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?”
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.