Google Analytics launched its real-time reporting two years ago, but until now, it was very hard to take action based on this data. Even Google acknowledges that “it’s not realistic to sit at your computer 24/7 and take advantage of these insights.”
For now, developers need to request access to the API and it will remain invite-only and outside of Google’s usual SLA for a while.
Once you have access to the API, Google notes, you’ll be able “make queries about your real-time data and use that information in whatever way you please.” At its most basic, that means you can put a live visitor counter on your site, which seems to have worked well for vacation rental service Twiddy, for example. Or you could build an app that displays the number of active visitors on a Pebble watch.
Once you have this data, though, you can obviously also make changes to your site based on this information. If you are seeing a large number of readers from Reddit, for example, you could easily add a Reddit button to your site (or just a specific story) now.
The Google Analytics real-time feature provides users with data about active visitors and the pages they are looking at, the geographic location of these visitors and traffic sources. While Google doesn’t specifically note which features it’ll make available through the API, it’s a safe bet that all of these core data points will also be available to developers.