Posted by Joseph Stanhope on September 29, 2011
Google changed the web analytics market forever with the introduction of Google Analytics in 2005 (for a dose of nostalgia check out Brett Crosby’s original blog post). It was easy to use, delivered as a service, integrated with Google AdWords, and most of all it was FREE! This was revolutionary, and in the beginning it was an exciting way to democratize analytics, giving companies of all sizes access to tools that had traditionally been the domain of large, well funded corporations. It’s no surprise that in terms of sheer adoption, Google Analytics became – and still is – the most popular web analytics tool on Earth, serving hundreds of thousands of businesses.
But then something interesting happened: Google Analytics took on a life of its own. Strictly speaking, Google Analytics was not the leading offering in terms of features and functionality, and Google didn’t even offer direct services or support. So what accounts for its success?
- Community. Google cultivated a large, active, and cooperative community of users, bolstered by strong online resources and their base of certified partners.
- Ease of use. Google innovated in usability, making analytics accessible – even appealing – for non-analysts and marketers.
- Enterprise penetration. Google Analytics gradually found its way into the enterprise as a secondary tool – sometimes by design, sometimes not! – for marketing applications and audit or backup purposes.
Given the appeal and reach of Google Analytics, the obvious next question for several years has been: “When will Google release a paid offering?” This has fueled many speculative blog posts, tweets, and late night conversations at industry events.
Today we got the answer: Google Analytics Premium is here. Google has officially entered the paid web analytics market.
Google has been piloting Google Analytics Premium throughout 2011 and already has a number of clients in live production. It is also worth noting that the free edition of Google Analytics will continue to be available in its current form. How is Google Analytics Premium different? Google Analytics Premium offers enhancements above and beyond the free offering in several key categories:
- Support. GA Premium customers get a dedicated account manager, training, access to Google implementation and technical specialists, and 24/7 support via phone and email for critical issues.
- Service Level Agreement. The GA Premium SLA features guarantees – with penalties – for data collection, processing, and reporting.
- Processing and features. GA Premium offers increased limits on data collection and custom variables, unsampled reporting, and enhanced attribution modeling.
- Fee structure. GA Premium is available for a single, flat annual fee of $150,000.
- Partners. Google has expanded the Google Analytics Certified Partner program to include a specific certification for GA Premium. These partners are authorized to resell, implement, and support GA Premium in line with the standards set by Google’s direct support capabilities. Several partners, both in the UK and US, are now certified for GA Premium.
The initial iteration of GA Premium attempts to remediate many of the traditional user concerns that stifled its adoption as a primary web analytics tool in the enterprise. Is the transformation complete? It is not; at this early stage GA Premium is not a substitute for an established enterprise implementation in many cases. But it’s a huge step forward for a solid offering, and Google will continue to aggressively iterate the product to close the remaining gaps over time.
What does this mean for the web analytics market?
- Downward price pressure at the high end of the market. GA Premium’s flat annual fee is less – in some cases a lot less – than many large scale users currently spend on web analytics. This gives users who are under pressure to contain costs a new option and puts pressure on established paid web analytics vendors to consider how their pricing can remain competitive under these conditions.
- Value alignment becomes top of mind. GA Premium will be an appealing option to certain subsegments of the market, particularly users who are heavily marketing focused, deploy analytics to a large number of business stakeholders, and firms that currently underutilize the capabilities of their paid tool.
- Success depends on innovation, not table stakes. Google shows us that innovation isn’t strictly a matter of adding more features and functionality to already bloated products. Elements such as the user interface, the ecosystem of users and partners, and the commercial model are all opportunities for innovation.
- Market leaders are put on notice. GA Premium isn’t a massive threat to established web analytics vendors in the enterprise market. Yet. But customers will be intrigued, and the product will improve. Web analytics vendors need to get serious about innovating their products and showing value to customers.
I’m excited about GA Premium. I believe that competition is good, and I welcome Google Analytics Premium with open arms. It is early days for GA Premium, with a long journey ahead. Despite their low key approach, Google clearly takes the enterprise seriously, and it has shown in the past how its passion, resources, and smarts can lead to great things. It will be fascinating to see how GA Premium develops over time. For additional information, GA Premium will be included included in the upcoming Forrester Wave: Web Analytics, Q4 2011, which will be available in early Q4.
What do you think? Will GA Premium disrupt the web analytics market? Is it beneficial for the web analytics market as a whole?