Confused about the terminology of profile and view within Google Analytics? First, they are the same thing! In June 2013, the Google Analytics team renamed profiles into views. You should begin using “view” exclusively, though you will see “profile” everywhere and if you are like me, its hard not . The terminology change was to better emphasize what profiles actually are, a view of the data.
Where did Profile Come from?
The title profile once made more sense that it does today. Originally profiles were developed such that the web developer team and the advertising team can both gather insights about a website, but customizing the experience to each team. In essence, each had their own user profile.
Fast forward a few years and this is still true, but with the advances in segmentation profiles are being used for much more. A best-practice installation would out of the box have a unfiltered segment and three segments filtering internal traffic: a mobile segment, desktop segment and a desktop/mobile segment. Add to that a paid advertising segment and others as applicable, you have one user accessing many profiles. The word does not fit anymore. Hence, the new word view.
How Does a View fit into the Google Analytics Hierarchy?
A view (formerly profile) is one of the four components of the GA Hierarchy. There are accounts, properties, views and users. Each master account can have multiple properties (tyipically multiple unrelated websites), and each property can have mulitple views. Finally, users can be attached to any of the above levels (Account administrators, property administrators and view viewers).
This hierarchy leads to a great deal of flexibility and security. For more information see the Google Analytics Hierarchy Tutorial.
Where Does the Word View Come From?
In databases, such as MySQL, tables contain all the data. Sometimes though, you want to combine tables or filter within a table. Enter the view. The view is a virtual table that you can use to filter, segment, and combine various tables into a simple to use interface. GA is uses this same approach, which is a great thing!
Have a question, go ahead and ask below. If you are not sure about how a view differs from a property (or account), be sure to read the Google Analytics Hierarchy Tutorial.