SAN FRANCISCO -- Up until now, Google Analytics hasn't offered to much information in the way visitors move around a given site.
Susan Wojcicki, senior vice president of advertising at Google, took the opportunity of her speaking time allotment at the Web 2.0 Summit on Wednesday morning to unveil new functionality and features for Google Analytics on Wednesday.
For reference, Google Analytics is a free tool that that enables website and application developers (or simply anyone who is concerned with their site's traffic) to be able to understand traffic information better.
Wojcicki admitted that inspiration for these new features came from an ususual place: the 19th century.
In order to process how users are moving around a particular sight, Google's new concept is based on Charles Joseph Minard's famous graph of Napoleon's march toward Moscow, which details how many soldiers continued, deflected, those who returned, etc. It shows time, motion, and it tells a story, Wojcicki said.
But it's still static, Wojcicki acknolwedged. So Google took the information and made it "dynamic," Wojcicki explained, by integrating this style of diagrams and renaming it as "flow visualization."
"What makes the flow visualization so powerful is that it takes data and tells a story that is understood within seconds," said Wojcicki.
Launching today and rolling out to all Google Analytics over the next few weeks, users can sort by many different criteria options, such as by browser or customizable details.
The other major new introduction is "real time," which is also rolling out over the next few weeks. Basically, users can see how many active users there are on a particular site in real time.
Wojcicki used the Google Store's website to exemplify this, and it showed 60 active users when she started the presentation, but that number climbed rapidly during the presentation -- probably as audience goers wanted to see if this worked, which it did.
However, it would have been far more interesting to see how many active users there are on Google.com.