Memory Jog When Analyzing Mobile Data
When looking at your All Traffic report in Google Analytics and comparing 2013 to 2014, it is important to keep in mind what was impacting your data back in 2013. Back in September 2012 when Apple released iOS 6 for their mobile devices we noticed a sharp decline in Google / Organic and a sharp increase in (Direct) / (None) traffic. This was accompanied by a global outcry from marketeers.
With the release of iOS 6, Apple encrypted the Safari search box. This, as a result, stopped referral data being passed on to Google. I will not go into the details here as this is already very well documented on the interweb. A simple search for “iOS 6 referral information” returns a wealth of information on this topic.
One year later Apple released iOS 7 where the meta referral data issue was fixed. iOS 7 also ended up being installed on more than 50% of all Apple mobile/tablet devices within 7 days of its release (http://bit.ly/1tgIdRo). For your data in Google Analytics this launch meant a return to ‘normality’. This was reflected by a drop in Direct and an increase in Organic traffic.
Such discrepancies in data are important to keep in mind when using this data to plan for the next year. It is beneficial to annotate as much as possible whenever something impacts your data.
May it be campaigns, tv ads, releases of a new technology etc. Luckily everything remained the same when iOS 8 got released.
So next time round when it comes to comparing year on year data and budgeting for the year ahead there is one less variable to that needs to be considered.