Article Archive by MoreVisibility


October 31 2011

AdWords API Workshop

by MoreVisibility

I have been responsible for the development of MoreVisibility’s software that relies on the search engine’s APIs to manage and report on paid placement campaigns.  I have been working with the Google AdWords API since version one, back in 2006.  The latest and greatest release was announced Oct 7, 2011 and is about the fifteenth version.  Back in 2009, they stopped using the sequential release number nomenclature at V13 in favor of a year time stamp.  The newest release, V201109, has been eagerly awaited by the development community.

Back in the spring of 2010, in conjunction with major version releases, Google began inviting developers to attend an API workshop hosted in one of their seven offices in major metropolitan cities, such as London, Singapore, Tokyo, San Francisco, New York.  This year I attended the NYC workshop and was able to meet the hard working Google developer advocates and fellow developers that I have been corresponding with via their forum.  It was great getting to put a face to these helpful developers and to thank them for their tireless efforts to keep the developer community productive, via guiding us through their various versions of the APIs based on the AdWords platform.  It was also a chance to get a better grasp on the new versions’ complexities, and take away best practices for security and efficiencies.

One of the most important functions exposed in the API is their reporting module.  For agencies to effectively manage multiple clients’ budgeting, we need to get complete data efficiently at our finger tips.  I believe that, in an effort to keep AdWords competitive Google will quickly deploy new advertising channels, without addressing the ease of measuring/reporting on these campaigns.  As an example, many developers were unhappy with the V2009 series of releases, due to the fact that the new Remarketing channels’ data was very difficult to report on, due to it being buried in an Ad Performance Report and not in their Keyword Performance Report.  Many in the development community reported the problem to the AdWords API forum and began requesting a super report that would properly provide metrics across all types of campaigns, such as traditional search, display, remarketing, mobile, location and whatever else Google deems worthy for effective internet advertising.  As developers, we did not like to impose mandates to our team for the naming convention for certain types of AdWords campaigns, which would then allow our application programs to locate and manage the metrics.

The Google AdWords API developers processed our feedback and deemed it a high enough priority to address in their next release.  The new “uber” report, Criteria Performance Report, which allows the downloading of all criteria types in one report was part of their latest release.  To differentiate between the criteria, a new criteria type field has been exposed in the reporting, which allows for filtering upon pulling data and categorizing when pulling all data.

Also found in the latest release, is a new authentication option; the popular three legged OAuth, which is a commonly deployed open standard.  While this may not be needed by all agencies, many at the conference had a need to obtain this method for account access to client’s not able to migrate to their My Client Center for one reason or another.  Security is an important component for Google across all product platforms and a top concern of advertisers when entrusted with the management of their client’s hard earned advertising budget.  So it is not surprising that Google expanded their options for authentication.

The workshop included a Mobile Best Practices track presented by, Sumit Chandel.  Sumit had a wealth of statistics on the smart phone’s explosive growth and projections for the mobile internet users and their searching.  It is expected that mobile users will surpass desktop users by 2013.  This will require advertisers to have a fully functioning mobile presence.  If you are still grasping with how to accomplish and could use some assistance in setting up your mobile site, please reach out and ask about our newest CMS for mobile product.

AdWords allows you to actively drive traffic via mobile targeted campaigns and ad extensions.  AdWords does not leave out any bells and whistles for creating highly targeted mobile campaigns.  One can select the carrier, language, platform, operating system, location, product and proximity that you would like for your ad to appear.  AdWords will even allow one to leverage an extension for a click-to-call functionality.  This will present an extra line of content in your ad for a clickable phone number.  Being that this is a Google platform, they have tightly integrated with their Google Voice product to capture the call metrics, like number of calls and completed calls so you are able to measure your success.

One of the best takeaways from the conference is getting to know what Google is working on for future AdWords API releases.  We can expect to see location targeting to the zip code level and shared objects for the efficient use across campaigns.  As the mobile explosion continues to grow, they will continue to expand mobile device targeting options.

September 30 2011

Introducing Real-Time Visitor Tracking for Google Analytics

by MoreVisibility

L’Shanah Tovah! Yesterday was Rosh Hashanah, which is a celebration of a new year on the Jewish calendar. Happy 5772!

Yesterday wasn’t the only celebration happening around the world. Google Analytics – as they usually do – made three jaw-dropping, industry-shattering announcements yesterday; announcements that could shake the web analytics industry at its very core.

Today, we will talk about one of those three universe-altering announcements. It’s clear that the world wide web is fast. So fast that our decision-making process has evolved to the point that it is simply not acceptable, profitable, or intelligent from a business standpoint to wait weeks, days, or in some cases hours to make decisions based off of your web analytics data. With social media, press-releases, coupon / deal web sites and many others conducting business at the speed of light, those who do web analytics as a part of their jobs need to be able to know what is instantly happening on their web sites, so that they can make on-the-fly changes and analyze the stream of live incoming traffic.

Introducing Google Analytics: Real-Time.

Now, and for some of you within the next few weeks, you will be able to access real-time data in your Google Analytics account. As visitors enter your web site, you will be able to see which pages they enter your web site from, what pages they visit next, their location in the world, and most importantly, what referring attributes are associated with them (campaign, keyword, source, medium, etc…).

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What you need to know about Real-Time

There are a lot of details surrounding this new report launch that you should be aware of:

– Real-Time reporting is only available in the new Google Analytics platform. You can access the new Google Analytics platform on the upper-right hand side of the Google Analytics interface.

– For the next few days, Real-Time will be available under the Dashboards tab. Over the next few weeks as Google Analytics refreshes their user-interface, you’ll find Real-Time under the Home button on the top navigation menu.

– Real-Time reports will not process any profile filters that you may have created – it cannot exclude, include, or change traffic data.

– You can sign-up for Real-Time reports via this link, if you don’t want to wait for it to appear in your account.

We hope that you find many use-cases to use Real-Time reports within Google Analytics. Share your comments and feedback below!

September 28 2011

What’s new In Google Analytics: Multi Channel Funnels

by MoreVisibility

Multi-Channel Funnels in Google Analytics, Part 1: The Basics

The big news of the week came from the wonderful folks at Google Analytics, whom introduced the new Multi-Channel Funnels reporting section to the general public.

What is Multi-Channel Funnels?

Multi-Channel Funnels is more than just a new reporting section – it’s a new way of life for advertisers who live and die by customer acquisition (goal completions, outcomes, and sales). Google Analytics has clearly raised the bar and has taken outcome measurement to the next level by showing all visitor paths that led to a conversion or a sale in a 30-day time period, not just showing a visitor’s last click (path) that led to a conversion or a sale.

What Does Multi-Channel Funnels mean for advertisers?

This new “way of life” means that you will be able to associate value (credit) to visitor sessions that transpired before the session that included a visitor conversion. For example, let’s say that a visitor came to your website three different times and converted on the third time to your website. Let’s also say that this visitor came to your site on those three times via the following ways:

1. A non-paid Google Visit (Google Organic)
2. A paid Google Visit (Google AdWords)
3. An email marketing initiative.

Traditionally, Google Analytics would have assigned the conversion for this visitor to the last interaction that occurred before a conversion, namely the email marketing initiative in the above example. The two prior visits from Google, paid and organic, would not have received any credit or attribution for the conversion.

Now, with Multi-Channel Funnels, this visitor’s three interactions from three different traffic sources will all receive attribution for the conversion, which allows advertisers to see a clearer picture of not just one marketing initiative, but the effectiveness of advertiser’s entire marketing strategy.

What reports are available with Multi-Channel Funnels?

Currently, there are five separate reports in the new Multi-Channel Funnels reporting section. You can find Multi-Channel Funnels in your Google Analytics account by clicking on the My Conversions tab on the top navigation menu and clicking on the Multi-Channel Funnels menu item:

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The five new reports in this section include:

  • Overview. A top-level view of your conversions and your assisted conversions (the conversions that included more than one session to conversion). It includes the following conversion visualizer, where you will begin to see the power and magnitude of this new feature set (broken down into two images below):

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  • Assisted Conversions. This report will show you which channel grouping conversions included assists. It will also show you which channel groups recorded traditional “last-click” conversions and the value of your conversions. You can toggle this report to show you assists by source, medium, campaign, keyword, or any AdWords dimension by clicking on the appropriate link on the top of the reporting table.

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  • Top Conversion Paths. This report will show you all of the different paths that visitors have taken in a 30-day time period to convert. This report can be toggled by path length (All paths, 2 or more paths, 3 paths, 4 paths, 5 paths, etc…). You can also toggle this by other traffic sources dimensions, like medium, keyword, or campaign.

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  • Time Lag. This report gives you a sense of your conversion cycle. How many days, weeks, or months does it take your visitors to convert? What is the value of your visitor conversion cycle? This report aims at breaking this information down in a simple-to-use histogram:

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  • Path Length. Similar to the Time Lag report, Path Length provides a summary of how many paths (sessions) it is taking visitors to convert on your website.

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What else can I do with Multi-Channel Funnels?

A lot more! Not only can you extract rich, valuable insights from this data, you can create your own Conversion Segments, as well as your own Custom Channel Groupings.

Both of those actions are ones that we would consider “more advanced”, so we’ll reserve them for another blog post in the very near future.

Log-in to your Google Analytics today and start interacting with this powerful new report section that will help you see your entire marketing strategy across multiple visitor sessions.

Multi-Channel Funnels in Google Analytics, Part 2: Conversion Segments

About a week and a half ago, we blogged about the new Multi-Channel Funnels reporting suite in the new version of Google Analytics. If you didn’t catch it last time, read that blog post first before continuing with this blog post.

Today, we’re going to kick it up a few notches and showcase one of the two powerful, advanced features of this amazing new functionality known as Conversion Segments. Multi-Channel Funnels in Google Analytics, by itself, is fantastic. Therefore, what would you call Multi-Channel Funnels, given the fact that you can apply default or customize conversion segments for in-depth insights, analysis, and outcomes? Super-fantastic? Hyper-awesome?

Get ready to come up with some hyphenated-adjectives.

Applying Conversion Segments to your Multi-Channel Funnels Reports

In our last blog post, we showed you how Multi-Channel Funnels work, as well as what assists, paths, and time lag were and how they are incorporated into this new reporting section.

Like all data that you see in your Google Analytics account, you are viewing the entire set of collected conversion and Multi-Channel Funnel data when you log-in to your account and click over to this section. Just like you would apply an advanced segment in a standard Google Analytics report to extract valuable insights and perform great analysis, you can apply the equivalent of the Multi-Channel Funnels report section, which are known as Conversion Segments.

At the top of all reports in Multi-Channel Funnels, you’ll see the following Conversion Segments drop-down button as shown in this image:

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Upon clicking on the Conversion Segments button, you’ll find nine default conversion segments and check boxes next to each one, which allow you to compare up to four conversion segments simultaneously (just like you can compare up to four advanced segments in the standard Google Analytics reports):

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For those of you familiar with advanced segments, you’ll recognize the next screen-shot, which shows a comparison between three conversion segments (First Interaction is Paid Advertising; First Interaction is Direct; and First Interaction is Organic Search):

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You can always “un-compare” the conversion segments and view conversion data for all traffic by re-tracing your steps and leaving only All Conversions selected (look at the screen-shot from two images ago).

Creating a New Conversion Segment

On the right-hand side of the drop-down table that appears when you click on the Conversion Segments button, you see a large space underneath a heading of User-Defined Segments. This will be the place where you can come to access and apply any Custom Conversion Segments that you’ve created. In this same area, notice the Create New Conversion Segment link, in blue. You’ll want to click on this link to do exactly what it says.

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Again, if you’ve ever created a custom advanced segment, the following procedure should be very familiar to you. With a Custom Conversion Segment, you define the rules for what Google Analytics should show you, when applied within Multi-Channel Funnels.

First, give your Conversion Segment a name. Then, you’ll have to answer some questions about how you want your conversion data to appear. Before we cover that, refer to this next screen-shot to follow along:

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After giving your Conversion Segment a name, indicate whether your segment will include (keep) or exclude (remove) the data based upon the rules that you’re going to create. Then select the conversion path type that this segment will be applied to (you can choose from types such as Any Interaction, First Interaction, Conversion Value, and more). After that, select the dimension that you’d like this conversion segment to be integrated with (several dimensions are available, like Source, Medium, Keyword, Campaign, Display URL, and others).

Following that, choose a criteria (Will this segment start with something? Will it end with something? Will it match a regular expression?). Next, select a frequency (Example: did this occur more than 1 time? Did this happen less than 5 times? Most of the time you’ll leave this to say “Greater Than 0 Times”, but you can get creative if you wish).

For the majority of the Custom Conversion Segments you create, you’ll stop here, but there will be times where you’ll want to add conditional “or / and” statements to add inclusion criteria to your new segment.

When you’re finished, hit Save Segment at the bottom of this table. You’ll see your new conversion segment in action, as it compares to all of your conversion traffic (Side Note: 13% of my conversions include keywords containing the word “the”. How insightful is that?).

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That pretty much covers our tutorial on Conversion Segments within Multi-Channel Funnels, but keep checking our blog regularly, as we still have another great, in-depth tutorial of another feature built within Multi-Channel Funnels to review.

In the meantime, log-in to your Google Analytics account and start interacting with Conversion Segments today!

Multi-Channel Funnels in Google Analytics, Part 3: Custom Channel Groupings

We continue our tutorial series for the new Multi-Channel Funnels reporting section in Google Analytics today by introducing Custom Channel Groupings.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out our previous two tutorials in this series, carve out some time today and catch up:

Part 1: The Basics of Multi-Channel Funnels
Part 2: Conversion Segments

When you’re using Multi-Channel Funnels and are viewing reports like Top Paths and Assisted Conversions, the first column shown in those tables are what Google Analytics is calling “Basic Channel Groupings”. These are your standard source and medium combinations that you’re used to seeing all throughout the Traffic Sources reporting section, but with a streamlined naming convention.

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Google Analytics has rules that are built-in to the Multi-Channel Funnels reporting section that will group Traffic Sources as you see in the image above.

Creating Custom Channel Groupings

The basic channel groupings are nice, smart, and user-friendly. But what if you need to see interactions from a new online marketing channel, daily deal / coupon service, or a specific sub-group (like Re-Marketing / Re-Targeting, which is bundled into the Paid Advertising grouping)?

Google Analytics realizes that this is something that power Google Analytics users like yourselves will need to do, so custom channel groupings has been created so that you can do just that.

At the top of any reporting table in Multi-Channel Funnels is a link for Channel Groupings – clicking on this link will bring up a short menu from where you can begin to create a custom channel grouping (We’ll come back to copying a grouping template later).

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The custom channel grouping creation wizard will appear directly above this link. First, give your custom channel grouping a name, and then, click on the Add New Rule button to start defining what your channel grouping will show you.

Next, give your rule a name and if you’ve either used Advanced Segments or had the opportunity to read Part 2 of our Multi-Channel Funnel tutorial series, you’ll find the rule creation process very familiar to you (as it’s pretty much like building an Advanced or Conversion Segment). Lastly in this part, choose the color for the label that will appear in reports – this is just like choosing labels for your Gmail account, if you use Google’s Email service. Don’t forget to click on Save Rule after you’re done!

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It’s not pictured above, but you are provided the option to add on further rules if you choose, if you want your custom channel grouping to follow strict guidelines. Once you’re finished building your custom channel grouping, click on Save Channel Grouping (pictured below), but note that you’re provided what’s known as a fall-back option, in the event that a value doesn’t match the rules you’ve created. By default, the source/medium combination will be displayed but you can change the dimension.

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Here’s a cross-section of what it looks like when you’re viewing your custom channel grouping within Multi-Channel Funnel reports (the image below is zoomed in to focus on the custom channel grouping we just created):

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Now, you can obtain deep insights in your custom channel grouping beyond how many conversions it obtained over a period of time. You can evaluate how many assisted conversions it produced and how it interacted with other channel groupings and traffic sources.

You can always edit your custom channel grouping by clicking on the Channel Groupings link that you saw earlier. Or, you can edit the custom channel grouping from the Google Analytics account home (Profiles tab, Assets sub-tab) as pictured below:

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Hopefully, we’ve enticed you to start using Multi-Channel Funnels instantly to move beyond traditional conversion tracking. Leave your comments below and tell us what you think!

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