Why Export Google Analytics Hit-Level Data?
What is Google Analytics Data?
Anyone having a website would like to know:
- Who is visiting my website?
- What pages are read most?
- Who is referring to the website?
- What campaigns are resulting into conversion?
The question is, how will you get this information? Google Analytics (GA) platform can provide this marketing intelligence and is free (unless you go for Google Analytics 360). Google Analytics has the necessary dashboards and reports where you can monitor and analyze your visitors. So, how does Google Analytics provide web traffic analytics?
Visitor activity happens on website, but Google Analytics reside somewhere on Google platform:
Step A: Create free Google Analytics at analytics.google.com
Step D: Google Analytics will start storing the data in its internal cloud database.
Step E: You can login into the Google Analytics Platform and try to understand the behavior of your website visitors by using one of the many built-in reports. Also, you can customize some of these reports as per your need.
What are benefits of Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is free! Google Analytics acts as data repository for all the web traffic data on the website.
Page Views and Traffic: Figure out most viewed pages, time spent on pages, etc.
Traffic Source: Understand the web traffic source, example search engine, paid ads, referral, etc.
Events: Register the events such as Video views, white paper downloads, etc.
Goal Conversions and Attribution: Create or track goals for form fill-ups, attribute the leads to certain marketing channels.
What are the limitations of Google Analytics?
Data Sampling: In Google Analytics, if you select historic data with large amount of data, Google Analytics will sample the data. This ensures that few power users do not monopolize the free platform. This data sampling is different from the limit of 10 million records for hits or events, per property, per month.
Aggregate Data: Since you do not have direct access to hit level data, the only way to see the data is through reports. These reports data might be pre-aggregated resulting in limited usage.
Pre-canned Reports: The reports and categories are prebuilt, and you can only modify the template. This is extremely limited if advanced analytics is needed.
No Data Ownership: You do not have direct access to data in the database. So if google decides to purge it you have no control.
No Data Integration: The Google Analytics platform has the data for mostly web traffic data and some Google ads data. There are few data point that can be imported from the other sources like Facebook; But it is extremely limited.
Fragmented Reporting: For web traffic report you will have to login to GA dashboard, for Ad performance data you need another portal, for organic search keyword you need third portal and the list is never ending. Because of reporting fragmentation omni channel reporting is not possible.
No PII Data Provided: Google Analytics does not provide any visitor information; even the public WAN IP address is of the visitor is not provided
What are the challenges exporting Google Analytics data?
To create integrated reporting on your marketing data it is essential to export Google Analytics Data. But But Google Analytics is free, so Google does not make it easy to extract hit level data. We at www.electrik.ai had to go through multiple hops and trials to get the Google Analytics Data. Ideally there should have been a one simple API call to get the hit level data from google analytics. The data should have looked something like this.
Session Id: 496802989.156996
Visitor Id: VIDbdf938fe-8e1f-597e-89aa-775a80d2aae6
Event Date: 10/2/2019
Event Timestamp: 2019-10-02T07:11:19.476+10:00
Event Date in UTC: 10/1/2019
Property Id: UA-34208182-1
View Id: 63209589
Hit Order: 1
Hit Type: pageview
Pageview Order: 1
Browser Size: 1900×980
Channel grouping: Direct
Data Source: web
Landing Pagepath: /
Network Domain: optusnet.com.au
Network Location: optus internet pty ltd
Page Title: Automate ETL Testing
Previous Pagepath: (entrance)
Region: New South Wales
Screen Resolution: 1920×1080
Session Duration: 472
Source Medium: (direct) / (none)
Time on Page: 34
User Type: New Visitor
However, Google has about 30 APIs and each API only provide about 12 attributes. With each call you can only get about thousand records and you must keep looping until you get the all the records. Then data provided by these 30 APIs must be joined to get a single record. ON top of this API version keeps changing and when we started it was version 3 and now it is in version 4. At www.electrik.ai marketing professionals with no programming experience can set it up in few minutes.