2013 Web Analytics Year in Review

Google Analytics LogoWith multiple updates each month, 2013 was a huge year for the Google Analytics team. The changes included several improvements to the user interface, the introduction of several real-time reports, new APIs, and a plethora of reports to help you understand visitor behavior through new segments and acquisition reports.

Visually, Google Analytics received a few design changes.

The Analytics team kicked off 2013 in January, creating a new interface for widgets in dashboard reports and in the main navigation. Search functionality returned and keyboard shortcuts were introduced as the entire Google Analytics UI received an overhaul.

Google Analytics Admin Panel

Just a short few months later, Google announced Administration area changes that led to better access controls and ultimately led to a streamlined admin panel redesign.

New Google Analytics Reports

The user interface changes were merely the tip of the iceberg for Google Analytics in 2013. Tracking visitor acquisition became a major deal. Starting in March, the Google Analytics team released Acquisitions Reporting. The Traffic Sources report category was renamed to Acquisitions Reports, adding new attribution reports in the process. These reports included overviews for acquisitions and channels.

Borrowing from Webmaster Tools, a new Speed Suggestions Report was also added to Google Analytics in November.

To help make more sense of these reports, the Analytics team added 19 new filters, streamlined how you set up goals, and completely revamped advanced segments adding new segments, cohort analysis, and sequences all rolled into a new user interface.


Image Credit: Justin Cutroni

Developers, Developers, Developers…

There were plenty of changes throughout 2013 to keep developers busy trying out new code and adding features. Premium users were treated to access to Big Query to help process extremely large Analytics data sets.

In June, we were treated to an API for content experiments, followed by a Real-Time Analytics API before summer was out. Administrators not only saw an interface change with better access controls, for the first time in 2013, they were also able to see a change history.

Universal Analytics for Everyone

Google started off spring offering everyone the chance to use Universal Analytics, enabling better tracking on-page and opening up for ease of tracking users between devices. When first introduced, however, Universal Analytics required its own account profile.

In October, the team announced a Universal Analytics upgrade tool to migrate your current profile to Universal Analytics. If you use it, remember to change your tracking code, too.

Mobile Analytics

In testing for many months, by mid-2013, My Analytics was released by KISS Metrics. Specifically for iOS, the tool simplified getting analytics data on the go, offering quick access to visits, visitors, pageviews, goals, and ecommerce reports using your current Google Analytics account.

As if prompted, by the end of September, Google Analytics launched an entirely new version of their app for Android.

Open Source Analytics

Lastly, in a project over two years in the making, the folks over at Piwik finally announced this week they have released version 2 of their open analytics platform. The open source alternative to Google Analytics, Piwik also released Piwik Mobile 2.0 which shows more data and requires less clicks to get the data you’re looking for.


Looking Ahead…

Google Analytics hasn’t stopped moving forward.

In 2014, expect to see more changes to multi-channel and attribution reporting. Recent trends also suggest Google Analytics may start incorporating various other reports from Webmaster Tools, especially those with respect to visitor behavior.

Any way you look at it, this is an exciting time to be an analyst.

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