Ask The Expert: Web Analytics

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BtoB: What is the state of Web analytics these days?
Byrne: There are a lot of different agendas out there. It's a surprisingly fragmented marketplace. You've got Google and the open source players on the one hand and the large, traditional analytics firms, like Omniture and CoreMetrics, on the other. A couple of big issues are emerging. One is around mobile analytics, tracking that accurately, which turns out to be pretty tricky. Most of these analytics systems are not log-file based; they rely on Javascript to count visitors and pages, and that's an issue on most mobile devices [which typically don't support Javascript]. Understanding what type of phone it is, its capabilities, if it is conducting a transaction—that all happens in a different way in the mobile world, and lots of vendors are just catching up on that. The second big thing is video. A lot of firms are investing a lot to better understand video, not just how many clicks on a page but how many people started the video, made it through the commercial, paused or did something, a call to action. All of that requires a certain amount of intelligence that vendors are just starting to roll out.
BtoB: What else are marketers concerned about?

Byrne: Another issue that is coming into play among enterprises that have been doing this a while is scalability and historic access to data. Once you've been doing this two or three years, can you go back that far and not just get reports but get the raw data? That's becoming an issue. Also, multisite analytics [are a concern]. If you are a big publishing company, for instance, and have multiple properties, can you do rollup reports?
BtoB: What about measuring social media?

Byrne: That's something the industry has been talking about for some time now. Some of the more Javascript-oriented systems can keep track of AJAX events and things like user-generated content and discussions. We're starting to see more attention paid to that. It's not really that big of a problem to track social media. The key thing is how do you build analytics for it and analyze what is really meaningful.
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