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Google still has its free analytics product, but now it has announced a paid-for version of Google Analytics, called Premium, which will be a $150,000 per year product.

In one brief announcement today from Google a very bold approach is being embarked upon. That is, going from a single free-to-all product, to one that is now split into two offerings: Google Analytics Standard (free) or Premium ($150,000 per year).

That's a big change for Google Analytics, so what's the difference?

Headline Premium features

Google Analytics Premium offers the following benefits that are not available in the free service:

  • Dedicated Processing Power 
  • Exclusive features
  • Service Level Agreement 
  • Service & Support

Although a global roll-out of Premium is planned, Google Analytics Premium is currently only available in the US and Canada and the UK. It will be available direct from Google or one of its authorised resellers, listed here

Should other analytics vendors be worried? 

In the first few years following the acquisition of Urchin in April 2005, the focus was on internal scalability, ease of implementation and ease of use for end-users.

Since then, there has been a drive for more advanced, yet real-world features such as advanced segmentation, intelligence alerts, conversion attribution and most recently (today!) real-time analytics reporting.

Premium is the next logical step, a product aimed at large enterprise customers. Think P&G, Ford, Sony etc. A large selection of the world's top brands already use Google Analytics.

However, the procurement departments of Fortune 500 and FTSE100 organisations usually request three things in a legal document before they will implement a web analytics tool:

  1. Data ownership clarification
  2. Long data retention time
  3. A formal SLA agreement

With these now in place for Google Analytics Premium, Google can go head to head with any vendor for any organisation.

As an official Google Analytics consultancy, that's good for my business! To be honest though, I do wish the competition had been more innovative in their approach over the last five years.

Their dismissive approach (picking faults with GA as the primary motive to use them, rather than advancing their own product offering), has led to a complacency that has put the other vendors very much in the back seat of the industry.

Competition is healthy for any industry to grow and progress, but Google appears to be doing this all by itself in the field of web analytics. 

Brian Clifton

Published 29 September, 2011 by Brian Clifton

Brian Clifton is CEO of Advanced Web Metrics Ltd and former Head of Web Analytics at Google EMEA. He is the author of the book Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics.

2 more posts from this author

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dan barker

dan barker, E-Business Consultant at Dan Barker

Fantastic. Thanks for the very informative post.

The most exciting note for me is 'run SQL queries on your data'. As a one-time DBA, that's fantastic & could both speed up current analysis, and allow a whole load of new possibilities.

The least exciting note is the cost *model*. I think the cost itself is fine for a lot of companies, and charging for GA is also fine. But I wish they'd set it up so that cost hobbled 'scale' rather than 'functionality'.

One of the things I've always liked about GA is that it gave a (somewhat) level playing field between massive companies & little home startups. If the cost model was based on the scale of a site, rather than on blocking particular features, that would still be true.

Still - you can't have everything, and there's a lot of exciting stuff in there.

almost 5 years ago

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Corey Koberg

Dan: I have to disagree--I think that's exactly what they've done. Except for a few rare features that are in all likelihood interesting to large enterprises, the Premium product focuses on scaling to the enterprise needs, *not* on hobbling the "free" (Standard Edition) or holding back features to be available only in the paid product.

If you look at what's included: massive amounts of processing power to collect and analyze large data sets, paid consulting and implementation support, SLA guarantees, advanced attribution modeling, etc. those are all about scale and directly address the cries from the enterprise.

The cool new features (real time, multi-channel, etc.) are all available to the standard edition as well. In fact they recently increased the sampling limits from 200K visits to 500K visits in the standard edition, which makes adv segments that much more powerful.

Many will think that this is the point where Google stops caring about the standard edition and puts all the eggs in the Premium basket, but after working with the team on this project for a long time now, I can assure you that isn't the case. They simply have to adjust the product to address the needs of both types of users and have no intention of stopping or slower either one. In fact, the recent infrastructure improvements and product tiers mean they'll be able to move faster than ever. So in that respect, this is win-win, even for the "free" (Standard) version.

Corey Koberg
Senior Partner
Cardinal Path

almost 5 years ago

Brian Clifton

Brian Clifton, Author, CEO & Web Metrics Strategist at Advanced Web Metrics

@Dan - Thanks for the feedback.

I am not a big fan of billing more just because clients are more successful i.e. receiving more traffic. Yes, if the product/service directly delivered the success. But its people that do that, not a reporting tool.

almost 5 years ago

Dave Chaffey

Dave Chaffey, Digital Marketing Consultant, Trainer, Author and Speaker at SmartInsights.com

Interesting! But not surprising to encourage enterprise adoptions.

It's a bit worrying that the official release from Google, while short on details, does suggest "hobbling" of functionality as Dan mentioned.

Are there any clarifications on whether any/which features will be removed from GA v5? Brian?

Looking at what's come through the feeds it's suggests that Multichannel funnels could be reviewed since the official announcement says that GA Premium will include:

"Advanced analysis - attribution modeling tools that allow you to test different models for assigning credit to conversions"

Does that mean Multichannel Funnels will be excluded from the basic version.

http://analytics.blogspot.com/2011/09/introducing-google-analytics-premium.html

http://www.google.com/analytics/premium/

FWIW I'm reassured by this since it's an indication, if needed, that Google are committed to developing analytics for all businesses

almost 5 years ago

dan barker

dan barker, E-Business Consultant at Dan Barker

Thanks for the kind replies.

Corey-

Your name links directly to a sales pitch for your own services around GA premium. I would never expect you to be anything other than glowing about it ;)

Joking aside - Cardinal Path seem to be doing a great job of pitching yourselves as the 'go-to' GA premium company & I admire that.

Your comment begins with 'I have to disagree', but I think we only really disagree on one thing: You say those 'few rare features' that Google have added to the Premium edition (but held back from the regular version) are unimportant to the masses, whereas I can see that they have value. I think it's a shame that those smaller people won't have access to them. That is life, that is business, that is compromise, and - as I said in my comment - there is a ton of great stuff there (full stop). But it's still a shame for those people.

Brian-

The datasheet has now disappeared from the post. The bit I was most interested in was the ability to run SQL queries, that doesn't seem to be mentioned anywhere else. If that's in there, it very much helps people to deliver success (or at least it would me).

And - either of you may be able to answer I hope - is there any update on being allowed to track individual users? That's the biggest thing I hear people asking for. (or at least for clarity on the situation)

Thank you!!

dan

almost 5 years ago

Ashley Burgess

Ashley Burgess, Head of Web Analytics at Periscopix

Dave: I think perhaps the wording isn't clear enough regarding the feature differences. As it stands Google haven't taken any features away from the free version ('GAFree'?) Some reports available in the free version will be enhanced for Premium but nothing should be taken away from free. We don't have that in writing but knowing the new feature roadmap they have laid out for both versions I don't think they have any need to remove features.In theory, Premium features should be more suited to enterprise clients. I'm sure people will have their own opinions about what constitutes an enterprise feature.

The MCF feature you mention will be enhanced to allow you to play with multiple attribution models but we haven't heard of any intention to remove MCF from free..

Dan: no change to their privacy policy with regards to PI. As I'm sure Brian will agree, this is highly unlikely to ever change. Regardless of what happens to cookie regulation.

almost 5 years ago

Brian Clifton

Brian Clifton, Author, CEO & Web Metrics Strategist at Advanced Web Metrics

@Dan - I can't see Google ever tracking individual users. The only time this would be allowed is when a visitor has explicitly given consent e.g. by making a transaction.

I cover this in detail in my comment to a previous article:
http://econsultancy.com/uk/blog/7722-can-google-meet-all-your-analytics-needs

almost 5 years ago

Brian Clifton

Brian Clifton, Author, CEO & Web Metrics Strategist at Advanced Web Metrics

@Dave - nothing is being removed from the current free GA. In fact its getting better and better. For example, see the new Real-Time analytics reports that was also launched today - link in post.

almost 5 years ago

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Ryan Ekins

I too feel that the vendors failed to innovate. It was one of the main reasons I left one of the vendors 3 years ago. It is sad to see companies that find some success and then try to capitalize on the success and sacrifice innovation. It is sad to see innovative companies taken over by "experienced" managers who instill politics and bureaucracy to make a buck for their department. It is sad to see silo-ed departments protecting their own work instead of pushing the envelopes of innovation across departments. It is sad to see companies that use Marketing instead of Innovation because it "works" in the short term. This is Web Analytics with still many potential points of industry entry. Innovate or die, it's that simple.

almost 5 years ago

Dave Chaffey

Dave Chaffey, Digital Marketing Consultant, Trainer, Author and Speaker at SmartInsights.com

Thanks Ben, Brian, Dan!

I'd agree with Dan that the lack of capability to integrate with Email systems to follow-up on individual behaviour is still one of the main limitations for using Google Analytics in comparison to say Adobe/Site Catalyst or IBM/Coremetrics.

A follow-up email offer against a category browse or product search/abandon works well for many transactional sites. Of course you don't have to use a web analytics system to detect these, but it may be easier/more cost effective than alternatives.

almost 5 years ago

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Dave Stopher

I like it!!

almost 5 years ago

Jonathan Kay

Jonathan Kay, Managing Director at 120 Feet

Great news from GA re the premium launch and new standard features - much to applaud.

With regards to the established paid-for vendors, I agree that they need to improve their core products at a faster rate than in the past few years – mainly a much better user interface, easier set up and easier to get to value-add features. Many offer great tools and a diverse set of tools, however often they are held together with good marketing spin rather than great and easy to implement / manage data integrity.

Looking forward, linking digital data to known customers can only become more important because once I have an opt-in I want my clients to make more of each sales opportunity.

No doubt the latest Google releases will nudge the others along a little faster and this can only be good for everyone.

almost 5 years ago

Matthew Curry

Matthew Curry, Head of Ecommerce at Lovehoney

On the face of it, this "sounds" brilliant, £90k isn't a huge amount of money for what it promises (the BigQuery integration alone would be worth it), BUT I couldn't go to the company directors with a recommendation to buywithout running through the terms of service with a fine tooth comb.

From the post Brian mentioned, I raised the following item in the Free GA ToS

"nor will You (or will You allow any third party to) associate any data gathered from Your website(s) (or such third parties' website(s)) with any personally identifying information from any source as part of Your use (or such third parties' use) of the Service."

Which implies linking GA data such as page paths, products viewed etc to a CRM system when a customer has submitted personal details, such as a signup or transaction, is not allowed.

Owning the data is somewhat null if you cannot use it as needed.

almost 5 years ago

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Michael Turner

Wouldnt it make sense to incorportate heatmaps i.e. mouse hovers and click density in GA? You wouldnt need to go to 3rd party tools.

almost 5 years ago

Nicholas Flood

Nicholas Flood, Senior Product Manager, whatcar.com at Haymarket Consumer Media

I'm pretty sure I read somewhere last night that the new enterprise version will integrate more tightly with DoubleClick. The article said things like £ value would be passed into GA.

Can someone confirm this? I can't find the original article now.

almost 5 years ago

Andrew Hood

Andrew Hood, Managing Director at Econsultancy Small Business Guest AccessSmall Business Multi-user

Great post Brian. This is the kind of focused market disruption that Google does best, and I completely agree with your analysis on the intended target market and the need to tick procurement boxes to reach it.

I can't help thinking that the price point is fairly arbritary, almost designed to be reassuringly expensive. I doubt it in itself represents any kind of meaningful revenue stream for Google as a business. But starting relatively high keeps a clear line between the two products and leaves open options for further market disruption in the future...

The sad fact is that consolidation has killed a lot of the technical innovation in the web analytics marketplace (anyone remember IndexTools, Clicktracks, Visual Sciences to name a few?). IBM, Adobe and Yahoo! are culturally very different to Google from an innovation perspective.

Google is ultimately a data business. That gives them both a great position and a substantial incentive to deliver innovative web analytics products (whether they are explicitly charged or not).

I just hope this move shakes up the market in a good way, as a monopoly on innovation is never a good thing.

Meanwhile, expect lots of vendor spin from both sides on what "data ownership", "support", "granular data access" actually mean!

almost 5 years ago

Dave Wieneke

Dave Wieneke, Director of Digital Strategy - ISITE Design at www.UsefulArts.us

This is good news -- and Dan and Corey both point out that the bulk of the premium services are non-feature capabilities that enterprise clients need to get sign off from legal.

I'd also commend Corey for identifying his company affiliation -- and I am thrilled that one of the very best GA strategists around is connecting in on eConsultacy. (I've worked with Corey and his team in several settings.)

But it may be Matthew Currey who hits it on the head, if corporations can own data and legally use it w/ personally identifiable data - that's along with SLA's is a bid deal to corporations.

I'm not sure how popular that premium version will be, but if it is, I expect that it will continue to raise the level of play for all.

almost 5 years ago

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James Blute

Great post Brian.

almost 5 years ago

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Andy

You say: "Competition is healthy for any industry to grow and progress, but Google appears to be doing this all by itself in the field of web analytics."

Excuse me, but do you even know what "competition" means? You think that other vendors should be more innovative?

Well, the ironic fact is that GA has turned the web analytics market into a near-monopoly, which is another way of saying that it has killed competition (who would want to compete with one of the biggest a companies in the world who offer their product for free?).

No wonder, then, that it is now doing all the competition itself.

almost 5 years ago

Brian Clifton

Brian Clifton, Author, CEO & Web Metrics Strategist at Advanced Web Metrics

@Andy

Google acquired Urchin in Apr 2005

In May 2006 Microsoft acquired the Canadian web analytics tool DeepMetrics. It was highly respected (certainly by me) and a serious competitor to GA. For some reason Microsoft killed it off in 2008

In Apr 2008, Yahoo acquired the Hungarian web analytics tool IndexTools - another respected tool that I used to run on my own website. Unbelievably it took almost 3 years for that deal to be put together. In that time Yahoo lost an enormous amount of ground (and lost its way in general in my view).

MSFT and YHOO are big, big companies that could have invested in their acquisitions and taken on GA (their products were free also). In fact, MSFT came close, but lost momentum and never launched. YHOO made their purchase and to all intent just stopped at that.

So my point is that it was not Google forcing their way on to websites that made them a monopoly, but users who turned to GA to help answer business/digital questions. The competition had its chance.

That said, if a new innovative web analytics product came along that could really compete with GA, I am sure users would turn to it in the droves. That's what free of cost does - it gives people the freedom to experiment with vendors and find the best fit for them. If it is a good fit, then may be users will be willing to pay for the extra features of Premium...

almost 5 years ago

Brian Clifton

Brian Clifton, Author, CEO & Web Metrics Strategist at Advanced Web Metrics

@Andrew

The price point may not be so arbitrary. For example, if we assume Google are targeting the Fortune 1000 companies, then:

1000 x 150k = $150 million per year

Any product that can generate in that kind of revenue for Google gets VP attention - at least that was my experience when I was attempting to monetise the value of GA as a whole to the business when I was working there...

BTW, I have no inside knowledge as to how GA came us with their numbers.

almost 5 years ago

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Andy

What do you mean when you say that Google was not "forcing their way on to websites"?

First, they use a large sum of money to acquire a respectable player in the field only to wipe away its entire income by offering its product for free.

The next 5-6 years they then invest heavily in product development so that traditional paid-for solutions look more and more ridiculous.

Having thus drained the competition for finances (while continuing to draw on their own Adwords revenues), they now go for the final kill: A premium offer. If this is not using force, then what do you mean by "force"? To me it looks like a classical example of predatory pricing.

Notice also that the competition in the web analytics field does not come from other free offers. Microsoft and Yahoo entered the field in order to compete in a totally different market, namely that of search advertising.

The losers in this game is the paid-for vendors, and, in a longer term perspective, the web analytics practitioners - exactly because the lack of competition means lack of innovation.

You think that users would turn to a new more innovative WA product, if such a product came along? Well, the point is that this will never happen since nobody is willing to invest the huge amount of money Google has invested in this field - not even Microsoft and Yahoo!

almost 5 years ago

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David

Andy is exactly right, I'm afraid. I don't see how it's possible for a market to move (virtually) en masse to product subsidised to $0 by one of the world's biggest companies only for users to then complain about a lack of innovation from other players that cannott exist without charging a fee.

Those who champion full commoditisation of web analytics and push the line of investment in people over product may be right to do so, but when you do this in a market-place dominated by a big cahuna that gives away its product then sector 'lack of innovation' is all but guaranteed.

Short of bankrupting themselves in a web analytics war they couldn't win, I'm not sure what Brian et al expected from Omniture/WebTrends/Core/etc other than what we've seen those companies do: diversify into SEM, testing, onsite search, etc. and try to differentiate themselves from Google by positioning themselves as providers of a suite of products geared for online optimisation...web analytics being but one piece of the jogsaw.

Lastly, and without wishing to rag on Brian, this:

"That said, if a new innovative web analytics product came along that could really compete with GA"

is unfair. All the vendors compete with GA on flexibility, functionality, integration opportunities, you name it. In a features p!ssing contest I'd suggest GA comes 3rd or 4th out of the major players. Where of course those other providers cannot compete is price.

The fact that there are organisations out there still willing to part with hundreds of thousands of dollars for products that they can get for free elsewhere is testament to durability and enterprise of the paid-for suppliers. Far from being criticised, they deserve all the credit for what little competition and innovation there is out there.

Where once the release of GA was seen as the intervention of a plucky little upstart set to shake up a sector and force the existing supplier-base to up its game, it can now be seen as the opening salvo in a power-play which would witness a corporate behemoth buying its way to market dominance. If what's important to web analytics practitioners is the budget saving that can now be invested in people rather than product, then let's all party, but let's not then bleat about a lack of indistry innovation that is the sine qua non of Google's bought monopoly.

almost 5 years ago

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David

Any reason why my comment has been deleted? I'd be happy to amend if the relevant guidance was forthcoming.

almost 5 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

Hi David - I've approved the comment now. It had been picked up by the Akismet spam filter.

almost 5 years ago

Brian Clifton

Brian Clifton, Author, CEO & Web Metrics Strategist at Advanced Web Metrics

I love a good debate on this subject. Lets agree to keep it light hearted - always my intention ;)

@Andy
"Nobody is willing to invest the huge amount of money Google has invested in this field"
- I have to take issue on this when only last year Abobe invested $1.6 billion in this field! BTW, that is more than an order of magnitude higher than Google, MSFT and YHOO paid for their acquisitions COMBINED.

@David
I thought it would be useful to put my thoughts on the table wrt some of the innovations the competition could (should) have focused on over the past few years*:

1) Integrating testing tools as part of web analytics - I don't mean having a testing tool as part of your product portfolio, rather a testing tool that is a lot more sophisticated that just conversion optimisation. For example, what about when increasing time on site/page is the goal, decreasing bounce rate, or increasing the number or value of products added to cart? These are subtle site improvements that all improve the conversion rate, but are not the conversion rate themselves.

2) Integrating voice of customer (VoC) tools with web analytics. Having unsolicited pop-up invites when you FIRST arrive on a website is ridiculous in 2011. The most sophisticated I have seen form the major players in this field is - "wait for the visitor to view XX pages before annoying them with a pop-up", "wait YY seconds before annoying them". Lots of innovation to be done here.

I could go on, buy hey, I should be getting paid for this...

Best regards
*There may be tools already doing these from the major vendors. However, if so, they are not being mentioned in the competitive tender environments that I sit in on these days...

almost 5 years ago

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David

@Brian,

Oh, I wouldn't disagree that there are things the paid-for guys could and should have done. But hindsight is a wonderful thing and there are mitigating factors, not least of which is the fact that many of the other vendors have spent the last few years either acquiring other companies or being acquired. As it happens, I think we might well be on the cusp of a innovation wave that we would all like to see (e.g. Adobe's Digital Publishing/Marketing push and IBM's predictive analytics gambit). I think the likes of Omniture and Nedstat recognised the need to innovate and differentiate but believed they needed the development and marketing support of a technology powerhouse to deliver that.

almost 5 years ago

Brian Clifton

Brian Clifton, Author, CEO & Web Metrics Strategist at Advanced Web Metrics

@David - not really hindsight. Many people have been discussing these for years. The VoC example is a particular pet hate of mine. For example, I wrote "When Voice of Customer Surveys can Damage Your Brand" more than 3 years ago...

http://www.advanced-web-metrics.com/blog/2008/08/31/when-voice-of-customer-surveys-can-damage-your-brand/

I agree acquisitions have added to the distraction - for example, YHOO's took 3 years before a decision as made! But these appear to be about consolidating market share, securing user base, broadening product portfolios etc, rather than acquisitions as a platform for innovation.

MSFT did make a serious attempt at innovation with Gatineau/Deepmetrics and their beta was certainly interesting and was watched closely by us at G at the time. However, they are the only example I can think of. I just don't see IBM (with its focus on consulting services) or Adobe (with its focus on I am not sure what) innovating in this space.

I would be more than happy to be proved wrong!

almost 5 years ago

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David

@Brian,

I still don't believe you're giving enough credit to the paid-for guys, and I can, off the top of my head, think of examples of both VoC integration and more sophisticiated testing than you allude to above. Omniture's T&T product is a full-blown MVT solution that can alter content and real estate using wisdom of the crowd or 1-to-1 targeting. Their Survey solution came via the Instadia acquisition and can be triggered via any URL (and virtually any SiteCat var/value), includidng exit surveys. I know WT make similar claims for their products. The press releases are all out there. :-)

Theses products go head-to-head with - and even win against - all the best-of-breed point solutions. Does that mean they are as good as they could (should?) be? Probably not, but look hard enough at any product from any vendor - including Google - and it's not difficult to find room for similar criticisms.

And since when did adding to the product portfolio not count as innovation? You seem to want to narrow the definition of "innovation" to mean investment in the core web analytics solution and nothing else. This amounts to asking the likes of Omniture/WT/Core ext. to rise to the challenge posed by a very good WA product that one of the biggest companies in the world is perpared to market as a loss-leader by investing more money in that specific sector whilst all the time hemorrhaging market share. That's a money pit. As before, this is not a battle Omniture/Core/WT could ever win. GA is a great product but it is not the dominant WA tool because it is better than SiteCat, for example. It's dominant because it's free. If Google had believed they could claim the market share they have and charge for GA, they would have done. They didn't because they knew that wouldn't work...at least, not without a GA product that is better than the one we see today.

Faced with this challenge, the paid-for guys did the only thing they could: diversify and effectively reinvent themselves. Some have done this better than others, for sure, but all have attempted it in one way or another.

To the extent that WA has *not* benefited from the level of innovation you would like see, I say again that Google and their bought monopoly shoulder more of the blame for this than any paid-for vendor.

almost 5 years ago

Brian Clifton

Brian Clifton, Author, CEO & Web Metrics Strategist at Advanced Web Metrics

@David - interesting points.

I agree Free is very attractive to a lot of small businesses. However it is not the driver for large enterprises such as these:
http://www.advanced-web-metrics.com/blog/who-uses-google-analytics

Also:
"[Google]...is prepared to market as a loss-leader"

Google doesn't view analytics as a loss leader... An informed advertiser who knows which campaigns are effective and which are not, is a happy customer - more likely to increase their ad spend in the areas that work and remain loyal i.e. high LTV. That's just good business.

almost 5 years ago

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