Google’s release of the new App + Web beta has created a bit of a stir, especially among existing users of Google Analytics for web tracking. Early looks at the reporting available in the App + Web interface show the absence of a number of familiar features and a general lack of out of the box reporting.
The first thing to realize is that this is only a beta version of the protocol so there is a lot more that the Google team has to build out to provide the full functionality currently provided by Universal Analytics. That being said, we took a look at some of the features available out of the box that are improvements over existing reporting functionality.
Improved Features of App + Web
Simple Roll Up Reporting
App + Web looks at individual properties as streams of data, coming from a variety of sources such as apps, websites, and web apps. These resemble views as they exist today but with the additional ability to slice and dice data by specific groups of streams. Currently, App + Web allows for 50 streams to be added to a single property. Those streams can be segmented using the audiences feature, which is an improved version of the existing segmentation tool.
One of the most exciting features of App + Web is the ability to export session data to BigQuery. Previously this was a feature reserved for Analytics 360 accounts but they are making this functionality available for all users of the protocol. This will allow for faster reporting (at a small cost) in tools like Data Studio and the ability to build custom datasets and blend data using SQL queries. App + Web datasets can even be combined with external datasets such as CRMs to allow organizations to understand even more about the customers that are interacting with their digital properties.
At first glance, all the familiar reports that came standard with Google Analytics may seem like they are missing. In their place is arguably a much more dynamic and useful tool for analysis. All the familiar naming conventions have changed which will mean that it will take a little time to understand the limits of the Analysis Hub, on the surface it will allow for the creation of perfectly customized reporting for an organization’s needs. Reports can be shared with all users with access to a given property or duplicated into new properties and accounts allowing for standardization of reporting across an organization’s properties.
The anomaly detection feature is an impressive report that allows you to identify true outliers for almost any metric, dimension or segment. The model is automatically trained on the data preceding the report period and only grows more accurate the more data you collect. Sensitivity levels can be adjusted to allow for the identification of anomalies at different confidence intervals.
App + Web FAQs
Is the current version of Google Analytics getting replaced?
Yes, but not immediately. App + Web is meant to be a shift towards a new way of measuring user data that’s better suited to a mobile dominated web. No timeline has been provided by Google so this change will likely be gradual, with the ability to continue using existing web reporting configurations as Google takes the time to integrate existing measurement protocols into the new system. This is only a beta version so there is a lot more detail and documentation to come which will make that inevitable change much less daunting than it may seem at this point.
Do I need to choose between Google Analytics and App + Web?
No, App + Web can be easily implemented alongside existing tracking using Google Tag Manager. The App + Web property is created separate from existing tracking so data can be collected and analysed separately.
Should I just wait until Google forces me to switch?
No, App + Web includes some additional functionality and potential applications, even in beta, that can prove useful to organizations of any size. Data can be gathered alongside existing tracking which gives your team time to learn how to use the features of App + Web while being able to sanity check against the familiar metrics/reports.
What’s Next for App + Web?
We are only beginning to understand the new features that Google has released and plans to release with App + Web. Even the limited functionality that exists today shows the potential for powerful new analyses that can have the potential to shift how organizations approach digital analytics. For whatever limitations will inevitably exist in the future web interface, there will be the potential for advanced users to create their own powerful analyses using tools like BigQuery to create custom datasets and feed data into other tools.