The Battle of Web Analytics Solutions in 2013

I’m loudly claiming that 2013 will be a great year for web analytics solutions! Actually, that’s my two cents on this market I’m monitoring on an everyday basis from both a selling and a practical perspective.

So why 2013 should be a great year? Each of the top 4 web analytics solutions in North America (1) Google Analytics, (2) Adobe Analytics (ex-Adobe SiteCatalyst), (3) IBM Digital Analytics (ex-IBM Coremetrics) and (4) WebTrends, should all launch new features and it looks like it will be a battle of Titans. Furthermore, web analysts (not also to say financial analysts) will have to be delighted to adapt to these new features as the competition between these solutions will continue to be on the rise. In the following blog post, I will give you a personal overview of the state of the market.

Point 1 – State of the Market: Current Market Shares

In terms of market shares for each web analytics solution, the most recent table I have under the belt dates back from mid-October 2011 by Stephane Hamel. Since that publication, Google Analytics Premium was launched less than a month after, Yahoo Analytics was closed down for Halloween 2012, and I would bet a Benjamin that the top two enterprise solutions (Adobe Omniture and IBM Digital Analytics) have both gained a larger portion of the pie – even though it’s an augmented pie since you can have more than one web analytics solution – when it comes to top 500 North American retailers. According to the graph below, it is quite clear that Google owns a huge chunk of the market, but are they the best positioned to dominate in 2013 in terms of revenues generated? More to come in the next section, surprise, surprise!

web analytics solutions market share 2013
Web Analytics solutions market share 2011

Point 2 – My two cents about each web analytics solution

1. Google with Google Analytics Premium

Google is the only top web analytics solution to have both a free and an enterprise version. While the company may be considered to own the market for web analytics, this is only the case in terms of usage, but not in terms of revenues since Google Analytics is free and Google Analytics Premium is used by only a small amount of companies worldwide. Even though Google owns the free web analytics solutions market, the company is considered as a laggard when it comes to the enterprise web analytics solutions market, the market that generates revenues. Does this mean that the company is topped in terms of market share potential? My rough guess is yes, but this also means that there is plenty of potential to transfer some free clients to an enterprise–level solution, but for this to happen, Google needs to find a way to convince customers of the free version to convert to an enterprise solution that could be considered as good as other enterprise web analytics solutions. For the coming year, I’m expecting a lot from all features related to Universal Analytics that were first announced during the Google Analytics Certified Partner (GACP) Summit held in October 2012 in Mountain View.

2. Adobe with Adobe Analytics

Adobe did a lot for their web analytics solution Adobe Analytics since they acquired Omniture in 2009. To solidify the branding, the web analytics solution even changed name from Adobe SiteCatalyst to Adobe Analytics. With their latest release, a new report called Time Prior to Event was introduced, here is a summary of Ben Gaines upcoming presentation at the Adobe Summit Digital Marketing from March 4th to March 8th 2013 in Salt Lake City.

3. IBM with IBM Digital Analytics

I am a firm believer that IBM has all it takes to eventually become the leader in the web analytics solutions market, necessarily because of how IBM Digital Analytics could be integrated with other IBM solutions. The complete integration between Unica and Coremetrics is still not over, but more and more the IBM Digital Analytics solution – which changed name from the initial IBM Coremetrics name in December 2012 – really looks like it’s making a name for itself. The initial plan in 2010 when IBM realized they bought both Coremetrics and Unica in the same year, was that IBM Coremetrics should be the IBM web analytics solution combining the best features of both Unica and Coremetrics while IBM Unica should be the IBM campaign management solution combining the best campaign management features from Unica and Coremetrics. Furthermore, according to a study by Forrester published in 2011 (note that this link shows only to a single table of the report), IBM Digital was at that time considered as the best web analytics solutions in terms of features. I’m looking forward for the Smarter Commerce Global Summit in Nashville from May 21st to May 23rd 2013.

4. WebTrends
Webtrends was the first true web analytics solution to be launched, dating back in 1995. Even though WebTrends is a great web analytics solutions, it will need sleepless nights for its resellers to keep up with the pressure of the other three giants. Maybe the Engage Webtrends event taking place in San Francisco in less than a week (January 28th to January 30th) will kickstart the year 2013.

Point 3 – Ownership as a Proxy for Potential Revenue Growth for Each Web Analytics Solution

So which company has the highest potential for 2013? Based on the ownership and market capitalization of each company, the answer seems straightforward here. IBM (219.74B) and Google 231.50B) are the two companies with the highest Market Capitalization, Adobe is way much lower at 18.77B but less diluted, and Webtrends looks like a David against Goliaths in terms of Market Capitalization. Even though, WebTrends Market Capitalization is not available since the company is private – my rough guess as of January 20th 2013 is that WebTrends is worth between half a billion and a billion based on how Omniture was sold in 2009.

Top 3 Predictions for 2013

As a conclusion to this post, here are my top 3 predictions for 2013 based on the last 3 points:

1. Google Universal Analytics will change the state-of-the-market finally embracing the Business Intelligence market and leaving the traditional Web Analytics grounds.

2. Adobe and IBM will continue to fight as top enterprise solutions players, trying to convert Google Analytics users to web analytics enterprise solutions users before Google Analytics Premium become more competitive.

3. WebTrends will have to be sold to a bigger player to stay in the race, either Google or Microsoft may be buyers.


As it is looking right now, in this Chinese year of the snake, the web analytics solution market will not be for snake charmers but more for bloody fight involving pythons and boas. Something is sure, whatever the web analytics solution used, what is most important is not the web analytics solution, it’s the web analyst using the solution :-),

Have a great year 2013 everyone,

Jean-Francois Belisle

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An Overview of QR Codes: From Web Analytics Tracking to Advertising to Grandma

During the last year, QR codes have popped up from everywhere around me as well as in most marketing circles in North America. However, for many people, QR codes still remain a mystery. This post is a humble attempt to decorticate what QR codes really are, both from a customer’s and an advertiser’s perspective.

A Quick Overview

QR code is an abbreviation for “Quick Response code” intended to allow its content to be decoded at high speed. It was created by Toyota’s subsidiary Denso Wave in 1994, a company that still owns the patent rights but has chosen not to exercise them. The main objective of Denso Wave was to make “code read easily for the reader” (it looks like a bad Japanese translation, but anyway).

More precisely, QR codes refer to a specific two-dimensional matrix-type barcode, readable by QR barcode readers available on most new smartphones models. It consists of black modules arranged in a squared matrix on a white background. The information encoded can be text, URL or other data. Recently, what has mostly emerged in the online marketing community is the used of QR codes for encoding long URLs for offline advertising.

QR Codes Capacity

Similarly to barcodes, QR codes have extremely high data capacity. There actually exist 40 versions of QR codes (see the Denso Wave website for all versions). Each version has a specific “module configuration”, where the module refers to the black and white dots that make up QR codes. Version 1 is a 21 modules by 21 modules square, while version 40 is a 177 modules by 177 modules square. Each higher version number includes four additional modules per side, which suggests that version 41 would be 181 modules by 181 modules. Version 40, when error correction “L” is used (read more on error correction for QR codes), can encode up to 4,296 numeric symbols or 7,089 alphanumeric symbols.

How to Read QR codes?

There exists multiple mobile applications to read QR codes, one can use the QR code scanner integrated in Google Goggles available for the iPhone, and the Android platforms. For iPhone users like me, the Bakodo application is currently the most used (for the iPhone version I have) since it permits to read both barcodes and QR codes.

Who Uses QR codes?

QR codes usage by consumers is still extremely marginal. If you’re in Asia, especially in Japan or South Korea, where it seems mainstream since some years (2009-2010), it may be different, but in North America, maybe not in San Francisco (I will have the answer no later than this August) it is still reserved to geeks, so it’s still time to be considered as innovators (or geeky consumers) but it may change fast.

QR code for Jean-Francois Belisle website
QR code for Jean-Francois Belisle website

How to Generate QR Codes?

There exists many ways to generate QR codes for your website URLs or any other kind of data. However, the QR code generator on the Tools I Seek website seems to be the reference to generate fast QR codes for your website URLs.

When Should Advertisers Use QR Codes?

Usage of QR codes has been emerging at a fast pace. You can actually put QR codes on cars and buses if you want or on magnetic cards and dishwasher machines (I don’t see the point but …). However, from an advertising perspective, one needs to take into account at least four factors when deciding to include a QR code or not: (1) the amount of data to be stored, (2) the medium used, (3) the space available for the ad, and (4) how it may alter the ad design.

From a web tracking perspective, QR codes should be used to target any marketing campaign even when the URL is extremely short. However, if you’re tracking a campaign properly using tools to separate sources such as Google link builder, your campaign should always have a long URL anyway. In exceptional cases, if you have a short website URL, you may want not to include QR codes for lack of space and/or not to alter the design. This may be the case for small ads in magazines or TV ads. However, on magazines and especially on billboards, I am a huge advocate of including QR codes. For an A-B-C guide on how to track campaigns, you can follow this Google URL Builder Guide by Prateek Agarwal.

QR codes should be seen as complements to website URLs on an ad, not as substitutes, since you may reach different types of consumers. Anyway, rarely you will encounter a consumer both scanning a QR code and typing a web URL after.

If there is a place where QR codes are useless for encoding URLs, it’s on the web. Which consumer will want to scan a barcode when on the web to get access to a URL using another device? It may happen, but I don’t see the benefits compared to the disadvantages it may bring by altering the design.

Pepsi QR Code Campaign for Pepsi Max

How to Track QR Codes?

Like mobile technology, QR codes are useful for tracking campaigns even though they for sure underestimate the number of consumers who have seen an ad. For more about how to use QR codes for web tracking using Google Analytics, Publicinsite got an excellent post on the issue entitled “QR codes and Google Analytics to track mobile devices”.


QR codes may not be as sexy as social media, but similarly to tiny URLs, they are around to stay. After the emergence of location-based services, they are another technological innovation that pushes in the direction of connecting the offline world to the online ecosystem in a multichannel marketing fashion.

Enjoy your QR code quest with your mobile device,

Jean-Francois Belisle

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