The Google Analytics real-time feature was rolled out progressively through the latter half of 2011, instantly sending shivers down the spine of outfits such as ChartBeat and Woopra. Since I've had my head down at work on other things for the past few months, I hadn't had a chance to play with it until recently. The first thing I noticed is that it doesn't take any notice of profiles you might have set up within a single account - it's simply a view of the firehose for your particular UA- number.
This is important because if you're using profiles with filters to discriminate between environments (staging and production, let's say) you're going to get everything lumped in together. Something to be aware of, if you have significant internal traffic from development, testing or training going on while you finesse the call-to-action on the morning's campaign push.
[UPDATED December 2012: Google now separates real-time numbers by profile. Woohoo!]
The feature itself isn't yet quite as useful or informative as ChartBeat, which I found quite beguiling during the final months at ourbrisbane.com. In fact, watching hundreds of active connections gradually ebb away from the freshly-closed website as browser-cached pages expired one after another was a strange and rare thing to witness. I digress.
I'm looking forward to the start of the Rugby League season (I never thought I'd hear myself type that) when The Thinker's NRL tips start to generate their usual Thursday-lunchtime buzz.