Analytics focus: Why do advertisers implement Google Analytics, even with an enterprise solution in place?
As part of The Drum’s special report on analytics, we speak to a number of agencies operating in the space to gain an insight into the key issues surrounding this heady topic.In a series of features, we’ll be looking at the industry’s expert opinion, to determine the challenges and trends facing analytics in 2012.Today’s question surrounds the use of Google Analytics. A survey conducted by Econsultancy and Lynchpin recently found 87% of respondents use Google Analytics, even though half of them also have an enterprise solution such as Omniture or Webtrends. Why is this the case?Conrad Bennett, VP of technical services, EMEA, WebtrendsToday Google is ubiquitous; it has become the default analytics tool mainly down to the fact that it’s free. Businesses leverage the free aspect on ‘one-off’ projects, e.g. a micro-site or short-lived campaigns. Add the fact that Google has made the interface simple to use and you can understand why so many respondents in the survey say they use it. However, the very fact that it is free generally results in the tool being poorly implemented, unlike its paid-for counterparts. Enterprise paid-for tools are best used to measure across domains, channels and devices providing the business with a complete picture of their digital assets. This results in a lot more effort being placed at the planning and implementation stages, as the results expectation is far greater when you’re paying for it.That’s not to say that Google Analytics doesn’t have any value or its place in the market. It has helped raise awareness of analytics in general and educated the wider business community of its value. We’re finding that the days of having to explain basics like visits/visitor is quickly becoming a thing of the past.One of the dangers of businesses using two or more analytic tools (known in the industry as double-dipping) is that it mistakenly focuses users on result comparisons. Inevitably businesses question data accuracy, which can lead to analytics mistrust. No two tools will ever agree, as each tool has a different methodology in how it calculates metrics. It is not uncommon to find variances of 10-15%, or even higher when there are inconsistencies with implementation.Instead of trying to reconcile data, businesses should be analysing for trends and themes. This is where you’ll spot those insights that can impact the business bottom line. John D’Arcy, lead consultant, FovianceThere generally tends to be a couple of reasons, but a major one is cost. Making all those server calls to Adobe costs a lot of money so companies like to use Google Analytics to cover some analysis requirements and reduce the expense of their paid-for tools. Barrier to entry is also negligible, so why wouldn’t you? Google Analytics is a lot easier to implement so it means that if you need a quick turnaround on analysis of a marketing campaign then a lot of the time it is easier to take action yourself and get Google Analytics code implemented rather than waiting for some specific tailored Omniture code to be written.When used well Google Analytics is a brilliant tool; it is less complex that the paid for tools and in most scenarios is the match for paid for tools. So it makes sense to get the value out of it that you can and use that saved budget for investing in an analyst to do a deep dive into the data you find. The link to Google Adwords is also a major benefit, linking up the paid search in an integrated way which is a lot more difficult to do in Webtrends and Omniture.Finally, many organisations use Google Analytics as a belt and braces check. They check if the data being fed into Omniture or Webtrends is accurate, using Google Analytics to QA some of the high level data.Seth Richardson, CEO of DC StormIn many cases businesses fail to understand and utilise the full capabilities of a chosen enterprise solution. This is a symptom of many very different problems:Often the decision to adopt a platform is taken at a corporate level with little thought to suitability and implementation.Lack of engagement by the vendor post adoption can lead to inaccurate and ineffective deployment and hence the short term value is unrealised and further development less attractive.Why Google Analytics? For all intents and purposes Google Analytics is a free tool which is often adopted with a “Why not? It’s free!” attitude. The familiarity with other Google products and hence interfaces allows far swifter adoption and assimilation into existing reporting methods.Google Analytics is accessible to the masses, but full insight cannot be gained because of lack of flexibility in the configuration and reporting.Google Analytics provides a valuable but generic view on website analytics. The functionality it provides is based on the data views that are most commonly valuable to the enormous range of website types that it is implementation. If those views fit with ways that you want to view your business, then happy days. However, if the attributes and features of your business mean that you want to tailor, tune or supplement the Google Analytics approach, the limitations quickly become apparent.Lynn Wilson, analytics insight manager, EquatorPart of this is likely down to ease of use. Having managed client accounts using Google Analytics and those using paid web analytics, we know that certain data would be far easier to derive from the former. The layout of the interface, easy cross-referencing of dimensions and general ability to drill down into the data is simply more intuitive. From a troubleshooting perspective, isolating any issues (e.g. with tracking or attribution) is more straightforward with Google Analytics. Amongst the industry as a whole there does seem to be a perception that implementing Google Analytics is ‘easy’ (at least relative to the enterprise solutions) which likely explains the use of both simultaneously – Google’s free solution can serve as a backup for any potential setup errors with paid packages.More often than not, the version of the enterprise solutions available at the lowest price rung do not offer the full picture by way of data. Paid analytics vendors naturally need to withhold additional reporting elements at this level so that they have something to up sell. Of course Google has now created this distinction with Google Analytics Premium, (and it is interesting to compare features available across the two versions) however much of the core functionality does not appear to differ.Rogan Gilhespie, head of analytics, MPG Media ContactsAside from the obvious use of running similar tools side-by-side – risk of downtime and having a back-up - many of our clients that have enterprise tools also run Google Analytics, and for good reasons. The enterprise solutions are very powerful, but without “enterprise support” are not that flexible. If there is a sudden need to see data presented in a different way, or start tracking different metrics, Google Analytics offers a user-friendly quick fix solution that paid-for tools are often a support rep away. Google Analytics offers the ability to get under the bonnet and play with your data. And for now, it’s free.Carl Fernandes, head of analytics and conversion optimisation, iProspectFundamentally, there are three reasons that advertisers opt to include Google Analytics as part of their web analytics implementation, even with an expensive “enterprise” solution in place:
- It’s free, so why not?
- It’s easier to use than Omniture and Webtrends
- Unlimited accounts and no upgrades required
- Some companies use Google Analytics as a back-up system, even though the figures reported from two different analytics packages will never completely match.
- Other users prefer to use Google Analytics because of its intuitive interface and the ability to quickly segment data and analyse the performance of any metric at a click of a button.
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