When compared to other Web analytics tools, Google Analytics has always fallen short in the timing department. Thankfully, that all ended a little over a week ago when the Internet giant added same-day statistical reports to the family. Let's take a look at how they work:

Google Analytics Real-Time

Google Analytics Real-Time is essentially a new set of reports that show website activity as it happens. Users can now instantly track the efficacy of campaigns by attaching related tags to links shared on popular platforms like Facebook and Twitter: 

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Prior to the launch, Google Analytics reports took somewhere around three hours (or more) to display the most recent data, making it impossible to garner any sort of immediate gratification. This small adjustment hits home hard as it brings the Internet giant's analytics solution into a growing arena, currently populated by solutions such as Chartbeat, Woopra and Click. 

WebTrends also added its own version of real-time reports back in August. Via the acquisition of a company called Reinvigorate, Webtrends brought a real-time analytics engine, heat maps, link maps and visitor path analysis to the table.

Stating the Obvious: Social Media Measurement 

Measuring the immediate impact of social media efforts is sure to be at the top of every Google Analytics user's list. Writes John Jersin of the Google Analytics Team of the official announcement post: 

For example, last week we posted about the latest episode of Web Analytics TV and also tweeted about the post. By campaign tagging the links we shared, we could see how much traffic each channel is driving to the blog as it happened. We could also see when we stopped receiving visits from the tweet, which helps know when to reengage.

Another way to use the feature is to make sure campaign tracking is correctly implemented before launching a campaign. Before you start driving traffic to your site, make sure your measurement plans are operating smoothly by quickly checking Real-Time reports for the right data. 

Easy Access

Real-Time reports can only be found in the new version of Google Analytics. If you’re not already using it, click the “New Version” link in the top right corner of Google Analytics and get to work. Real-time reports are currently living in the Home tab. You'll have access to the new reports if you are an Administrator on your Analytics account, or if you have access to a profile without profile filters. 

If you don't see the option to access Real-Time reports, don't panic. Google is slowly turning them on for its massive user base, and soon everyone will have a way in. If you can’t wait, sign up for early access here

Bonus: Web Analytics Premium

Just in case real-time reports don't provide the push Google is looking for, the Internet giant has also announced a premium tier for enterprise companies who want more support than what the free version offers. 

Features include: 

  • More Processing Power: Gather, analyze and share more data; track billions of hits per month and get deep insights from 50 custom variables; download unsampled reports.
  • Better Analysis: A deeper understandings of consumer behavior on website, including tools which allow testing different models for assigning credit to conversions.
  • 24/7 Service and Support: Experts are available to guide customized installation, and manage accounts at all hours of all days. 
  • Guarantees: Service level agreements for data collection, processing and reporting.

Google Analytics Premium is available in the US, Canada, and the UK for a fixed annual fee of somewhere in the steep neighborhood of US$ 150,000 and 175,000.