Last week, Google announced the launch of its free analytics service, Google Analytics. The new analytics tool is a result of its Urchin acquisition earlier this year. Some say this will change the entire analytics industry overnight; others say it will only be used by small companies less interesting to the big four analytics tool companies, which focus on enterprise opportunities.
Many tool providers quickly issued press releases about how Google's move won't threaten them, their offerings, or their customer base. They quickly pointed out this will only make the pie bigger, which is better for everyone involved. They may be right, but if they don't feel threatened, they ought to.
Google stumbled out of the gate. Its tool experienced a number of issues the first few days, frustrating new and existing customers alike. It's expected this won't be a problem down the road.
Almost immediately following the announcement, three very large clients of two different tool providers contacted me to inquire about Google Analytics and whether they should evaluate it for their needs. They're significant organizations. Two of them are featured on the tool providers' Web sites as trophy customers. One had been asked by an SVP to put together an outline of the pros and cons of leaving the tool provider and jumping to Google Analytics. It's too early for any large organization to make that decision, but it is being considered.
It's also too early to know how this will impact the industry and the use and acceptance of Web analytics within organizations. Below, the most important issues that will lead to the success, or not, of Google Analytics.
Why Google Analytics Will Be Very Successful
We don't yet know what Google's long-term play will be with the new offering, but a number of things could make it quite successful:
Why Google Analytics May Struggle
There are a number of reasons Google Analytics may never grow past a typical free tool for small business use:
It will be interesting to see what happens over the coming months and years with Google Analytics. I'm not ready to say this will drastically change the industry in the next few months, but I also think any of the tool providers that instantly dismiss it as a non-issue are in denial.
Not long ago, WebTrends and WebSideStory offered free analytics tools on a smaller scale. We can be certain this will be much different. It's Microsoft... oops!, I mean Google. Only time will tell.
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As the Chief Performance Marketing Officer for POSSIBLE, Jason supports the agency's global Marketing Sciences and Media Services programs.
His primary role is to help POSSIBLE teams and clients use data to craft digital strategies that attract, convert, and retain customers - maximizing ongoing ROI across paid, earned, and owned channels. He believes that brands can better serve their customers by understanding audience behavior, and that messaging should be targeted to individual customers through the use of testing, behavioral targeting, and CRM initiatives.
Jason has written extensively about digital analytics, optimization and digital strategy, including an ongoing column at ClickZ.com. He is the co-author of "Actionable Web Analytics: Using Data to Make Smart Business Decisions," which is one of the leading texts in the field of digital analytics. His client roster includes Microsoft, Nike, Nokia, Dell, Ford, Sony, PayPal/eBay, P&G, Alcoa, Expedia, Mazda, Intel, and Motorola, and more. Jason is a frequent speaker at conferences and seminars around the world ranging from the Cannes Lions, Adobe Omniture Summits, eMetrics, SES, ad:tech, BazaarVoice, and many other WPP events.
Follow him on Twitter @JasonBurby.
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