Universal Analytics and visitor tracking

Lots of cool announcements and  great people at the Google Analytics Summit. It’s at times like these that I wish I was part of the GA network.

Going from visit to visitor-based tracking in Google Analytics is a fundamental shift and one that I had not anticipated. The lack of true visitor tracking is one of the few reasons why some organizations might have chosen other analytics tools, but once this rolls out in Google Analytics you’ll be able to get true (visitor) conversion rates and do visitor segmentation and cohort analysis. Oh yeah, there is cost data import as well.

With the announcement of Universal Analytics and measurement protocol Google Analytics appears to becoming a platform, where you can send your online and offline data for processing, storage, reporting and analysis.  I can see all kinds of uses outside of web analytics. How about using it for your personal analytics? Send your brain/sleep/fitness data to GA where you can then use the beautiful UI to analyze trends.

The one area that concerns me is about privacy and data usage policies. While the new measurement protocol allows you to send granular data down to individual vistor ids from your application to Google Analytics, how are you allowed to use that data once it has been processed by Google Analytics? Google is rightly very concerned about privacy and has placed restrictions on the type of data that can be sent to Google Analytics – absolutely no PII data – but also on how you can use that data if you take it out. What data will the export API allow you to retrieve and will there be restrictions on how to use that data?