SEMA News - June 2010
A New Emphasis on Facebook
By Joe Dysart
Before investing in any web analytics solution, you’ll probably want to give Google Analytics a try, since the online service is free.
With Facebook often besting Google these days as the most visited site on the web, it’s no surprise that makers of web analytics software are scrambling to develop new apps aimed at scrutinizing visitor activity there. Specifically, three of the top web analytics software makers are already rolling out modules that companies can use to better discern how visitors are interacting on their Facebook pages. And more software makers are expected to follow suit in the months to come.
Like traditional web analytics software, the add-ons enable firms to determine which of their Facebook pages are most popular, which content and media on their Facebook pages are most popular, which search engines are sending the most visitors to their Facebook pages—as well as digging into a full spectrum of other activities that, taken together, reveal the overall efficacy of a company’s Facebook presence. Coremetrics, for example, has created a special Facebook app that measures sales, orders and other conversion events on a company’s Facebook page.
“Given consumers’ extensive adoption and deep engagement with Facebook, it is critical for marketers to have a clearly measurable understanding of how their customers are engaging on Facebook in the context of their total online presence,” said John Squire, Coremetrics’ chief strategy officer.
Omniture has a similar Facebook app in development. It will help companies automate the process of media buying as well as provide analytics on visitor/customer interaction with a company’s Facebook presence.
“Working with us, Omniture has been able to develop a rich and immersive set of tools that will help our clients better understand the value of their Facebook advertising campaigns,” said Dan Rose, Facebook’s vice president of business development and monetization. “By creating a single dashboard to plan, deliver and measure campaigns, Omniture can make advertising on Facebook easier and ultimately increase return on investment for clients.”
And Webtrends has a new Facebook module that can determine, among other things, whether visitor interactions on Twitter are ultimately driving those visitors to the company’s Facebook page. The app also verifies whether any sales or other interactions unfold once Twitter visitors get to Facebook.
“We are so proactive in talking about Facebook measurement because it’s a critical area of growth for our customers,” said Jascha Kaykas-Wolff, Webtrends’ vice president of marketing. “The new capabilities we have developed were shown at our recent user conference, Engage 2010, earlier this month, and we have several implementations underway. To meet our users needs and keep up with the rate of change in this space, we have a series of capabilities we’re adding to Webtrends Analytics that will be released in the near term and on an ongoing basis.”
Meanwhile, in another sign of the continuing metamorphosis of online marketing, web analytics makers are also striving to come up with new modules designed to track visitor use of web video—no matter where that video is viewed. For example, Omniture has expanded its video analytics module to include analysis of web video offered on websites that are optimized for smart phones and other web devices—including video that is embedded in mobile iPhone applications.
“As consumers continue to respond well to online video, more and more companies want to understand how best to leverage video to create a more engaging mobile application or mobile website,” said Matt Langie, director of product marketing for the Omniture business unit. “This new mobile video measurement capability within SiteCatalyst gives marketers the insight they need in order to know which mobile video strategies are working and which need to be optimized to create better experiences for their consumers and to increase their appeal to advertisers with a measurable, optimized mobile video channel.”
Also focusing on added video capabilities is web analytics maker Nedstadt. It’s latest video module enables firms to measure the impact of Internet video that is viewed on Internet-ready televisions—a relatively new consumer electronics product. “Internet video on television is a new way of consuming content,” said Thomas Pottjegort, a senior technical architect at Nedstat. “It is important for our customers to have insight into usage of this new and upcoming platform.”
While there are dozens of web analytics packages on the market, only five are considered leaders in their field, according to Forrester, a market research firm that has been assessing web analytics software for years now. Those market leaders are Coremetrics Analytics by Coremetrics; Sitestat by Nedstat; Omniture SiteCatalyst by Omniture; Unica Affinium NetInsight by Unica; and Webtrends by Webtrends.
“These leading vendors offer the flexibility of near-limitless customization and the ability to meet client needs on many levels,” said Carlton A. Doty, a co-author of The Forrester Wave: Web Analytics Q3 2009, which was released last September.
Specifically, here’s why Forrester liked the top five vendors:
Omniture: “Omniture leads the web analytics industry in its core data handling, reporting and analysis capabilities as well as through its ever-growing set of ancillary marketing applications,”
Coremetrics: “While Coremetrics is relatively small in total client count, it offers oversized capabilities that include its ability to handle data efficiently, customize reporting and analysis and integrate with multiple marketing functions,” Doty said. Coremetrics clients also expressed satisfaction levels higher than those for any other company evaluated.
Unica: “The Unica Affinium NetInsight offering is one of the most flexible and customizable offerings we evaluated,” Doty said. “The company is well-positioned to infuse traditional campaign management with web data, thereby elevating enterprise marketing capabilities through holistic customer intelligence.”
Webtrends: “The company scored high marks because of its ability to create unlimited customer and calculated metrics,” Doty said. Customers also expressed extreme satisfaction overall with the company’s service.
Nedstat: With a stronghold in the European market, Nedstat has earned a reputation for its ability to offer extremely customized versions of its software packages. During coming months, Nedstat’s goal is to incorporate analysis of e-mail marketing and search marketing into its core product, Doty said.
Besides identifying the top five vendors in its report, Forrester also singled out Google’s Google Analytics as a strong, second-tier product that is nearly as good as any in the top five. The reason for the recognition is a stellar advantage Google has over all others: Google gives away its analytics program absolutely free in an effort to encourage use of other Google fee-based web marketing products such as Google Adwords.
“Google Analytics debuted in our 2007 web analytics evaluation as a contender among a pack of strong performers,” Doty said. “Since then, it has significantly enhanced its enterprise capabilities with numerous product roll-outs, such as the ability to create custom reports, perform advanced segmentation and visualize data using an interface tool.”
Google Analytics’ most recent revamp also coincided with the release of an excellent guidebook to getting the most from the online service, Brian Clifton’s Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics, Second Edition.
“Web analytics is a thermometer for your website—constantly checking and monitoring your online health,” Clifton said. “As a methodology, it is the study of online experience in order to improve it. Without it, you are flying blind. How else would you determine whether your search-engine marketing is effective or whether negative blog comments are hindering conversions?”
Bottom line: Before investing in any web analytics solution, you’ll probably want to give Google Analytics a try since the online service is free and, for the price, fairly sophisticated.
Besides Clifton’s book, you can get help on using Google Analytics with a number of informative videos that the company offers online. They illustrate how various features of its solution work and provide a decent introduction to how web analytics works in general.
For a bead on the overall web analytics market, there are also a number of market research firms you can check with, including Forrester, IDC and Gartner. All regularly issue in-depth reports on the state of the web analytics market.
For one of the most comprehensive looks at web analytics, definitely check out CMS Watch (www.cmswatch.com/research/channel/analytics). The company is known for its intense, ongoing scrutiny of the web analytics market and offers continually updated reports on virtually all changes in the market.