An Updated Look At The Web Analytics Market

I’m pleased to announce that we’ve published "The Forrester Wave™: Web Analytics, Q4 2011." The Wave methodology is Forrester’s time-tested, exhaustive, and transparent approach to vendor evaluations. This research is based on data gathered through extensive vendor briefings, product demonstrations, customer reference calls, and online user surveys. We evaluated seven leading vendors against 80 criteria and gathered reference feedback from more than 160 user companies.

This Wave focused on established vendors that offer web analytics products targeted at enterprise clients. We evaluated the following companies: Adobe, AT Internet, comScore, Google, IBM, Webtrends, and Yahoo. Forrester clients can read the full report and access the underlying scorecard details for each vendor. And don’t forget that the Forrester Wave scorecard also includes an interactive tool allowing users to customize the Wave model with personalized criteria weightings. 

I’ve been asked several times why this Wave focuses on web analytics as opposed to a broader digital analytics or online marketing suite approach. I’m not ruling those options out for the future, but today the answer is simple: because web analytics is still challenging. My research agenda is heavily influenced by the questions and projects we address for our customers. As of this writing, more than half of my client inquiries are still about the technology, processes, staffing, and best practices of web analytics. That tells me that web analytics is a topic that still deserves our attention.

Web analytics is still an exciting and vibrant market, and the timing for the Wave is perfect. We last did the web analytics Wave about two years ago, and since that time we’ve seen a number of notable changes in the market:

  • Acquisitions consolidate the market. Most notably by IBM, which acquired both Coremetrics and Unica last year.
  • European vendors raise their game. comScore acquired Nedstat last year and is entering the US market with the Digital Analytix offering, and AT Internet has made substantial investments in its offering. 
  • Google pursues the enterprise. Google released Google Analytics Premium this month to enter the paid web analytics market.

Although we find that the fundamentals of web analytics are nearly ubiquitous, giving buyers plentiful options, web analytics is now part of a larger digital marketing ecosystem. Web analytics vendors are preparing to enter the next stage of development, and they will make choices about their corporate and product strategies, most likely pursuing one of three options:

  • Enterprise marketing platforms. The enterprise marketing platform approach incorporates web analytics into a broad suite of marketing tools intended to support enterprise-wide, multichannel marketing across online and offline channels.
  • Online marketing suites. The online marketing suite integrates web analytics into a framework designed to coordinate the analytics, content, and execution of digital marketing.
  • Digital analytics specialists. Digital analytics specialists view web analytics as the foundational platform for providing a universal view of digital marketing activity.

This is an exciting inflection point in the history of web analytics. I’m looking forward to seeing how the next couple of years play out and whether the web analytics discipline can fulfill its potential to anchor comprehensive web intelligence.

But that’s not all! In the coming months I will also be publishing two reports featuring new data on web analytics customer satisfaction and web analytics market trends.

Finally, the Wave process is a collaborative effort. I’d like to thank the seven vendors and 168 users who participated in the evaluation for their time, effort, and commitment. Additionally, I’d like to extend a special “Thank You!” to my Forrester colleagues Dave Frankland, Michelle Dickson, and Caitlin Souther, who supported the project every step of the way.