Understanding the Google Analytics architecture—how it collects data, processes data, and creates reports—is the key to understanding many of the advanced topics that we will discuss later in this book. Google Analytics can collect data from a number of different platforms using different tracking technologies, which makes things complicated.
Google Analytics is no longer a simple “hit collector” for websites, but rather an information aggregation system that collects data from standard websites, mobile websites, Adobe Air applications, and iPhone and Android apps. Google has progressively added more data collection methods as technology has driven new and different ways of distributing content to people.
In this book, we will primarily focus on tracking websites, but I will briefly discuss the other tracking methods as well. Let’s start with the simplest configuration: tracking a website.
Figure 3-1 shows how Google Analytics collects, processes, and displays data.
The data collection process begins when a visitor requests a page from the web server. The ...