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« Jim's not what he says; it's how he says it | Main | Whose data is it anyway? (Part 2) »

January 06, 2009


Jacques Warren

You got it Phil, there is no underestimating the power of that word to people living in societies where evrything has always a price.

Joke aside, I for one have never liked those products (the free ones that is) beyond a certain point. The fact that I can't have access to the raw data, the logs, has bothered me everytime I came across a problem. I just cannot accept that the only validation criterium of the numbers I'm seeing is... the brand! "It's right, because Google says so". And this is not to mention the excellent point you're making about how they *use* the data.

Yes "free" and maybe some brand strength is at play. Since Google does "no evil" what wrong can come out of it? I know of many Web sites for example (yes, Governement ones!) that clearly stipulate they don't serve ugly cookies while using GA all across. Talk about not reading the fine prints ;-).

Stephane Hamel

Really good point Phil!

The "security" aspect of Google Analytics often comes back when my clients are looking at various vendors. Being somewhat uneducated about the intricacies of the web, web analytics, cookies, ASP mode and the implications of sharing data with Google; some companies blindly follow the nice path proposed by Google. Nothing is ever free, and there's obviously a cost to share our own data with potential competitors, even if anonymously. Companies obviously worry about sending their data to Google, but money is always a strong argument and the magic trick of "free!" often becomes the sole element of comparison.

This is one of the reason I've been working on my web analytics maturity model evaluation. Using it, it becomes obvious that "the tool" is not the main driver of success. Yes, sometimes Google Analytics is an excellent solution, and I love the tool, but it's not always the "right" solution.

A little while ago I blogged about my worries that Google is paving what seems to be a yellow brick road: giving away good stuff for free in exchange of some of our privacy. Of course, we always have the option to take a different path and use other solutions. But as the power of Google increase, the options are becoming scarcer. Especially in the web analytics industry, the lower and mid-markets are almost doomed. In view of the current economic situation, I wouldn't be surprised if some of the higher end solutions also disappear or get purchased for the price of a cookie bag.

Stéphane Hamel
Web Analytics Advocate! :)

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