Surprise! Surprise! I recently had a chance to do some analysis of reporting tasks when done with Google Analytics vs. WebTrends. The idea here was to see if I could save some money using Google Analytics for web analytics reporting. Make sure to read at the bottom for caveats galore.
Compare reporting effort between Google Analytics and WebTrends for 15 web site profiles that utilize custom segmentation, event tracking, and goal analysis reporting. Being very experienced with WebTrends, I have a pretty good idea of the amount of time it will take to get the data I need from WebTrends. I then did similar tasks in Google Analytics to create a comparison. Keep in mind that this comparison only relates to the time to get the needed data out of each tool. Implementation and Analysis times are not considered. They are roughly the same anyway in this scenario.
Google Analytics can do most of the required reporting (The only data point I am unable to collect from my requirements is unique visitors by country). However, due to limitations in the way that data is accessed and exported using Google Analytics it would take more than three times the hours to collect the reports needed to perform analysis.
So using my ultra-complex mathematical algorithm: 5 hours per week with WebTrends now equals 15 hours per week with Google Analytics. Hmmm, over the course of a year that is 500 hours of my time. If I use Eric Peterson’s average web analyst salary data [pdf] that is $22,000 that Google Analytics is going to cost in salary. Ouch.
What causes the Gap
- ODBC. ODBC. ODBC. WebTrends having an ODBC connector that I can use to directly query the report database is a monster of a time saver.
- The persistent export of interval data before the main report in Google Analytics. This is sometimes useful, but not always what I want.
- Inability to create a custom report in Google Analytics. Especially around custom segmentation. I need to see multiple values in the reports 1st dimension and GA will only show me one at a time. It is enough to make a grown man cry. And before some kind soul recommends creating separate profiles for all of these just know that before doing that I am at 15 profiles already in this particular situation.
- Google Analytics is a robust web analytics solution. But we already knew that.
- While my reporting requirements were not all that intense, there were some aspects of it that really made life hard for me when using Google Analytics. I know there are probably ways around these issues that ingenious GAAC’s have thought up, but you begin to see diminishing returns at some point. I want to stay away from bailing wire and magic solutions that keep me from being replaceable.
- When you evaluate web analytics tools, it is important to carefully consider your needs. Just because Google Analytics is free doesn’t mean it is the lowest cost.
- I use Excel for web analytics analysis. I think that I am in pretty good company until I can afford some sweet software.
- None of this is meant to imply that people should use WebTrends over Google Analytics. Needs differ.
- This analysis was done by someone who is very experienced with both tools, so results may vary with familiarity, however it is probably fair to say that I am more skilled with WebTrends.
- This is not meant as a comparison of the features and functionality of each tool. The requirements did not utilize all features available in either tool.
- Why are you wasting away in caveatville? You should be making an awesome comment or subscribing to my feed.
Update: I made a mistake initially and wrote 2nd dimension only shows one value where I should have said 1st dimenstion only shows one value. Sorry for the confusion.