Google Analytics’ real-time feature is very useful for those who don’t need more specialized tools like Chartbeat or Woopra, but still want to get a basic overview of what’s happening on their site right now. Compared to the breadth of features Analytics offers, though, it’s still a very limited tool. Today, however, Google is making a few changes to Analytics’ real-time reports that make it a more powerful and easier to use service.
Analytics, for example, now also shows you a breakdown of how many of your current visitors are on a desktop, tablet or on their phone.
The main feature of this update, however, is the addition of event reports. Google Analytics’ event reporting takes a bit of extra work to set up and is also a major part of the new Universal Analytics feature the company launched as a public beta last week. This feature allows developers to create custom events for interactions that go beyond just loading a site, including downloads, video plays, ad clicks and other actions a developer might want to track on a site. Starting today, website owners can track these events in realtime, too. This, Google says, means “you can now not only see the top events as they occur but also filter on particular event categories (and actions).”
With this update, Analytics also introduces shortcuts for real-time segments, so if you just want to see what your U.S. visitors on smartphones are doing on the site right now, you can create this segment and easily recall it from the Google Analytics sidebar.
The ability to create segments and filter your real-time data this way is obviously a major feature of Google Analytics, but the only way to really fully make sense out of this data is to compare it to your overall traffic. Today’s update adds the option to always see a breakdown of your overall traffic in the background, so you can put the data from your segments into the context of your site as a whole.