For me, 2014 will be about embracing data, the user, and perhaps some standardisation. This is particularly exciting as Digital Marketing accounts for 12% of the UK’s GDP. Big Data – a new dimension! 2014 will be a year of tracking, dimensions, metrics, and making data more understandable by all within a business. So many of us have heard about Big Data and Big Query, but for me these terms are frustrating as it’s not just about how much data you can collect, combine, spin or analyse.
The question is: do you want Big Data, or do you want data that is embraced and living throughout your organisation? Sure you may know everything about your customer, but what does that data actually mean? Do you know how and why you collect data? When did you review your objectives, strategies and KPIs? Google have made huge efforts with changes in Tag Manager to make data easier to collect for people without in-depth technical knowledge.
They’ve also shared some amazing videos on analytics through the Analytics Academy, and Universal Analytics gives us the ability to define dimensions and metrics in languages familiar to us. Better still, through dimension-widening and the measurement protocol this activity doesn’t just need to happen on a web site! I feel 2014 is a real opportunity for organisations to look at what they record, why they record it and how can it be shared.
I briefly mentioned Universal Analytics but this should be fully rolled out in 2014; Phase 1 is underway now. If you don’t know what Universal Analytics is you should really start researching and strategising now as Google will be automatically upgrading accounts to support the Universal Analytics data structure. To fully use Universal Analytics you will also need to change your tag syntax too, so it’s important to make sure you’re up to speed.
Universal Analytics also begins a shift from tracking visits (sessions) to tracking a user. In fact, the cookie now stores a single User Id so much more of the information is stored and manipulated server side. Universal also allows a site to store and use its own User Id as a means to identify a user. It is important to say that in terms of privacy the Id is just a numeric, it doesn’t store any personally identifiable information. So what does this mean? Well primarily it improves tracking someone cross device. Historically if I viewed a site on a mobile and then on a desktop I would be seen as two different people. With Universal Analytics if there User Id is consistent (it could be I am using Google Chrome on both devices) then Analytics can see I am the same person and record this. This becomes crucial as currently it is estimated people use on average 3 devices to access the internet and by 2015 this could be 5 (with the rise of Smart TVs). We don’t just need to confine this to online. If we consider all user touch points using the measurement protocol this could be extended to track in store visits for example. So my second prediction is that 2014 will be about cross device / interaction tracking.
One issue with having new dimensions and metrics is that it could mean that people record the same thing in slightly different ways. A URL is a URL, but if we used Custom Dimensions for Products on an eCommerce site then there is the potential for a degree of variance site to site. To this end I feel some standards will be introduced showing common attributes and dimensions for specific solutions. Whilst not mandatory, these standards then can ensure some degree of consistency. I know the W3 have been looking at this for Google Tag Manager and eCommerce sites. So my final prediction for web analytics in 2014 will be the roll out of tracking standards.
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