Today, Google launched it's newest Analytics offering - Google Analytics Premium. Here's what we know so far...


Why Use Google Analytics Premium?

The main benefit to subscribing to Google Analytics Premium is for a much higher level of support and data limits for your Analytics data.

I bet you didn't know that Google Analytics has a limit of 10 million "hits" per month. What Google means by a "hit" is a pageview, an E-Commerce transation, custom variable, or an event. So if someone fills out a form on your website, this could generate 2 or more "hits" - one for the page, and one as an event for filling out the form.

So that means that once you hit the 10 million "hit" mark, Google says there's "no assurance that the excess hits will be processed". In other words - the rest of the data just might be ignored.

On top of that, if you send more than 1 million hits per day to Google Analytics, then they will stop processing your data during the day, and only process the new traffic once per day. That means it could take up to 2 days to see your data in the reports.

...And you better hope your good luck ends in 10 days or less, or you'll miss the data for the rest of the month!

The Benefit to Upgrading to Premium: Much higher data limits - around 1 Billion "hits" per month.


Google Analytics Uptime

In May of 2011, our analytics team and our clients had a significant problem on our hands when all of a sudden, Advanced Segments in Google Analytics stopped working. And you know what? Because it's a free product, Google had no obligation at all to fix the problem quickly, if ever. In fact, Google's official response to the event has now disappeared, replaced with the new uptime page.

Most businesses, in all honesty, won't notice something like that. But for some businesses with bigger budgets, the loss of data was challenging. When you spend a lot, you need to report on where the money went.


Google Analytics Premium Uptime and SLA

This is where the Premium version is drastically improved from the free version of Google Analytics. The new Premium version guarantees:

  • 99.9% Collection up-time
  • 99% on Reporting up-time
  • 98% on on-time Data Freshness (within 4 hours)

But here's where it get's really interesting...

According to Google Analytics Premium Authorized Reseller Cardinal Path, "Google will compensate you if Premium is unavailable for an extended period of time". That means - if the system is down for longer than the SLA guarantees, there's some kind of refund coming.


GA Premium has Better Tracking

Google Analytics "Free version" only lets you use up to 5 custom variables in your analytics, and sometimes, this just isn't enough for heavy analytics accounts. The Premium version lets you use up to 50 custom variables.

Also, there is an "Attribution Modelling Tool for Multi-Channel Funnels", and special integrations, like "DoubleClick for Advertisers".

More interestingly, the Premium version lets you download up to 1 Million rows per download, and also lets you download the entire, unsampled data set for your reports.


Google Analytics Premium Support

Finally, the Premium version of Google Analytics has something that few services at Google get - a support channel. In fact, Google's Premium fact sheet says that not only do you get your own Account Manager, but "If a high-priority issue arises after business hours, just contact our 24/7 emergency support line".


GA Premium Legal & Data Privacy

One of the big things that has prevented some organizations from using Google Analytics is that sometimes the legal team has concerns about who has access to the data on Google's servers.

Google has directly addressed these concerns in launching Premium. An FAQ from Cardinal Path notes that Google Premium follows a SAS 70 compliant data privacy program. In addition, the data is "stored in an encoded format"optimized for performance" and dispersed across a number of physical and logical volumes for both redundancy and obfuscation".

In addition, Cardinal Path notes that Google is registered with the U.S. Department of Commerces Safe Harbor Program, that third party vendors don't have access to the data, and that Google employees, contractors and volunteers are regularly monitored to ensure compliance with Google privacy regulations. They have a dedicated team responsible for privacy, and they perform regular privacy risk assessments.


It's worth noting at this point that you still aren't allowed to record any personally identifiable information (PII) in the Premium version of Google Analytics.


How much Does Google Analytics Premium Cost?

So how much does all this support, increased data and better, more reliable reporting cost? Well, it costs around $150,000 per year, billed monthly (that's $12,500 a month to save you the math).

This price point is comparable with other enterprise analytics price points, and could even be viewed as being on the affordable side, given that it's a flat fee for up to 1 Billion interactions.


Is it Worth Upgrading to Google Analytics Premium?

You should consider upgrading to Google Analytics Premium if you:

  • Have the budget (of course!)
  • Get more than 10 million page views or "hits" per month
  • Regularily get more than 1 million "hits" in a single day
  • Need access to accurate data, at a moments notice, reliably
  • Need to satisfy the legal team who won't let you use GA because of confidentiality concerns
  • Aren't happy with your other enterprise analytics solution
  • Want to do advanced tracking that involves more than 5 custom variables, and it's worth it
  • Are generating enough E-Commerce revenue to warrant using a Premium solution


Further Reading for you: