What does the Google Analytics API mean for you?

  • 5-May-2009

You might have missed the 21 April announcement from Google Analytics regarding the public availability of its Data Export API, unless you like hacking around with Google Analytics. While it may not rock your world now, it may at some point--not because you'll learn how to use the API, but because there are lots of folks out there who do like hacking around, and have started to come up with Google Analytics-based products that actually makes web analytics applicable to your work and presents the data more clearly than what's available within the basic solution.

The API enables a download of Analytics data in the form of Google Data API feeds. The client application uses the Data Export API to request data from an existing Analytics profile for an authorized user, and refines the results of the request using query parameters.

Here are a few examples that I found intriguing:

- A heat map of purchases per keyword search referral by country based on crossing Google Analytics with Mathematica and Dabble DB.

- A long-tail search analytics tool from Juice Analytics that exports Google Analytics keyword data and applies a pattern identification algorithm that condenses the long tail of search into keyword phrases with similar structures.

- A CMS analytics application by Axiom that enables content managers to see metrics for the pages they're updating within the CMS itself.

So, the bottom line here is that if you're a Google Analytics customer, you'll have potentially some powerful new applications to consider for your tool box. As you may recall, WebTrends announced their API in April, and Omniture publically released their Reporting API in October 2008. Coremetrics, Nedstat and Unica also have data export APIs.  We cover them all in some detail in our Web Analytics research.

Yes, APIs are certainly becoming commonplace, but the key is how to really benefit from them. As my colleague Gary Angel points out, working with APIs and analytics could require a considerable amount of time and effort.

So, in keeping with the quirky nature for how web analytics is evolving, if you're a Google Analytics customer working for yourself -- or a small business, or non-profit organization -- you may get more benefit from Google Analytics' API than your peer at a large company that has licensed WebTrends or Omniture, who is trying to develop an application using their APIs.

But, if you are using Google Analytics, it's equally as likely that analytics comprises but a small part of your job, and you won't have time to really use some of these new API-driven applications created by the community. Ironic, isn't it?