Last week was a pretty big week for the Web Analytics industry. With the publication of the Forrester Research US Web Analytics Forecast 2008 by John Lovett, we learned the relative maturity of the market today and where adoption is headed over the next 5 years. There are certainly some interesting findings in John’s report-despite the current macroeconomic situation. By 2014 US businesses are expected to spend $953 million (yes, approaching that big Billion dollar mark) with an average compound annual growth rate of 17%. Pretty healthy growth considering the marketing spend cutbacks seen across numerous industries. Clearly, marketing decision makers are seeing the value of the measureable, online medium to impact the top and bottom line while allocating spend away from the traditional offline channels. Certainly the newspaper ad business is feeling the pinch, projected to be down 22% this year.

Yet one of the areas that I believe was overlooked in this Forrester Report is related to the discussions, debates, and ideas I’ve covered with friends and peers throughout the industry over the past few years. As consumers engage in more social media, video, and mobile activity it presents a challenge for online marketers to measure what is happening off-site in addition to the traditional on-site measurement. Laurie Sullivan actually opened her recent column in the MediaPost Online Media Daily with a reference to this point:

“Struggling to analyze data and prove campaign performance from Web sites, Facebook, Twitter, iPhone and BlackBerry applications, U.S. companies in aggregate will more than double investments in Web analytics during the next five years…”

Interestingly enough, the Forrester Report does not explicitly call out Facebook, Twitter or these mobile app platforms. Yet I would contend these represent some of the most exciting growth opportunities for measuring and understanding consumer engagement. Fundamentally, I believe we need to start thinking and talking about web analytics as online analytics-that is– the tools, technologies, services, processes, and people engaged in measuring both the on-site and off-site clickstream behavior.

Here at Omniture, we of course believe so strongly in this impending transition that we’ve launched numerous social media, mobile, and video measurement offerings to help our customers get their arms around this. In addition to our Twitter announcement from earlier this winter, we announced our App Measurement for Facebook last week which received some great interest and attention throughout the media, blogosphere and Tweetosphere. In case you missed it, check out some great posts by Jesse Stay at louisgray.com (loving this title!– Omnipresent Omniture Makes Facebook Apps Omnipotent), eWeek, and Mashable. Social media is a huge space and, in addition to mobile and video measurement, represents that next quantum leap into what I would contend we need to call online analytics.

So what are your thoughts about this? Is the future of web analytics… online analytics? I say yes!

4 comments
David
David

My question would be how this fits into Dell's recent statement that Dell Outlet has made $3 million in sales from Twitter since 2007, as far as I know they are using Omniture Site Catalyst to track online sales. Will the next report start to take a serious look into Social media? So without the use of Web Analytics would they be able to realise how important Twitter is to driving their online business model. http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/12/dell-has-earned-3-million-from-twitter/

Matt Lillig
Matt Lillig

Any talk of attribution measurment in the report?

Matt Langie
Matt Langie

John- Thanks for your comment. I certainly agree that from a dollars/revenue perspective, the social media/video/mobile analytics space is but a rounding error when considering the overall web analytics market. Yet talking to online marketers across the industry, it certainly appears these emerging channels represent that "blind spot" where they really need the tools, technologies, and products to help them gain that "single version of the truth" to truly understand customer intent and engagement. And getting the advertising data and online analytics data to be fully integrated is certainly part of that journey to "full enlightenment." :^) As always, I appreciate your thought-provoking research, comments, and fuel to the conversation (or is it fuel to the fire?!?). Cheers!

John Lovett
John Lovett

Hi Matt, Thanks for referencing my Forrester Forecast report and bringing attention to emerging trends in Web analytics. I very much agree with you that measuring emerging media is a critical component of Web online analytics and one that should not be ignored. While emerging media measurement is a truly exciting area to watch ~ I contend that the nascent character of these measurement opportunities has yet to register a blip on the overall Web analytics forecast. Of course, vendors like Omniture have been capturing emerging media nearly as quickly as it appears and this aspect is addressed in the overall market forecast. Yet, the (what I call) niche vendors, who specialize in single application or limited application measurement tools, are admittedly under the radar of the US Web Analytics Forecast. I do however watch these companies with eager anticipation as they tend to drive innovation – bring solutions to market faster – and often become acquisition targets for larger entities. I too think that Laurie Sullivan’s piece was spot on and welcome the transition from on-site measurement to web-wide measurement, further extend that to the offline world as well. It’s my opinion that the crux of this issue will be addressed between on-site marketers and advertisers. Relationships like the one that Omniture has developed with WPP are critical in aligning data from two sides of the marketing organization that have historically NEVER matched. Closer alignment between on-site activity and advertising metrics will alleviate many issues and emphasize the importance of measurement capabilities such as attribution. That said, I do agree that we’re moving in more directions than I was able to address in my Forecast report. Each of these is notable and worthy of excitement. I can assure you that I’ll be watching and strive to add fuel to the conversation. Cheers, John Lovett