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2007 Web Analytics Test - Will the Real Analytics Provider Please Step Up?
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Navneet over at the Unofficial SEO Blog had a great post on a little Web Analytics test that is currently going on with Stone Temple Consulting. The test is evaluating the performance, accuracy, and capabilities of seven different analytics packages as they are implemented across a number of different sites.

The Web Analytics providers included in this test are: Clicktracks, Google Analytics, IndexTools, Omniture SiteCatalyst, Unica Affinium NetInsight, WebSideStory HBX Analytics and WebTrends. I have used most of these analytics packages before and there are pros and cons of each. If anything, the test will prove that the implementation of an analytics package requires substantial planning, management and testing. As mentioned, the test is being conducted by Stone Temple Consulting. Here is what they listed as their criteria for the test.
  1. For each package, except WebTrends, we installed JavaScript on the pages of the participating sites. WebTrends was already installed on one of the sites participating in the project, and the implementation used a combination of JavaScript tags and log file analysis.
  2. All the JavaScript was added to web site pages through include files. As a result, any errors of omission should hold true for each analytics software package.
  3. All packages were run concurrently.
  4. All packages used first party cookies.
  5. A custom analytics plan was tailored for the needs of each site.
  6. Visitors, Unique Visitors, and Page Views were recorded daily for each site.
  7. Content Groups and Segments were setup for each site. Numbers related to these were recorded daily.
  8. Detailed ad hoc analysis was done with each analytics package on each site.
  9. Critical strengths and weaknesses of each package were noted, and reviewed with each vendor for comment.
  10. Each vendor was given an opportunity to present their product's strongest features and benefits.
The interim results have been released with the final results said to be ready for July. The final report will:
  1. Highlight major strengths of each analytics package, and outline specific scenarios where that will matter to a web site owner / web master.
  2. Highlight specific weaknesses (as well as workarounds and plans by each company to address these weaknesses) of each analytics package, and outline specific scenarios where that will matter to a web site owner / web master.
  3. Provide detailed screen shots of significant aspects of each analytics package.
  4. Provide overall commentary on each package.
It will definitely be an interesting report. I have items about each vendor that I like and items that I do not particularly like. Depending on your organization, you may require multiple analytics vendors, you may not have the budget for some of the analytics providers or you simply may not have the resources to implement the analytics solution. Will a leading analytics provider step into the limelight and emerge ahead of the other six? I'm not sure as there is something useful that each bring to the table. Them ost important thing to keep in mind with regards to web analytics is to learn how to better match a customer's needs to the right analytics package. Measure the metrics that matter. Evaluate the key performance indicators that matter most in 2007.

Stone Temple Consulting (STC) is a web marketing consulting firm based in Southborough, Massachusetts. More information is available on the company web site at: http://www.stonetemple.com.

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posted by Jody @ Tuesday, May 08, 2007  
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