Author Archives: Britt Brouse

The Evolution of Google Analytics: A Timeline

This entry was posted in Google Analytics and tagged , on by .

Marketing and web design professionals with less than ten years of experience may take robust, free, analytics software for granted. But the wizened “old-timers” of online know that analytics technology has evolved immensely over a short period of time.

Think about it: Google Analytics (GA), the leader in this space, is less than 10 years old. GA is “younger” than Facebook. When Paul Muret, the engineer behind the first incarnation of GA was writing this important code, Justin Beiber was a newborn infant (my how quickly they grow up.) Let’s take a look back at the evolution of GA from its inception in the late 90s until today.

The Early Days of Analytics

Early 1990s: Two future founders of NetGenesis Corp., one of the earliest analytics software providers, room with Phil Mui during undergraduate studies at MIT. They introduce Mui to the topic of analytics. (In 2001 SPSS Inc., bought NetGenesis for $44.6 million.)

1995: Web Depot is founded in San Diego, providing web development and hosting to businesses.

1998: Paul Muret, Engineer and CEO of Web Depot creates the first version of Urchin, an analytics software.

September 1998: Google launches.

October 2001: Google AdWords launches.

June 2004: AdSense is introduced.

2004: Google first approaches Urchin to discuss an acquisition.

2005: Phil Mui joins Google and chooses analytics as the product he wishes to focus on.

March 2005: Google acquires Urchin and Paul Muret becomes directer of engineering at Google Analytics. Related geeky fact … did you know that the “UTM” code in Google Analytics stands for “Urchin Traffic Manager?”

October 2005: Google Analytics V1 is announced and then quickly shut down due to too much demand.

November 2005: Google releases V1 again, but this time with limited access using an invitation system.  The V1 tagline focuses on accessibility: “Democratize advanced analytics for the masses.”

November 2005 through August 2006: As it adds server capacity, Google sends out batches of invitation codes for new analytics users to sign up.

June 2006: The first GA product update is the addition of AdWords analysis reporting, allowing users to manage AdWords ROI. 

August 2006:  Google announces that GA access is open to all. No more invites or waiting. 

Throughout 2006: The analytics UX team works to change the original Urchin dashboard, which looked very 90s in version one of Google Analytics. (see the screenshot below).


Fig 2: A screenshot from Google Analytics version one in 2005. This dashboard reflects the design of the original Urchin software.

February 2006: Google acquires Adaptive Path and integrates ideas from its Measure Map product into the upcoming GA redesign.

GA Gets More Robust

April 2007: Google releases V2 of analytics. The V2 dashboard is redesigned to reflect the Google brand and looks much like the design interface users are familiar with today. With the V1 release, the GA team saw that the product was perceived as a tool for techies and web geeks and was not as widely adopted by marketers or c-level executives. That’s why the V2 tagline is all about organization-wide adoption, “Moving analytics from the back room to the board room.”

Fig 2: A screenshot from the 2007 version two dashboard redesign.

October 2008: Google releases GA V3, with a focus on making enterprise-level features accessible to everyone. Version three features advanced segmentation, custom reporting, and an external API. These are features that previously required plenty of time and resources to develop and Google wanted to open them to all users.

March 2009: Google launches its Conversion University courses and the Google Analytics Individual Qualification Test. Now users can become GA qualified experts.

April 2009: Google releases an AdSense integration feature, so users can measure content performance and revenue.

April 2009: Google Analytics Data Export API becomes available to all users, which opens the door for organizations and developers to integrate analytics into other platforms.

October 2009: V4 of Google Analytics releases featuring analytics intelligence, an algorithm that detects anomalies in site data and alerts users to those changes.

December 2009: Asynchronous tracking launches, greatly improving the speed and accuracy of tracking website data.  

October 2010: GA rolls out its in-page analytics feature. 

April 2011: GA V5 is released featuring multiple customizable dashboards.

August 2011: Google releases multi-channel funnel tracking capabilities. Now marketers can see a 30-day path to conversion and not just the last click before a purchase.

September 2011:  Google Analytics premium made available to power-users.

September 2011: The real time reports feature launches, so that users can monitor data as campaigns unfold.

October 2011: GA introduces flow visualizations. Now users can see how different types of visitors flow through the site and where users may have dropped-off during the goal completion process. Around the same time, Google begins encrypting search data for all searches signed into a Google account. Marketers begin seeing “keyword not provided” for those searches (collective sigh).


Fig 3. Goal flow visualizations provides crucial insights for users interested in conversion optimization.

March 2012: The client-hosted version of Urchin is discontinued and Urchin users are encourage to migrate to GA. Social reports are rolled-out to show the links between social media, ROI, and engagement.

June 2012: Google Analytics integrates the functionality of the former Website Optimizer tool and rebrands it with GA as Content Experiments. Users can now test website changes within the GA interface.

June 2012: Google Analytics for Mobile Apps releases.

Universal Analytics and Beyond…

October 2012: Universal Analytics is announced. Universal analytics reflects where GA is headed. Its designed to track users across multiple devices using user IDs. Universal will also enable users to track offline behavior and augment customer data with external demographic or other data.

September 2013:  Google search terms encryption to non-signed in Chrome users.

Today: GA releases more than 70 product updates in 2013 alone.  In 2013, GA had the largest market share in the online analytics space. As Universal Analytics begins to roll out to more users, experts predict the adoption rates to increase.

Resources for More Information

To read more about the beginning of GA, check out this awesome post from Attendly about The Real Story on How Google Analytics Got Started.  Here’s a video of Phil Mui describing the history of GA. You can also view Google’s evolution using its interactive timeline  or this infographic on the Digital History of Google from Search Engine Journal.

Image Credits: Fig 1. Source; Fig 2. Source; Fig. 3 Source.

5 Tips for Testing with Google Content Experiments

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Have you had a chance to use Google Content Experiments to optimize a website? Formerly known as Google Website Optimizer, Content Experiments was introduced in 2012 as a feature within Google Analytics. Content Experiments allows marketers to conduct A/B testing of an original page (A) against a variation (B).

During testing, Google will send a pre-determined percentage of new visitors to the test page and compare metrics for clicks, conversions, time on page, and pages per visit.  If you are new to A/B testing or Content Experiments, then follow these best practices for running successful tests below:

1. Establish a Measurable and Realistic Goal
Content Experiments has four types of goals or visitor behaviors that you can track including: URL destination, visit duration, pages per visit, and events (such as adding something to a cart). Don’t just test alternate web design elements for general usability. Instead, set a measurable and realistic marketing goal and use website testing to reach that goal. Why are you testing? What kinds of results do you hope to achieve? Maybe your goal is to send 10 percent more visitors from the home page to the highest-revenue generating page on your website. Or you could test two different call-to-actions in an effort to increase sales conversions by 3 percent or more. 

2. Keep it Clean
True A/B  testing means experimenting with one variable at a time against your original page. For example, here are three separate variations you can test for in a call-to-action:

  • Changing the language of a call-to-action. For example, “Get Started Today” vs. “Signup Today.”
  • Changing the position of the call-to-action. Testing an upper right hand corner placement vs. a middle of the page placement.
  • Changing the color of the call-to-action. Testing a red button vs. a yellow button.

Each of these individual tests can provide a lift for your marketing results. For accurate test results, keep your experiment clean and limited to one variation at a time. If you test a new color and a new placement for your call-to-action in one experiment, then you will not be able to isolate which change impacted visitor behavior.

3. Set The Right Parameters
If your website is highly trafficked, then running a test for one or two days may give you time to collect a relevant sample size and draw conclusions. However, if your site receives only a few hundred visits per day, then you may want to run your test over the course of a week or longer. Likewise, those sites with fewer visitors should send as much as 75 percent or more of new visits to the test page to help speed up testing. Use this A/B split test calculator from to determine the right timetable for your test.

4. Use Content Experiments to Optimize AdSense Revenue
In September, Google announced Content Experiments integration for AdSense users. If you are a publisher running ads on your web properties, now you can leverage Content Experiments to optimize those ads for the greatest revenue. First link your AdSense and Analytics account, then test ad size or placement variations to determine which ad types  generate the most clicks and ROI for your site. Publishers may appreciate Google’s multi-armed bandit algorithm, which looks at live data and sends more traffic to the winning variation for maximum revenue. Or, publishers can override this option and send a predetermined amount of traffic to each variation. 

5. Take Advantage of the API
In June, Google opened the Content Experiments API to developers, enabling advanced users to pick and choose which testing functionalities they want to include. Using the API allows you to test without redirects, which provides a quicker and more seamless page load experience for visitors. You can also conduct server-side testing or offline testing (great for interactive kiosks). In addition, developers can use A/B or proprietary testing logic in lieu of Google’s multi-armed bandit approach.

What are your tips for testing website variations with Content Experiments? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. 


6 Geeky Halloween Costume Ideas for Online Marketers

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Halloween is just around the corner. If you work in digital marketing or SEO and want to wow your co-workers and friends with your nerdiness, then these geeky Halloween costume ideas are for you!

1. Google Penguin or Panda Update

google penguin costumeGoogle named two of its major algorithm updates after these black and white fuzzy animals. I can’t help but think Google is referencing black hat and white hat SEO practices here. If you hated these updates and they made your life hell for a few months, then you may want to add a few evil or bloodthirsty cues and accessories to your look!  (Source)

2. Undead Internet Meme

Undead Hipster Ariel Internet memes are always a prevalent Halloween costume choice. You can bet on seeing a ton of Psy and Fox costumes this year. Why not turn this trend on its head by dressing up as a zombie undead internet meme from the past. This is a great tongue-in-cheek way to pay tribute to your favorite memes of yore. How about a zombie Rage Face, or undead Hipster Ariel or Ermahgerd Girl(Source)

3. 404 Page

404 page costume

For all the lazy digital marketers, this 404 page costume is for you. All you need is a t-shirt.  If you’re feeling ambitious, add an “under construction” component by wearing a hard hat, reflective vest, and tool belt.  Bonus points if you make your own 404 t-shirt and use Comic Sans font. (Source)

4. Google Carousel

google carousel costume

As part of Knowledge Graph, Google is now showing a reel of carousel images at the top of local search results. This costume idea is definitely going to take a little DIY elbow grease. But, if Katy Perry can pull off a carousel, then what’s your excuse? (Source

5. 1,000,000 Views

eye ball costume“You can make this campaign go viral, right?” It always cracks me up when folks outside of the digital marketing realm describe lofty goals of getting one million views on YouTube. “Let’s make a viral video guys!” In celebration of this widespread ignorance, you can cover yourself in eyeball-themed attire, don googly-eyed glasses, and become one million views for Halloween. (Source)

6. Viral 

viral halloween costume

Similar to the 1,000,000 views idea, you can wow your online marketing peers with this “viral” costume.  Dress up as a sick person by wearing an old bathrobe and slippers. Mess your hair up as if you haven’t showered in a week (if you work at a startup, just leave your hair as-is). Apply makeup to appear pale. Draw dark circles under your eyes and make your nose red with blush. For props, carry sick-people accessories, such as a box of tissues, a digital thermometer, Nyquil, or an empty carton of orange juice. Cough repeatedly and tell everyone how viral you are because you just hit a million views. (Source)

If you have any more ideas for geeky costumes, we’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Britt Brouse is an online marketer with a background in journalism and agency experience using online channels to increase leads and revenue for businesses. You can also find her on Google+.

Digital Marketers and Analytics Folks To Follow on Twitter

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Did you hear about the recent Google algorithm update? How about the new changes to AdWords? And when are you going to catch up on all of those killer presentations from SMX East?

The world of digital marketing feeds off of change. From algorithm tweaks to new products and best practices – marketers must constantly update their skills.

Following the right folks on Twitter is one of the best ways to stay ahead of online marketing and analytics changes. We’ve put together a Twitter list of our favorite people, publications, and organizations related to digital marketing and analytics.

You can follow the entire list from @Measureful’s Twitter account or read about and follow each account below. We’ll keep adding to this Twitter list, so if you have suggestions for who to follow, then tweet @Measureful or leave a comment below.

As the head of webspam at Google, Cutts makes important announcements about algorithm changes and how search results will be impacted. Oh yeah, and he has his own meme.

Rand Fishkin is the CEO of Moz and an expert on all things SEO. Watch out for his awesome Whiteboard Friday presentations. This week, Fishkin traded jobs with Wil Reynolds (also on our list). You can follow them both on Twitter to see what happens. 

Are you guilty of looking at the same handful of Google Analytics reports without fully exploring more robust features? Follow the Google Analytics account to learn about product features and discover new ways to use analytics to meet your marketing goals. 

Adam Ware is the CEO of @SwellPath, the digital agency where Measureful was ideated. Ware shares updates about digital marketing and analytics and the latest in-depth Google Analytics and marketing posts from the @SwellPath blog.

I started following Wil Reynolds, the Founder of @Seerinteractive, after he presented on the importance of doing “Real Company Stuff” #RCS at Mozcon 2012. #RCS means moving beyond shortcuts and tricks and remembering that businesses existed before search engines. @wileyreynolds and @randfish have traded jobs this week and are recording their experiences on Twitter. 

Search Engine Watch is an online publication covering all things search, analytics, mobile, and more. @sewatch shares tons of helpful how-to’s and guides.

Did you know that Search Engine Journal is based in Awesometown USA? If you follow their updates and articles about SEO, social media, paid advertising and content marketing, then you too can reside in “Awesometown!” 

Be sure to follow Search Engine Land, its sister site, @marketingland and the founding editor of both sites, @dannysullivan. These three accounts are crucial for search engine news and discovering new tips and tools. You will also find relevant search marketing updates from Sullivan’s influential SMX conferences. 

The Twitter account for the community shares posts about content marketing and social media. Click through to see’s many live Q & A’s about inbound marketing. 

Marketing Profs publishes membership-only and free content about a range of topics in online marketing.  Head of Content, Ann Handley, runs the Twitter account and shares top stories.

CEO of @TopRank, Lee Odden tweets about integrating search and content marketing and optimizing your campaigns.  Odden shares posts from the TopRank blog and general content marketing, search, and social updates.

Who did we miss? Please leave your suggestions for who to follow in the comments.



The Ultimate Guide for Acing The Google Analytics IQ Test

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Have you considered pursuing Google Analytics certification? Google offers an Analytics Individual Qualification (IQ) test that certifies online marketing professionals as expert users. This qualification ultimately separates advanced users from analytics beginners. Google even offers a free curriculum to help test-takers prepare.

Why Take The Google Analytics IQ (GAIQ) Test?

As a freelancer or smaller agency, this certification will lend greater credibility to your services and sales pitch. By following along with the free curriculum and other resources, small business owners doing in-house marketing can advance their working knowledge of Google Analytics.

What is The GAIQ Test Like?

GAIQ is a 90-minute online test that you can take within a web browser. You will be able to pause and return to the test for up to five days before completing it. There are 70 questions including multiple choice and true or false. Marketers must achieve an 80% (56 correct answers) or higher score to pass.

The exam is considered open-book, so you can use study guides and resources to help answer questions. However, without working knowledge of Google Analytics or dedicated test preparation, even the most detailed cheat sheet or study guide will not help you to pass.

If you are considering taking GAIQ, or just want to improve your understanding of Google Analytics, then follow the tips and visit the resource links below:

1. Start with Google’s Curriculum

Google’s free curriculum covers everything on the test. The videos move really quickly, so push pause, take notes and apply what each video is teaching within a live Google Analytics account. According to a blog post on, the curriculum videos take a little more than two hours to watch, but that does not account for time to take notes and practice.

2. Set Up Your Own Google Analytics Account

To really apply your training and master the platform, make sure you are using the newest version of Google Analytics. It is also helpful to have a Google Analytics account with at least a few months worth of data and features like advanced segments, goals and flow visualization enabled. If you are new to Google Analytics, this resource can help you to set up and begin using your account.

3. Dive into More Test Prep Resources

Here are three more helpful resources for in-depth test preparation:

4. Download An Outline Or Visual Overview

Since GAIQ is an open-book exam, you will want to gather a few easy-to-scan, searchable resources. You can use overview documents as study guides and keep them open on your computer while testing. Here are a few overviews options to consider downloading:

5. Take Practice Tests

Here are two places to find practice test questions. You may be able to discover more sample test questions embedded within recent blog posts about GAIQ test prep.

If we missed any critical resources for Google Analytics IQ test preparation, then please share those links in the comments below. Once you pass the test, your certification is active for 18 months. You can show proof of qualification by following the steps in this blog post. Happy studying and good luck!


Britt Brouse is an online marketer with a background in journalism and agency experience using online channels to increase leads and revenue for businesses. You can also find her on Google+.

4 Time-Saving Tips for Creating Digital Marketing Reports

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Measureful recently surveyed 75 digital marketers across several organizations and found that 45 percent of marketers spend at least five hours exporting and formatting reports monthly. Twenty-one percent said they spend more than ten hours monthly on client reporting.

How much time do you spend building custom marketing reports? Analytics reports can be extremely time consuming because they must be accurate, look great, tell a story and positively reflect your brand. However, spending hours pulling and formatting data takes valuable time away from executing marketing campaigns. Is there a way for digital marketers to save time while generating accurate reports that make clients happy?

Below I’ll share my top four tips for more efficient and effective digital marketing reports:

1. Stay Focused on Goals

Structure reports around marketing initiatives and long-term goals. Start each section by showing clients what actions you took and how the actions relate back to marketing goals. For example, under the heading “PPC,” you could say, “We tested 15 new keywords in Pay Per Click advertising against our goal to increase paid traffic to the website by 2 percent. Present the current results in a quick one-to-two sentence summary and then dive into costs, clicks and conversions on a more granular level for each ad group or keyword. As you are culling through data and building a report, ask yourself, “Is this relevant to the client’s goals?” If the answer is no, leave that information out.

2. Make Reports Work for Your Clients

Ask your clients what they want to see in reports. A great way to do this is to include a few key questions during your initial kick-off call. Ask clients which metrics they want to see and how they use reports internally. If a client is re-formatting your reports to present data to internal stakeholders, then you may discover opportunities to add value and save your client some time. Ask clients what they liked or disliked about reporting from their previous marketing providers? Find out who the decision-maker is at the client’s company and include metrics that address the decision-maker’s needs. Always start reports with an executive summary. If someone is looking at a report for the first time, he or she should be able to jump right in.

3. Time Reports Wisely

Set reasonable expectations for when you’ll deliver reports. If you have a small traffic sample or inconclusive data, then do not rush into full reporting. While building a data sample or waiting for long-term initiatives like SEO to kick in, you may want to provide shorter updates of highlights and leading indicators for the first few weeks or months of a campaign. When working with several clients, stagger reporting dates to avoid a serious time crunch. If a client’s traffic tends to spike midweek, be sure your reporting schedule incorporates that spike into the latest results. Ensure that clients have enough time to view a report before you discuss it together. Sending reports a day in advance will lead to a more fruitful discussion.

4. Take Smart Short Cuts

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel each time you create a report. Save time by building branded templates in PowerPoint or Word and reuse them across clients. You can create custom weekly or monthly reports in Google Analytics, which allow you to simply grab your data and go. Take advantage of the clean and simple design of your analytics dashboard. Grab screen shots of data highlights from your dashboard and drop the images directly into reports. Finally, investigate how new reporting solutions like Measureful can save you even more time. I recommend signing up for a free 30 day trial to give Measureful a test run during your next reporting cycle.

What are your tips for creating effective and efficient digital marketing reports? Please share your thoughts and questions in the comments below!


Britt Brouse is an online marketer with a background in journalism and agency experience using online channels to increase leads and revenue for businesses. You can also find her on Google+.