How Treemaps Augment Google Analytics Reports

Google has recently introduced a new treemap feature in its analytics reporting suite.

Treemap visualization allows the user to quickly highlight the largest influence of a data set.

For those of you who have never heard of a treemap, fear not. Chances are you’ve seen one before and just didn't realize it.

Growing Interest

Treemaps have become popular in recent years. Much of it has to do with the way they can simply display correlated data.  

Treemaps appear as a large rectangle divided by smaller rectangles just like a pie chart. Each rectangle represents a dimension, while the size and color of each rectangle is dependent on a given metric.   

A benefit of treemaps is that they accentuate correlations into a single visualization. When the color and size of the rectangles are mapped, patterns emerge that would be difficult to spot in other ways, thus highlighting if a certain data element is particularly relevant. 

Treemaps also provide an efficient way of visualizing a comparison of data subsets when the visual space is very small.

Because rectangles are sized according to the data, the visual hierarchy of segments can be understood when the treemap appears in the corner of a screen. That can be useful when viewing a report in a tablet.

Enter Google

Google Analytics introduced treemaps to the AdWords reporting in the Acquisitions section last October. The purpose was to quickly identify trends in account data in a way not intuitive when examining the numbers in a table.

This year, Google extended the analysis convenience of treemaps to all site or app traffic.

The All traffic treemaps permit plots of volume metrics (like Sessions or Transactions) against relative activity metrics (like Pages/Session or Average Session Duration). 

As in all treemaps, the first metric is represented in the rectangle size, while the color hue represents the second metric. This setup allows quick performance comparisons of the different channels based on behavior metrics that are most relevant to you.

For example, comparing session to pages/session in a treemap can indicate which traffic segments are engaged by the measured site. This is useful for sites that rely on blog content. Owners can use the treemaps to quickly determine which traffic is reading their pages.

Analytic solutions typically have multiple ways to adjust how data is viewed. 

Treemaps are great because they highlight starting points for adjustments in marketing. They offer just one more way to intuitively assess your data and to develop hypotheses about the results.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  Title image by Lauren Manning.