Google is finally getting serious about social. And, for once in the last six months, it's not about Google+. Google is announcing that it plans to launch much better social integration tools for Google Analytics, enabling websites to know more not only about their visitors, but also about people engaging with their content or services on other sites or social networks.
"We’re inviting social networks and platforms to integrate their activity streams with Google Analytics," Google wrote.
"Through these integrations, marketers and publishers will be able to discover off-site engagement, optimize their engagement within each social community, and measure the impact of each social channel and its associated digital investment," it explained.
The reason why Google has to make this announcement is that it needs social platforms to cooperate for Analytics to provide the best possible data.
Google has been working on a new set of social analytics tools, but it needs support from sites that are built around sharing, bookmarking and social behavior, in general.
It's unlikely that Facebook will get on board, but Google has already gotten several big sites behind its initiative, Reddit, Digg, Delicious, TypePad, Russian giant social network Vkontakte and others.
"Any network can integrate their streams - like +1, votes, and comments - into the Google Analytics social reports, which will be fully available next year to the many marketers, publishers, and websites that are using Google Analytics for free," explains Google.
It's obvious why websites would want the additional data. Website analytics alone are becoming less relevant when a lot activity happens off site. But Google is going to have a harder time convincing social networks to share data.
Google started introducing some social tracking features earlier this year, adding support for tracking sharing activity on the site, via the +1 button, the Like button and so on, but also visitors coming from social sites.