A trip to the Googleplex for the Google Analytics Summit

Going to the east coast of the States from Ireland — from a jetlag point of view — just ain’t no big deal. But don’t let anyone kid you — going to California is a big deal, because the jet lag is a lot more stubborn. But a touch of jet lag was a small price to pay to hang out at Google for a couple days for the annual Google Analytics Authorised Consultants Summit. (Yeah, it’s a mouthful allright.) Much of what was discussed we’re not supposed to blog about, but here are some highlights of stuff we can.

The “father of the internet”

It started with a very Google-y talk. Vint Cerf, generally accepted as the “father of the internet”, gave a broad-ranging talk about the future of the internet.

Some highlights of his talk:

  • He likes the idea of internet-enabled clothing (so you can find your missing sock).
  • He’s worried about “bit-rot”, where file formats today will be unreadable in the distant future (imagine trying to run a PPT 1997 file on Windows 3000).
  • And though TCP/IP doesn’t work in space, you’ll be relieved to hear IPN, or the Interplanetary Internet, has successfully passed its first key test with a satellite (no joke!).

These are the things you get to think about when your job title is Internet Evangelist.

Enterprise-class new features

There’s been a lot written about these, and the best place to start is the Google Analytics blog.  The newest of these is the code you can use to track Flash, which was just announced last week. The others — custom reporting and advanced segmentation — are absolutely critical improvements to GA. They already have made a difference for some of our clients. And right now we’re trying to plan some uses for the new data export API. This allows you to pull data out of GA, and you can use the Google chart and visualisation APIs to display that data.

The niftiest, but also the trickiest, new feature is motion charts. I hadn’t realised that Google actually bought the software that was demo’d at this great TED talk that debunks myths about the developing world.

So it’s an improved version of this software that’s now available in Google Analytics (and in Google docs too.) Pretty amazing power that Google is putting into everyone’s hands.

A few tips from the presentation (which was given by one of the developers of the software):

  • Use ratios for the axes (for example conversion rate), but simple numbers for the size of the bubble.
  • Look at weekly data instead of daily data, otherwise the variability clouds the insights.

This tool has huge potential, but I think it’s also the one that will get the least general use because it requires a good deal of experimentation to arrive at a setup that proves particularly insightful.

So those are a few of the highlights from Mountain View. Keep an eye on the Google Analytics blog for more announcements.

And in my next post I’ll share my video interview with Doug van der Wolen, the lead user experience designer for Google Analytics.