Monthly Archives: September 2013

How Certain Affinity used Google’s Mobile App Analytics to improve game design

Certain Affinity, an experienced independent game developer has recently been working on their first mobile title, Age of Booty: Tactics. Age of Booty: Tactics is an asynchronous turn-based tactics game hybridized with a collectable card game. Certain Affinity wanted a solution enabling them to measure and analyze specific metrics to improve both the pre-release and post-release designs of the game. They researched a number of analytics solutions, but were frequently frustrated by the cost, size, and limited flexibility offered.

Ramping Up Reporting
Certain Affinity has used Google Analytics for website analytics since 2005, and began talking to mobile partners after becoming aware of Google Analytics’ (GA’s) application in mobile gaming. Given their existing experience, the relative cost of the platform, and the extensive feature set, Certain Affinity quickly and easily integrated GA into the game. The early inclusion of GA into the design process resulted in easy access to analytics to assist in influencing direction across design, art, and ultimately production.

UI Optimization
Google Analytics provides an intuitive way to understand engagement across multiple screens and events. By leveraging engagement flow and average screen time analytics, Certain Affinity understood when specific areas within the UI were either too complex or buried to drive the desired behavior. They identified that the storefront was overly complex and required significant streamlining to become easily accessible. Additionally,they found that a number of options within the menus were too complex and lead to users looping within the UI prior to engaging in an actual game. They also were able to reduce screens per session from 15.5 to 8, resulting in a cleaner UI as well as less back and forth in the game.

Gameplay Duration
Certain Affinity wanted to better understand the average duration of play to optimize the experience on mobile. Given that users tend to spend less time gaming on their mobile devices than in the console space, it was vital to ensure the game was consumable and enjoyable in the “bite sized” engagement window.

Certain Affinity leveraged session durations to understand the existing top-level behavior. In analyzing the data,they found that the typical session was over 25% longer in length than was ideal. They tracked events such as turn submission, undo, and return to main menu to identify any behavior that was artificially extending the average duration of play. Certain Affinity then specifically targeted optimization to the areas requiring the most work.

Custom Dimensions
By leveraging Google Analytics Custom Dimensions, Certain Affinity could measure analytics across a number of key metrics in the mobile gaming space including retention, virality, and monetization. While this data was not widely used until launch,the ability to verify collection was instrumental in ensuring a successful soft launch.“The flexibility GA provides is quite amazing. While no analytics provider will ever have everything you need out of the box, it is great to have a solution that allows us to implement our own requirements [through custom variables], so easily!” explains Certain Affinity’s Lead Server Engineer.

You can check out the full case study here.

Posted by Aditi Rajaram, Google Analytics team

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Introducing an all-new DFA: DoubleClick Campaign Manager

The following post originally appeared on the DoubleClick Advertiser Blog.

The phase of adolescence is a transitional one, and this year, on the 15th anniversary of DoubleClick for Advertisers (DFA) we find ourselves celebrating a big milestone: an entirely rebuilt campaign management platform for marketers and agencies, the coming of age of DFA. In June, we announced that DoubleClick Campaign Manager would be available to all advertisers in the coming months, and today I’m excited to announce that we’ve launched globally.

DoubleClick Campaign Manager is at the core of our DoubleClick Digital Marketing platform. It re-imagines how marketers and agencies manage the entire scope of their digital marketing efforts – from planning and executing, to measuring and optimizing their campaigns.

Intuitive workflows that give you back time. With DoubleClick Campaign Manager, we started by building new, time-saving features into a noticeably more beautiful and responsive user interface. This means the time gained from speeding things up can free up opportunities for you and your team to work on higher-value activities.

A new trafficking interface loads up to 5 times faster than before, and ads and ad changes now go live in just 2 minutes. You can also view campaign information centrally from a single page, rather than flipping across tabs. With in-line and bulk editing, we’ve greatly reduced the number of clicks to perform common trafficking tasks.
Easy tagging. Floodlight, DoubleClick’s universal conversion tag is integrated with Google Tag Manager. Now, you can push Floodlight tags directly from DoubleClick Campaign Manager to Google Tag Manager (and your site), reducing the time it takes to implement tags from weeks, to minutes.
Programmatic and reservations in one place. With one unified UI and reporting system across DoubleClick Campaign Manager and DoubleClick Bid Manager, you get access to accurate, de-duplicated conversion data. Creatives and tags are shared, and remarketing lists are synced so you can engage your audience seamlessly across every part of your buy.

Seamless support for mobile/HTML5, video, and rich media formats. DoubleClick Campaign Manager makes it easier to produce, scale, and traffic creative formats – from mobile and video, to rich media and dynamic.

A mobile-first approach. Mobile is built into the fabric of our platform. Support for IAB-compliant HTML5 creatives means a single creative can render on any device and help you take advantage of the engaging, rich-media capabilities of HTML5. We’ve ensured that your tags work everywhere too. There is no longer a separate mobile tag, and mobile targeting and reporting dimensions are automatically available in all served tags.
Powerful video features. An intuitive approach to video trafficking allows you to share and re-use companion ads across videos, and get a detailed performance breakdown. And support for the next wave of video formats – including interactive video and dynamic VPAID – helps you deliver more engaging videos. Additionally, you can now track your YouTube TrueView campaigns alongside all your other placements, allowing for more holistic insights.
Easier Rich Media. Integration with DoubleClick Studio allows you to easily sync creatives into DoubleClick Campaign Manager, saving you time and effort. New preview functionality allows you to test and QA creatives without relying on your creative agency. And you can create ads that are tailored to your audience with dynamic creative that optimizes the best combination of variables to serve the “perfect ad” for every impression.

New audience features help you surface key insights and optimize campaigns for better performance.

Create powerful remarketing lists based on custom Floodlight variables. Your lists are automatically shared with DoubleClick Bid Manager and updated in real-time, helping you establish second contact with your audience quickly.
New audience reporting gives you strategic insights. Audience is now a new dimension in standard reporting, so you can understand the segments with which your message best resonated. If you use DoubleClick Bid Manager, audience composition reporting shows you how your first party lists overlap with your third party lists. We will be bringing this capability to all customers soon.

Enhancements in reporting for better decisions. Reporting has always been the backbone of the DoubleClick platform, with de-duplicated reporting across channels. We built on this foundation last year with Report Builder, Multi-Channel Funnels, and DoubleClick Verification. Now, with DoubleClick Campaign Manager, we bring you even more insightful reporting tools:

Powerful attribution with Multi-Channel Funnels helps you better understand your customers’ journey from initial interaction to final conversion and more accurately credit the channels and touchpoints that contributed to your conversions. With the Attribution Modeling Tool, you can choose from several basic models of assigning credit for impressions and clicks, or you can create your own model in a way that makes the most sense for your business.
Integration of Wildfire’s social technology platform with the DoubleClick attribution suite means you can measure the effectiveness of your campaigns in driving social conversions. Additionally, social ad impressions and clicks can be tracked directly in DoubleClick Campaign Manager, allowing you to measure your social programs alongside the rest of your efforts.

When DoubleClick for Advertisers was founded in 1998, we invested in the promise that digital can forge connections and bring value to advertisers, publishers and users. Today, as we celebrate its 15th anniversary, we’re excited to be investing in the next wave of digital marketing where we are even more connected than ever before.

If you’re an existing DFA customer, reach out to your account manager about upgrading to DoubleClick Campaign Manager today. You can stay on top of new updates by following us on our Google+ page.

Posted by Payam Shodjai, Senior Product Manager, DoubleClick Campaign Manager

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‘Access, Empower, Act’ – Save the date for the 2013 Google Analytics Summit [#GASummit]

Our team is committed to keeping you at the bleeding edge of data. That’s why we’ve continually made the content at our annual user summit more accessible. Last year we liveblogged the event on social and published a recap of key announcements. But we’ve heard you loud and clear: you want more. So we’re excited to fulfill that request: this year, we’re extending a virtual invitation to all our users.

Join us for a livestream of key sessions during our Google Analytics summit, on October 1 at 9:10a PT. Watch and hear about the future of marketing analytics from Google leadership: Paul Muret, Vice President of Google Analytics Engineering, and Babak Pahlavan, Director of Google Analytics Product Management. You will learn about new products we’re launching and hear three ways to take advantage of The Data Opportunity:
  1. Connecting the right data to the right people.
  2. Empowering every employee to analyze data 
  3. How acting on insights drives organizations forward
Set the event reminder today, and be sure and join the conversation on Google+ and Twitter using the hashtag #GASummit. 
Posted by Suzanne Mumford Google Analytics Marketing

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Google Analytics earns ISO 27001 certification

With infrastructure and services that include robust data protections for all customers, enterprises like Google are able to invest in security measures that might be challenging for businesses to attain on their own.  
We’re pleased to announce that Google Analytics and Google Analytics Premium have earned the independent security standard ISO 27001 certification. As one of the world’s most widely recognized standards, ISO 27001 certifies the compliance of the systems serving Google Analytics and Google Analytics Premium.
Assurances like these provide users with additional confidence and peace of mind when they use Google Analytics.  As Rob Jackson, Head of Elisa DBI, Havas Media explains, “Our clients take data security extremely seriously. Having Google Analytics attain ISO 27001 certification further strengthens our trust in the product and that our client’s data is being protected at the highest standard.”
Our compliance with the ISO standard was certified by Ernst & Young CertifyPoint, a member of the International Accreditation Forum (IAF). The validity of certificates issued by Ernst & Young CertifyPoint is recognized in all countries with an IAF member.
Posted by Paul Muret, Vice President of Engineering, Google Analytics

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Learn From Googlers At These Upcoming Analytics Events

Fall is a busy time for the Google Analytics team. Conference season is in full swing, the Google Analytics summit is fast approaching and our product team is heads-down, focused on iterating and improving the product to create the future of Analytics. Things are likely moving fast for you as well, so we wanted to make sure you were updated on some of the key industry events our team members would be participating in this fall. Following is a brief list:
Justin Cutroni, Analytics Evangelist at Google, presenting on GA Premium in NY
9/26: ACCELERATE Conference, Columbus 
Accelerate is a “Ten Tips in Twenty Minutes” format conference on a wide range of digital analytics and marketing optimization topics.  Google’s own Krista Seiden will be speaking on “Ten Tips for Getting the Most out of Google’s Analytics Platforms.” Tips will include Krista’s practitioner viewpoint on best uses of Google Analytics dashboards, advanced segments, Content Experiments and Google Tag Manager. Learn more.
9/30-10/3: eMetrics Boston
eMetrics Summit is a comprehensive and forward thinking digital analytics forum sharing best practices, tools and techniques to optimize successful digital marketing programs. Krista Seiden will be there presenting on ‘The art of being a digital analyst and the road to management.’ Learn more.
10/16: 4A’s Data Summit, New York
This summit will feature data thought leaders and practitioners from agencies and key data and analytics companies who are data providers to agencies. Google’s Analytics Evangelist Justin Cutroni will participate on a mobile panel discussing how mobile data is changing the ad target landscape as well as customizing mobile experiences for users. Learn more.
10/24: eMetrics London
eMetrics Summit is a comprehensive and forward thinking digital analytics forum sharing best practices, tools and techniques to optimize successful digital marketing programs. Googler Daniel Waisberg will be there answering questions from attendants in a Google Analytics Q&A. Learn more.
10/24: Restaurant Innovation Summit, New York
Rapid change in how consumers want to pay for products and services is significantly affecting the restaurant industry. Restaurants of every size and in every segment plan to invest more in customer-facing and point-of-sale technology to enhance the customer experience. Justin Cutroni will be speaking on Universal Analytics and how it can be an entry into the big data world. Learn more.
10/25: Hawaii Social Media Summit
The Hawaii Social Media Summit is a chance to learn from the top social media leaders in this highly competitive, and ever-evolving field. Googler Adam Singer will be presenting on social media measurement best practices and how you can better value the entire customer journey – across social and your other digital channels. Learn more.
10/25: Online Marketing, Mobile & Social Media Travel Summit
Europe’s premier event for social media, mobile and online marketing professionals from across the travel industry is back for another successful year. Daniel Waisberg will be in Attendance presenting on how to place Analytics at the heart of your Marketing Strategy Learn more.
10/27: PRSA National Conference in Philadelphia
Designed by communicators for communicators to increase ROI, the International Conference offers practical insight and networking for public relations professionals of all career levels, sectors, work environments and industries. Adam Singer will be sharing how to use data for real-time, smart and actionable insights to improve PR programs. Learn more.
11/8: SMX Milan
On the 7th and 8th November 2013 Milan will host for the first time ever in Italy the SMX – Search and Social Media Marketing Expo, a unique opportunity for both managers and experts to analyze and discuss the most innovative themes on digital marketing. Justin Cutroni will deliver a session on Universal Analytics and how this will change the future of measurement. Learn more.
11/12: Digital Analytics Association (DAA) Symposium, San Francisco
Join the San Francisco chapter of the Digital Analytics Association for a concentrated and fast-moving survey of the people, platforms and practices organizations are using today to play and win in the age of big data.  Justin Cutroni will share training and best practices for thinking holistically about your digital analytics across channels and platforms, with a focus on mobile. Learn more.
11/13: Smarter Travel Analytics Europe
The Smart Travel Analytics Europe Show: explores data, analytics and performance strategy for the European travel industry. Daniel Waisberg will be delivering a Google Analytics Travel Masterclass Learn more.
11/14: BEST Practices Conference, Seattle
Seattle’s weather may be notoriously dreary, but those of us who call it home know that the weather (and coffee) make it a great place for new ideas. BEST Seattle will again be held at the Seattle Art Museum and will feature a mix of strategic discussion, helpful instruction and room for creative thinking. Justin Cutroni will be presenting on the state of Google Analytics. Learn more.
12/4: REMIX Summit London
REMIX Global Summits tackle the big ideas shaping the future of the cultural sector. It is a forum where creative leaders from different sectors can exchange insights, ideas and work together towards common goals. Daniel Waisberg will deliver a workshop on the basics of measurement and optimization using Google Analytics. Learn more.
We hope to see you out at some of these conferences, but if you can’t make it be sure and follow Google Analytics on Google+ and Twitter where we always share inspirational and actionable bits from events.
Posted by the Google Analytics Team

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Monitoring & Analyzing Error Pages (404s) Using Analytics

I recently wrote a post on the Google Analytics + page about monitoring error pages on websites. The post was well received and generated a healthy discussion on Google+, so I decided to write a more detailed article on the subject here.

First of all, what exactly is an error or 404 page? According to WikipediaThe 404 or Not Found error message is a HTTP standard response code indicating that the client was able to communicate with the server, but the server could not find what was requested.” Or, in more general terms, the 404 is the error you get when the page you are looking for does not exist, usually because the link you clicked was broken.
Another important question is: why should I care? Often times the 404 is forgotten and no one cares to prioritize its optimization. I believe the answer to prioritization lies on section 2 of this post: by monitoring the percentage of users that arrive at this page you will be in a better position to know if (and how quickly) you should optimize your 404 page. In any case, even if the number of people viewing this page is low, you should at least have a page in the lines of your brand and try to add the elements described in section 1 below; after all, you don’t want to disappoint your customers!
In this post I propose a few techniques to help improve error pages, engage visitors and improve the website experience. The questions I will try to answer are the following:
  1. How to build your 404 page?
  2. How to monitor your 404 page traffic efficiently?
  3. How to analyze & optimize 404 page success?

1. Error Pages Best Practices

Before we dive into Google Analytics, let’s take a look into some ways to create a great 404 page from the beginning. Following are some good usability insights proposed in a book called Defensive Design for the Web. The authors advise us to offer customized “Page Not Found” error pages; and they provide an interesting insight into how to create error pages:
Instead of merely saying a page is not found, your site needs to explain why a page can’t be located and offer suggestions for getting to the right screen. Your site should lend a hand, not kick people when they are down. Smart things to include on your 404 page:
  1. Your company’s name and logo
  2. An explanation of why the visitor is seeing this page
  3. A list of common mistakes that may explain the problem
  4. Links back to the homepage and/or other pages that might be relevant
  5. A search engine that customers can use to find the right information
  6. An email link so that visitors can report problems, missing pages, and so on

2. Monitoring Error Page Traffic

Suppose a prominent blog links to your site and the link is broken, this will cause a negative experience to users (which will not find what they expected) and to search engines (which will not crawl the right content). How long will it take until you notice it? How often do you check the traffic to your 404 page? Chances are you don’t do it every day, but you should! Or at least you should have someone look at it: why not let Google Analytics do it for you? 
Create an Alert on Google Analytics
In the screenshot below you will see how to set an alert on Google Analytics that will let you know each time your 404 pageviews increases above a certain threshold. This will enable you to do the work once and be alerted every time there is a problem. 
The alert below is based on the increase in error pageviews, but if you decide to create a goal (as suggested below) you could create the alert based on the goal too. Note that you can opt in to receive an email or a text message when the condition is met (404 pageviews increases more than 15% compare to previous day). Also note that I decided to define the 404 page based on the title of the page, very often there is no indication of an 404 page on the URL (read more about this below). 
To learn how to set a Custom Alert check this help center article.

Measure your 404 Page as a Goal
Setting the 404 page as a goal on Google Analytics will surface important information that can be achieved only through goals, e.g. the last three steps before getting to this page. Below is a screenshot on how to do it, but note that you would need to have an identifier on your URL (or trigger an event) in order to set your 404 as a Goal.

Add Your 404 Content Report to Your Dashboard
Every report on Google Analytics can be added to the dashboard. By adding the 404 page to your dashboard you will be able to constantly monitor the trend of visits to your 404 page. Learn more about customizing dashboards.

3. Analyzing & Optimizing Error Pages

Monitoring your 404 pages is important, but useless if you don’t take action using this information. Taking action means doing all you can to decrease the number of people getting missing pages. Below I provide a few tips on how to find and fix both internal and external broken links.
Check Your Navigation Summary Report
This will help you understanding where did visitors come from from inside your site, i.e. it will tell you which pages contain internal broken links. You will also be able to understand what is the percentage of visitors that arrive to the 404 page from internal and external sources; the internal sources will be listed on this report. See navigation summary screenshot below:

Check 404 Page URLs
Learning which URLs are producing the errors is a great way to get rid of them. If you learn, for example, that 100 visitors a day get an error when they visit the page “/aboutS” you can infer that there is a broken link leading to it; sometimes it might not be possible to find the source of the error to fix the link, but you can add a redirect from that page to “/about”, which looks to be the right page. 
In order to do that you will need to find the report below, but please keep in mind that some assumptions were made to arrive at it. Most CMS (Wordpress, Drupal, and others) will return an error for non-existing pages on the actual content section, but they will keep the original URL; however, they will have a page title with the word 404 in it. So check your site to know if that is the case before you try the report below.

Once you find this report, click on the first entry and you will get a list of all the URLs that triggered an error page. Good luck with the redirects!
Measure Internal Searches From this Page
If you do not have a search box on your 404 page, you should seriously consider adding one. Through searches performed in this page you will be able to understand what people were expecting to find there and you will get insights on which links you should add to the page. If you don’t have Internal Site Search enabled on Google Analytics check this help center article.
Below are the metrics you will be able to analyze if you use this feature:
  • Total Unique Searches: the number of times people started a search from the 404 page. Duplicate searches within a single visit are excluded.
  • Results Pageviews/Search: the average number of times visitors viewed a search results page after performing a search.
  • % Search Exits: the percentage of searches that resulted in an immediate exit from your site.
  • % Search Refinements: the percentage of searches that resulted in another search (i.e. a new search using a different term).
  • Time after Search: The average amount of time visitors spend on your site after performing a search.
  • Search Depth: The average number of pages visitors viewed after performing a search.
Closing Thoughts
As we mentioned above, errors happen, and we must be prepared for them. We must give a hand to our visitors when they are most frustrated and help them feel comfortable again. The level of online patience and understanding is decreasing and users have a world of choices just one click away, so website owners cannot let one small error get on their way.
Posted by Daniel Waisberg, Analytics Advocate

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Supporting A Modern Browsing Experience

To focus on supporting modern browsers, we are deprecating official compatibility of Google Analytics with Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) at the end of 2013. We decided to do this to both accelerate the pace at which we can innovate new product features, and to facilitate adoption of newer web technologies in the design of the Google Analytics product. Our ultimate goal is to provide a superior user experience for every GA user. As a note, we’ll of course continue to measure traffic from IE8 browsers to your website. 
We will continue to support the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer 9 or higher, Safari and other modern browsers. 
It is our hope that giving you more than 3 months to prepare for this change will minimize disruption to Google Analytics usage for you and your business. We will send further reminders prior to the deprecation at the end of the year, but we strongly advise you begin preparing and implementing plans for this change at your earliest convenience.
Posted by the Google Analytics Team

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Better backlink data for site owners

Webmaster level: intermediate

In recent years, our free Webmaster Tools product has provided roughly 100,000 backlinks when you click the “Download more sample links” button. Until now, we’ve selected those links primarily by lexicographical order. Th… Continue reading

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New Features In Google Analytics Content Experiments Platform

Analyzing data to gain insights into your business and marketing efficacy is just step one. Taking action on that data is the all too important next step. The Google Analytics team continues its focus on making analytics actionable with the latest additions to the Content Experiments Platform. Together, these new features make Google Analytics A/B testing engine more powerful than ever!

Google Analytics users who have linked their accounts to AdSense can now select AdSense Revenue as an experiment objective. Once set, Google Analytics Multi Armed Bandit optimization algorithms will shift traffic among the experimental variations to achieve maximum revenue in the shortest amount of time. This feature has been a top request among AdSense publishers and Google Analytics is excited to provide a tool to further empower our publisher ecosystem.  
For our most sophisticated Content Experiments users, we’ve added an advanced option to allow even traffic distribution across all experiment variations. Using this feature bypasses the programmatic optimization that Google Analytics provides so it isn’t right for everyone. If you have an experiment objective that can’t be entirely captured by a Content Experiment objective, then this new feature might be right for you.
Learn more about the Content Experiments Platform and the Content Experiments API.
Posted by Russell Ketchum, Google Analytics Product Manager

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