Google Analytics Platform Principles

Web analytics have become a staple for prospering businesses looking to get a better understanding of who is checking out there website or mobile app and why and how they did it.  However, analytics can also be used to measure devices like video game consoles, ticket kiosks, or appliances as well. They can even be used to collect “offline” business data like purchases at a retail store. Considering all the different ways you can use analytics, it is very important to understand and know how to use them. From the fundamental videos, we already know the four platform components which let you measure user interactions with your business which are collection, configuration, processing, and reporting. Lets go through each component a little more thoroughly for this blog.

When collecting the data, we first need to understand the data model. The users are the visitors of the website or app and sessions are the amount of time they spend there. Lastly, interactions, or “hits” are what they do while they are there. Google analytics uses tracking code which collects information about a user’s activity. Depending on what you are trying to track, Google analytics uses a different tracking technology to create the data hits.  The tracking code also is able to notice new and returning users which is a very crucial aspect of the data collection process. For website data collection, a JavaScript code snippet makes it easy to track the user activity.  By adding the snippet in the HTML of every web page you want to track, the snippet will generate a pageview hit each time it is loaded. The pageview hit tracks various information that you want to include such as the user’s language preference, the browser name, and device and operating system being used. When collecting mobile app data, you use a Software Development Kit, or SDK, instead of using JavaScript. It works similarly to the JavaScript and can collect data about your app like what users look at, the device operating system, and how often a user opens the app. However, since mobile devices can lose network connectivity data from mobile apps is not sent right away. Also, sending data in real time can reduce a device’s battery life. The last part of the collection process is sending data with the Measurement Protocol. This allows you to send data to Google Analytics from any web-connected device which is what AccuWeather does to track most of there information.

During the process stage, four major changes happen with the data. The first transformation is that Google Analytics organizes the hits you have collected into users and sessions. Secondly, data from other sources can be joined with data that is already collected through the same tracking code. The third change is that the configuration rules you have added will modify your data accordingly. These configuration settings will tell Google analytics what specific data to include or exclude, or change the way it is formatted.  A few common configuration settings are filters, goal setting, channel groups, or content groups. Lastly, the data goes through the aggregation stage which is where Google Analytics prepares and organizes your data for analysis  by setting it up in a easy to use, more understandable way.

The last part of the Google analytics process is the reporting stage. By using specific dimensions and metrics,  Google analytics is able to create just about any report you want to measure with the data that is collected. The dimensions describe characteristics of the data, so a dimension of a session could be the source that brought the user to your site. Metrics count how often stuff happens like the total number of users on a website or the average number of something. One way to report the data is through an Application Programming Interface, or API. This gives you a little more freedom in the reporting process since you can better integrate your own business data and also saving time by being able to report complex tasks. Another way of reporting is a simple report sample which will just generate a report based one subset of your data instead of using all your available data. This way helps you get timely answers for any ongoing questions.

Overall, going through the four platform principles of Google analytics is vital for anybody interested in increasing their knowledge of analytics.

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