The first-ever study of vendor compliance with Web Analytics Association standards finds analytics vendors slowly moving toward standardized definitions of key metrics and reporting concepts, but not all vendors fully align with each standard, according to research released recently by independent evaluation firm, CMS Watch.

These findings come from the latest version of the CMS Watch Web Analytics Report 2009, which evaluates 20 Web analytics platforms against 12 potential use cases.

WAA standards define 26 key metrics and reporting concepts so that customers, vendors and other analytics professionals can speak a common language. For example, WAA defines a single-page visit as “visits that consist of one page regardless of the number of times the page was viewed.”

CMS Watch asked 20 vendors to provide a point-by-point explanation of how their solution aligns with WAA standards. Only ten vendors responded: Amethon, Bango Analytics, Coremetrics, Google, Intellitracker, Lyris, Mobilytics, Nedstat, Unica and WebTrends. “We were disappointed that not all vendors responded,” said CMS Watch contributing analyst Phil Kemelor, citing industry giant Omniture as a notable absentee.

In some cases, vendors do not comply when a particular standard defines functionality that simply does not exist in that tool. “For example,” notes Kemelor, “repeat visitors is not a metric you can get in Google Analytics, Lyris ClickTracks or Nedstat.”

In other cases, according to Kemelor, “Vendors who indicate compliance with a particular WAA standard may choose wording that’s not entirely clear or complete.” For example, most vendors remain vague about what constitutes a page.”

“WAA standards are important for customers,” argues CMS Watch founder Tony Byrne, “because they give us a common way of talking about metrics and reports at a time when confusion about what a tool can or can’t do creates real barriers to enterprises obtaining the analysis they need.”

“CMS Watch consistently finds that vendor adherence to industry standards is always a relative thing,” adds Byrne, “so customers need to carefully investigate themselves.” He concludes, “We hope that by making this matrix freely available we can educate the marketplace and encourage further alignment with the WAA.”

The full Web Analytics Report 2009 is available for purchase online from CMS Watch.


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