As you have by now heard, Google is killing Google Analytics support for apps. We have long recommended Google Analytics to you as a great way to measure how your apps are used and what content is consumed.
We have 2 options for free analytics going forward. A Google Analytics lite option using Google's Measurement Protocol, and Firebase.
Google Measurement Protocol
While Google is removing the App dashboard and subsequent tracking of data for that dashboard, we have investigated a way to pipe the similar data into the Google Analytics Web dashboard using Google's Measurement Protocol. In our testing of this method, you can use your current GA trackers, you will just need to create a web dashboard for that tracker. We do recommend getting a property and trackers though as we aren't sure what Google will do with app properties come November 1st.
For the most part it is very similar to your current Google analytics. The screen views you see now will become page views. The events are the same as they were. You should still be able to find session lengths and analyze engagement like you have been. One downside is that you will no longer get the same device data you used to get. We did our best to mirror what Google Analytics does for you today.
What about Firebase?
We looked into using Firebase Analytics as a Google Analytics replacement and wanted to share some of that feedback with you.
Going forward, we will be supporting an integration with Firebase. The integration is not as robust as we would like, but that is due to the limited information we get from Firebase as a whole. We believe this could be the best avenue for some, who simply need an analytic tool. You will not have the sleek dashboard of Google Analytics displaying your data, we will discuss options for this below. After much deliberation, and looking at all aspects of Firebase - we compiled some notes for you, please take a look below and let us know if you have any additional questions.
There is a limit to the number of Firebase projects that can exist in a Google Account as well as a limit to the number of apps that can be attached to a given Firebase Project. Unfortunately, neither of the limits are published. The guidance on the number of apps per project is:
"Ensure that all apps within a project are platform variants of the same application from an end-user perspective. It's advisable to connect the Android, iOS, and web versions of the same app or game to the same Firebase project. All the apps in a project generally share the same Firebase resources (database, storage buckets, etc.).
While there is no restriction on the number of apps within a project, adding an app can create one or more underlying OAuth 2.0 client IDs. There is a limit of around 30 client IDs that can be created within a single project."
Data export / Accessibility
Firebase Analytics are only available within the dashboard of Firebase unless you are on a premium account and export the data to BigQuery.The pricing information for Big Query is here (https://cloud.google.com/bigquery/pricing#transfer/)
There is no way to access the analytic information without exporting to BigQuery which limits our ability to provide dashboards or other integrations with the information.
There is no clean way to aggregate analytics from multiple apps into a single viewable dashboard without doing the BigQuery export. Even attaching multiple apps to a single Firebase project created some issues when trying to view usage across the entire project.
The target audience for Firebase is app developers. Many of the identifiers and displays show cryptic internal identifiers and don't provide context for how events are created. This was by far the largest divide with Google Analytics. It was difficult to tell how the data was being reported and the ability to query and resolve queries was very rudimentary. It was inadequate to build data used for business decisions.
If you are looking for a more robust analytics option, we will be offering a premium analytics offering based on the size of your apps. We will support Chartbeat, ComScore and Quantcast for everyone. For Google 360 customers, Google is allowing support for Google Analytics on mobile to continue, and for non 360 customer's we recommend our use of google's Measurement Protocol.
We are huge fans of Google Analytics, which is why it has been frustrating for Google to end its support. Firebase is a great development platform, but it has some limitations as an analytic platform for newsrooms and broadcast stations. If you have any questions please contact us to discuss moving forward with our analytics offerings by opening an Intercom ticket. (Click the button on the right side of your browser window!)