Using Roll-Up Reports to Get a Complete View of Your Business

A publisher of titles with desktop and mobile app versions. A global enterprise with regional websites in different languages. A retail conglomerate with fashion and footwear brands. Marketing teams running multiple microsites. 

In complex organizations, business analysts often want to see performance at the highest level across multiple sites, products, and apps. You don’t want to be dealing with 10 different Excel spreadsheets or reports from 10 different marketing managers.

Analysts generally have a few options for creating that overview: gathering data from multiple sources into a spreadsheet and trying to make sense of it, using Google Analytics (GA) with several workarounds, or upgrading to Google Analytics 360 (GA 360), which automates the process.

GA 360 has a unique feature that can aggregate source properties (aka child properties) into a rollup (aka a parent property). The feature can unite different brands that span multiple domains, making it easier for leadership or centers of excellence to review performance in one place. 

This aggregate view in GA 360 shows session data merged together, so if a user traverses from the website of one line of business to another, that visit is represented as one session rather than two separate ones. This gives you a truer view of how people are moving across your sites and allows you to connect the dots to follow them from landing to conversion or exit, wherever that may happen. 

Roll-Up Reporting in Google Analytics 360

GA 360 is superior among analytics tools for creating this rolled-up reporting for several reasons:

  • It’s simple to set up. At the property level, you can choose the different source properties that would feed into the roll-up.
  • You can track those dimensions from source to roll-up. For example, you might have a list of 50 dimensions in the source property and apply those to the roll-up, so you can be sure that you’re tracking all the data that is important to you in the roll-up view. 
  • It’s reasonably economical. Typically, Google 360 charges users per hit (hits  = PageViews + Events + Social Actions + Commerce Hits); but each hit processed by a rollup is counted as a half a hit, so it has less of an impact on billing per month. For properties with tons of traffic, that adds up quickly. 

Alternate Options for Roll-Up Reporting

For organizations that use Google’s standard (free) analytics package, it takes a bit of workaround to create an aggregated view of multiple sites or products. This workaround solution involves creating a pseudo-roll-up property, which takes some configuration. Your tag management system needs to make sure that activity gets fired to the individual property and also gets fired to the roll-up property using two different tag configurations. Likewise, mapping custom dimensions is more difficult—they have to be applied both to the “child” property and the “parent” property. 

Best Practices for Creating Aggregate Reports

Whether you choose a manual option or GA 360’s robust reporting features, here are details to keep in mind: 

1) Map it out. Whether you’re using GA 360, another premium analytics package, or a free tool, map out what you want your roll-up and your individual properties to look like. It’s easy to combine data in a limited way; for example, from your desktop site and a mobile version (using Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages or Facebook’s Instant Articles). Creating a roll-up report becomes more complex if you have multiple business units, brands, or regions. 

2) Cross-track. Make sure to cross-track sessions in a unified way, so that when a user moves between properties, your roll-up report allows you to view that as a single session. 

3) Customize. In planning the roll-up view, think through the custom dimensions you want to apply and make sure they map to both the individual source properties and the parent property.

4) Assign permissions. You can define who should have access to reporting on the individual properties and also the aggregated view. Manage users and set credentials appropriately. 

If you’re managing a complex environment of websites and apps, with desktop and mobile versions, and brand or language variations, your team can continue to gather spreadsheets full of separate data, lay them side by side, and attempt to see patterns. This can be burdensome, as analysts attempt to piecemeal the data each month. The other–available through Google Analytics 360–is to combine all that discrete reporting into a single snapshot that gives you the 60,000-foot view of your business.

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