Google Analytics API – Now With New Dimensions and Metrics

Google just added a boatload of new dimensions and metrics to the Google Analytics API:

http://googlecode.blogspot.com/2011/01/127-new-dimensions-and-metrics-through.html

I’ll spare you the technical details (you can read the official post) but I do want to comment on what I think is the most important change – 10 new Adwords dimensions.

Here’s why –

I admit I’m not an expert regarding Adwords administration and optimization tools, but until recently, they’ve had what I consider one very big flaw. Initially Adwords tools would look at the beginning of a visit; what happened on Google and the Google network such as impressions, CTR, CPC, etc and then what happened at the end of a visit, IF it ended with a conversion and you had Adwords conversion tags.

Then Google integrated Google Analytics goals into the mix which provided some additional data, but we’re still looking at the start and the end of a visit.

For sites that have a zillion visits and a few hundred conversions a day, you have enough data for analysis, though for the average small business site, there just isn’t enough data if you’re just looking at the end goal (sales, leads, etc).

In order to analyze the vast majority of visits that don’t end up in a conversion, you really need to look at metrics that serve as indicators for traffic quality such as bounce rate, time on site, page views, viewing key pages, etc.

This means that either the Adwords tool has it’s own internal analytics system (and you need to install yet another tag on your site) or it can take advantage of your existing analytics data.

I know a few vendors recently added Google Analytics metrics to the mix, which is a very welcome addition, but some key Adwords dimensions were still missing form the API.

Now that we have almost every Adwords dimension you could want in the API, I foresee a new wave of Google Analytics / Adwords integration, and eventually tools that will truly be able to automatically optimize your campaigns.

adCost Bug in Google Analytics API

Recently I’ve been using the Google Analytics API to automate some of the report generation I’m doing.

After some serious hair pulling I finally realized that there is a bug in the API when one of the metrics you request is adCost.

Specifically, when requesting adCost with other specific metrics, the results for adCost are always zero.

After some research I found this post which confirms that Google is aware of the adCost issue.

Unfortunately┬áthe post doesn’t really help much in terms of finding out which combinations trigger the bug, so I tried out some of the combinations myself found that using any traffic source dimension with these metrics will trigger the bug:

  • entrances
  • exits
  • exit %

If you are aware of other metrics that trigger this bug, please let me know and I’ll add them to the list.

I should add that this bug also affects custom reports!

If you’re using any traffic source dimension and adCost together with any of the above metrics in a custom report you’ll get zero for the adCost data.

Hopefully this saves someone else from some major hair pulling.