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Web Analytics Year in Review 2011

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2011-boxed-upAround the same time last year, we discussed how businesses were finally investing heavily in the tools, people, and processes required when operating data-driven organizations.

This year, an eConsultancy report estimates the UK web analytics technology and services sector alone to be worth more than £100 million annually. If we assume this number can be applied relative to GDP, that would put the web analytics technology and services sector well above $4 billion globally.

But as with anything web analytics related, sometimes concentrating on the numbers are not as important as the trend! The trend for total spend on internal staff, third party agencies and total vendor revenues appears to have grown by 12 percent year over year, certainly in the realm of “significant.”

These were the top stories and trends of 2011.

Online & Offline Data Integration

What good is online intelligence without offline context? The integration of online and offline data was a focus for many organizations in 2011 because without this connection, it’s hard to understand the online contribution of marketing, channel of preference for task-level customer and prospect interaction, and customer satisfaction across channels. Without making this connection, it is nearly impossible to optimize online experience for lifetime value.

Social Media Analytics

Social media analytics diversifies with emphasis on business requirements. Many vendors and agencies started diversifying their service portfolios to cater to varied business and social media goals in 2011.

The industry gained a little clarity this year when several vendors started clearly categorizing their social media analytics into several use cases such as:

  • Monitoring and trend analysis.
  • Sentiment analysis and reputation management.
  • Workflow management.
  • Integrated social insights.

Although this sub-sector of analytics is far from mature, several large-scale companies are taking major steps to bridge the gap between social media analytics and cross-channel product offerings. Look for significant moves in this area for 2012.

Omniture SiteCatalyst Launches

Adobe announced the launch of Omniture SiteCatalyst 15  at the Omniture Summit in March this year. For those of us fortunate enough to be in attendance, it felt as if we were strapped into a fighter jet and just engaged afterburners. Adobe has done a great job integrating Omniture into their product portfolio, and the wow-factor for their presentation was nothing short of awe-inspiring.

I’ve always had a healthy love-hate relationship with Omniture, so luckily for them the hype associated with V15 was warranted! Some of my favorite features include real-time segmentation, a new bounce rate metric, ad-hoc unique visitor counts, and a new processing rules feature that makes server-side implementation tweaks very easy.

Salesforce.com Buys Radian6

Salesforce.com bought Radian6 for $326 million and brought cloud computing to a whole new level. What I like most about this deal is how naturally this acquisition can be folded into Salesforce’s CRM product.

‘Super Cookies’

Unfortunately it’s not all good news this year, as several companies (most notably Kissmetrics) were the recipients of some serious bad press and legal action for use of so-called “Super cookies” in July. These Flash-based cookies were blamed for a number of privacy concerns including cross-domain and cross-client visitor identification and re-spawning traditional cookies after being cleared from user browsers.

Mobile Analytics

This year marked the dawn of mobile analytics, especially after Apple rewrote their third-party tracking policies towards the end of 2010. As the mobile market continues to mature with increased pressure from the almost limitless supply of new Android handsets and operating systems, look for mobile analytics to take a larger share of attention in 2012.

Google Analytics Real-Time

Google Analytics Real-time debuted in the fall of this year, enabling millions of site owners across the globe watch user interaction as it happens, which is an exciting prospect for many. Although this feature set has been around for a while from vendors such as Woopra, it’s remarkable that Google would offer such a robust feature at no cost.

Google Encrypts Search Data

Almost immediately after any positive sentiment had tapered off from the introduction of real-time analytics, Google must have decided to test the waters with a carefully-measured negative announcement that they would be removing search query parameters for users of their secure (SSL) search results. The news didn’t go over too well amongst the online marketing community, and to this day the analytics community is still relatively sore on the subject, so don’t bring it up with your web analyst at the holiday party.

Google Chrome Passes Mozilla Firefox

More good news for Google surfaced in November when Google Chrome surpassed Mozilla Firefox in global browser share  for the first time in history. Although it is too soon to tell what the effect will be on the analytics industry, one thing is certain: ensure your quality assurance and browser compatibility testing includes all three browser minorities.

Here’s to a safe and happy holidays and prosperous New Year!


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