How to Enable Valuable Reporting in Google Analytics

Jason Brewster - January 7, 2016

While Google Analytics offers immense value and enables brands to observe onsite behavior and channel attribution, there are additional, non-standard reports available that can be activated with relative ease. These reports show data for both demographics & interests, and benchmarking behavior.

These features have been available for some time now, but surprisingly few web properties enable them. The first non-standard reports that we will explore are the Demographics reports.

Demographics Reports

By measuring the ages and genders across the different sections of a website, a brand can optimize the onsite experience as well as the personalized messaging of ads.

The Google Display Network associates gender using a cookie that is set on a user’s device. The age and gender information is attributed based on browsing habits.


demographic report overview

The demographics reports have overview metrics that show age distribution and gender split. Depending on how varied your audience and conversions are, this data can help reveal what users are getting out of your content. This data can be used to discover content that appeals to specific age/gender groupings at multiple steps of the conversion funnel or different site sections.

Age Reports

age reports

The Google Analytics age reports can show trended age data for metrics like bounce rate, session duration, pages per session, and the percentage of new sessions. This allows the analyst to detect one time spikes and broad trends at a day, week, or month level.

Gender Reports

gender reports

Gender reports offer the same trended data available for ages, with the same benefits. Both the age and gender reports are accompanied with a metric explorer.

gender metrics explorer

Interests Reports

The interests reports group users up by a wide swath of interests – like travel buffs or movie lovers. These can be assessed by population size and performance to further tighten up messaging and site experience.

interests report

The three buckets for category metrics are affinity, in-market segments, and other categories:

  1. Affinity Segment – Users exhibit behavior that shows interest in your brand.
  2. In-Market Segments – Users are actively comparing products.
  3. Other Categories – These categories are useful when a brand wants to target subjects regardless of the persona of their users.

Activating Demographics and Interests Reports

To enable these reports in your property – you only need to press a button. Before you do this however you will need to amend your privacy policy.

how to enable reporting

All that is necessary to update your privacy policy is to address four main points:

  • The privacy policy informs the user that you have implemented Google Analytics Advertising Features.
  • You must inform your users that you and your vendors utilize first party cookies (Like the GA cookie) or other third-party identifiers together.
  • Inform your users that it is possible to opt-out of Google Analytics Advertising Features through ad settings and ad settings for mobile.
  • It is also encouraged to point users to the Google Analytics Opt-out browser add-on.

More important information is available from Google’s official “Policy requirements for Google Analytics Advertising Features.”

Benchmarking Reports

The benchmarking report can help provide some context around how your competitors are leveraging channels, locations and devices.

benchmark example

Report Layout

The benchmarking report shows a conditionally formatted table that highlights which metrics are performing by channels, locations and devices.

report layout

Benchmarking Installation

To enable the benchmarking reports – log in to your Google Analytics account and click into the benchmark reports through the side bar. On the “Enable Benchmarking” callout, click “Update your data sharing sessions,” then confirm account name, review the content, and click the confirmation.

benchmarking installation

Congratulations on Your New Reports!

You are now actively tracking demographics, interests, and benchmarking reports. This information can be used in reporting, segmentation, and audience targeting. The value of this data is impressive considering the ease of installation and all of the available additions to Google Analytics. You can also contact MoreVisibility for Google Analytics consulting services to gain further insight on utilizing these reports.

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