Mobile Analytics – Comparing AdMob, Bango, and Google Analytics

In looking through my website analytics data, I realized that a portion of my visitors are visiting my sites from a mobile device. Therefore, a recent project has been to convert one of my sites to be mobile-friendly.

Once the site is up and running, I need to know the traffic going to the mobile site. There are several mobile analytics programs available, so I decided to pick 3 of them: AdMob, Bango, and Google Analytics, and compare their results. I also analyzed my web server log for that one day to provide a reference.

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More info available at Alexa

The Alexa traffic page now includes 3 additional pieces of information:

1. Reach: Reach numbers for yesterday, 1-week average, and 3-months average are show in tabular form.

2. Traffic from individual countries: Showing the percentage of traffic coming from different countries. The top 25 countries are listed.

3. Traffic rank in individual countries: Showing the traffic rank for the site for individual countries. The highest-ranked 25 countries are listed.

The countries distribution numbers should be taken with a grain of salt, as I found the numbers to be quite different from Google Analytics. For example, Alexa says US traffic to one of my sites outnumber traffic from India by 8:1, while Google Analytics has that ratio at 3:1.

Google Analytics Down

Google Analytics has not been reporting data since the 9:00 am hour Pacific Time yesterday (February 1, 2007). Whenever this type of thing happens, the first thing people wonder is whether this is an isolated instance (in which case there is a lot to worry about), or is this happening to everyone. Judging from discussions in Google Groups, lots of people are seeing it, so it’s not an individual site issue.

Updated at 5:54 pm Pacific Time Feb 2, 2007: I just logged into the Google Analytics reporting console and saw all traffic for Feb 1, 2007 is now being reported. There is still no data showing for Feb 2, 2007.

Updated at 11:15 pm Pacific Time Feb 2, 2007: Google Analytics reporting is now back to normal.

Google asking for feedback on Adsense / Google Analytics

Google is soliciting feedback on how Google Analytics can help webmasters be successful in AdSense. The feedback is running on Google Groups, so you’ll need a Google account (if you are using Google Analytics, you already have one), and your comment will be public.

Back in SES San Jose, I asked some of the Google people on the possibility of tracking AdSesne clicks within Google Analytics. At that time, I did not get anything definitive. I am glad to see that Google is offering this ability now. Personally, I’d like to see how clicks on Adsense ads correlate to the entry source (referring domain, keywords, etc). That type of information would be very helpful in telling webmasters which channels they should focus on optimizing.

Google Analytics

I have been testing Google Analytics for a couple of months now, and thought it appropriate to share my experience with this tool.

Setup

You’ll sign up using your Google/Gmail account. There used to be a wait time before Google will give you access, but now you can instantly use Google Analytics. For each page you want to track, you will stick a short Javascript snippet at the end of your HTML page. This can be time-consuming if you have lots of pages and no way to do it automatically.

Update Frequency

Data seems to be updated twice a day, once just past noon and once just past midnight (Pacific Time).

Type of Metrics Reported

At the summary level, it shows Visits/Pageviews, New/Returning Visitors, Visitor Geography, and Visits by Source (referer). If you are only interested in a high-level understanding of your traffic, this summary page by itself would be sufficient. There are additional reports that would allow you to dig deeper. In addition, Google Analytics also provides a way to track goals (basically you are specifying a webpage as your destination page, or the end of your funnel) as well as integration with AdWords.

Other Comments

There are some concerns in the webmaster community that Google might be having too much of your site’s information, and one day Google will turn this against the webmasters. Personally, I am not concerned. My views are:

1) Allowing Google to get more information on my visitors could in the future help them drive more traffic to my site, so actually it might be a positive.

2) Google can already track a lot of those information via the Google toolbar anyway, so using Google Analytics for website traffic analysis really doesn’t pose an additional risk.

3) Google has repeatedly said that the data store for Google Analytics is separate from all other systems at Google, so the webmasters should not worry. Actually I am a bit more suspicious about this claim, because the fact that data is housed separately doesn’t guarantee that other groups within Google cannot access that information.

Summary

At the high level, this is a nice tool for someone who doesn’t have another way of analyzing his/her site traffic. Setup is straightforward, and the reporting interface is easy to use. At the same time, given that it only gives you the top channels (for example, top referers), Google Analytics is not sufficient for detailed web site traffic analysis. For that, you’ll want to go with a third-party tool or write your own script. In the future, I’ll talk about my experience in analyzing my site traffic.