As sellers of goods and services grow more dependent on the Internet for marketing purposes, Web analytics are gaining prominence and going mainstream, according to a report released last week by analyst firm CMS Watch. That the Internet is in focus is news to no one. What's interesting about this study is that, unlike in-house predictive analytic sales and marketing projects, Web analytics are mostly delivered as a service offering - which begs the question of where traditional BI analytic programs will meet up with this other kind of "online" analytical processing.Enterprises and service providers alike are scrambling to integrate Web analytics into an array of marketing services - email campaigns with better customer segmentation and the like, according to Phil Kemelor, the lead analyst on the study. As services and products are maturing, Kemelor's tells BI Review that the value proposition of Web analytics is being driven largely by the customer or organizational point of view. "It's the newer idea that Web analytics are seen less as standalone, less siloed, and more of an integral element to the Internet marketing. There's also the trend of porting Web analytic data into corporate data warehouses and integrating it with offline data to better understand customer behavior."

Unlike their BI program counterparts, Internet marketing managers are quite familiar with services from providers such as WebTrends, CoreMetrics or FireClick. And so far these companies have provided the better experience and response times - slow and superficial as they might be in some cases. Now as corporate imperatives mature around the Web, vendors want to ramp up and be the "brains" behind more and more marketing efforts, Kemelor says. "Web analytics has been around for about 10 years but until recently was slow to catch on so there has been a real lack of experienced Web data analysts. You can go spend a considerable amount of money on a tool but if you don't have the right person it's like buying a Ferrari and driving it like a Honda." As a result, consultants and vendors themselves are finding a good market in hiring themselves out for analysis on a monthly basis. By one measure, the CMS Watch report tiers Web analytic tools by customer resource requirements, which gets back to the viability of the service model versus buying a tool. Kemelor says it's an important early decision and, except for pure Internet plays and a few unique corporate cases, tends to be handed off to outside parties.

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