The 12 Days of Data: An Unsampled GA Data Set

December 6, 2013

Glad tidings of comfort and joy?  Yeah, I’ve got those.  Because on the First Day of Data my true love gave to me . . . an unsampled GA data set.

In a gesture of clarity, plentitude and geekiness, I have been given a small button called Download Unsampled Report – and in an instant, my world has become clear. 

In case you have never wrestled with the sadness that is sampled data, allow me to explain.  Google Analytics is fast – amazingly fast, considering the amount of data that they are churning.  However, in order to maintain that speed, Google applies a process called sampling once your site receives over 500,000* visits in the desired time period.  Sampling essentially means that instead of processing all of your data, GA processes a portion of your data as a representation of the whole.

To put it another way, let’s say you are about to eat a cherry pie and, for some unknown reason, you must first determine the number of cherries in that pie before you can partake. You are (obviously) in a hurry to eat, so instead of counting all of the cherries, you cut a slice and count the cherries within it, then multiply that by the number of remaining slices.

Will your count of cherries be accurate?  Sure, it will be close, especially if your slice of the pie is a decent size.  However, as your website traffic multiplies beyond 500,000 visitors, the slice of pie that you are examining can get significantly smaller . . . and your sampled data can potentially get more and more misleading.

I could go on about the intricacies of sampling, but I won’t.  Instead, I will simply enjoy my true love’s gift of the Download Unsampled Report button. Wondering where you can get one of those magic buttons for yourself?  It’s easy, unsampled reports are a feature of GA Premium.  Send us an email to learn more.

Thank you for joining us for the 12 Days of Data and stay tuned for more tomorrow. If you now have that carol in your head, you’re welcome.  If you don’t, please feel free to refer to the options below.

A Cappella
Sung By Animals
Sung By The Muppets

* Sampling begins at 250,000 visits within your chosen timeframe. However, you can use the small slider in the top right of your screen to increase that number to 500,000 visits.