Thursday, April 2, 2009

Web Analytics in the automotive industry

David Iwanow, from Australian based The Lost Agency, have done an analysis of the use of web analytics in the automotive industry. He reviewed 21 automotive manufacturers and found that nearly all of them are using web analytics on their corporate sites. A figure ahead of most other verticals. Omniture is clearly leading that space (73% of the sites), followed by Google Analytics (13% of the sites). About 30% of them are "double dipping" (using more than one web analytics solution), most of the time Google Analytics. This number is consistent with other analysis I've done myself. Get the complete web analytics automotive industry report.

Headquarters vs localized sites

The study from The Lost Agency is interesting, and what I have also uncovered is the huge difference between the headquarter, official website and localized sites. For example, when I looked more closely at Canadian sites in the automotive space, I realized a number of them are using Google Analytics even if SiteCatalyst is being used on the corporate site.

Sites using Omniture SiteCatalyst:
  • Acura.com
  • AudiUSA.com, AudiCanada.ca
  • BMWusa.com
  • Fiat.com
  • Ford.com
  • GM.com, GM.ca
  • Honda.com
  • HyundaiUSA.com
  • Infinityusa.com
  • Kia.com
  • Mazda.com
  • NissanUSA.com
  • Subaru.com
  • Toyota.com
  • VW.com, VW.ca
Sites using Google Analytics:
  • Chrysler.com, Chrysler.ca
  • HyundaiCanada.com
  • Infinity.ca
  • Kia.ca
  • Mazda.ca
  • Nissan.ca
  • Porsche.com
  • Subaru.ca
  • VW.ca
Sites using WebTrends:
  • BMW.com, BMWusa.com, BMW.ca
  • Chrysler.ca, Chrysler.com
  • Ford.com, Ford.ca
  • Mazda.ca
  • Suzuki.com
  • Toyota.ca
Other tools:
No tools or log-only solution:
  • Acura.ca
  • Honda.ca
  • Lexus.ca

A matter of cost, maturity & control

Cost: I've been to a number of eMetrics conferences in the US, either as a speaker or attendee. What strikes me between the US and Canadian markets is the significant difference in investment in web analytics. Having worked with a number of Canadian companies, I have witnessed first hand how hard it is to justify the cost of high-end web analytics solutions. After all, a small US site is likely to receive more traffic than a large Canadian one! Different scales, and thus, the TCO are also very different when put against traffic and online revenues. If we think of multivariate testing, behavioral targeting and even voice of customer, Canadian sites are also generally less advanced than their US friends.

Control: The last element pertains to the justifiable and natural goal of uniformity across the brand, which often leads to a less flexible framework. The counterpart of that is the natural human tendency to try to solve problems and get information with the least amount of effort and political constraints, leading to "behind the door" implementation of non-officially approved tools, again, most of the time Google Analytics.

This point goes well beyond web analytics. I have seen a number of global organizations aiming to uniformly address the online channel while teams working on localized sites were striving to bypass those frameworks in order to gain flexibility and deliver on what they are accountable

Maturity: The other consequence, or reason (we're in a catch 22 here) is the web analytics maturity level is generally lower in Canada. Lower maturity leads to fewer investment in web analytics and ancillary applications, which makes the free Google Analytics much more interesting.

The Web Analytics Maturity Model was the topic of my eMetrics Toronto presentation. I will present a longer version of it at eMetrics San Jose, coming up in early May.

If you are on the Canadian side, do you perceive those differences? Do you agree about my view of cost/control/maturity? If you are working in a global corporation with localized sites, what's the best model to balance control and cost efficiency vs flexibility and empowering the localized teams?
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