How the most used Data Analytics platform in the world works.
Google Analytics is a free web analytics service provided by Google that allows you to analyze detailed statistics of visitors to a website. It is the most used statistics service on the web, with a world market share of 84.1% (data of 22/01/2021 source w3techs.com).
It is used to observe various types of traffic statistics of a site: such as the duration of the session, the origin of the visit, the number of pages visited, the most viewed pages or the geographical location of the user’s origin. It can be used to analyze Google Ads online campaigns or to monitor the quality of the pages and to know the useful information to transform a user’s visit into a goal. These goals can include sales, lead generation, specific page views, or the download of a specific file.
How it works
This code, which communicates directly with the Google server, allows the collection of users’ browsing data, which are then processed, developed and shown within the platform.
In addition to transmitting information to the Google server, the GATC sets first party cookies on each visitor’s computer. This allows you to store anonymous information such as the type of visitor (new or returning), the duration of the visit and the source of origin of the visit (direct, organic or from a referring site).
- The customer types in a URL from a browser.
- The request arrives at the web server.
- The server collects and manages the data set. In some cases the same server responds to the browser with additional cookies or the request to collect more data.
Some Analytics platforms have solutions that store the acquired data directly within the customer’s servers. This, in addition to facilitating integration with other flows within the company, allows you to have complete ownership of the data collected.
The big advantage of this data collection technology is that the acquisition phase is separate from the analysis phase, thus reducing the dependence on corporate IT departments for different data acquisition requests.
Company servers, without the need to also acquire data, can publish web pages. The data on the visitor’s session are acquired and processed on other third-party servers with reports available online.
Therefore, it is no longer necessary for companies to host the systems to collect data and the people of the team that deals with analysis and reporting in their infrastructure.
- This data collection method is particularly interesting for small and medium-sized enterprises that do not have access to the web server log files (all events including all the detailed information of a process or service are recorded in a log file).
- The use of third-party cookies for monitoring users on multiple domains becomes easier, because the third-party cookie and its identifying elements remain consistent.
- You get great control over the choice of data that is collected: in fact, you have the ability to implement custom tags that allow you to acquire additional data for the pages of interest.
For example in the case of an e-commerce:
- shopping cart;
- order confirmation;
- order value;
- most viewed product;
- most purchased products.
As with all technologies, data collection also has some disadvantages, the main ones are listed below:
- Data ownership is not unique.
- Regular site maintenance is essential to create and manage tags accurately in order to respect the site’s taxonomy.
As described above, activating data analysis with the Google Analytics platform has many operational and implementation advantages. Since data collection cannot be retroactive to configuration, it is advisable to activate it as soon as possible in order to accumulate as much information as possible on the traffic of digital channels that would otherwise be lost.
Autor: Nicola Lapenta