenue is tracked via goal values or ecommerce tracking. The implementation is different (obviously) but the metrics are the same.

Mobile Acquisitions Reports

This is information about your new users. What devices they use, which versions of the device, etc. Standard stuff you’ll see in the overview.

But what’s really cool is that is also contains data about WHERE they originally came from. Check out a sample in the screen shot below:

Google Play Source reporting in Google Analytics

You can track different marketing campaign that drive traffic to your Google Play page and result in an app purchase/download.

[ click for a larger view ]

Google Analytics is actually tracking the campaigns and traffic sources that are driving traffic to your Google Play page. That data is passed through to the app, so you can measure the effectiveness of your web-based advertising and marketing.

Please note that campaign tracking only works for Android, NOT iOS. The reason is that the campaign parameters are not passed through the Apple App store into iOS apps. And there are some limitations. To get the best data you should tag ALL of your links that point to your Google Play page with Campaign Tags.

Just like a standard GA report, you can view conversion rate and ecommerce metrics to measure the effectiveness of your marketing no matter what your app does.

This is really, really important! Measuring the ROI of marketing for your app.

Mobile Outcomes Reports

On to user reports! This is all about the people that use your app. Where are they geographically? What type of device do they use? What type of connection do they have?

I’ll point out one report in this section, the Device & Network Overview. It’s fairly standard information, but it’s a new set of visuals for Google Analytics.

Devices And Network Overview

Use the devices and Network Overview to make sure you’re creating good content for the devices your users have.

The optimization opportunities focus around creating a good experience for a user! Make sure that your content/strategy works for the devices and connections they have.

Mobile Engagement Reports

The mobile app engagement reports have information about the screens people see, erros in your app and events.

Rememberm there are no pages in an app, just screens. So Google Analytics will report on which screens are seen, how many visits include certain screens (called unique screenviews) AND the exit rate for a screen.

Google Analytics Mobile Screen Metrics

Mobile screen metrics in Google Analytics.

[ click for a larger view ]

You’ll notice exit %. Basically this is the percent of sessions that end at this screen. When does a session end? That’s something that you get to decide via the code. It might be after 30 minutes of inactivity or it might be when the app goes into the background. It’s up to you to define and implement that via code.

One of the most amazing features of the new mobile app tracking is hidden in this section: the Engagement Flow report. At first glance you may think this is the standard Flow Visualization report from Google Analytics. But look closely. This report shows screenviews AND event.

Here’s an example. You can highlight traffic from the start screen and literally see what on-screen events drive users to other screen.

Mobile App Engagement Flow With Events

With the Mobile App Engagement Flow report you can view how people navigate from one screen to another AND how they interact with each screen.

[ click for a larger view ]

I’m going to let that sink in for a minute. A lot of people have been talking about viewing event data in natural “flow” of a user session. Now you can.

Use the menus at the top of the report to choose if you want to see screens, events, or a combination of both. Events are in blue and screens are in green.

This section also contains your standard event reports. Very similar to web tracking. Again, events depend a lot on implementation.

Another actionable report is the crashes and Exceptions. This lets developers track why the app crashes and any other errors that they want to collect.

Mobile App Crashes and Exceptions

App Crashes and Exceptions reports can help developers make better apps!

Not a lot of value for marketers (unless you are a nerd) but developers will find this very useful. Notice that you can change the data in this report to view the operating system for more segmentation of your errors.

There are also some behavioral reports in the engagemtn section. They focus on who new and returning users, the frequency which they use the app and session duration.

I really like session duration. This report signifies a change in the general reporting. Google Analytics has moved away from averages towards histograms. And there’s more than just the session duration. In addition to how long the user spends, it also shows how many screes and goal conversion rate. Good context to help understand the time measurement.

Session Duration Report

There are multiple metrics in the Session Duration report to provide context to the session length.

Another report that I really like is the mobile app recency. It shows the time between app usage. This will obviously vary widely from one app to another. It depends on what your app does.

Mobile App Recency Report

The Mobile App Recency Report show how much time elapses between usage of an app.

For example, if you are tracking the Major League Baseball app the usage might be every day (to view a game). But the football app the usage might be once a week (the average time between games for a given team).

Mobile Outcomes Reports

Finally we have mobile app outcomes. Honestly, the best thing about the Mobile App reports is that we have outcomes. Not necessarily the Outcomes reports :) Just like the standard GA outcomes are included in other reports to provide some segmentation. For example, the Google Play Sources report shows the segmentation of conversions based on campaigns. Useful.

The in-app revenue report is very handy here. It has a breakdown of revenue by day, along with a list of all transactions and products purchased. Just think, if you have a game where users can by different features (like new levels or weapons) you can now see that in the product performance report.

In App Revenue Report in Google Analytics

Wrapping Up

Gosh, I think that’s it. This is really just the beginning. It took a lot of work to build a new tracking tool and a lot of the really cool stuff is buried in the back end. But maybe that’s a post for later.

Do you have an app? Will you use Google Analytics to track your app? If so leave a comment!

Be Sociable, Share!

    Like this post? Sign up to get posts delivered to your inbox.


    1. Ranyere Rodrigues says

      Hi Justin,
      I don’t seem to find the Google Analytics Mobile App Tracking: Technical Details post you mentioned above. Are you still to publish it?

    2. Greg says

      We heard that iOS app tracking (earlier versions at least) were problematic and that Apple was trying to block such tracking. Any truth to that?. Anyone out there having any issues with iOS app tracking? Thanks.

    3. Edgar says

      Hi, Thank you for your posting.
      I have a question that rawdata about app’s user behavior is saving google’s server?
      If it is right, some people don’t want to send their data because of security issue.
      I want to know managing about data at google.
      Thank you!

      • says

        @Edgar: Yes, the data is stored on Google’s servers. But it’s really, really secure :) These are the same servers that Google uses for all their services, like GMail and Docs. The information is distributed around the world and can only be access by Google. I hope that helps make you feel more secure. Ultimately you will need to decide if you trust your data on Google’s servers.

    4. says

      Thanks for the post on Mobile App Tracking. I’ve been using Analytic for a few years now and I’m still learning… Think I might just have to get used to the fact that it’ll always be adapting and changing.

      • says

        @Mark: App tracking is an entirely new thing in Google Analytics. You need to create a new web property & profile, install the app tracking, and then access the reprots in your new profile.

    5. Adrian Cordiner says

      Hi Justin,

      Just wondering how it deals with mobile users that don’t have a network connection? Does it purge the data, or does it simply queue/store it and send once they have network connectivity again? And does this have any effect on any of the data itself?



    1. […] NEW! Google Analytics Mobile App Tracking: Data & Reports The world of digital analytics has been changing fast, very fast! One of the primary drivers has been the development of mobile devices and apps. Google analytics has lagged in measuring mobile apps. It’s always done a good job at mobile web, but not mobile apps.But that all changes with Google Analytics Mobile App tracking and reporting.This post is all about the new mobile app data and mobile app reports. To read about the technical aspects please refer to my Google Analytics Mobile App T… […]

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>