With much fanfare at yesterday's Emetrics Summit, Google unveiled a new version of Google Analytics. The sporty new Ajax-driven interface presents up to 60 reports and reporting options, such as drill down capability, calendar and timeline data comparison, and date range filters. This is a significant advance over the original version, which required navigation through individual reports to view multiple data points. Refer to the Google Analytics FAQ and Justin Cutroni's blog Analytics Talk to learn about function configuration. You can now also customize dashboards and distribute reports via e-mail (although the interface requires you to add individual addresses manually). Another first for this version: Google is introducing data sampling when a segment contains more than 500,000 visits. This speeds report processing, but could be a constraint for high-traffic websites.
As with its Search Appliance, Google is betting here that the main shortcoming of analytics tools lies in the interface. There's a lot of truth to that. For most SMB customers, stand-alone analytics tools need to be easy to use, but if you are an enterprise customer, you likely need to integrate with other data sources. And as Web Analytics Report readers know, Google Analytics has several shortcomings on the back-end that mostly go unaddressed here. For example, there remains no API for exporting data into external databases.