A Brief History of the Universe…I Mean Web Analytics

October 6th, 2009

Welcome Back one and all to the fourth installment of my wonderful blog. This week we are going to talk a little more about web analytics.  But I want to switch it up a bit and look at how web analytics emerged and evolved into what we have today. More pointedly what Avinash Koushik calls Web Analytics 2.0. So where did we, as marketers, start with web analytics? Well any digital native worth their digital spurs can tell us that. The good old Hit Counter. Remember those things? They used to be able to tell us how many times we had checked our website to see if anyone had visited. Fantastic!! But what did they really tell us? Well from a marketing perspective not a whole lot, but what they did accomplish was to make marketers realize that there was information just waiting to be quantified, analyzed, and assimilated into fantastic marketing practises. This occurred roughly between the years of 1995-2000, at least according to Ballardvale Research.

Once marketers started to realise that there was all of this potentially powerful information for the taking, we started to see companies spring up that analyzed click stream traffic. One of the oldest, and innovative, firms in this field was and is WebTrends. Founded in 1993 they claim to be the developer of Web Analytics. Whether they are or not, I am sure is open to debate. For the sake of argument we will say that they are. WebTrends started with click stream traffic and has grown over the last 26 years to become one of the biggest web analytics corporations in the world. So what happened to web analytics between the years of 2000 to now, well essentially there where a few heady years where companies sprang up one day, and were gone the next. All trying to get a piece of the web analytics pie. But what this really did was to help standardize the industry into a semblance of what it is today. Company structure, practice, and standards started to coalesce into a solid foundation for the advent of web analytics 2.0. Now in todays market there is complete standardization between differing web analytic firms, each offering essentially the same service.

So in essence Web Analytics 1.0 was just the beta stage for marketers. The testing ground where all the bugs are worked out of the system and the best features kept and the vestigial offerings withered and died (or fell off). And web analytics 2.0 is where it really begins. Avinash desribes it as:

Web Analytics 2.0 is:

(1) the analysis of qualitative and quantitative data from your website and the competition,
(2) to drive a continual improvement of the online experience that your customers, and potential customers have,
(3) which translates into your desired outcomes (online and offline).

This is where twenty-odd years of development have led marketers. To a point in time where we can make effective and timely use of the information that we can collect. Just imagine what we can do in another twenty years. In theory one could get real-time data and use that to develop real-time ad campaigns that would be broad cast right to the user within minutes, or better seconds, of their visit to a web site. For marketers this would allow instantaneous marketing. Which, if we read the last two blog posts I made about web analytics, and the digital native goes to show that this is where the future of marketing is going. Parallel ideas and random access thoughts which is going to next wave as the net generation comes into their own is going to require this kind of marketing just to get their attention. So until next week thanks for stopping by and remember, marketers are watching.


1 Comment

  1. Hey, cool page. Keep up the good work!

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