12 Web Analytics Trends in 2012

Mark  Ryan

January 09, 2012

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I'm enthusiastic. I'm optimistic. I'm really looking forward to see what 2012 will do for the web analytics industry.

Here are some predictions for web analytics trends in the year ahead.

  1. IBM and Adobe will succeed where many have failed:  Acquisitions are tough in the web analytics space.  The space innovates quickly and has re-invented itself several times in the last decade.  Microsoft, Yahoo, and Digital River all made expensive acquisitions in the space and then failed to innovate losing market share into obscurity.  In 2012, Adobe will bring its expertise in interface development to the web analytics space, and IBM will bring true enterprise analytics to the web analytics space taking the industry in new directions.
  2. Exclude (Windows|Macintosh|Linux|iPhone) will grow quickly:  Create a segment that excludes all traffic from the top 4 operating systems and you will find a small group of visitors that probably grew by over 200% in the last year.  Visitors from platforms such as Android, Google TV, Playstaion, Nook, Nintendo, BlackBerry, etc are growing fast. While they only account for less than 7% of the traffic today, at this rate of growth they will be a significant audience by the end of 2012.
  3. Audience scoring: Web analytics solutions are great at reporting on audiences based on their source, conversion, searches, etc.  Most analytics tools fail on grading audiences based on their behaviors in between the first visit and the last.  The fact is, some audiences are more valuable (i.e. more qualified) than others, and web analytics tools are probably the most accurate method for screening these visitors.
  4. Heatmaps and session recordings become main stream: When multivariate testing had explosive growth, each of the major analytics providers purchased and integrated multivariate solutions.  In 2011 heatmaps and session recordings grew quickly as a instrument in the web analytics tool kit.  In 2012, we hope the major analytics providers will purchase or develop their own heatmap solutions.
  5. Integrated channel analytics becomes real:  With all major analytics customers focusing on a complex digital channel including YouTube channels, FaceBook applications, eMail marketing, 3rd party forums, etc the web analytics vendors have done a poor job offering a satisfying solution for this need.  In 2012 we are hopeful that the analytics vendors will find creative solutions for reporting on a complete multi-channel lifecycle.
  6. Tracking user interface events (HTML5/AJAX/JS):  HTML5 is expanding quickly.  AJAX usage continues to grow.  More functionality is coming to the interface every month.  The current tools for tracking interface events are poor with insufficient debuggers.  In 2012 we want to see better tools for creating tracking code and any thing the vendors can do to help with debugging will be appreciated.
  7. Analytics containers will continue to grow in popularity:  Tag containers help ease the implementation and updating of analytics tags across websites.  With Tag containers, the analysts can make updates to the analytics without using engineers or IT staff.  With a higher customization of tracking tags in 2012, more organizations will seek out the benefits that tag containers bring.
  8. Dashboards, dashboards, dashboards:  Dashboarding software is prime for a growth year (and some great options).  Advances from vendors such as Tableau should help analysts to focus on great visualizations of data and simplified reports.  2012 is the year for great dashboards.
  9. Reporting multi-visit analytics: Most (if not all) web analytics platforms are insufficient in clickpath analysis in that they report on a single visitor on a single visit. For complex products such as home loans, network equipment, enterprise software, etc it usually takes multiple visits for a conversion to happen and sometimes requires multiple visitors.  In 2012 we hope to see better analysis tools to help analyze these complex and common paths.
  10. Intranet analytics:  Web analytics for intranets have been an afterthought for web analysts for years.  Intranets are meant to be productivity tools and yet the data on their usage is typically inadequate.  Intranets have many dynamic functions such as document look ups, forms, phone directories, advanced searches.  More and more intranets are offering these complex functions to mobile users.  In 2012 we hope that web analysts will start to work with developers to track the complex functions of intranets and show how effective they are at improving employee productivity.
  11. CMS integration:  Content management systems have come a long way with integrating web analytics in the last couple of years.  But there is still a far way to go.  At Extractable, we are hopeful that the leading CMS companies will continue to improve their integration with vendors such as Google Analytics, Webtrends, and Adobe.
  12. Using visualization tools for better interpretation: The Visitor Flow report introduced by Google Analytics this year broadcast an interesting message to the analytics community.  Finding the right format for a report is critical to helping the team understand complex data sets and generate insights.  The more flexibility the analytics platforms give the analysts to report data the more effective the tools are.  In 2012, the we hope that the analytics platforms will continue to give new power to the analysts with powerful visualization tools.