In case you missed it, the Web world has been abuzz this week over Google announcing a free Web Metrics service, called Google Analytics. Google Analytics has been carved out of the acquisition of Urchin, a Web Metrics service that sold for $199 a month. If you can get Web Metrics for free, where does that leave the rest of the offerings out there that compete with Google Analytics—and are not free?
If you are reading this blog, chances are that you already using a Web Metrics package. Perhaps you were already using Urchin and are now contemplating an extra $200 a month in your pocket. But it’s more likely that you are using another package and are now wondering whether you should switch to the free Google Analytics.
Several factors might keep you with the package you have:
- Reliability. Many observers criticized Google for fumbling the launch, as existing paid customers and new ones signing up for the free service both complained that Google’s system was down and reports delayed. Today, Google stopped taking new registrants. Chances are that Google will right the ship, but if you don’t pay it is hard to get complaints taken seriously.
- Features. By most accounts, Google Analytics has a strong set of features, but your existing paid package may boast features unavailable from Google.
- Privacy. Google has pledged to avoid peeking at your site’s stats when making decision about its search business or other businesses, but some marketers are more suspicious than others.
- Consulting. Perhaps the most important differentiator among metrics vendors will be consulting services that analyze your data. If your Web Metrics vendor is helping you analyze your data with real-live consultants that help you figure out what the numbers mean and what you should do about them, then “it is very likely that Google Analytics is not for you,” says JupiterMedia’s metrics expert Eric Peterson.
Despite the debates, your metrics system is probably worth a lot more than you are paying for it. If you decide that Google Analytics is better than your existing system, then by all means jump on it. But saving a little money is not a good reason to downgrade your analytics lifeblood if your current system is superior to Google’s.