Google Shakes Up Web Analytics, Again


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?



It is disruptive - question is how much

Standard Google Analytics has already been increasingly disruptive to the paid analytics tool market. By combining expert support from certified partners (like my company) with the free Standard Google Analytics, companies have been moving from other paid solutions to GA Standard for a while. But there were significant data limitations and some companies that won't touch a solution that doesn't have an SLA. This solves that (mostly).

It's definitely beneficial for the market for the competitive reasons you mentioned.

As an Authorized Reseller ( who also works with Omniture, Webtrends, and other paid tools, each tool has its own strengths. So just like in the past the tool a company chooses needs to be based on needs.

Now each of the tool providers needs to evaluate their strengths and meet the needs of the market. It's exciting!

Charles, I totally agree that

Charles, I totally agree that GA in free form was already disruptive to the paid web analytics market, hence the blog post title.
As for GA Premium, the SLA in particular and availability of formalized support (directly via Google or a certified partner) is a big boost, and will go a long way towards meeting the expectations and needs of large clients.
You also make a great point about tools having their own strengths, and it is still true that users must define their requirements and select appropriate tools based on those needs. Google Analytics Premium provides a new option for buyers. It is definitely exciting.

$150K is expensive

I just don't see enough value for that kind of price tag. Why not spend the minimum ($5-10) for an AdCenter search account and get Yahoo Web Analytics for free and get ....

Audience insights: Improve targeting for your digital advertising, web site content, and e-commerce merchandise (something GA does not provide)

Campaign insights: Track all of your campaigns under one roof and improve your ROI through smarter budget allocation (GA only provides cost/spend data for Google adWords only)

Merchandising insights: Drive higher sales by identifying purchase patterns and promoting profitable products

Website insights: Drive higher clicks, conversions, and engagement through content targeting, behavioral paths, and bounce rates (similar basic reports to GA)

Attribution: See which campaigns contribute to conversion of your other campaigns

Support: Free

Scale: 500,000,000 page views per month

Integration into other Yahoo products such as Right Media Exchange (class 2 display and Apt (class 1 display)

Enterprise sized clients still have better analytics options for $150K. Isn't a base SiteCatalyst solution only $60K to start? Sure, you don't get support but you get a great web analytics solution. If you paid extra for support it would still be cheaper than $150K/yr.

Just my two cents.

Matt, I agree that $150k per

Matt, I agree that $150k per year is a significant price tag. And depending on volume, that much money can buy alot of web analytics capability from alternative vendors. I think that this pricing is a pretty clear signal from Google that they are targeting the high end of the market. GA Premium obviously isn't priced for SMB or even the mid-market in many cases. And that makes sense, because at lower levels GA Premium would be in the same position as every other tool: competing with free GA.
Buyers are looking for value today, and for those firms who spend well into six figures per year on web analytics, GA Premium will be an intriguing option.

They are definitely targeting

They are definitely targeting the high end market, no question there. But for $150K you'd expect a lot more, right? Such as a list of brand new features? There was no new high end features added to the Premium product.

The "real-time" features and the multi-channel attribution is already included in the free product.

How about the ability to collect audience data (demo/geo, behavioral interest)? How about user behavior videos like what ClickTale offers? How about improved merchandizing tracking for e-commerce sites? Features that you get in other free solutions are not even included in this Premium model.

What you got was more custom variables ( a nice to have), SLA, more page views, 4 hour delay in reporting (down from 24 hours) and 24/7 support. These are things that should be baked into a Premium model with the addition of new features.

If users start buying into this, I'm seriously thinking about changing the Yahoo Web Analytics model from an enterprise, feature rich, analytics solution for free to a $175K/ year model if users are willing to spend that much. :)

GA showed significant market share in our recent survey

Endeca recently conducted a study of 228 business/IT execs at eBusiness organizations with regard to their eCommerce analytics pains. While not published in the report - we did ask who the respondents used for Web Analytics as well as Business Intelligence. We were very surprised to see the top three web analytics results: 42% of respondents using GA, 26% using Adobe/Omniture, and 18% using Coremetrics. We hadn't expected that high of a GA adoption rate. Thought it was interesting to share in this context given that this particular piece of research shows that GA already significantly disrupting the market - with the free tool. You can read our blog post and see the published results here, and I'm happy to share more of the data if anyone is interested:

Hi Jess, thanks for the

Hi Jess, thanks for the information from the survey. I am not surprised by those numbers, and have seen consistent outcomes in Forrester's own user surveys. I am publishing a new set of data on web analytics adoption and usage later this year as a followup to the upcoming Wave report. In the survey we looked at how many and which tools users have adopted in addition to their primary web analytics solution.

Web Analytics

Google shakes up web analytics very appreciable post. Keep sharing. Thanks for giving us such useful things.

I am always glad to see

I am always glad to see updates by google and see that they do hold a genuine interest in improving the experience they have on offer for their customers..