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What does Google Analytics mean to the metrics business?

In case you missed it, the Web world has been abuzz this week over Google announcing a free Web Metrics service, called Google Analytics. Google Analytics has been carved out of the acquisition of Urchin, a Web Metrics service that sold for $199 a month. If you can get Web Metrics for free, where does that leave the rest of the offerings out there that compete with Google Analytics—and are not free?


If you are reading this blog, chances are that you already using a Web Metrics package. Perhaps you were already using Urchin and are now contemplating an extra $200 a month in your pocket. But it’s more likely that you are using another package and are now wondering whether you should switch to the free Google Analytics.
Several factors might keep you with the package you have:

  • Reliability. Many observers criticized Google for fumbling the launch, as existing paid customers and new ones signing up for the free service both complained that Google’s system was down and reports delayed. Today, Google stopped taking new registrants. Chances are that Google will right the ship, but if you don’t pay it is hard to get complaints taken seriously.
  • Features. By most accounts, Google Analytics has a strong set of features, but your existing paid package may boast features unavailable from Google.
  • Privacy. Google has pledged to avoid peeking at your site’s stats when making decision about its search business or other businesses, but some marketers are more suspicious than others.
  • Consulting. Perhaps the most important differentiator among metrics vendors will be consulting services that analyze your data. If your Web Metrics vendor is helping you analyze your data with real-live consultants that help you figure out what the numbers mean and what you should do about them, then “it is very likely that Google Analytics is not for you,” says JupiterMedia’s metrics expert Eric Peterson.

Despite the debates, your metrics system is probably worth a lot more than you are paying for it. If you decide that Google Analytics is better than your existing system, then by all means jump on it. But saving a little money is not a good reason to downgrade your analytics lifeblood if your current system is superior to Google’s.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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