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Google Revamps Free Analytics Software

The updated online software features a new interface to help make an organization's Web site usage data easier to understand for a broader set of people.

At the EMetrics Summit in San Francisco on Tuesday, Google plans to announce a new version of Google Analytics, the company's free enterprise-class Web site metrics service.

"The interface in this product has been completely redesigned to put information in context," said Brett Crosby, senior manager for Google Analytics.

The updated online software features a new user interface to help make Web site usage data easier to understand for a broader set of people in an organization. The reason for this, according to Crosby, is that server logs have made their way from the machine room to the boardroom. Web site usage data isn't just for IT administrators; it has become critical business intelligence.

The revamped Google Analytics features "new e-mail reporting, customizable dashboards, improved map displays, and plain language descriptions to make important information more accessible," according to Google.

Adam Pellegrini, strategic director online for the American Cancer Society, expects that the new features will help his organization immensely. "From a mission standpoint, Google Analytics is a huge value for us," he said. "With the new features that are 10 times more useful, it's actually going to save us money in staffing."

Pellegrini said that the new automated reporting functions can generate and distribute a large number of comparative reports that used to require the constant attention of two staff members.

Geffen Records uses Google Analytics to identify valued content and to craft marketing strategies based on that, said Aaron Foreman, head of digital media.

The cancer society also uses Google Analytics to help identify sought-after content. In addition, said Pellegrini, Google Analytics has helped reveal site design flaws that caused potential donors to abandon the donation process. "We actually can track all of our donations through Google Analytics," he said. "You can see the specific correlation between specific content and donations."

One feature Pellegrini finds particularly useful is the ability to track rich Internet application (RIA) traffic. "That's an important point because RIAs are so huge right now," he said.

The cancer society tracks both Web RIAs (widgets) and desktop RIAs. An example of the latter is a Flash-based clinician portal application that provides health-care workers at six New York hospitals with access to cancer society resources.

"Google Analytics has not only saved ACS money, but it also makes sure that we're spending our resources wisely," Pellegrini said.

Starting on Tuesday, new users who sign up will immediately have access to Google Analytics. Access for existing users will be rolled out over the next few weeks. Current users will be able to use the old version for at least 30 days after the new version becomes available to them.

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