A premium version of Google Analytics officially launched Thursday, available to paying customers for a subscription price of $150,000 per year.
Paying for the tool gets clients around-the-clock customer service and a service-level agreement. The premium product also has some enhanced functionality like increased processing power and modeling tools that allow for a deeper look at return on ad spend in areas like search, social and display. Google's director of product management, Amy Chang, declined to say how many clients had signed up for the service but named four that had agreed to go public: Travelocity, Gucci, Papa John's and TransUnion. She noted that the majority of current subscribers are marketers, but there are also some publishers in the group.
According to Travelocity's VP-Site Experience Simon Rodrigue, his company has been paying for the premium offering since March, and at least 100 employees use it daily. He hasn't discontinued relationships with other web analytics purveyors Travelocity works with.
While concerns have circulated throughout the company's history about Google leveraging its access to huge amounts of data for its ad business, Forrester analyst Joe Stanhope thinks that the service-level agreement will do much to abate the apprehensions of potential customers. He observed that it used to be commonplace for analytics-oriented employees to want to implement the free Google Analytics offering, but a company's legal department would raise objections. Though Google had a terms of service, the parameters around ownership and retention of data were unclear.
"Frankly it was quite gray," he said.
While he thinks Google Analytics's user-friendliness could make it attractive to companies with a lot of employees who need access to analytics but aren't technically savvy, he doesn't expect it to disrupt the web analytics space dramatically. He expects industry leaders like Webtrends, IBM and Adobe with superior data management and more robust connectivity to third-party systems to maintain their position, though he also noted that Google's pricing could make it attractive for companies that are essentially overpaying for services that charge by volume and might currently spend between $200,000 and $400,000 a year.
(He also observed that major web analytics implementations can rise to seven figures for companies tracking billions of impressions, but those don't appear to be the clients Google is aiming for.)
GroupM Interaction's chief operating officer John Montgomery says he can imagine Google's offering being attractive to clients who don't have a full analytics suite through their agency and don't want to spend the hundreds of thousands of dollars they might need to on other solutions in the marketplace. He thinks any client would examine the terms and conditions under a magnifying glass due to concerns about how their data might be used.
"I'm almost certain that if our clients were to use it they would look at that wording pretty carefully," he said.