Google Analytics Releases Real Time

Google Analytics announces Real Time

Many people have wanted real time abilities in Google Analytics. Now they have it.

Last week Google Analytics announced it would add real time capture and analytics information to its application.

Jason Cutroni, Stephanie Chang at distilled, and Dorcas Alexander at LunaMetrics immediately wrote informative articles with their initial impressions.

Some organizations will make heavy use of their real-time data. Publishers can watch content that gets attention and move those pages to a more prominent location. Retailers will use Real Time to understand the immediate impact of new campaigns.

A modest role in B2B Marketing

For B2B companies real time analytics has fewer applications. In fact, it could be an annoying distraction if used the wrong way.

But for some specific situations, real time information will significantly improve your ability to measure activity and intent. Here are a few:

  1. You release an email or paid search campaign and you want to make sure that your tagging was implemented correctly. You can get immediate confirmation and make changes accordingly. No need to wait until the next day to see your results.
  2. You conduct a physical event and you want to understand how people interact with your website as the event unfolds.
  3. You make an announcement, you send out a tweet, and you can watch the immediate impact.

What’s included in GA Real Time?

GA Real Time covers these dimensions:

  • Geographic Locations
  • Traffic Sources
  • Content

And these metrics:

  • Visitors
  • Percent of new visitors and returning visitors
  • Pageviews
  • Traffic sources (referrals, direct, search, and campaigns)
  • Active pages

Limitations of GA Real Time

Google Analytics Real Time is an exciting addition to GA’s feature set. However, it is limited. After all, it’s expensive to process website activity in real-time.

First, GA Real Time only includes information on what happens on your site up to 30 minutes prior.

And second, Real Time reports are not filtered. Even if you have a profile filter applied the data is not filtered.

The folks at Clicky (who sell a real time analytics application) were quick to point out the limitations in Google Analytics Real Time:

Hmm… did anyone actually read the announcement that Google made today? This isn’t “real time Google Analytics”, this is a single report in GA that is real time. The rest of GA remains the same. This is more akin to Chartbeat, to be used as a real time compliment to a standard analytics package, rather than a full standalone real time service like Clicky is. But I guarantee you Chartbeat will be just fine, as will everyone else. We’ve all had, and continue to have, plenty of advantages over GA other than real time data.

Of course, Google has only initiated its entry into the real time arena with this release. If previous patterns of development and release are any indication of what Google plans for Real Time, they’ve only just begun.