Dilemma of Google Analytics in China

Google Analytics is the most widely used web analytics tool for online marketers worldwide. Fifty-seven percent of the 10,000 most popular websites deployed Google Analytics, according to a BuiltWith report on Feb 17, 2010.

As a must-have digital marketing tool, Google Analytics set the industry benchmark a decade ago and has educated generations of web analytics professionals. However, along with the rapid growth and innovation of marketers’ online business optimisation needs here in China, Google Analytics is gradually facing a dilemma in Mainland China, which owns the largest number of netizens in the most exciting digital market.

Based on our day-to-day interactions to help clients optimise their online businesses, we observe that Google Analytics is facing grave challenges in the following two categories:

1. Severe data inaccuracy because Google quit Mainland China market.

Since the official announcement of Google moving its server out of China in April 2010, Google Analytics has suffered severe data inaccuracy problems as Mainland China blocks/limits part of Google’s server/traffic. The longer server response time directly leads to traffic data loss. Google Analytics itself even blocks some browsers.

The methodology of Google analytics to embed the JavaScript code at the bottom of web pages also leads to some natural data inaccuracy. For instance, when using Baidu backbone or other log based analytics tools will count traffic when end-users actually click the PPC ads but Google Analytics will only track a hit if the user lands on the webpage. You can imagine the high loss rate, and even higher to Google because of the traffic block/limitation.

2. Requires medium level programming skills but provides little service or support.

Google Analytics is much easier to use than to deploy, especially for Mainland Chinese marketers. Sometimes, they have to turn to the IT department just for user conversion/segmentation tracking. Finally, they limit their analytics to a fundamental level.

Some eager-to-learn marketers are checking for online support or resources on Google Analytics and they are disappointed as even those little support is blocked because they are all English content on Google’s servers abroad!