Analytic solutions providers continue to find new ways to incorporate data into reports, and Google is no exception.
Google introduced a new beta feature to Google Analytics called Calculated Metrics. Calculated Metrics allow users to insert custom metrics derived from existing Google Analytics metrics. This saves users a step, allowing them to perform calculations without having to exit the report.
Add It Up
This feature may sound similar to data import, but there is a difference. Data import adds data alongside the metrics in a report or graphs. Calculated metrics takes this a step further, bringing in a calculation that complements existing metrics, not just adding a new data source.
Think of it as a quick means to add a compound metric that comes up frequently in business intelligence discussions. For example, an e-commerce retailer could insert a currency conversion metric by using the Revenue metric from Google Analytics reports and multiplying it by the current conversion rate.
Calculated metrics can be found in the admin panel, under the view column.
When you select Calculate Metrics, a menu opens where you name the metric to be added.
This creates a label for the metric, as well as a unique label for API calls, which is automatically generated as you type your label. As always, it pays to use a description that has some meaning to it, rather than a generic label.
The metric can be calculated in five formats, which will be familiar to anyone who regularly deals with mathematics and programming, but are straightforward enough for the average user. They are:
The final step is entering the formula for the calculated metric. Formulas are restricted to 1024 characters and use simple math operators for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Google Analytic metrics are contained within double braces. Below's an image of a setup using a US dollar to Euro conversion as an example:
Standard versions of Google Analytics support up to five calculated metrics, while Premium users can have up to 50 metrics in the view level.
The most beneficial immediate use of this tool for marketers and analytic practitioners is as a means to create custom reports for specific audiences. Consider the stakeholders who will view the report, what metrics matter the most to them, and place your calculated metrics accordingly.
Measurement Showdown Ahead?
This beta introduction highlights a subtle evolution occurring among web analytics solutions. Popular solutions are shifting the focus of their features from being measurement tools for website-related traffic, to being a central repository for metrics and dimensions. This trend can potentially create a showdown between vendors that already blend data, metrics and dimensions as new challengers emerge.