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Is Google Analytics Taking Over the World?

Key Takeaways
We visited each of the top 500 Internet Retailers websites and observed the following:

  • 37% use Google Analytics
  • 32% use Omniture
  • 30.2% use more than one application

When you consider the following research, you may be left wondering how far Google can reach. They already know almost everything about us as visitors and it appears like they are learning a lot about us as customers as well.

---This is the process that was used to conduct the research---

Observation
An increasing number of large companies' websites are using multiple analytics applications. More often than not, one of the applications is Google Analytics.

Hypothesis
Since Google started offering a "free" analytics application, it has garnered a lot of attention, even from larger web properties. It was hypothesized that many of these larger web sites are using Google Analytics in conjunction with their current analytics application to determine whether or not Google Analytics alone can satisfy their analytics needs. As a result of this hypothesis, it is expected that Google Analytics is being run on many of the same web sites that also run "enterprise level" analytics applications.

Methodology
From February 1st through February 15th, VKI Studios visited all of the Internet Retailer's top 500 websites. When visiting the web sites, Stephane Hamel’s WASP browser plug-in was used to report what analytics applications were installed on each site. This data was captured and analyzed to confirm or deny the hypothesis.

Results
Below is a summary of the results after visiting the Internet Retailer's top 500.

% of site that use:
1 analytics vendor 69.8%
2 analytics vendors 12%
3 analytics vendors 0.4%
4 analytics vendors* 17.8%

*WASP was not able to determine what analytics application was being used on 87 of the sites that we visited. Possible reasons are that the site was in FLASH, the site didn't have analytics implemented, or the site was down when it was visited.

For sites that had more than one analytics application implemented, the most popular combinations were:

Most popular combinations
% sites
GA (urchin.js) + Coremetrics 3.8%
GA (urchin.js) + Omniture SiteCatalyst 3.8%
GA (ga.js) or GA (urchin.js) + any other vendor 5.4%

The table below indicates the % of web sites using each vendor. Since some websites have more than one vendor's application implemented, the numbers will sum to more than 100%.

Vendor % sites using

Google

-Urchin software
-GA urchin.js
-GA ga.js

37.6%

0.6%
33%
4%

Omniture

-SiteCatalyst
-HBX

32.2%

26%
6.2%

CoreMetrics 17.6%
Webtrends 3.2%
FireClick 2.8%
ClickTracks 0.4%
OneStat 0.4%
Insite 0.4%
HitsLink 0.2%
Xiti 0.2%
Unica 0.2%

For Internet Retailer 500 websites using only one analytics application, the table below indicates the percentage using each specified vendor as their only application.

Vendor % sites that use only one analytics application

Google
-Urchin software*
-GA urchin.js
-GA ga.js


100.00%
64.85%
60.00%
Omniture
-SiteCatalyst
-HBX

76.92%
74.19%
CoreMetrics 64.77%
Webtrends 75%
FireClick 64.29%
ClickTracks 0%
OneStat 50%
Insite 0%
HitsLink 100%
Xiti 100%
Unica 0%

*Urchin software can only be detected when the UTM module is being used. Many more properties may be using Urchin for their log files without the UTM Module.

Other Insights

  • Over 12% of the sites that we were able to collect data on were using DoubleClick
  • 1% web sites that we visited were running Google Website Optimizer tests on their home pages
  • 0.4% sites have Tacoda’s behavioral targeting code implemented on their home pages

Conclusion
With more than 37% of the Internet Retailer 500 websites having either Google Analytics (either the ga.ms or urchin.js) or Urchin Software (a Google product) implemented on their sites, it seems that the analytics landscape is changing dramatically. With 13% of the sites reviewed running a Google Analytics product at the same time as another analytics vendor’s product, it appears that there is validity to my hypothesis: many large websites are experimenting with Google Analytics to see if it will satisfy their needs. .

This report is a snapshot at a given point in time, and it does not give us any insight with respect to how the landscape of analytics implementations is changing. We are planning a follow up test using the same methodology to determine how the analytics vendor landscape is changing.

References, Sources, and Tools
Internet Retailer 500 - http://www.internetretailer.com/top500/list.asp

ClickTracks http://www.clicktracks.com/
CoreMetrics http://www.coremetrics.com/
DoubleClick http://www.doubleclick.com/
FireClick http://www.fireclick.com/
Google Analytics http://www.google.com/analytics/
Google Website Optimizer http://services.google.com/websiteoptimizer/
HitsLink http://www.hitslink.com/
Insite http://insiteanalytics.net/
Omniture (SiteCatalyst and HBX) http://www.omniture.com
OneStat http://www.onestat.com/
Quantcast http://www.quantcast.com/
Tacoda http://www.tacoda.com/
Unica http://www.unica.com/
Web Analytics Solution Profiler (WASP) http://wasp.immeria.net/index2.htm
Urchin http://www.google.com/urchin/index.html
Webtrends http://www.webtrends.com/
Xiti http://www.xiti.com/

Research by VKI Studios http://www.vkistudios.com

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Comments (Comment Moderation is enabled. Your comment will not appear until approved.)
nice tip. thanks.
# Posted By hien comp | 8/11/08 1:18 AM
What a great read, thanks. It's funny, yesterday I was doing my own little comparison http://robertssemsystem.com/index.php/website_anal...

Look at the Google Trend data comparing 2 keywords "web analytics" VS "Google Analytics"

I concluded the need for "web analytics" is on a steady climb while "Google Analytics" is taking the world by storm.

I have no doubt the demand for analytic tools is at an all time high right now with continued increasing demand.
# Posted By Rob | 4/27/09 3:04 PM
.