The New Google Analytics: Web Properties, Profiles, and Food for Thought

- May 19, 2011

Getting lost in the shuffle of recent great announcements in the analytics community is how the new Google Analytics platform is bringing to the forefront the very hierarchy that Google Analytics is governed by.

This post is neither intended as a criticism or a “fan-boy” propaganda about Google Analytics. It is intended to make you aware of how the new platform differs from the old / current platform from an organizational standpoint, and to give you some food for thought as you enjoy the new version of Google Analytics.

1. The Web Property
The web property is the hierarchical level of organization between an account and a profile in Google Analytics. It has always been a part of Google Analytics, old and new, but the new platform has been constructed in a way that has increased the significance of the web property and how you access your data.

In the old / current platform, the web property was represented by the light gray bar that separated profiles using different domains. Most accounts do not have profiles using different domains, but we see a good amount of accounts that do. This is what it looks like in the old / current platform:

web-prop-01

In the old / current platform, one could not edit what appeared as the web property, but you could see that the Google Analytics account number (the “UA” number) was slightly different for each web property, and that the profiles were organized into each web property specifically.

When your account’s administrator created a profile using a new domain, they were essentially creating a new web property and a profile within that new web property. When they created a profile using an existing domain, they were simply creating a new profile within an existing web property.

In the old / current platform, that minor yet important differential was not as clear as it is today in the new platform. When you log-in today to the new version of Google Analytics, you have two different ways to search for profiles within your account. The first is the traditional approach, similar to the current platform where profiles are listed in a table underneath the respective web properties. That is accessible via the home button on the top-left of the new version:

web-prop-02

The second way places the web property into focus by forcing you to click on a web property to access the profiles within them. This is accessible via the “star-like” icon on the top-right of the new platform:

web-prop-03

2. URL structure
The URL structure from the old / current platform has changed in the new platform, and if you’re quick on the pick-up, you will notice a few valuable pieces of information in both URLs. When we say “URL”, we mean the URL that appears in your browser’s address bar when viewing the listing of your Google Analytics profiles.

Old URL example:
https://www.google.com/analytics/settings/#scid=12345678

New URL example:
https://www.google.com/analytics/web/#management/Property/a12345678w987658p012987012

In the old URL example, the “scid” parameter at the end is your account’s “UA” number. In the new URL example, that long string of numbers and letters at the end of the URL is your account number, the web property ID number, and the profile ID number:

Account Number: a12345678
Web Property ID number: w987658
Profile ID number: p012987012

This data is actually quite critical for anyone using the Google Analytics API to call up and retrieve data directly from Google’s servers.

3. The Value of a Profile
With the way in which the new Google Analytics platform allows you to easily search, filter, and segment your web analytics data, the value of a filtered profile changes. This doesn’t mean that profiles aren’t valuable to have any longer – they most definitely serve extremely important purposes, which we have blogged about in the past.

For example, switching between profiles in the old Google Analytics platform meant starting from the dashboard while looking at the last 30 days of data (essentially, starting from scratch), while in the new platform, your date-range, report location, and viewing options make the smooth transition between profiles as you would expect them to.

However, advanced segments, in-report searches, and dimensions have become easier to apply and easier to manage in the new platform. With a few clicks of your mouse, you can bring up the specific data within a single profile, without even having to toggle between profiles. For example, you no longer have to be forced to use the “All Visits” advanced segment in conjunction with other advanced segments – you can apply up to four advanced segments at any one time where none of them are the previously very sticky “All Visits” segment.

And, from personal experience up to this point, I have found myself switching between profiles less, and interacting with dimensions and segments more.

Hopefully, you learned something new today about how Google Analytics is organized and how it works. Education, via our MoreVisibility blogs is why we’re here!

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