Chris Anderson in a debate published on “The Wired” mentions that web is dead. He has showcased illustrations to prove his argument. If you study the trends, you’ll also find logic in his argument. The growing usage of social networking sites, many acquisitions of social networking sites and launch of RealTime search by Google, and burgeoning adoption of social apps indicate enough that the future of web is at least not going to be the same as it is now. If this happens to be true, what would be then the future of web analytics?
As of now, there are some standard KPIs to measure users’ behavior on a website. They are, as known to you, are – visits, page views, top keywords, time spent, referral sources, bounce rate, etc. The question here is now – whether these KPIs, as standards set by world web analytics, are still relevant in measuring the performance of a website. In my opinion, they are not.
Web Analytics Association (WAA) has listed down concepts to measure analytics behavior of users on web. Many of them are related to ‘keyword optimization’ and many web analysts always suggest ways to increase web site traffic based on the insights they drive after studying standard KPIs. Not necessarily, a web whose traffic has gone down is not popular as it was. May be, it’s more popular today than yesterday. Today, there are various sources where users without visiting a website keep themselves updated about the offerings of websites. Those sources are micro-blogging like Twitter, syndication service like RSS, creation of profile in networking sites, YouTube videos etc.
I’m a big fan of Mashable. I’m sure many of you are. I follow Mashable updates on Twitter & Google buzz. I have also ‘Liked’ Mashable on Facebook and subscribed to RSS feed. Within no time, I get the latest updates from these sites. I just glance at the heading and read right on my email the full article without even visiting the website. I today spend more time on Twitter, Facebook, RealTime Search than visiting manshable.com. I’m equally sure all other users’ are doing the same. Does it mean Mashable’s popularity is going down just because its ‘visits’ as per web analytics KPI is going down?
Today, there are various sources of information collections and not just search engine. Web 2.0 has really redefined the way we are seeking digital information via different sources. Do the current web analytics software – be they Omniture, ClickTracks, WebTrends or Google Analytics track user behavior on those social networking sites? Why social analytics like Radian6 is getting popular? Have you ever thought?
The future of web analytics lie in its integration with social analytics. Though many softwares claim yet they are not still fully integrated with social analytics. If users are going social way, why web analytics are still stuck to a website? I often hear IBM’s acquisition of web analytics software. I’m not sure what IBM is going to do with traditional web analytics at time when the standard KPIs don’t represent the true picture of users’ behavior. I’m equally not sure if certification from WAA or UBC Award of Achievement in the field of Web Analytics remains relevant down the line unless they set other standard KPIs fully integrated with social analytics to track users’ behavior.
All the best web analysts!