Mar
22

Definition and history of Web analytics

Article read 3414 times in categories Web Analytics

The web analytics market in France and more widely in Europe is developing. New consulting companies were launched and accompany more and more companies, whether or not pure player. The work of evangelization begins to be gainful and more and more companies in Europe are now aware of the web analytics’ value added, whatever the business model(s) of their website. They only remains to take that step. In north America, the web analytics market is already mature. The firm Forrester also forecasts that market value will reach $ 1 billion just for the United States in 2014,  that said the potential in France and Europe.

Faced with this enthusiasm, I think it’s time to step back and relate the key stages in the evolution of the discipline since the start of the industry by Webtrends in 1993 until today. I found others articles about this subject but they are either outdated or not quite complete. I think this will help us to better understand what is happening and anticipate what will happen this year.

This article includes technical passages explaining the basic features of web analytics’ tools. These passages are simple and understandable by the less technical of you.

It’s composed of six parts  that are accessed directly through the following links:

- Definition of web analytics

- Web analytics, what is it ?

- Back on the main advances of the discipline from 1993 to today

- Focus on 1993 and the beginning of web analytics through log files’ analysis

- Simplified schema of data collection via log file

- Excerpt from a log file

- The year 1997 and the arrival of data collection method via javascript tags

- Simplified schema of data collection via javascript tag

- Development’s timeline of the majors web analytics’ solutions from 1993 to today

- Analysis of this evolution

Definition of web analytics

The web analytics is the measurement, the analysis and the reporting of users behavior in order to understand and optimize the use of your website.

Web analytics, what is it?

Attract, convert and gain loyalty - The three main domains of e-marketing

The web analytics aims to increase the profitability of your website.

For years, traffic acquisition is the field of e-marketing the most popular at the expense of conversion and retention. Too many enterprises forget that their company website does not live through traffic acquisition but with its monetization and therefore with the visitors that the site managed to convert into customers. The conversion rate is 55% in physical stores, that is to say that more than one in two people entering a store buys. This rate falls to 1.8% on the Internet for e-commerce websites. It’s very little and this leaves considerable room for improvement.

Concretely, the web analytics comes down to the collection, the analysis and the implementation of recommendations based on data collected by a web analytics’ tool.

Back on the main advances of the discipline from 1993 to today

The data collection can be done via two methods:

- Logs’ analysis of web servers

- The use of JavaScript tags

Here is a timeline showing the main stages in the evolution of web analytics:

Evolution of web analytics

You will find this timeline and the one after in this pdf file.


1993:  Start of web analytics, three years after the creation of the HTTP  protocol and the beginning of the Internet in public

The web analytics is born through the HTTP protocol which has the particularity of recording each exchange between the visitor and the website in a log file. Thanks to these data the analysis of user behaviour has began.

A protocol is a set of rules defined for a type of communication. If you want to find a comparable in our everyday life, the protocol used to talk to another person could be the language, there would be a protocol french, english or canadian french  (without offend you dear friends across the Atlantic, some of your expressions require an explanation :) ).

The HTTP protocol is the protocol that we use every day to view  web pages. We unconsciously use it in the address bar of our browser, when we want to visit a site:

Location of HTTP and WWW in a standard Internet address

Location of HTTP and WWW in a standard Internet address

You probably know other protocols like HTTPS which is a secure version of HTTP or FTP for example.

The HTTP protocol was invented in 1990 by Tim Berners-Lee with HTML to create the World Wide Web (which is the meaning of the acronym www visible in the majority of urls as well).

Here is a simplified schema representing data collection via log files:

Schema of data collection via log file

You will find this shema and the other one about javascript tags in this pdf file.

Here is an extract from a log file:

Extract from a log file

Extract from a log file

The first work of measurement tools based on logs analysis is to assign each requests (each line of a log file corresponds to a request from the browser) to the right visitor. This allow to replenish each visits.

These requests are called hits. Logs analysis was an adapted solution for the beginning of the web (from 1990 to 1996) when pages were statics pages composed almost exclusively of texts and links. A request or a hit was therefore equivalent to a page. Pages are now richer with the arrival of images, videos, animations, style sheets and  technologies like Ajax or Flex. Since each hit corresponds to a request of a page element, the number of hits measure now more the complexity of the page than its actual popularity.

The number of hit is now useful only for the DSI (Department of Information Systems) to measure the loading of web servers.

The data collection became unusable with the advent of search engines and their robots, proxies servers to surf anonymously, allocation of dynamic IP addresses by ISPs and cached content techniques. All these developments have rendered the use of log files inappropriate to analyze user behavior. The data contained in log files were indeed biased and unique visitor identification almost impossible. There is also the fact that marketing departments had quickly appropriated the web because of its added value. Analysis of log files was therefore a method too technical  for these services to be easily used.

So, audience measurement by logs analysis had become inadequate… The editors of web analytics solution had to change their method of data collection with the evolution of the Internet.

1997 :  arrival of data collection method via javascript tags

The method chosen was the use of javascript markers. This is the most widespread method of data collection today. The logs analysis method is still used but rarely. There are also some web analytics tools which use a hybrid method that combines the use of log files and javascript tags.

Simplified schema of data collection via javascript tags

A javascript tag must be carefully inserted in all pages of the website. The tag is executed at page load, collects datas of the current visit and sends them to a local or remote server depending of the measurement tool used. The tool receives informations from the visit, associates them with the good visit and finally stores them in a database.

Here is a simplified schema representing the data collection via the javascript tags:

Schema of data collection via javascript tag

You will find this shema and the other one about logs analysis in this pdf file.

The javascript tags have resolved the problems inherent in log files and now allow pratically to measure everything, the e-commerce transactions to the number of clicks on any page element.

Only the number of unique visitors remains and will, in my view, always approximate.

Development’s timeline of major web analytics solutions from 1993 to today

Here is a timeline tracing the evolution of web analytics’ solutions market to nowadays:

Evolution of web analytics' solutions

You will find this timeline and the one located at the beginning of the article in this pdf file.

Note that the market has moved up moderately up to March 2005. At this date, Google has entered the market and gave the pace by buying Urchin Software in March 2005 and launched Google Analytics in November 2005, only 8 months later. The Google brand is a huge advantage for the adoption of their solution Google Analytics which is free and whose features are evolving very rapidly. It’s clearly a priority for the Mountain View firm. Google nibbles slowly away market share held by the historics measurement tools despite the fact that these tools offer more advanced features that are not available in the Google tool such as data ownership, warranty service etc… For now, mature companies in terms of web analytics use paid tools to respond fully to their needs and companies that start in the field use firstly free tools. Google’s solution was a huge boost for the industry and paid measure tools must redouble their efforts to maintain the lead they have on Google Analytics. There is also Yahoo! Web Analytics which is a free solution as well. Yahoo! Web Analytics offers a very good alternative to Google Analytics because it is more advanced on certain aspects. This solution can be used by mature companies in terms of web analytics by offering the advantage of being free … It remains still unknown in Europe, I will try to make you discover through this blog in future articles.

As you can see, the market is changing very fast. Knowing that in the Internet a major key success factor is execution speed, we can expect further announcements very soon and often!

It’s at your turn!

Any questions? What do you think of this article? What are your predictions for this year? How will evolve the coexistence between free and paid tools? Are you interested by Yahoo! web analytics? …

I look forward to your comments! Remember that my main goal is to have your opinion in order to exchange all together, thank you :D

Sources:
- Person in charge of Twitter accounts of web analytics tools
- “Visual History of Web analytics” by Eric T. Peterson
- Wikipedia

Print and share this article :

  • Print
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • del.icio.us
  • LinkedIn
  • viadeo FR
  • Wikio FR
  • Digg
Brice Bottégal
About the author, Brice Bottégal :

I'm product manager at Tag Commander where I'm responsible of 3 products: TMS (Tag Management System), AMS (Attribution Modeling System) and Privacy.

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

41 Responses to “Definition and history of Web analytics”

 
  1.  instagram likes says:

    instagram likes…

    Definition and history of Web analytics | Blog web analytics…

  2. acxsvfo, Video Porno Anal De Monica Santiago, TYWdHzz, [url=http://amberinparadise.com/Video_Porno_Anal_De_Monica_Santiago.html]Video Porno Anal De Monica Santiago[/url], CVjzixM, http://amberinparadise.com/Video_Porno_Anal_De_Monica_Santiago.html Video Porno Anal De Monica Santiago, yMtpwjZ.

    [Reply]

  3. One of the safest and least expensive alternative smoking devices, you can hardly afford not to switch to Green Smoke electronic cigarette.
    The benefits of electronic cigarettes have been known already.
    On internet, you can find cheapest electronic cigarette at very low prices.

    [Reply]

  4. Thanks for some other excellent post. The place else may just anyone get that type of info in such an ideal manner of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I’m at the search for such info.

    [Reply]

  5.  Johnk193 says:

    Thank you for another informative website. Where else could I get that kind of info written in such a perfect way? I’ve a project that I am just now working on, and I have been on the look out for such information. ecfedkfdgbea

    [Reply]

  6. I’ve been exploring for a little bit for any high-quality articles or blog posts in this kind of area . Exploring in Yahoo I at last stumbled upon this site. Studying this info So i’m happy to show that I’ve a very good uncanny feeling I came upon just what I needed. I so much for sure will make certain to don?t disregard this site and give it a look on a constant basis.

    [Reply]

  7. Tremendous things here. I am very happy to look your post. Thanks a lot and I’m taking a look ahead to touch you. Will you kindly drop me a mail?

    [Reply]

  8.  Kristian says:

    I see a lot of interesting posts on your website. You have to
    spend a lot of time writing, i know how to save you a lot of
    work, there is a tool that creates unique, SEO friendly articles in couple
    of seconds, just type in google – laranita’s free content source

    [Reply]

  9. It is perfect time to make a few plans for the future and it’s time to be happy. I’ve read this publish and if I may I want to suggest you few attention-grabbing issues or suggestions. Perhaps you could write subsequent articles referring to this article. I wish to learn even more issues about it!

    [Reply]

  10. I every time emailed this blog post page to all my associates, because if like to read it afterward my friends
    will too.

    [Reply]

  11. I every time used to study paragraph in news papers but now as
    I am a user of net thus from now I am using net for
    articles, thanks to web.

    [Reply]

  12. Wow, this article is good, my younger sister is analyzing such things,
    so I am going to inform her.

    Feel free to surf to my web site … mobile marketing pdf

    [Reply]

  13.  business flies says:

    We stumbled over here coming from a different website and thought I should check things out.

    I like what I see so i am just following you. Look forward to going over your web page for a second time.

    [Reply]

  14.  Pure Leverage says:

    I was suggested this website by my cousin. I am not sure whether this
    post is written by him as nobody else know such detailed about my trouble.
    You are incredible! Thanks!

    [Reply]

  15.  Daniel says:

    Hi just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know a few of the images aren’t loading properly.
    I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue.
    I’ve tried it in two different browsers and both show the same results.

    [Reply]

  16. Simply desire to say your article is as surprising. The clearness for your put up is simply great and that i can think you’re a professional on this subject. Well along with your permission let me to seize your feed to stay updated with approaching post. Thanks 1,000,000 and please keep up the gratifying work.

    [Reply]

  17. Woah this weblog is magnificent i really like studying your articles. Stay up the good work! You recognize, many persons are looking around for this information, you can help them greatly.

    [Reply]

  18. Nice post. I used to be checking constantly this weblog and I’m inspired! Extremely useful information particularly the remaining phase :) I care for such information much. I used to be looking for this certain info for a very long time. Thank you and good luck.

    [Reply]

  19.  nhung thang may says:

    gia dinh mitsubishi sakura thiet ke Thang May Hisa do Thoi Trang Tet 2011 Phu Nu Dep Thang May Gia Dinh Can Tim Giup Viec Gia dinh

    [Reply]

  20. Heya i am for the primary time here. I came across this board and I in finding It really useful & it helped me out a lot. I hope to give something again and aid others such as you aided me.

    [Reply]

  21. So to prevent such car stolen, one important thing
    is do not lock or unlock your car far away. Still, it shows
    you just how fast you can lose a vehicle. Job choices and after that schools are extremely crucial.

    [Reply]

  22. I have fun with, result in I found exactly what I used to be having a look for.

    You have ended my 4 day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a great day.
    Bye

    [Reply]

  23. These are only a few of the possible scenarios
    tɦat one could use to invest in a house. And,
    the owner of the property has absolutely no interest in paying taxes
    on this parcel because he knows it’s worthless and he only inherited it from a
    ϲrɑzy սnclе. What got us into this financial and real estate mess in the first place.

    [Reply]

  24. Your commitment to home improvement does not end with your
    newly painted living room or your well-manicured lawn.
    Since it is part of the original home it may qualify for this tax benefit,
    but a capable tax pro should be reached to be completely sure
    that things get started properly. One of the best lighting improvements for children’s rooms,
    is adding in directional track lighting.

    [Reply]

  25.  Valencia says:

    You reall make it seemm so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be actually something which I think I would
    never understand. It seems too complex and extremely broad for me.

    I’m looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get
    the hang of it!

    [Reply]

  26. I blog quite often and I seriously appreciate your content.

    This great article has truly peaked my interest.

    I’m going to bookmark your site and keep checking for
    new information about once per week. I opted in for your Feed as well.

    [Reply]

  27. Heya i am for the first time here. I found this board and I find It
    really useful & it helped me out much. I hope to give something back and aid others like you helped me.

    [Reply]

  28. I most certainly will without delay get hold of ones rss as I aren’t able to find the e-mail monthly subscription backlink or even publication support. Are there just about any? I implore you to allow us realize in order that I possibly could register. Thanks a lot.

    [Reply]

  29. gia dinh mitsubishi sakura thiet ke Thang May Fuji Thoi Trang O Can Tho 10 Phu Nu Goi Cam Nhat The Gioi Thang May Fuji Gia dinh La So 1

    [Reply]

  30. With havin so much written content do you ever run into any issues of plagorism or copyright infringement?
    My blog has a lot of unique content I’ve either authored myself or outsourced but
    it appears a lot of it is popping it up all over the web without my agreement.
    Do you know any techniques to help reduce content
    from being stolen? I’d truly appreciate it.

    [Reply]

  31. Katy Landscaping…

    Definition and history of Web analytics | Blog web analytics…

  32.  Jamal Duong says:

    I like to spend my free time by scaning various internet recourses. Today I came across your site and I found it is as one of the best free resources available! Well done! Keep on this quality!

    [Reply]

  33. Wow, fantastic website shape! How long have you ever been blog for? you made running a blog look easy. The whole appearance of one’s web site is superb, when efficiently since the written content!

    [Reply]

  34.  SEO St Louis says:

    Hello, i feel that i saw you visited my website so i got here to return the prefer?.I
    am attempting to find issues to enhance my site!I suppose its adequate to
    make use of some of your concepts!!

    [Reply]

  35.  Jeffrey says:

    Great post Brice. Going forward I think we will look to real-time tracking, actionable insight (presentation of metrics that a business user can act upon, not just an individual metric), and even predictive analysis.

    Part of this will be combined into dashboards, typically used by executives, and partially onto a mobile device (i.e. iPhone or iPad, Android, Etc).

    There are already companies starting to pull in GA data right on the iPhone / iPad. Check out this blog post here: http://www.trendslide.com/blog/google-analytics-for-the-iphone/

    [Reply]

  36.  Patrick LeMay says:

    Well explained the history of web analytics. Thank you very much Brice.

    [Reply]

  37.  Ken Quandt says:

    Thank you for this history, Brice. Well done. May I blogroll you on my blog?

    [Reply]

    Brice Bottégal the March 24th 2010 at 08:28 answered :

    Of course ! Thank you :) I will create a blogroll too but not now. Good continuation in writing your blog !

    [Reply]

    Ken Quandt the March 25th 2010 at 20:29 answered :

    Thanks, Brice.

    Take care.

    Kind regards,

    Ken

    [Reply]

  38.  Justin Kistner says:

    Great history of web analytics post, Brice. If only the Wikipedia version was this good… ;)

    [Reply]

    Brice Bottégal the March 23rd 2010 at 16:01 answered :

    Thank you Justin :) English is not my mother tongue so…
    I tried to do my best !

    [Reply]

 

Leave a Reply