Not to be outdone by Google, and to offer an adjunct to their very own adCenter Pay-Per-Click advertising, Microsoft is getting into web analytics. There’s a lot I like about Google Analytics, but there’s also stuff I don’t like, too. There’s clearly plenty of room for improvement, like real-time web statistics for a start.
“According to [Ian Thomas, a planner on the project and a veteran of WebAbacus], the project is in closed alpha stage, with plans for an invite-only beta in coming months and a potential launch later this year. The product appears to be positioned in the same niche as Google Analytics.”
Ian Thomas then adds: “I can’t be very specific at all about the functionality we hope to deliver, but I can say that the target audience for this project is broadly similar to the target audience for Google Analytics – though it’s emphatically not our intention simply to replicate the functionality within that product,…”
The project is currently called Gatineau, which is some town up in Canada somewhere.
Tamar Weinberg of 10e20 adds:
“If this truly will be Google Analytics’s competition, I’m hoping this is going to address several shortcomings that I’ve found in Google Analytics, particularly the notion of inaccurate counts (especially when compared with Urchin, which is ironic given that Google purchased Urchin yet dropped its core functionality), the absence of the direct referral page in the analysis review, and complexity (especially for newbies — how about simple Urchin-like reports and an advanced view?)”
There are other, cumulative annoyances that just make Google Analytics seem awkward at times. The thing is, there are so many options in Google Analytics, it’s difficult to know where to start.
What I’d like to see from both Microsoft and Google is an attempt to break the wealth of options down into distinct groupings that reflect common tasks.
Tasks which marshal these options into salient, valuable bundles of data that make sense, rather than requiring me to wade through the different panels, sifting through the data and trying to formulate cohesive, meaningful dollops of information myself.
An area of weakness for Google that Microsoft could readily attack and exploit is the pitifully tenuous link between Google AdSense and Google Analytics. And more disappointingly, the same also applies to Google AdWords and Google Analytics.
I’m led to believe that Google AdWords and Google Analytics work together in some way. Having tied the two systems together, I’ve yet to see this work!
After trying to get some feedback from Google themselves on this issue, as well as the relevant Google Groups, I’ve thus far got nowhere.
What I don’t want Microsoft to do is to make their analytics package an incestuous mess of proprietary tie-ins with their own software which effectively hobbles the package unless you’re running IIS and .Net, which would be a colossal shame and an opportunity lost.
Personally, I’m glad to see Microsoft entering this market which will hopefully force Google to pull out all the stops…
In related news: Interview with Google Analytics’ Brett Crossly
And as if by magic, I find an interview with Google Analytics’ Brett Crosby to delight you with:
“The following is the transcript of an interview of Brett Crosby, Senior Manager of Google Analytics, conducted in several sessions in January, 2007. He has been shaping the Web Analytics industry for ten years as the co-founder of Urchin Software Corporation and more recently as a senior product leader at Google. He is currently responsible for product positioning, feature roadmap development and all external product communications. Brett holds a degree from USC in Political Science and International Relations.”
Damn, am I good to you lot…