Google Analytics Realtime: 3 New Features

Google Analytics have updated their ‘Realtime’ features. There are 3 main updates:

  1. Realtime Dashboard Widgets.
  2. Realtime Event Reports.
  3. Realtime Segmentation by Desktop / Mobile / Tablet.

Here are some screengrabs & notes on each of the changes:

New Feature 1. Realtime Dashboard Widgets:

Google have added ‘realtime’ widgets to dashboards. The tool to add those looks like this:


Here’s  how they look within the dashboard:


(minor note: ‘dimensions’ aren’t yet working for me there. I presume they’re fixing this)

New Feature 2. Realtime Events Reports

The second update that’s happened is ‘realtime events’ reports. If you have not used ‘events’ before, they allow you to track anything you like. As opposed to tracking pageviews or transactions, you may track ‘brochure downloads’ or ‘carousel interactions’, or ‘product added to bag’, or ‘checkout error’ or anything other activity that occurs on your website that you’d like to track.

Adding ‘realtime’ event reports is a very nice tweak, Here’s where it features in the menus:


And here’s how the report looks:


Below that is a table of all of the events that have triggered in the last 30 minutes, filterable by keyword. Those are broken down by ‘event category’ & ‘event action’.

I like this change for a few reasons:

  1. It’s really useful for sites that use events for key actions like goals. Rather than getting less meaningful realtime ‘pageview’ data, you can see the events that are important to your business in real time.
  2. An extension of that – you can now add events specifically to view their realtime numbers if that’s useful for you. For example, I’m launching ticket sales for a client. I only want to see ‘ticket sales’ in realtime. Under the regular realtime tracking that’s not really possible. If I fire a ‘ticket bought’ event, I can now monitor that in real time.
  3. It’s fantastic for testing event tracking. Any changes you make to your event tracking code, you can now check them instantly.

New Feature 3: Segmentation by Desktop / Mobile / Tablet

I’d missed this at first, until @thedanfries kindly pointed me to this Google+ post from Aaron Bradley. Realtime ‘Content’ reports now allow you to segment by Desktop, Mobile, and Tablet:


Clicking on ‘Desktop’, ‘Mobile’ or ‘Tablet’ in the above example then drills down to show you only the content viewed by those device types, and updates the table of pageviews to reflect that.


These are 3 fairly subtle feature changes, but each really useful. I’ve already used ‘Event Tracking’ in particular to solve a couple of problems. Subscription – Choose Your Price

It’s very much worth testing the price of your app or service, but also worth trying to avoid having too many different prices visible to potential customers at the same time when you’re running different tests and segmented offers.

Here are 8 examples of different prices for subscription, all found within a couple of minutes searching Google for ‘ft subscription price’, ‘ subscription offer’, etc.









There you go – eight prices – without even taking into account ‘monthly’ vs ‘annual’ rates.

I wonder whether this increases or decreases their results, and whether they’ve taken the “people who see multiple prices” effect into account in their testing.

Google Analytics: Creating Automatic “Bot Alert” Emails

‘Bots’ often cause problems for website owners. Among many negative effects, they often damage the accuracy & precision of web analytics data, and cause website owners to make faulty decisions.

This comes up at least once a month with clients, and I’d spotted the great @peter_oneill, @matt_4ps, & @danieljtruman talking about it on twitter so thought I’d share this.

Here’s a quick Google Analytics ‘Custom Alert’ to help you spot some bots before they’ve caused lots of damage. It doesn’t solve the problem, but it helps flag when it may be happening, allowing you to delve in & investigate further, and to then filter out the traffic if it is indeed a problem.

The Problem

Here’s an example of what bot traffic looks like, when isolated from all of the rest of the traffic on a site:


Just there, it’s a robot sending around 375 visits per day. That’s not huge, but it’s roughly 11,000 visits over a period of a month, none of which converts, all of which has a 100% bounce rate. That causes the following issues:

  • It totally skews our bounce stats
  • It skews our conversion stats too.
  • All of the surrounding metrics like ‘per visit value’, ‘% new visits’ become misleading.
  • Stats by region/browser/etc are often messed up, as bots tend to favour one particular region/browser.
  • It does all of the above in an unpredictable manner, and is time consuming to look for.

 The Solution: How to alert yourself when this is happening?

One solution to alert yourself when this may be happening is as follows:

  1. Set up an ‘advanced segment’ to spot ‘new, direct, bouncing’ traffic.
  2. Set up an alert so that if that ‘new, direct, bouncing’ traffic ever increases massively, Google Analytics sends you an email.

Here are those 2 steps:

Step 1: Create An Advanced Segment

Usually, but not always, bots follow this pattern:

  • They visit the site ‘direct’.
  • They don’t store cookies, so are identified as ‘New’ visitors.
  • They record as 100% bounce rate.

Not all of that traffic will be bots, but we know if it jumps considerably there is a much higher likelihood that it’s a bot than if any other type of traffic jumps.

In order to isolate those people, we’ll set up an advanced segment:


(if you’re lazy, you can simply click this link to create the above:

Step 2: Set up the Alert

Following that, set up an alert to fire off an email when traffic leaps from your new ‘may be a bot’ segment:

To set that up, go to the following in Google Analytics: Intelligence Events > Overview > Custom Alerts > Manage Custom Alerts > Create new alert.

Once there, copy the following:



That essentially says “Please pay attention only to Direct Traffic, where that traffic is New to the site, and where it Only Views One Page. While you’re paying attention to that – if it’s more than double what it was last week on any given day – send me an email.”

Depending on your site’s traffic pattern, you may want to increase/decrease that ‘100%’ value.

Not perfect, and it won’t catch everything, but better than not spotting anything at all.


That’s it. Set that live & – when that ‘new, direct, bouncing’ traffic that is often caused by bots doubles – you’ll get an email telling you. From there you can investigate further & filter it from your google analytics data if it is indeed a bot.

Do post any thoughts you have on this, or any other solutions.

100 Web Analytics People to Follow on Twitter

I thought I’d put together this ‘100 Web Analytics People to Follow on Twitter’ list. Click on any of their @names to jump to their Twitter profile.

The people on the list are all gathered from the #measure hashtag, and are ranked automatically by PeerIndex’s black box algorithm. If you’d like to be added to the list, drop me a note at @danbarker. And do retweet if you find it useful.

(If you’ve got this far, you’ll have noticed there are a few more than 100 on the list! I noticed that for some reason the tool had resulted in the list being a bit ‘male’ heavy so I sought to even it out a tiny bit – if you have any more suggestions for people to include do let me know).

If you’d like to be added to the list, or have suggestions for some who should, do drop me a note at @danbarker

And do hit the Retweet button below if you found this useful:

Google’s Chromebook Pixel Strategy

Google’s new Chromebook Pixel is very, very high spec, and very expensive.


The most common response so far seems to be: “Why would you pay more than £1,000 for a chromebook??”

The answer to that is – I think – 2 things. The first is immediately obvious, the second is not obvious.

1. Trying to ‘out-Apple Apple’

This is fairly obvious. The ‘Pixel’ is very light, fairly thin, and very high resolution. If you remove the OS, those are basically the main attributes of a (forthcoming) Macbook Air Retina.

2. Positioning Chrome OS In the Eyes of Manufacturers

This is less obvious I think: The Chromebook Pixel is as much about encouraging other manufacturers to build high-spec Chrome-based laptops as it is about selling a product directly.

Android has been extremely successful on phones & tablets, partly because it spans the full market, from very cheap, low-spec phones, to things like the Nexus 4, Galaxy S3 LTE, etc.

Chrome-based laptops are seeing lots of success, and have risen to (for some retailers) 10% of all laptop sales. At the moment though, all Chrome-based laptops are very low spec, almost throwaway machines. Manufacturers are getting nicely into the pattern of churning out these low-spec laptops, and that is where they see them: low end. But Chrome can only grow so far as an OS when it is strictly confined to the bottom end of the market.

To convince manufacturers to produce higher spec Chrome-based laptops, they could spend tens of millions lobbying manufacturers, sat in partnership negotiations, offering funding pilot projects, etc.

Or – as they have done – they could simply release their own laptop at the very top end of the market. Doing this firstly gives them the control to make sure the first ‘high spec’ chromebook is high quality. More importantly, it changes the positioning instantly in the eyes of other manufacturers, encouraging them to think of Chrome OS in different terms, and produce higher spec models themselves.