in Web Analytics

Is the Future of Web Analytics Horizontal or Vertical?

vertical analyticsIt’s something of a design truism that you can be decent at more things or great at a few things. Scarce resources, time and customers always force trade-offs. I like to think of “decent at more things” as a horizontal focus. Being “great at a few” would be a vertical focus.

Before eMetrics in San Francsico, I speculated that Google Analytics would make an announcement about the return of Measure Map (a blog measurement). They did resurrect it as a vertically focused tool designed just to help Blogger users measure their blogs.

On the flip side of the equation, Omniture used their annual summit to announce the newest version of their tools and the integration of everything into the Omniture Suite. Integrating each tool still takes some configuration, but the suite is definitely more horizontal in nature.

Different Users, Different Needs

The web analytics industry is growing up. It’s still a very geeky field, but as more people create and advertise online those same people are paying attention to measurement.

There’s a bunch of users who need focused data that’s simple. Not everyone needs access to every metric under the sun (when was the last time a blogger looked at technographics?). For those less experienced in web analytics, too many numbers can be confusing to navigate and understand.

Some users need focused data that’s richer than horizontal tools can provide. Specialized metrics and a clear presentation can make vertical tools much more applicable and useful. Email or affiliate analytics are probably good examples of targeted measurement.

Of course, we all want to simplify our lives. Horizontal tools can often integrate many different channels in one place. There’s no discounting the value of a unified world.

You Tell Me

At the end of the day, it’s all about the bottom line. What numbers do you need to measure and improve? What tool delivers the right user experience to make it easy for you to find and act on the data that matters? The answer may be one horizontal tool, one vertical tool or a combination of the two.

What do you think? Is the future of web analytics vertical or horizontal?

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  1. Is it possible to see a third option – a wide enough suite of vertical products that you get the richer abilities and data of the individual products, while still having the “more things” that a horizontal product has?

    For an example, look at Google Search. Their main search is a very ‘horizontal’ product that does a general search very well (“decent at more things”), but fails in certain cases. For those looking for a more ‘vertical’ (“great at a few things”), Google has added to their line-up products like Image Search, Blog Search, News, Video Search, and Google Scholar.

    So with Google owning both Urchin (now Google Analytics) and Measure Map, plus of host of other services (Feedburner and Blog Search come to mind), will we start to see a similar set of products emerge for ‘Website (or Blog) Monitoring’?

  2. Well, MeasureMap is for monitoring of your own blog. I’m not sure that Google would open up blog search to something like Technorati or TechMeme, though Google Trends for Websites is certainly a trend in the competitive data arena.

    My point is that we don’t need more data, we need less. We need the right data at the right time.

    For some audiences, they need a larger universe to support broader analysis. The trade-off for that is often
    a.) time and money to get an integrated view and
    b.) fewer specialized metrics for specialized tasks

    Other audiences need a smaller universe of focused metrics for narrow, but deep analysis. The trade off for that is a siloed view of the data in exchange for easier and faster answers or ones not available in other tools.

    Time will tell.

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