Google Analytics Goes Mobile

Developers and marketers can now use Google Analytics to understand mobile app usage.
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Google I/O: 10 Awesome Visions
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Google Analytics, the company's service for tracking and analyzing Web traffic, is going mobile.

On Friday, Google plans to announce enhancements to its analytics service, a series of reports called Mobile App Analytics, designed to help developers and marketers understand how customers are using mobile apps.

Google will be providing access on an incremental basis to Google Analytics users who sign up to participate in the beta test, with general availability coming later this summer.

"We live in a mobile world today," said Google Analytics product manager JiaJing Wang in a phone interview. "Mobile apps are changing how consumers do things online."

[ Read about Google's IaaS tool, Google Compute Engine, at Google Compute Engine: Hands-On Review. ]

Mobile, says Wang, is a now core part of companies' strategies. He says that 80% of marketers are expected to spend more money on mobile marketing next year than they did this year.

But gathering information about mobile users can be difficult, says Wang, because the data often resides in different places. "It's almost impossible to piece information from different sources together," he said. Google's value proposition, says Wang, "is to be a one-stop shop experience, to provide end-to-end value to app developers and marketers."

To do this, Google Analytics will offer user acquisition metrics such as the number of downloads and new users; engagement metrics such as user retention, user conversion, and app crashes; and commerce metrics such as app sales and in-app purchases. Google plans to make additional metrics from its online Android store, Google Play, available too.

Wang suggests a company like Pizza Hut or Domino's that has a pizza ordering app could use analytics information to understand how users get to the screen for placing orders, or to determine whether users make recommendations to friends or download coupons. Armed with such insights, companies can adjust their app or marketing strategy to get better results.

Wang says Google has rewritten the Google Analytics SDKs for iOS and Android, and plans to add support for custom solutions on other platforms. The SDK code now provides support for allowing users to opt out of analytics tracking and for secure HTTPS connections, to safeguard analytics data. Network access has also been optimized to preserve battery life on mobile devices.

Tracking is done using a using a random, anonymous number, says Wang, who says it won't be tied to a specific user or device and will not be usable to track users across different apps. This should help mitigate privacy risks associated with reliance on a tracking mechanism that can be linked to user identities.

"Our ultimate goal is to make the mobile analytics a first-class citizen and to make it a one-stop shop for marketers," said Wang.

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