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What Can Google's Analytics API Do For You?

Unless you're one to hack around with Google Analytics, you might have missed last month's announcement regarding the release of a Data Export API... Lots of folks who do like hacking have started to come up with products that will present data more clearly than what's available within Google Analytics itself.
Unless you're one to hack around with Google Analytics, you might have missed the last month's announcement about the release of a Data Export API. That may not rock your world now, but it may at some point. It's not that you yourself will learn how to use the API, but there are lots of folks out there who do like hacking who have started to come up with Google Analytics-based products that present data more clearly than what's available within Google's basic solution.

The API enables a download of Analytics data in the form of Google Data API feeds. The client application uses the Data Export API to request data from an existing Analytics profile for an authorized user, and refines the results of the request using query parameters.Here are a few examples I found intriguing:

  • A heat map of purchases per keyword search referral by country based on crossing Google Analytics with Mathematica and Dabble DB.
  • A long-tail search analytics tool from Juice Analytics that exports Google Analytics keyword data and applies a pattern identification algorithm that condenses the long tail of search into keyword phrases with similar structures.
  • A CMS analytics application by Axiom that enables content managers to see metrics for the pages they're updating within the CMS itself.

So, the bottom line is that if you're a Google Analytics customer, you'll have some powerful new applications to consider for your tool box. WebTrends announced its API in April, and Omniture publically released a Reporting API in October 2008. Coremetrics, Nedstat and Unica also have data export APIs. CMS Watch covers them all in its detailed Web Analytics research.

Yes, APIs are certainly becoming commonplace, but the key is how to really benefit from them. As my colleague Gary Angel points out, working with APIs and analytics could require a considerable amount of time and effort.

So, in keeping with the quirky nature for how Web analytics are evolving, if you're a Google Analytics customer working for yourself -- or a small business, or non-profit organization -- you may get more benefit from Google Analytics' API than your peer at a large company using WebTrends or Omniture and attempting to develop applications using their APIs.

But, if you are using Google Analytics, it's equally likely that analytics comprises but a small part of your job, so you may not have time to really use some of these new API-driven applications created by the community. Ironic, isn't it?Unless you're one to hack around with Google Analytics, you might have missed last month's announcement regarding the release of a Data Export API... Lots of folks who do like hacking have started to come up with products that will present data more clearly than what's available within Google Analytics itself.

Editor's Choice
Brian T. Horowitz, Contributing Reporter
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Nathan Eddy, Freelance Writer
Brandon Taylor, Digital Editorial Program Manager
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing