Web Analytics in the Eyes of China's Major Advertisers

  |  September 30, 2011   |  Comments   |  

My take on how MNCs, well-funded Internet startups, and state-owned enterprises view analytics.

China's web analytics market among the major advertisers was truly booming during 2005 when Google acquired Urchin and launched Google Analytics. Before that, most of the major advertisers just knew they had access to an Omniture or Coremetrics username and password appointed by their headquarters and to send standardised periodical reports.

Without solid training or support, they did not understand how these heavyweight web analytics tools were able to help optimise their daily digital marketing practices and realised the shortcomings of free tools like CNZZ and 51LA. They had Google Analytics at the time.

Digital marketers soon become matured during the period from 2005 to 2010. Most of them have shifted their roles as marketing managers in traditional foreign enterprises to e-commerce leads in various kinds of economies. Meanwhile, more and more grassroots entrepreneurs innovate China's own way to do e-business, with fund support from venture capital. Because of the policy guidelines of state-owned companies, they also rushed into e-business and embraced the trends. In China, we define these 'major advertisers' as those economies who spend at least five million RMB as online budget and soon figure out there are three types of companies: traditional MNCs, leading e-commerce startups backed by VC, and huge state-owned enterprises. They all have different needs and views on web analytics.

1. Traditional MNCs

These marketers are web analytics pioneers in China and they know the advantages and disadvantages of each category of tools. In general, traditional MNCs adopt Omniture or Coremetrics appointed by headquarters for reporting; our company, with local support and services for optimisation and Google Analytics as third-party tool. With this combination, MNC marketers are able to balance between relationships with global and campaign optimisation supported by local web analytics vendors to accomplish their KPIs.

2. Leading e-commerce startups with VC support

Similar to other grassroots entrepreneurs, e-commerce does everything by themselves. Indeed, a spreadsheet was enough at the beginning of start-up, but they soon realise they need a much more professional web analytics tool. E-commerce startups may choose either Omniture or our product and the key differentiator is whether the analytic vendor is able to deal with the huge amount of customisation and migration among campaigns, which is definitely not an easy job.

3. Huge state-owned enterprise (SOE)

The reason why SOE advertisers choose web analytics for their online business is the higher authorities tell them to do so or their counterparts are already doing that. "Not for the best, but only the most expensive" is their slogan somehow. They treat web analytics tools as the single module within the entire IT architecture provided by IBM, Microsoft, or Arvato. And those system integrators often choose to incorporate with professional web analytics vendor and serve the client together.

No matter what kind of industry sectors, almost every major advertiser is facing innovative challenges in China's online market. And they are expected to receive localised support and customised service to solve the problems here. Contrary to the old Chinese saying, "foreign monks pray better" (外来的和尚好念经), local ways work for web analytics.

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Michael Xu

Michael Y. Xu has more than 15 years of digital marketing and financial services experience serving Fortune 500 clients and China's top-tier state owned enterprises in both North American and Northeast Asian markets. He joined Gridsum, China's leading online business optimization company, in early 2008 as senior vice president of business operations. Michael manages Gridsum Technology's strategic cooperation, business development, and marketing teams, while determining how Gridsum Technology would use partner connection to deliver the best results for clients and the entire ecosystem. Under his leadership, Gridsum Technology successfully initiates solid partnership with iCrossing and Microsoft. Michael worked in the Strategic Investment Department of Sinochem, China's top national oil company with 19 times entries into Fortune 500, from 1994 to 1999, where he got deeply involved with major transactions, including China Unicom, Shanghai Grand Hyatt, Suzhou Industrial Park, WEPEC, and Zhejiang Aoshan National Petroleum Base. He then joined one of China's leading real estate companies as financial controller. Michael is currently the board of director of SEMPO and the co-chairman for SEMPO's Greater China Working Group and Member of Global Committee. Through his coordination, SEMPO Greater China formed in-depth partnership with Baidu, China's top search engine. He also speaks at conferences on online business optimization and SEO/SEM. Michael received his MBA and MS degrees from California State University in 2003, and his BA degree in Accounting from Renmin University of China in 1994.

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