Websites have progressed miles ahead from being static and boring to being dynamic and responsive. In fact, the World Wide Web has become so widely connected, that the challenges of business owners of all scales have shifted from “how to track visitors” to “how to track the visitors who use multiple devices”. Marketers try to make the best of all available resources for a better ROI. Companies are interested in learning more about their customers so that they can provide what the customers want or create what the customers would need in future. This means tracking data across the web as well as other digitally connected provisions.
Tracking and analyzing visitors based on their activity on web browsers would have been easy, but the browsing patterns aren’t linear anymore. Tabbed browsing behavior broke the typical stream and moreover, there are several browsers that are used at the same time by the same person. Further, the same visitor now has multiple inter-connected devices. Tracking digital behavior is no more within the limits of the desktop-based web browsers or mobile-based web browsers; there are solutions available to track and aggregate data of this nature. With Universal Analytics in picture now, companies of all sizes have a very powerful solution at virtually no cost. Google has made a path-breaking technology available to everybody for free. It has switched from Classic Google Analytics that used standard visits tracking cookies to a Unique Visitor ID specific cookie. It still ‘sets’ one cookie, but that itself is a progression from the multiple cookies that were created for specific purposes in Classic Google Analytics.
But that’s not all! The power of Universal Analytics goes beyond the browser that makes tracking non-conventional user behavior more interesting.
Here comes the Measurement Protocol
Universal Analytics offers a redefined way to track Visitors, Devices, and Visitors across Devices. This means that the tracking is no longer just about the web browsers. Those who have upgraded to Universal Analytics can send any user interaction by sending a normal HTTP request in non-browser based environments. Raw user interactions can be viewed in the simplest form in the already intuitive Universal Analytics interface. The interface is exactly same as Google Analytics, and hence it doesn’t have a different learning curve.
Using the Google Analytics Measurement Protocol, it is an easy job for a developer to collect user interaction data in the form of events or hits. The hits data collected is required to follow a defined format to be able to capture data values from parameters. It’s only about deciding which parameters to use and what values to set for those parameters. This data forms the payload that is sent as an HTTP Post request. Here is an example of data request format.
Here is a dissection of this simple data request.
There are additional parameters that follow the same format as the payload shown here.
Putting the Universal Analytics Measurement Protocol to use
The Measurement Protocol HTTP request format is simple to understand and implement in various scenarios. Its applications can be diverse. Here are three use cases of the Universal Analytics Measurement Protocol.
- Mobile App Tracking : This is not exactly an added advantage of the Measurement Protocol; but its capabilities can be used in application tracking. With an advanced tracking feature, tracking of Mobile Apps has become more convenient. Download count of native mobile apps has surpassed billions. The need to have a robust tracking mechanism has also evolved from complex websites to complex mobile apps. Universal Analytics provides a redefined collection of SDKs for Android and iOS based apps that can capture almost any interaction within the apps.
- Tracking customer movement in stores : Universal Analytics can use the motion sensor data to detect customer movement in a store that can range from entry-exit counts to detecting movement in specific sections of the store. This data once captured can be analyzed to identify patterns in the products being seen, comparison of products viewed vs. those actually sold, etc.
- Warehouse shipments movement : The Measurement Protocol can be utilized and configured to track the movement of shipments in warehouses. There are tracking solutions available specifically for this purpose but the advantage brought forward by Universal Analytics is that provides a single data capturing and analyzing solution that can be used for tracking other properties as well — making correlation easier.
There are other interesting and possible ways of using the capabilities of Universal Analytics. The level of implementation would depend upon the amount of customization required. Even though possibilities are many, it is still too early to make definite use cases. The present capabilities would be further emphasized as Universal Analytics moves out of the beta stage. Tracking and measurement has been given a convenient hand which is going to define new trends in analysis.