Google Analytics — Should you go Premium?

Is your site getting lots of traffic and activity? Do you find that reporting data is sampled when you try to get data for more than a month or two at a time?

If you answered yes to either question, you may have seen a recent alert in your Google Analytics account, suggesting you upgrade from the free version.

GA Premium Alert crop

Google Analytics Premium starts at $150,000 USD a year, a price tag that makes the upgrade unlikely for many businesses.

You don’t have to pay that much if you are willing to accept that your data will be sampled, and processed less frequently (once a day).

But even for those businesses that might consider Premium affordable, the question is whether or not the free product is still adequate.

Now there’s a quick and easy way to tell: Google has started showing hits volume within the Google Analytics user interface (at the Property level).

By “hits”, we don’t mean just pageviews, of course. For example, screenviews, events, ecommerce transactions and social actions all constitute hits, and the data that is sent to Google servers.

The free version of Google Analytics has a limit of 10 million hits per month per Account. That may sound like a lot, but might not be if you are tracking a large number of events. In that case, even though your pageviews per month are comparatively low, you could be approaching or exceeding this limit.

To find out if you need to upgrade, you can now total the hits reported across all properties in your account. Make sure, of course, that you are using unfiltered views. Note, too, that the total represents billable (not just reportable) hits, and will differ from the totals shown in custom reports.

GA Admin - Hits

Why should you care?

Google Analytics Premium has a lot to offer (such as consulting and support, four hour data processing, BigQuery integration, Custom Funnels, and Service Level Agreements). But for many businesses the cost is out of reach or simply not justifiable.

There are other options, should you be approaching or exceeding data thresholds. These include reducing the number of events you’re tracking, or implementing data sampling.

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About the Author Jeremy Templer

Jeremy is a Partner and Senior Consultant at SureFire. Jeremy has been working in search since 1996, when he joined the Australian search engine, LookSmart. After relocating to San Francisco, he was instrumental in the development of the company’s paid search ad platform. At analytics company Coremetrics (now owned by IBM) he established an in-house search agency managing campaigns for Coremetrics clients such as Macy’s, Bass Pro and Lands End. At Acxiom he managed members of the pioneering SEO firm Marketleap and worked with clients such as Capital One, American General Finance and Kaiser Health. Joining SureFire in 2009, he is the head of Paid Search Advertising and oversees the delivery of AdWords and other PPC campaigns. He also helps clients make sense of their website data.