Google is sometimes labeled a one-trick pony with its success in search. But if the company is gearing up for a big second act, it's likely to take place on the mobile-technology stage.
The company has begun to focus on mobile on multiple fronts: with its Android operating system, extending its AdWords network to the device and through mobile-specific applications. It is now adding measurement to the mix.
As part of an upgrade to Google Analytics, the Internet giant is adding the ability for its customers to track their traffic to both mobile sites and applications, breaking out the devices being used. The idea is to give marketers one place to track digital campaigns, whether they're on the Web or mobile.
Analytics users will need to add a snippet of code to their mobile sites or applications for Google to collect the stats from all mobile-enabled devices. One hitch: it only collects data from PHP, Perl, JSP and ASPX sites. It doesn't include the Python programming language. Google said it plans to expand the tracking capabilities.
"It's a great step in the right direction, but there's more to do," said Amy Chang, group product manager for Google Analytics.
Google is giving developers the ability to track use of their apps. Also, the software will tie engagement with Android apps to ad campaigns.
During Google's third-quarter earnings call earlier this week, CFO Patrick Pichette said mobile searches were up 30 percent in the quarter from the year-earlier period. He called the current move to Web-enabled smartphones "transformative."
The mobile-tracking features are part of a broader update to Google Analytics that includes the ability to set and track engagement goals, add customized audience segments, track unique visitors for segments and set "intelligence alerts."
With its "analytics intelligence," Google hopes to add a dose of automation to the process of sifting through the data to find key insights. Google's algorithms will comb through analytics information to find interesting snippets -- a surge in traffic from a particular site, for example, or an increased bounce rate in a geographical area.
"The idea is to give advertisers the actual data they need to make better decisions," Chang said.
Google has been in the analytics business since it bought Urchin in 2005. It then made the software free, and boasts "thousands" of users of the product, from individuals to small businesses and large enterprises. The mobile-tracking features, along with the others, are all free.
— Nielsen Business Media