Five Things Every CMO Must Know About Web Analytics, Part 2

In part one, I introduced the five core concepts senior marketing executives must know to be well versed in the language and strategies of Web analytics. Today, I’ll explain further how the vendor landscape has changed dramatically.

On November 14, Google changed the vendor landscape when it announced the availability of Google Analytics, a free, unlimited Web analytics service.

Much has already been written about this move. The media has commented. Google has commented. Other Web analytics vendors have commented. Search gurus and industry pundits have all commented. I’ll distill all those comments into three key points.

Let’s Agree to Agree

There’s some disagreement as to how significant Google’s offering will be to the enterprise sector. Those in favor say the tool is pretty robust and will be utilized by large organizations. Those opposed say it’s only legitimate for small to midsize businesses. The minute an eTail 50 or Fortune 100 announces it’s chosen Google Analytics as its primary Web analytics platform, this story will really heat up (and that will be soon, from what I see). But for now, this is the only disagreement I’ve seen.

Everyone unanimously agrees this is great news for the market. Google, with its $120 billion in capital, unparalleled reach, and seemingly unstoppable momentum, just put Web analytics firmly on every marketer’s radar. Omniture, WebTrends, WebsideStory, and others that provide competitive tools are publicly very delighted about this.

It couldn’t have come at a better time.

Research shows a significant measurement gap within our marketing community at large. According to the CMO Council, 90 percent of senior marketing executives say marketing performance measurement is a top priority, yet only 20 percent have a comprehensive metrics framework in place. A WebTrends survey of hundreds of Web marketers conducted earlier this year reveals 26 percent admit to “flying blind” when measuring marketing results. Yikes!

By providing free Web analytics and making it a seamless extension of the advertising relationship, Google just removed any barriers of availability or affordability.

Free Is a Very Good Price (for Any Organization)

It’s true during the first few weeks, Google experienced a rare PR black eye by having to shut down the Google Analytics service to resolve server capacity issues. But let’s not mistake an overwhelming surge in demand as potential long-term reliability issues. Clearly, the demand for its services was substantially more than anticipated. What company wouldn’t love to have that problem?

Google has one of the most talented engineering staffs in the world. It’s safe to say Google will figure this out.

Web Analytics Is Out, Web Analysis Is In

It’s a subtle, but important, terminology change.

“Analytics” is the technology or tool that produces reports that contain data. “Analysis” is the process or action that reveals answers to how well your Web marketing initiatives are performing and identifies where and how to improve them.

Why the terminology lesson? The Web analytics market is maturing into a services-driven business, where support, consulting, and expertise (a.k.a. Web analysis services) are the more valuable assets savvy marketing executives are now investing in to help solve the measurement dilemma that haunts their teams.

Simply put, it’s not about the tools anymore. It’s about how you use the tools to analyze, and ultimately optimize, your results that really matters. This, too, is a point industry leaders all agree upon. Just ask them.


In part three, I’ll discuss data. I rarely see a client who doesn’t have enough data. We’re drowning in data. Ironically, while the tools continue to get richer with features, most marketing organizations seek to simplify their analysis around specific objectives and key metrics that are actionable.

Questions, comments, have a story to share? Let me know your insights on the changing vendor landscape in Web analytics. I may include your story in a future column.

Happy holidays!

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