If you want to track clicks on links, videos, or interactive elements (and really, who doesn’t?) you may believe that Event Tracking (http://code.google.com/apis/analytics/docs/tracking/eventTrackerGuide.html) is the best approach.

Event tracking in Google Analytics allows you to track clicks, plays/views, or any kind of user interaction with an element. The system is flexible enough that you can roll multiple behaviors into a larger “buckets”. There are four values to event tracking Category, Action, Label and Value. Let’s say you have two videos on your website. Both of these would have the category “Video”, the action as “Play” and one would have the label of “Video 1” and the other would have “Video 2”. In these cases, you would actually call Video 1 “Dog on Skateboard” or whatever it was really about. Regardless, event tracking allows you to track clicks on these videos, view how many people clicked to play a video, and see how many times interacted with your videos in total (if you have more than just a “Play” action).

Say you’ve completed said tracking above. You look around yourself, accomplished and beaming and pat yourself on the back. Suddenly, someone (maybe your boss) asks you “Where is our target video audience?”. You panic at first, then realize you can use the pivot table option in the events report to show source. This shows you total plays by source, but it’s really not telling you which sources are MOST likely to bring visitors to view your video. To do that, you would have to do some number crunching with advanced segments.

If you will be looking at the success of your events frequently and analyzing them, it’s really not in your best interest to set them up as events. Rather, you can set them up as page views. Using the trackPageview variable, you can set up Google Analytics so that every time someone clicks on your video, you see a page view in Google Analytics like: “video-view/dog-on-skateboard/”.  There are several advantages to this. Firstly, you will get average time on page for this artificial page view, which tells you the average time someone viewed the video. Secondly, you can use Google Analytics to see what pages individuals viewed after viewing the video (Navigation Summary Report). Thirdly and most importantly, since the above is a page view, you can set it up as a goal. If you setup a goal with the url match “video-view”, you will be able to see who views your videos on all standard reports. The below shows you that the most likely video viewers actually came from yelp (Goal %), while event tracking would have just shown you total video views.

You now know that your videos are most often watched by Yelp users. Kudos!