There was a great article a few days ago on the death/retirement of Urchin in Media Post by Ryan DeShazer. It’s a very interesting, quick read on the current state of the Analytics industry, or lack thereof. I hadn’t really contemplated it, but an entire industry built around analytics is pretty much gone, replaced by a “free” alternative.
Now, this wasn’t a bad thing. With those of you whose memories stretch back to the early 00’s, you’ll recall negotiating an analytics package was absurd. It was expensive. It was complicated. It was harder to deal with than Columbia House, with secret hidden charges in every nook and painful terms. Let’s not even talk about setup.
The article made me contemplate two things: The complacency that comes with domination, and what it takes to for upstarts to break a free model.
With the domination that has become Google’s trademark, it’s very interesting to watch both their successes and failures. When Google launched GA, it virtually destroyed the Analytics marketplace. The suite they offered for free was superior to most engagements my clients were paying through the nose for. Two real reasons for that – one, and this is still true, a lot of analytics programs were oversold to CMOs who simply nodded their head when the tech sales guy walked them through all the data they would collect, how it would improve their business, etc. And it was true – these systems collected massive amounts of data, but, most of that data went unleveraged. Google offered a great, intuitive set up that was more analytics than almost anyone besides Amazon needed.
But, what’s come of it?
The truth is, we’ve seen iterative development of GA, but it’s been the kind of iterative development that comes with “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. No paradigm-shifting ideas. No brilliant breakthroughs. Just growth down the same path that was established by Urchin.
Now that’s not a bad thing, in and of itself. Users get the analytics that they’ve come to rely on (to whatever extent that it’s utilized), Google gets their data (which is a whole other issue in and of itself). But there’s absolutely no motivation for Google to do anything differently for the end GA user. Considering the amount of data collected by GA, not just on one site, but on thousands, a huge opportunity to allow end users to leverage a little bit of that data (anonymously of course) to raise their performance level has been missed.
So what will it take to get someone to come up with that revolutionary idea? Someone needs to step in, get the Engineers out of the way (capitalization intentional), and get something visionary in place. A whole new approach, if you will. Somebody needs to Apple an analytics package. Google is not the team to do it. They are the spiritual successors to Microsoft, and as such, don’t do “visionary” well – look at their products:
- Google Plus: A refinement of Facebook. At best.
- Google Docs: Look – Word on the Web!!!!
- Android: A mobile OS for everybody else. I don’t mean that in a bad way, but it is the Windows for Phones that Microsoft wants, but no longer even knows how to put together.
- Everything else: If it was revolutionary when they bought it, it’s not now.
Right now, most analytics data is left on table. We need a tool that can comprehensively wrap together more than our bounce rates. We need a tool that can help companies understand the true metrics relevant for their business and leverage all that data for the user – not the one size fits all tools that we get with GA. What can I learn from analytics to help influence my offline business strategy? How do we our data with thousands out there to drive business strategy? While GA is incredibly useful (and free), I’d be willing to pay for the tool that truly wraps everything together for me. Not the same deployment that was used at last week’s customer.