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Yahoo Web Analytics does not compete with Google Analytics

Published by Eric T. Peterson on October 9, 2008 All posts from Eric T. Peterson

While Dennis Mortensen was kind enough to give me some advance notice that Yahoo! had officially rebranded IndexTools and was making it available to a wider audience, I have been so swamped with client projects I haven’t had a chance to comment on the news until now. I’m excited to see the company making forward progress towards making IndexTools available to the larger market, especially in the context of the vote of “no confidence” I keep hearing from the investment bankers I talk to from time to time.

Given that I was honored to break the story about the acquisition it is no wonder that some people have commented, “Hey, Peterson, you were wrong … it’s not free for everyone!” To this I can only comment that I would rather see Yahoo! take a measured and thoughtful approach towards the deployment of the application than be right.

But the one thing I have seen a lot of these past few days is the assertion that Yahoo Web Analytics is designed to compete with Google Analytics and that Yahoo! is somehow lame for being so late to the game. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

For those of you keeping track, when Yahoo! announced that they were waiving all fees for existing customers I commented the following:

“Finally, I would personally offer that Google Analytics and IndexTools are (in their current state) dramatically different applications targeting very different audiences.”

Now, I suppose I don’t expect traditional media to look any deeper into web analytics than necessary and so of course the logical conclusion is “Yahoo! and Google compete, egro Yahoo Web Analytics and Google Analytics are competitors.” I just hope the team at Yahoo! doesn’t start to believe this positioning as it is A) clearly wrong, B) minimizes the value of the acquisition, and C) only sets Yahoo! up to fail (something I suspect they have had quite enough of lately …)

In the midst of the media mini-frenzy I saw one quote that almost perfectly summarized why these two applications are unlikely competitors, published by the E-Commerce Times (emphasis mine):

The data’s not aggregated — the data’s stored raw in our database,” Jitendra Kavathekar, vice president of Yahoo Web Analytics, told the E-Commerce Times.

“You basically get real-time reports and dashboards, allowing our customers to take immediate action rather than waiting half a day, or waiting a day, or waiting a week to get the information they need,” he explained.

That option, Kavathekar asserts, opens up a whole host of new options for end-users when it comes to data visualization and manipulation.

“The ability to drag-and-drop different filters — to be able to cut the data in different ways, in real-time, to get the data that you need, to get the insights you need — is something you don’t generally see out there in the market,” he said.

“The data’s not aggregated” is the difference between SiteCatalyst and Omniture Discover, WebTrends Web Analytics and Visitor Intelligence, etc. It is also the difference of tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, additional training and support, and the need for experience professionals in the operator’s chair.  

I said it before and I’ll say it again, just for emphasis: Game changing.

Regardless of the timeline — Christmas, Easter, Memorial Day, 4th of July, whatever — Yahoo! making a real-time raw data collection environment available to a widespread audience for free will change the web analytics market, especially if the company can get their arms around a reasonable GTM strategy. If Yahoo! can figure out how to get the application in the right people’s hands instead of pursuing the ludicris strategy of duplicating Google’s success,well, I stand by all previous assertions regarding who IndexTools hurts and who it helps.

Despite not competing, the wildcard of course is still Google. I don’t talk to Brett as often as I should but the rumors of new segmentation functionality coming soon are growing louder and the idea of Google Analytics APIs from Google (as opposed to a group of bright, enterprising individuals) is persistent. Hopefully some of this will come to light week after next at Brett’s Emetrics presentation, especially since his announcement at Emetrics San Francisco made us all yawn …

If Google is coming upmarket, driven by IndexTools or just their own internal strategy, a lot of the objections to deploying Google Analytics as a business standard start to disappear. Segmentation, custom variables, an API, better filters, etc. will all push GA up-and-to-the-right in the constellations, waves, and magic quadrants of the world. Couple that with Google Web Site Optimizer and the long-term view of the market’s evolution gets even cloudier.

One thing I keep forgetting to ask Dennis and my other contacts at Yahoo! is about the status of Rubix. Last I asked it was still on the table, something that only appears to be reinforced by Kavathekar’s statement about data visualization and manipulation. If you’ve seen Rubix, the “drag-and-drop filters” comment is especially telling, don’t you think?

In summary:

  • Yahoo Web Analytics does not compete with Google Analytics because they are fundamentally designed to serve different audiences;
  • Even if Google Analytics expands segmentation functionality, these applications are structurally differen;
  • Provided the investment banking-types are wrong about Yahoo’s ability to execute, I believe that YWA will eventually emerge as a direct competitor in RFPs with SiteCatalyst, WebTrends Web Analytics, Coremetrics 2009, Nedstat, etc.;
  • If Yahoo! figures out how to scale raw data storage and ultimately gives away access to Rubix, the competitive set expands to Omniture Discover, WebTrends Visitor Intelligence, Coremetrics Explore, Unica’s Affinium NetInsight, etc.;

Again, congratulations to Dennis, the team at Yahoo Web Analytics, and the folks at Yahoo who made the acquistion on getting a branded product out the door so quickly and opening the door to partners, developers, and Yahoo Store owners. Given all of the other news at Yahoo! and in the market in general this is no small feat.

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  • http://www.afdeling18.dk/ Søren Sprogø

    Heh yeah, when I read Kav’s statement I too though “drag’n'drop filters? You SURE it’s IndexTools he’s working with?”.

    Personally, I think YWA and GA caters to two different segments. But those two segments has a huuuuuuge overlap!

    And it shouldn’t take much for GA to shorten the gap between the two, and come out on top because of a cleaner, more user friendly interface.

    But in the long run I think YWA has a good chance of coming out as a winner. The major reason being that it doesn’t aggregate the data. It’s so annoying to work with those other tools, when it is hard/impossible to look at the past in a new way.

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  • http://www.whencanistop.com Alec Cochrane

    This is game changing. I probably wouldn’t be worried if I was Google Analytics, but certainly the other premium products must be wondering. Since Google Analytics came along, they’ve all been repositioning themselves to pick up the bits of the market that have more internal resource and need specialist types of tools.

    Now with YWA, they’ll be looking over their shoulder and thinking about price. Presumably if this is not going to be free to everyone (free to the Store owners? At $40 a month I’d sign up just for the analytics) but will give those sites that are on the verge of deciding that their analysts need more advanced segmentation tools but have been put off by the price of Discover or Visitor Intelligence more choice.

    Looks like the era of free data collection is about to hit us and hit us in a way that we didn’t expect at all. Contract renegotiation with the vendors should become quite interesting.

  • Alex B

    It’s funny. The last time we discussed this I fundamentally disagreed with your opinion on how much it will impact the market and, while I still don’t think the actual result will necessarily be game changing, I agree with your fundamental assessment a lot more now than I did then– namely, that this will take a bite out of the premium tools.

    For now, I think a lot of it might be similar to my situation, (large company, willing to run both side by side for the time being), and, while we are unlikely to drop Omniture we might just add Index Tools and have them side by side. Having said that, if Index.. er, YWA? proves its mettle in that comparison, who knows?

    As for Yahoo themselves, they’ve had a lot of screw ups and the investors can’t be happy, but their past 3-4 months has shown some real innovation. BOSS, their new web calendar, YWA to name but three are all pretty impressive.

    As for GA– I hope what you say is true. Proper segmentation and integration with tools such as Excel would catapult it into a whole new realm of usefulness.

  • http://www.waomarketing.com/blog Jacques Warren

    Hi Eric,

    As always, your analysis of the situation is pretty insightful. This “competition” between the 2 Big Ones (sorry MSFT) could fire up, and those bright PhDs could all start imagining the best features possible, the most sophisticated functions, and all for free (well, subsidized by all those advertising dollars we send their way).

    I don’t know about you, but if I was an investor in one of the high-end products (which now means *paid*), and learned that thos behemoths were after my market, I’d get all sweaty.

    Could we imagine a world where 90% of the market would end up being shared by those 2 free solutions? Would that be a market at all?

  • http://www.analyticsevolution.com John Lovett

    Hey Eric,

    We certainly agree that Y!WA and GA are not going after the same market. Yet, I still wonder if we’re missing the giant elephant in the room here. With our US economy in the proverbial hopper, free tools with comparable functionality will become increasingly attractive to prospective buyers. We may simply end up with a massive influx of tool duplicity and multi-tagging of sites – with the best tool – providing the best insight – as the market leader. That said, I believe that all Web measurement and testing technologies are somewhat insulated because justifying spend and quantifying results will become paramount for many, many businesses. Could it be that it’s finally time for our industry to truly shine??

    Hmmm….

    JL

  • http://www.webanalyticsdemystified.com eric

    Soren: Interesting. Where do you see the overlap between the two applications potential install base? Again, I see GA (today) as a great entry-level tool and YWA as something GA customers would step up to over time, but that’s just my viewpoint. What do you think?

    Alec: Agreed, but keep in mind that Yahoo! hasn’t actually said anything about deploying Rubix, yet. Kavathekar’s comment is telling without saying anything but we should be cautious in how much we read into it.

    With the impending Google Analytics update this will all become very interesting, very quickly I suspect.

    Thanks to you both for your comments!

  • Michael Summar

    Hi Eric – Spot on analysis. This was actually a topic at the Nashville WAW event this week. The question was posed as to what the next big buzz would be. Without hesitation, I said it will be very interesting to see how the “big boys” react to YWA/IndexTools once it is re-opened. We’ve always considered IndexTools during RFP processes for enterprise level analytics. We were sad to see it locked down and unable to be considered for the last few months. But I’m very happy that it is now being opened, albeit slowly. :)

  • http://www.webanalyticsdemystified.com eric

    Jacques: Thanks for your feedback … I try to not just regurgitate press releases since we clearly get enough of that in the web analytics blogosphere ;-)

    The funny thing about your “sweaty” comment is that, as I mentioned, the investment banker types I talk to seem to have very little confidence in Yahoo’s ability to execute on IndexTools. Now personally I really like the guys that I know on the project — Dennis, come on! Nicest guy in the industry! — but that doesn’t really speak to Yahoo! as a company.

    That said, the more I hear about the upcoming Google Analytics upgrade, the more I start to suspect that IndexTools will have exactly the effect I predicted but not through the same channels. If GA rolls out segmentation, new visualizations, and APIs, regardless of whether they do it because of IndexTools, Avinash, Jeff Veen, someone’s 20% time, or whatever, well … the game still changes.

    Can I imagine a market where 90% of the data collection happens via Yahoo! and Google? One where the point of monetization shifts from data collection to value-added services and solutions?

    Again, the magic 8-ball responds “All signs point to yes.”

    Great to hear from you again my friend.

  • http://www.webanalyticsdemystified.com eric

    John: Ahhh, my worst nightmare (next to what is happening with my 401K of late) is the scenario you describe — multiple tools to do the same job? Are you kidding? Worst possible outcome IMHO, unless you’re saying companies will deploy a bunch of solutions and then kick out everything but the best with best being partially measured as a function of ongoing costs. Is that what you mean?

    I do not believe that any company should deploy multiple web analytics solutions concurrently. Have I ever mentioned to you that I think web analytics is hard? One of the things that make web analytics hard is different answers to the same question. I have seen all the justifications — we want to validate the data, our marketing group likes {insert solution name here}, our IT guys are lame, etc. — but multiple solutions only increases the need for process and the number of potential points of failure.

    As my favorite politician says, let me be clear: Sites should not deploy multiple web analytics solutions on the same pages. The right solution for the problem that leads to this case is to ** fix the internal process that broke in the first place that lead to someone wanting to deploy a second solution. ** I know, more easily said than done, but nobody said web analytics was easy.

    Regarding web analytics and the economy and this being our time to shine … that’s a great topic for a blog post, don’t you think? DIBS! LOL … it’s always great to hear from you my friend. See you soon.

  • http://blog.jimnovo.com/ Jim Novo

    > It’s so annoying to work with those other tools, when it is hard / impossible to look at the past in a new way

    I wonder how many web analysts really understand this implication of un-aggregated data?

    I think the “hosted revolution” in many ways *decreased* the value of web analytics tools by preventing easy iterative re-analysis of the same data with different parameters – a major source of insight. That’s how my brain works, anyway.

    If the net effect here is one can re-analyze at will with a hosted product, that *is* a game changer.

    Signed,

    Still grinds through data locally for my own personal projects because re-analysis is so critical

  • http://www.webanalyticsdemystified.com eric

    Michael: Thanks for the comment and glad to hear that the conversations at WAW are engaging and relevant!

    Jim: Well, you may be making a jump from “raw data” to “retransformation” but I agree that the first is the precursor to the second. And it’s not like I don’t agree with your general thesis — this is one of the primary reasons I went to Visual Sciences back in the day.

    We need a bumpersticker: “ETL for Everyone!”

    Thanks to you both for taking the time to comment.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/webmetrics Thomas Bosilevac

    Jim and Eric. Within a standard web analytics implimentation, data-integration stops at translating ProductID’s with names (oversimplified…but). Until the BI team is enabled to pull data down and “re-transform” it with their own internal data it is still aggregated in my mind.

    Without strong ETL tools and an IPaddress\cookie\URL\ReferringURL\Parameter string stored in a database is still just as siloed just now “relational”. At this point we can end parameter madness and store relationships internally.

    That said … congrats IndexTools! Used them for many clients and will again!

  • http://clotet.wordpress.com web analytics

    Hi Eric,

    I agree with Soren, in my opinion the overlap is that 90% of free web analytics users manage less than 1% of the tool potential, then the overlap is in basics, and obviously in the “free” concept.

    Jaume

  • http://www.jasonegan.net Jason Egan

    In just seeing screenshots of the rebranded analytics tool , I didn’t think for a second that this was a straight competitor of Google Analytics.

    I am very interested to hear about the data and how it is stored as well. One of the great advantages of Omniture, in my opinion, is the fact that you have access to raw data. You can get their data from the DataWarehouse or from the raw data feed. This is one of a few major pieces that are missing from Google Analytics, and it sounds like the Yahoo! Analytics solution might be setup to allow this type of direct access in the future.

    Being able to segment the data directly in the reporting is also a game-changing feature. It would be great if you could do this in the interfaces of SiteCatalyst (outside of creating an ASI segment) or Web Trends (without having to go to Discover or Visitor Intelligence). I had used the Unica Affinium product back when it was still NetTracker, and liked being able to segment data directly in the reports.

    I think that it the direction Omniture is going with their total “online marketing optimization suite” should serve them well in the future as tools like GA and Yahoo Analytics start to make the Web analytics vertical more crowded with relevant players. WebTrends and Coremetrics might be in for trouble.

  • http://www.astrups.com christian a

    As a heavy user of indextools for several years I am still impressed of the functionality of Indextools, compared to most other tools. The access to realtime data is something I do not believe GA can match because it would require a complete redesign of the backend system. Of course it is possible with Googles resources but why would they want to do it? When we look to why Google and Yahoo aquires these kinds of services and gives them away for free there is reasons for consern. For me, helping companies to implement and understand web analytics Inidextools has been a great tool but I am afraid that someone in Yahoo will have antoher look and say, hey, we do not need all this functionality – providing realtime data to all this websites is expensive. My point is this: G and Y is not after destroying the web analytics market, but to gather as much traffic data as possible, to provide better advertising products. When you put GA on your site, you give Google traffic data they use for providing better segmentation for Adwords and other present and future advertising products. That is not a problem for us – but for a few clients and websites it will be a problem that your traffic data may be published – Google does that already, and makes it possible for me to see the competitors traffic trends. When/if they also publish the amount of transactions, conversionrates, etc, you actually publish your most secret business intelligence through Google – and soon Yahoo, I believe.

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  • http://analyticsbhups.blogspot.com Bhupendra

    Eric, I fully agree with you in comparison of Yahoo Analytics and Google Analytics. Have been using GA for long and feel its a reporting tool and not analytics. But it solves most of my problems and has been very handy.
    And I would not consider moving up to Yahoo Analytics until it is offered for free.

    And everybody should note that most of technically most sophisticated tools dont do good business. Among best BI Tools (in terms of features) SAS do not come anywhere close to Fair Isaac’s and Salford System’s products. Same for SPSS. But SAS and SPSS leads by way long margin and cover around 80% of the market.

    This clearly shows that ease of use is a much bigger factor when it comes to leading the market. And in this metric I see Google much better player than Yahoo.

    Bhupendra

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Tim Wilson, Partner

Whether you have a single toe dipped in the waters of social media analytics or are fully submerged and drowning, you’ve almost certainly grappled with "engagement." This post isn’t going to answer the question "Is engagement ROI?" ...

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It’s not about "Big Data", it’s about the "RIGHT data"
Michele Kiss, Partner

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have heard (and perhaps grown tired) of the buzzword "big data." But in attempts to chase the "next shiny thing", companies may focus too much on "big data" rather than the "right data."

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Eric T.
Peterson

John
Lovett

Adam
Greco

Brian
Hawkins

Kevin
Willeitner

Michele
Kiss

Josh
West

Tim
Wilson

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