An idea for Google Analytics' Real Time API
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On August 1, Google launched an API to access Real Time Analytics. The API allows one to programmatically retrieve the number of visitors interacting with a page at a given time through a series of dimensions (eg: a breakdown of a given set of metrics across common criteria) such as traffic sources, platform and device, geo information, page and app tracking.
A recent case study (PDF) published by Google reveals a relatively good but not particularly novel use of the this new API: a vacation rental company displays the number of active visitors on the page of a given property.
In doing this they give the illusion of scarcity, which encourages users to make a quick decision. You've seen something similar if you have ever booked a flight online – only 2 seats left at this price. It drives sales up.
I have an idea to leverage the power of community to drive sales: simply reduce the price of a product based on how many visitors there are on a page.
Let's imagine a functional scenario in which I am interested in buying a nice tea set. The online merchant who sells it has it priced at $100. But they also have this system where for every 10 people visiting the tea set product page at a given time, the price is dropped by $5 – with most likely a maximum discount.
What do I do? I tweet the product link to my network to get people to help me drive the price down. A few more text messages and some IM'ing and I earn 15% off on this item.
From an ecommerce shop owner's perspective, you've made one happy client and built direct brand awareness for 30 people, and maybe made another sale.