One of the most exciting new features of Google Analytics Premium features is the availability of un-sampled reports; the holy grail for data afficionados.
Many of you are likely familiar with the following message in the Google Analytics interface: “This report is generated in fast-access mode.” This means that Google Analytics had to sample the data in order to return the results to you in a timely manner. In Google Analytics Premium however, you can download an unsampled report to receive fully unsampled data for your query.
The result: increased confidence in your data analysis.
About Sampled Data
When you see the fast access mode message, it means that your data has been sampled. Sampled data can be fine for quick analysis, but sometimes you need additional confidence in data; confidence that can only be obtained by analyzing unsampled data.
Google has a help article that explains when data sampling occurs in the GA interface. The most common reason is that your query contains more than 500,000 sessions and you are querying a combination of dimensions for which Google Analytics does not store by default. Many websites receive more than 500,000 visits in a day, so anytime you run a report with advanced segments or a unique combination of dimensions, sampling is very likely.
Sampled data ranges in accuracy. Back when Google reported on the accuracy, it would range from +/- 1% to +/- 70% or higher (usually falling somewhere closer to 5-10%).
How to Get Unsampled Data in Google Analytics Premium
To be clear, the unsampled data will not show up in the Google Analytics report interface directly for those times where sampling is triggered. Google’s servers still perform sampling on the data to provide quick reporting results. Instead, when you receive the sampled notice on a report query (fast-access mode), you can download the unsampled report of the current report you are looking at. Google’s servers will do a fully unsampled query for the data you seek and allow you to download the report via a csv file. You can then open this file in Excel (or any tool that supports CSV) and view your unsampled data. The unsampled report will contain up to 1 million rows of data.
Anytime you initiate a download of an unsampled report, it will be accessible under the ‘Custom Reports > Unsampled Downloads’ section. The ‘Unsampled Downloads’ section will show you the:
- name of your unsampled report (set when you initiate the export)
- date you initiated the export
- date range of the request
- status (completed or in progress)
- and a link to download the CSV file.
This new interface option will display all of your historically-ran unsampled reports. That way, you can go back at anytime (or from any computer) and download your unsampled report.
Use Cases for Unsampled Data
Use Case #1 – ‘(other)’ Content
Have you ever come across ‘(other)’ in your GA reports? You likely have seen this in your content reports if you have more than 50k unique request URIs viewed in a single day. If you see this in GA Premium and need access to the full data set (up to 1 million rows), you can download the unsampled report.
Use Case #2 – Segmentation
Viewing data in aggregate should be a crime. We recommend setting up advanced segments in Google Analytics, which when well-defined, will push your analysis to the next-level. Instead of looking at 200k visits that went to your site, you could segment based on a custom variable to look at only the visits that have never logged into your site. Now you are looking at a more accurate view of your prospect traffic that hasn’t signed up. Suddenly, you’ll have a different view of bounce rates, time on site, and other data dimensions.
Due to the sampling rules in Google Analytics, segments will often trigger sampling in GA on large data sets. By using the unsampled export option, you now have access to unsampled data and can make better decisions.
Use Case #3 – Data Warehouse Integration
If you need to export data out of Google Analytics and into your data warehouse, you’ll love unsampled data exports. The availability of this option takes GA to a entirely new level. Contact our Google Analytics Experts to learn more about how we can help you integrate your GA data into your data warehouse. Or get a quick primer on this topic by reading this great post by Justin Cutroni on merging GA data with your data warehouse.
There are an unlimited number of use cases for unsampled data. If you care about the accuracy of your data and you intend to make decisions on that data, you want unsampled data.
Questions about Google Analytics Premium
Let us know if you have any questions about unsampled reports or Google Analytics Premium in general.