Omniture vs. Google Analytics

During the past week, there was quite a lively debate going on at the Web Analytics Forum on Yahoo! Groups. Paul Holstein, who blogs over at Web Analytics Demystified, started the conversation by asking people the simple question, “Why do we still need Omniture?”Omniture vs. Google Analytics

Sidebar: For those of you aren’t familiar with Omniture, it is a proprietary web analytics tool. It’s like Google Analytics, but more robust and, therefore, more complex.

Since there are so many schools that use Google Analytics, I thought I’d share my thoughts. If you don’t want to read through the entire Yahoo thread, Paul listed a summary of the comments on this blog post. I’ll give a readers digest version here – focused mainly on features higher ed sites might use.

  • Segmentation and drill-down. With the new advanced segmentation in GA, this might not seem like a big advantage for Omniture anymore. Omniture’s Discover tool is advanced segmentation is incredible. Not only can you segment on many variables, you can drill down almost indefinitely.
  • Calculated metrics. For example, simple calculated metrics like bounce rate can be set up. More complex metrics can also be set up like page views per click-through for any campaign, for example. You can also share your calculated metrics.
  • Custom, multiple, shared dashboards. Setting up multiple dashboards is a great feature. You can also share your dashboards which is great, too.
  • Near real-time reporting. When trying to test things out in GA, the wait is frustrating.
  • Partner Integration. This can be great if you use a site like OpinionLab, ForeSee, or iPerceptions for site feedback or surveys.
  • Importing outside data from your internal databases. This is a great advantage.

These are all great features, but do you care?

Some of the replies within the thread mentioned business objectives and needs, and I that’s the key. The bottom line when answering the question, “should we use Google Analytics or should we use Omniture (or any other proprietary package),” is to first answer the question, “what is our purpose for using a web analytics tool?”

What are the things we would analyze that would lead to specific action on our website? How many people do we have dedicated to web analytics? The answer for most of us is probably one. Actually, it’s probably about 1/2th, 1/4th, or even an 1/8th of a person.

It’s true that some of us (including myself) in higher education work in unique places where we do spend a lot of time on many campaigns, tracking, reporting, analyzing, uploading external data, etc. For these sites, Omniture is the answer.

Most higher education websites, however, have one webmaster, one or a couple of people doing all things for the website. They do minimal campaigning. Google Analytics is fantastic for them.

The bottom line is business need. I don’t think anyone would argue that Omniture is more robust than Google Analytics, but for most higher education websites, it doesn’t matter. For the most part, the use of web analytics in higher education hasn’t reached that level yet.

There are always exceptions, but for most higher education websites, Google Analytics is the answer for now.

12 Responses to “Omniture vs. Google Analytics”

  1. I’m not sure if cost is an issue in higher education, but if is, it should be seriously considered. For the same price as Omniture, many Universities could use GA for free and hire a dedicated analyst. At the end of the day, it’s not the tool that matters, it’s how it’s used.

  2. @Paul – Absolutely. There is definitely a cost issue in higher education (and, therefore, a manpower issue). For *most* higher ed sites, GA is definitely the answer.

    Your right, though, that it doesn’t matter what tool you use if you don’t do anything with the data. For higher education, this needs to be the focus, not the tool being used.

    Thanks so much for the comment.

  3. Kyle James says:

    Wow I could write a whole blog post type response… but… just… no… time… now. Two arguments.

    1) Not having access to live data is a blessing not a curse. What kind of decision can you really make on a spur of the moment from incoming clickstream data? More importantly how much time are you wasting staring at the incoming data stream when you could be doing something more important?

    2) And this one comes straight from Avinash which I keep repeating. If you are paying for Omniture or any Analytics solution but not paying for the people to use it then YOU ARE WASTING YOUR MONEY. Google Analytics is good enough and it’s free. If you master it and still feel like you need more then go for Omniture, WebTrends or something.

    So there you go w/ my 2 cent.

  4. @Kyle – Thanks for the comment. I can’t agree more with the 90/10 rule. I think that’s basically my point here and I probably did not articulate that well enough in the post. The business need is the most important thing and actually *doing something* with the data. GA is free, but *GA* is not even worth the time if you’re not doing anything data.

    As far as the live data, I have to argue with you in the specific scenario of troubleshooting event tracking. We’re tracking many success events and it was very helpful through the testing process to have live data.

    Outside of specific testing scenarios, you’re right, it’s a waste of time to pay attention to the incoming stream.

  5. Walter says:

    Shelby,

    We mustn’t forget that new tools are being developed every day and most of them born integrated with GA. Great ideas will arise and Omniture will have to catch up.

    Last week Grokdotcom published a list of “33 free tools to make your website better”, #3 on the list is a really cool service called BTBuckets.com. The service enables onsite behavioral targeting and visitor segmentation, and like GA it’s free. When we browse thru its blog we discover that they’re integrated with GA, Google Ad Manager and others.

    Other iniatives like this will eventually arise boosting GA capabilities and making proprietary software developers’ life harder.

    my 2 cent.

  6. Matt says:

    Having been in the data management and web analytics space for quite some time, I agree with what most of you are saying. IT IS NOT THE TOOL. It is about HOW THE TOOL IS USED.

    We work with a number of agencies and large corporations and frankly, the purchase of Omniture is done because it is a best-of-breed platform. While most word argue that is true, most all organizations I have seen over a number of years simply don’t need that much power! If you are managing several complex e-commerce websites or need sophisticated conversion funnel and form completion analysis, then Omniture is a better fit. However, most organizations don’t need that which is why Google Analytics makes more sense!

    To my point about how it is used, that is a common problem among any tool. At the end of the day, in order for these platforms to work, you need to have the right resource to be able to deliver a comprehensive dashboard to make better web and marketing decisions. Neither product does that well which is why we are in business.

  7. Mike says:

    Lots of good point in the article and comments here.

    Kyle James – Ya last week I was a bit frustrated with GA and the delay after sending out the monthly newsletter. But realized it would be better for me to jsut get on with the next thing instead of F5ing 20 times to make myself feel good.

    Thanks for that article on grokdotcom Walter, reading it now.

    And one thing I have always thought on SEO and PPC is that there is too much data. More is not needed usually.

    Especially on lower traffic sites like university’s. Better to spend money/time on understanding the data you have, working on SEO, or working on PPC than looking for more data or a more scary analytics package.

  8. dan says:

    I would like to see more reviews on this issue as im about to purchase the software within a couple days. Is IT really better than GA

  9. matt says:

    Dan –

    Just now seeing this so I am sure you have made your purchase. However, if you haven’t GA is better on so many more things than Omniture. While Omniture does have some cool features, it is a very cumbersome tool that has a lot of overhead. Shoot me an email if you want more info.

    mhertig@alightinteractive.com

  10. Adeel says:

    Hi All,
    I am new to all this, even though i have experience of working in most of analytics tool like GA,YA, and as well as Omniture (Not in much details).
    I also agree with Paul ‘It’s not the tool that matters, it’s how it’s used’, but as i am not very use to Omniture and would like to know a bit more about it, because i want to know moving to Omniture will bring more progress or sticking to GA or YA. Other then web the feature i like in Omniture is the media analysis, We normally use DoubleClick for media analysis but occaintionaly use GA or YA for media analysis.
    So information related to Omniture will be very helpful.

    Thanks

  11. Seo says:

    Web Analytics Demystified and has literally written the book on web analytics platforms, their use and integration. Turns out there are millions of sites – many large brands – who use Omniture and Google Analytics in conjunction with each other. Eric’s site has a vendor discovery tool that allows you to see which analytics platforms sites are using. It’s pretty cool.

  12. Mike Wesson says:

    You guys talk and talk but don’t say much. You must be PHD students. What is the cost of Omniture?