So we all login to google analytics and are noticing this new Beta feature called Intelligence… Looks like the Google Gods have delivered for us again. Sometimes these suddenly new features are amazing, and sometimes they are lackluster. I don’t know about you, but it is feeling a little like Google has turned into the Chocolate Factory in Charlie in the Chocolate Factory. Don’t know the reference…hmmm.
The fact they are free is the amazing part, and to the chagrin of several hundred developers at competitors like WebTrends, Omniture (now Adobe) and Coremetrics it is just one more dink in the armor, especially when these types of enterprise features are considered something you would typically pay for.
Ok, so what it is… Well actually if you don’t have much traffic you won’t notice much when you click it. Since I work for a large corporation and have quite a few small, medium and large Google Analytics accounts for my sites and other clients, I can see the disparity in what you get. For bigger corporate clients there is data showing up.
2 kinds of data.
One is called “Automatic Alerts”, the other are “Customer Alerts”.
Just assume the automatic alerts they decide for you, while you have some control on your own. Weird thing is the actual types of control are very general with a simple low to high sensitivity bar. Without a lot of information about this tool, I am going to take a stab at the relevance and how to use it…
Automatic Alerts (Variance Reporting)
Like I said, if you have some data coming through that is a bit more than just 10 visits a day, you will see something. What I am seeing is any form of data that is above a specific variance curve showing up. If you have had basic statistics. I suffered through it twice in two MBA programs, you have the basic within like 2.5% of the mean at both sides of the bell curve. When I see low medium and high settings, this probably is more like the variance of like 20%, 50% and 70%. You can modify it a bit with that bar.
What does this really mean for analysis?
It pretty much it means they are “Alerting” you to unusual activity in your account. For my corporate accounts I am seeing things out of the ordinary showing up, like traffic from a specific geographic location has increased by greater than 40% or time on site has increased from a specific location by over 88%. You will have to become a hack like me to understand the fact that this stuff is relative. This means that it really can mean very little depending on the situation. You have to dig deeper to see why or how it is a variance.
Trying to get a handle on what time frame means, it appears that if you choose a small time frame at the top of the page, you create a statistically insignificant amount of data to analyze, and you will notice that there is no results. There are two types of time frames involved in this analysis. There is the time of the report you are looking at, at the top of the page, and there is the “Time Frame”, one day, that is in the middle of the page. You can shift this “Time Frame” back and forward (if you are not looking at today). This way you can see if the trend is common each day or just for this day. Does not look like right now that you can switch this from a day to a week or month, but that would be a nice feature. Maybe I am missing something on the screen to switch this. Also, seems like this is going to cost us money at some point, so maybe that is the paid feature? But then, I have not yet gotten to custom intelligence.
Alert Sensitivity Bar & Significance Bar
There is a significance bar on the right side of each metric and dimension. This significance bar is related to the variance discussed earlier. It can be used as a measure of how important, or in my old stat class we called this the Sigma. I actually turned down the Alert Sensitivity bar in the middle right and noticed that a few of the alerts dropped off. This sounds right, if it is straightforward. Obviously you will have less alerts if the Alert Sensitivity bar is lowered.
Graphing Anomalies (Alert Data)
Another part of this is the cool way you can quickly access graphing. Let’s say you are looking at a specific alert. There is a little graph icon on the left of each alert. Click on it, and you can that specific target data across the page time line, and BAM a pretty powerful way to use this thing… Try it and see what I mean.
Alerts Candlestick Bar Graph
Notice this secondary graph beneath the normal graph. This one is tracking how many alerts per day. If you are just starting out this is set for the automatic alerts only. If you set up custom alerts, it will track them on this chart as well. I am going to set up a few and then report back through this blog and my twitter account @dgudema on how they work.
Group By Metric | Dimension Function
There are 2 ways to Group the Information, by Metric & Dimension. Metric refers to the basic metrics listed on the right side. Dimension appears to be the more deeper secondary level metrics like region, new vs repeat visitor and other more detailed items. Interestingly enough the higher level metric may not show the alert that is in the lower level metric.
I am sure that there is more here that I have missed. I will cover it in my second article coming up soon.