Who said that Google Analytics was Enterprise analytics?

Published by Eric T. Peterson on May 29, 2007 All posts from Eric T. Peterson

I know I’m going to get shit for saying this, but I think that my good friend Judah Phillips and the fine folks at CMS Watch may have too high an expectation about what Google Analytics is supposed to be. Not that Judah or Phil Kemelor are incorrect in their assessment that G.A. is missing a lot of functionality you expect to find in “Enterprise class” web analytics applications—stuff like APIs, data warehouse query, advanced visitor segmentation, look-up tables, data loading, etc.—all of which appears to still be lacking in the new version of Google Analytics.

The thing is, I’m not sure anyone at Google ever said it was supposed to have all that functionality.

Now, I don’t read every word Googler Avinash Kaushik writes (much as I try Avinash, I’m waiting for the book!) so maybe he said something like “Google Analytics version 2 eliminates the need for any investment in web analytics technology, period!” I kind of doubt he’d say something like that, partly because that doesn’t sound like Avinash, but mostly because it’s ridiculous.

Even with Kaushik’s whole 10/90 rule, it’s hard to imagine a thoughtful guy like Avinash saying something like “You should dump your existing million-dollar, multi-year investment in Visual Sciences for Google Analytics and spend the money you save on analysts.”

And I don’t think I’ve ever heard Brett Crosby talk about Google Analytics replacing the other vendors. Again, maybe I’m wrong, but Brett (and Google’s) goal for Google Analytics has always struck me as being basically “great web analytics at the best possible price” not “the only web analytics platform you’ll ever need.” Granted, I kinda stopped paying attention for 17 months there, but given the media fascination with all things Googl-y I bet someone would have said “Hey Eric, did you read what Google said about dominating the web analytics market and destroying the other vendors?”

Judah pointed out this language at Google extolling the virtues of Google Analytics:

“Google Analytics has all the features you’d expect from a high-end analytics offering.”

Yeah, this is wrong, but this is clearly marketing and kind of hinges on the words “you’d expect” doesn’t it? In a high-end analytics offering, I personally expect a high-end analytics offering to provide visitor-based analytics with unlimited real-time visitor and session-level segmentation over the entire data-set plus the ability to define as many data dimensions and custom metrics as I like, combined with a flexible ETL tool that allows me to combine multiple disparate data into a single combined view of my site visitors and marketing campaigns.

Maybe my expectations are too high?

Personally I think that the new version of Google Analytics is one of the best things to ever happen to our industry.

Yep.

Even though Google Analytics still lacks some core functionality that most companies absolutely need when they get really serious about web analytics, the new release does one thing that the industry absolutely needed to push it to the next level: The new Google Analytics interface encourages exploration and supports drilling-down by allowing the user to maintain their inquisitive momentum.

This is HUGE and is one of the things that really excited me about Visual Sciences Visual Site a few years ago. Now, don’t get me wrong, GA2 is no Visual Workstation, but the AJAX and pre-loading they’re doing allows me to quickly change tabs, re-order columns, etc. without having to waaaaaaaaiiiiiiitttttt for the page to load. I am probably the world’s antsiest analyst and I totally hate waiting for data to appear and reports to be generated. GA2 hasn’t done away with that, but it is clearly heading in the right direction.

On this I think Judah, Phil, and I all agree.

I don’t personally think that Google Analytics is high-end or Enterprise-class, and that’s okay. But I do think the new Google Analytics does create real pressure on other vendors to re-evaluate their UI and perhaps places some increased pressure on everyone else to further differentiate their product and solution offerings. Especially if you believe we’ll see an integrated Google Analytics + Website Optimizer + Feedburner (which Ian would probably call the “Fondleburgerwizer”) sometime in the near future …

Not that this should be a problem, since each company has different goals for their application in the marketplace. But it is worth noting that Google Analytics is showing up all over the place. Have a look at this snapshot from the unreleased update to the Vendor Discovery Tool:

What this says is that of the 9,181 URLs tracked by the system, the tool found Google Analytics code on 25% of them. More importantly, both GA and WebSideStory code were found on 6% of tracked URLs, GA and Omniture on 4% of tracked URLs, GA and WebTrends Hosted on 4% of tracked URLs, etc. Personally, if I’m any of these vendors, I really don’t want to see Google Analytics on my paying customer’s web sites.

I’m not trying to be obtuse, but I think it’s only fair to take the recent update for what it is: a really thoughtful overhaul of the primary integration point for most people with their web analytics data. Faster access to data, more relevant metrics tied to dimensions (“bounce rate” against campaigns and search keywords, how freaking cool!), and a brilliant UI built by some of the best in the business.

Nice work, Google.

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Categorized under General Web Analytics, Random Thoughts, Vendors, Web Analytics People

  • http://www.kaushik.net/avinash Avinash Kaushik

    Eric,

    Now, I don’t read every word Googler Avinash Kaushik writes

    Sadly still a Consultant for Google, but given the fantastic food and even more fantastic people in the buildings am very jealous of Googlers. :)

    so maybe he said something like “Google Analytics version 2 eliminates the need for any investment in web analytics technology, period!” I kind of doubt he’d say something like that, partly because that doesn’t sound like Avinash,

    Yep you are right. Never said that.

    Here’s a link to my point of view:

    How to Choose a Web Analytics Tool: A Radical Alternative
    http://tinyurl.com/yckfpf

    Even with Kaushik’s whole 10/90 rule, it’s hard to imagine a thoughtful guy like Avinash saying something like “You should dump your existing million-dollar, multi-year investment in Visual Sciences for Google Analytics and spend the money you save on analysts.”

    Yep, never said that either.

    But came really really close to saying that at a recent consulting engagement where after two years of investment close to a seven figures in crisp American dollars my client had very little to show from actual action taken from the tool, or any increase in the number of people in 24 months who understood web analytics.

    But you’ll be proud of me Eric, I did not say what you mention in the above quote. : )

    (much as I try Avinash, I’m waiting for the book!)

    It is on the way Eric, am pushing Willem to ensure that you are the first to get it. Without your support it is going to be really hard for the little book to make it, I sincerely hope that you like the book and I have done my tiny part in ensuring that I am adding value the the industry that you have build over the last so many years (Yahoo Group, the books, WAW, Web 2.0 Measurement Working Group to name a few).

    Thanks for this thoughtful post Eric, as I had mentioned in Judah’s post, the team at Google is very lucky to have feedback from key industry thought leaders such as yourself (and Judah).

    -Avinash.

  • http://www.webanalyticsdemystified.com eric

    Avinash: I have little doubt that your book will add tremendous value to the growing body of knowledge assembled on web analytics! I look forward to the book tour as well (any chance it’s coming to Portland, OR?!)

    I also have little doubt that Google would convert you in a heartbeat to “ex-Consultant, full-time Googler” but we all appreciate the work you’re doing in-and-out of the ‘plex. Keep up the great work (and go to bed! It’s 9:30 AM in Holland, why are you commenting on my blog?!?)

  • http://judah.webanalyticsdemystified.com Judah

    Good points, my friend. I do have high expectations for things like life, people, companies, jobs, food, beer, wine, cheese, and technology.

    My goal with that post was to hook GOOG up with some practioner knowledge and hint at solid ways to improve the tool, beyond the awesome Veen Skin, because if GOOG wants to dominate, well, ahh, they do have the resources (in the form of cerebellums and capital) to try. I also agree that the way GOOG has generously, awesomely dropped the power of web analytics in the hands of many is quite incredible and good for the whole web and industry.

    Now with Feedburner, which I totally dig, they have a powerful model for RSS and feed measurement, which most vendors seem to totally lack imho. An appropriate quote here (pun intended) may come from the album “Burning from the Inside” by Bauhaus: “I wonder what the future holds.”

  • http://www.webanalyticsdemystified.com eric

    Judah: Good feedback and thanks for not taking my critique the wrong way! I can see by Avinash’s comment on both of our blogs that GOOG is listening. Good news! Maybe they’ll hire you on as a part-time consultant as well …

  • http://www.pkwc.com Phil Kemelor

    Great post, Eric. Not going to give you shit, but just want to clarify a few things, and put my statements in context. :)
    My issues are focused on representation, and marketing hyberbole and how it compares to functionality. I don’t have an issue with Google Analytics’ functionality in of itself. I think the tool is great in the right circumstances. As a CMS Watch analyst, it’s my role to separate the hype from reality, and take a “Consumer Reports” point of view on the offerings. So, when I find that in the product tour, there is a statement “…Google Analytics brings a new accessibility to enterprise class analytics…” I question this relative to the whole tool functionality. And, in my conversation with Brett during research for the CMS Watch Web Analytics Report, the point was made that Google Analytics could handle enterprise level data volume. When statements like these are made, I put this in context with what an organization will look for in an enterprse tool…and that also includes support and data integration. I would love to hear from enterprise level Google Analytics users to understand their experiences. Folks may contact me directly at: philkemelor@pkwc.com.

  • http://www.webanalyticsdemystified.com eric

    Phil: Thanks for putting your comments in context. I suppose you have a point, similar to the one Judah pointed out in my original post, about Google perhaps over-selling the “Enterprise” nature of the application, and when I see Brett next I’ll ask him point-blank “Is Google Analytics an Enterprise-class web analytics application?” and see what he says.

    Or, perhaps if Brett or Avinash want to comment on this here in the comments, or email me?

    My general feeling–and this is an evolution of how I thought about what “Enterprise-class” means since my 2004 JupiterResearch report on the vendors–is that GA2 is very good but doesn’t quite make the cut, primarily for the reasons you, Judah, and others have cited. Not that there is anything wrong with that, mind you.

    I too am interested in hearing from some of the Fortune 1,000 companies who have deployed GA to hear what they think. The Vendor Discovery Tool finds GA code on http://www.ge.com (w/Omniture), abcnews.go.com (w/HBX) and www2.dupont.com as a start …

  • http://www.kaushik.net/avinash Avinash Kaushik

    Eric: I appreciate the invitation to participate in the “enterprise class” comments. I started to write a comment, but it ended up being too long. I invite you and your readers to my blog post reply:

    Redefining Conventional Wisdom On “Enterprise Class” Web Analytics

    http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/2007/05/redefining-conventional-wisdom-on-enterprise-class-web-analytics.html

    Thanks.

    -Avinash.

  • June Dershewitz

    Eric, I do believe you’ve opened up a whole can of worms.

    As someone who’s spent years working with large corporations and their “enterprise” web analytics systems, I can say that I’ve seen a bit of a shift since the advent of GA. The shift has to do with the attitude of web analytics consumers toward ownership of measurement. Suddenly there are do-it-yourselfers.

    Say that I’m a web analytics consumer at a large corporation and I’m working on a project that has a web measurement component to it. Can I/should I/do I go to a central web analytics group and file a request? Or do I just slap some GA code on the content I care about and get it myself? In the old days I could only do the former; now I’ve got a choice based on the complexity of my need. Since GA is so accessible and so usable it’s an enticing choice for simple needs – even if the information could be gleaned from an existing enterprise system.

    I’ll bet you that most corporations don’t even *know* the extent of GA tagging on their own web properties.

    – June

  • http://www.gartner.com Bill Gassman

    A lot of enterprise class organizations don’t have the skills to operate an enterprise class Web analytics program. V2 of Google Analytics seems like a good stepping stone on the path to learning what is possible. Eric describes a lot of requirements that GA doesn’t have, but until an organiztion feels the need for these features, too much sophistication can overwhelm users and limit the value of the tools. Many organizations are already using GA along with another tool. The price is right. Why not let the end-users decide what is best for them. When they cry for more; smile. More is available.

  • http://www.webanalyticsdemystified.com eric

    June: An excellent point, and one well grounded in the reality of the situation. If “free GA” is a replacement for the established process of doing web analytics in organizations, what does that say about the processes they have in place?

    Wait, don’t tell me. Dysfunctional, right? ;-)

    It would be interesting to ask the business owners for web analytics (assuming we can identify them, that seems to be a process that many companies are forgetting!) whether GA is deployed on their sites and then compare their responses to the reality that the Vendor Discovery Tool sees.

    Thanks for the comment!!!

  • http://www.webanalyticsdemystified.com eric

    Bill: That’s a pretty strong recommendation for Google Analytics coming from a Gartner analyst — you guys are the kings of Enterprise software! I have to say your comment is compelling and difficult to disagree with … but it makes me want to ask you this question:

    What percentage of “Enterprise class organizations” that you talk to already have one of the “for fee” applications deployed? And what risk does your approach create for business already won in this ** very competitive ** marketplace?

    I think it’s one thing if a large company has not yet deployed a web analytics solution to say “try Google Analytics” and yet another when they’ve licensed a “Enterprise” solution to the tune of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. In the former case, no problem. But in the latter case, doesn’t either the vendor or ** the organization themselves ** have the responsibility to help drive the company to take advantage of the existing investment?

    I’d love to continue the conversation (online or off). Thanks for commenting!

  • Pingback: Web Analytics Demystified » Blog Archive » Avinash on the definition of “Enterprise Class” analytics

  • http://www.gartner.com Bill Gassman

    Eric asks: What percentage of “Enterprise class organizations” that you talk to already have one of the “for fee” applications deployed? And what risk does your approach create for business already won in this ** very competitive ** marketplace?

    [ I removed a comment from Bill Gassman on his request.  If you have any questions about why this comment was removed, please contact Bill or I directly. ]

  • Pingback: Web Analytics Demystified » Blog Archive » Is Google Analytics the Killer App? No.

  • Michael

    Does anyone know about visual user interaction tracking technologies like websonar.de (german product but in english)? I’m wondering why google does not offer something like that yet.

  • Pingback: The Future of Web Analytics, Demystified » Blog Archive » Some con-Fusion about web analytics implementations

  • Pingback: enterprise-google-analytics - EpikOne

  • Pingback: “Enterprise” Google Analytics - EpikOne

 


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