Google Analytics Blog: A look ahead at measurement in 2012

Google Analytics Blog: A look ahead at measurement in 2012.

Thursday, January 12, 2012 | 7:21 AM

In 2011, we saw marketing follow the consumer to more screens and more platforms – from apps to mobile sites to social networks to tablets. And in response the analytics industry made strides to unify this complex picture for marketers through device and platform specific analytics, and to connect the dots to measure and value the multi-channel customer path.

With the help of mobile devices and the Internet, consumers also flocked online to fill their shopping carts in 2011. According to aggregate numbers from websites opting in to share their data with Google, there was a 63% jump in the monthly volume of online transactions from December 2010 to December 2011, and on average, the number of ecommerce transactions grew about 1.2% every week in 2011. Last year it became more important than ever for businesses to make sure their online presence and digital campaigns were in check, and that they were measuring what matters.

As we turn the page on 2011, here are our thoughts on what’s in store for the industry in 2012:

Mobile shines on the mainstage
It’s been said that 2011 was the year that mobile turned a corner, and consumers armed with their smartphones show no sign of turning back. In fact, aggregate numbers from websites opting to share their data with Google show us that in the last four months of 2011, weekly volume of mobile visits jumped 40%, with mobile traffic growing at an average of 2% every week. And the weekly share of mobile transactions on overall ecommerce grew 60% in the same timeframe.

In 2012, marketers should expect improved tools to measure engagement on mobile-optimized sites and effectiveness of mobile ads that will help them determine what platforms and formats help them catch consumers on the go.

Measuring social media ROI becomes a reality 
Social media has changed the way we shop and interact with brands, but marketers still lack a clear way to measure how their social investments lead to more sales. According toMarketingSherpa, only 20% of CMOs think social media marketing produces measurable ROI, while 62% consider it to be a promising tactic that will eventually yield ROI.

In 2012, better measurement tools will help marketers make smarter decisions about their investments in social. Vanity counters, such as friend counts and reshares, will be augmented with bottom line metrics like conversions and purchases, allowing marketers to measure true social ROI of each campaign and compare the effectiveness with other channels. With additional visibility into off-site activity, enhanced campaign tracking and referral analytics, 2012 is the year that social analytics comes to life.

Moving beyond conversions to a cohesive view of the customer
In 2012, the analytics industry will move towards bringing the disparate pieces of customer insight together into one cohesive view of the customer. How are your search, display, mobile and email marketing campaigns working together over time to bring a customer to purchase? And once they make that purchase, what can their continued interactions with your brand – both online and offline – tell you about their lifetime value as a customer? Marketers will move beyond individual conversions to make smarter decisions once they understand the entire picture of their customer over time, and we see that picture coming into focus this year.

Right ad, right time – applying analytics in real time
With real time data feeding into remarketing, ad content optimization, and real time bidding systems, advertisers are closer than ever to finding the right customer with the right ad at the right time. As these real time systems converge, there’s huge potential to integrate analytics to pull in deeper and richer information about user intent.

For example, if people who come into the site for more than 10 minutes and watch at least 3 product videos are the high ROI sweet spot customer segment for an online retailer, any such users browsing then abandoning the shopping cart page are great candidates for remarketing. Knowing the likelihood to convert as well as the potential ROI from a sale, advertisers can program these variables into the bid they are willing to pay for showing this customer their ad.

Data will become more actionable 
We’ve always believed that businesses make smarter decisions when they have the right data at their fingertips, but the real impact of analytics will be seen when we make the jump from mere reporting to more actionable tools. While full scale experimentation is still complex, controlled experimentation is something that every marketer should take advantage of, from site optimization to attribution modeling. Marketers are asking for sophisticated yet easy to use tools that help them make sense of the data, and ultimately make more dollars – and I think the industry will respond this year.

We’ve only scratched the surface in helping marketers better measure the effectiveness of their campaigns, and as marketing continues to evolve, so will our efforts to make it more measurable and actionable. This year is sure to be an exciting one, so happy measuring!

Posted by Amy Chang, Director of Product Management