Digital Analytics

The Clash of the Titans – Google Analytics Premium vs. Adobe SiteCatalyst

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If you wish to acquire more customers, generate more sales or identify a new market segment, you need a comprehensive and powerful data analytics tool to assist you. Such a system can provide an almost limitless supply of data and insights, which you can use to maximize your ROI.

While there are a number of analytics software programs, two of the most popular ones are Analytics Premium from Google and SiteCatalyst from Adobe. Each tool has its sets of strengths and weakness, a few of which have been described in great detail in the article.

Determining which solution is the superior one determines entirely on the business requirement and perceived value.

About Adobe and its marketing solution

Adobe is an enterprise solution provider that offers in-house support and consulting capabilities. They are well-supported by an army of resellers and solution partners all over the world. Their marketing cloud, SiteCatalyst, is a comprehensive, complex and rich tool that offers tremendous value to the digital marketing fraternity.

About Google and its marketing solution

Google is a world-famous name, thanks to its tremendous contributions to the digital sector. The technology company made its foray into the enterprise sector with its analytics solution, which has disrupted the market in more ways than one. The company has a significant dependence on resellers and solution partners.

Challenges faced by the digital marketers

Core problems faced by the digital marketing departments include the following:

  • How to track the performance of our digital marketing initiatives?
  • How to identify and build segments for remarketing?
  • How to personalize the experience of online consumers?
  • How to minimize data latency, especially during peak hours?

Strengths of both the systems

Adobe’s Marketing Cloud is an effective solution for the above problems, and more. Google’s Marketing Cloud, on the other hand, lacks the richness and versatility offered by SiteCatalyst. However, the former provides value in other ways:

  • It provides a powerful reporting and analysis interface in the form of Google Analytic Premium
  • You can enjoy seamless and smooth integration with Google Media Properties
  • You can access click-stream data easily with BigQuery
  • It provides a supportive environment for you to build custom applications over BigQuery
  • It offers Data-Driven Attribution Modeling

Weaknesses of both the systems

Adobe’s Marketing Cloud fails to meet the needs of the digital marketer in the following areas:

  • It does not offer a simple and intuitive interface for the functions of reporting and analysis
  • It should refine and improve its mobile app tracking
  • Limitations or restrictions in Attribution Modeling Capabilities
  • Limitations or restrictions in cross-device measurement
  • It should offer easier data integration, which can assist in building a cloud-based Marketing DataMart
  • It should improve integration with DoubleClick Campaign Manager and Bid Manager
  • The sampling limit is 500,000 distinctive entries per report. Even so, you can access the entire data through the Datawarehouse.

Google’s Marketing Cloud fails to meet the needs of the digital marketer in the following areas:

  • Significant deficiencies exist in the tool’s onsite testing and targeting capabilities. However, a solution on the same is expected in Q2 2016 in SEA as announced by Google in June 2015 in the Partner Summit.
  • There is a noticeable absence of a packaged Data Management Platform. This can help to build smart visitor profiles by combining the various online and offline data attributes. A possible solution in this regards is expected by mid of 2016.
  • The tool’s mobile app tracking functionality is quite simple and basic. The company needs to do a lot more than providing SDKs for Android, and iOS phones
  • Currently, data latency stands at less than 4 hours. The company aims to make it nearly real-time by end of 2016
  • The sampling limit was 500,000 sessions earlier. It is now 50 million sessions in UI and 200 million sessions to download. The company aims to increase these limits to ridiculous levels
  • The tool has some limitations in Online and Offline Attribution. The company plans to launch a solution in early 2016 to solve this problem

Implementation

Implementing Google Analytics Premium on your site is extremely easy; you do not need coding knowledge or IT know-how to perform this task. All you need to do is incorporate the Analytics Premium JavaScript into your site – as simple as copy and paste. If you want to get the most out of the tool, you can consider custom implementation. Tagging and ongoing maintenance require moderate efforts.

Implementing SiteCatalyst, on the other hand, will require greater in-depth development work and user involvement. In fact, you will require a dedicated and skilled professional to plan, execute, and monitor the implementation. However, implementation will always be customized, that is, the data captured by the tool will be personalized to meet your needs. Tagging and ongoing maintenance require high efforts.

Affordability

Both tools are available at a high standard cost. You can have Analytics Premium for a flat fee of $150,000 per year. While the entry point for Analytics Premium may seem high for small and mid-size companies, it is very competitive for high-volume sites.

Depending upon the traffic volume and service level, you may have to pay more for SiteCatalyst. What you will need to definitely consider are the additional costs in Adobe’s Marketing Cloud for Implementation Support, Inclusion of CRO Testing and AdWords integration. Of course, the aforementioned features are optional in SiteCatalyst. Yet, companies should bear in mind that it would be foolhardy to ignore any opportunity that can help them to increase conversions. The cost of acquiring a SiteCatalyst solution can be $48,000 on the low range and $350,000 on the high range.

The Total Cost of Ownership is higher in Adobe’s solution due to the following reasons:

  • The marketing stack is rich and detailed
  • Use of different technologies that require a certain degree of customization
  • Dependence on third-party consultants and solution partners
  • Costs associated with post-implementation support, consulting and training are quite high considering the complexity and richness of the solution

Google’s solution scores lower on Total Cost of Ownership due to the following reasons: –

  • Its marketing stack is not as rich or versatile as that of Adobe SiteCatalyst
  • The customer has to subscribe separately for third-party technologies and tools
  • As the code is rather straightforward, customers can set up and empower in-house teams to manage the process
  • There is far lesser dependency on third-party consultants and solution partners
  • Costs associated with post-implementation support, consulting and training are quite reasonable as Google’s philosophy is to empower local agencies to serve the clients

Reporting

When you are examining and comparing the reporting functions of Analytics Premium and SiteCatalyst, you should keep in mind the following two aspects:

  • The amount of data to be captured in the reports
  • The process of report generation

The first aspect depends upon the site traffic. Analytics Premium offers a monthly visit limit of one billion and reports on unsampled data. However, the reports displayed in the user interface use the sample data. If you want to view the complete data for detailed analysis, you will need to export the report. While SiteCatalyst looks at all the generated data, it still lagged behind in terms of reporting – until Version 15 was released. The tool now leads in contemporaneous comparisons, thanks to updated dashboards, bounce rate, and segmentation.

The updated version of SiteCatalyst includes metrics similar to those available in Analytics Premium. Even so, Analytics Premium holds on to the advantage when it comes to creating customized, comprehensive and unique visualizations of data.

Taking a step back to look at the larger picture, it is easy to see and appreciate the differences between the two tools. Analytics Premium is user-friendly, agile and very easy-to-use. The tool allows anyone to study the traffic data and reach immediate and dynamic conclusions. SiteCatalyst is a powerful and intensive tool that is highly customizable and data-heavy. It demands a dedicated specialist to set up the system and get down to the business of measuring and analyzing data.

The road ahead

There is no innovation or improvement without competition, as threats bring out the best within us.

While both tools will continue to evolve, the situation will remain static for the foreseeable future. Analytics Premium will continue to highlight its ease of use and user-friendly interface while SiteCatalyst will continue its emphasis on powerful analysis and performance. Google will aim to keep the price at a minimum while Adobe will continue to charge a premium for its offerings. This is obviously due to the different revenue models followed by the companies – Google makes its money from online advertising while Adobe does the same by selling licenses and software.

At the end of the day, the ensuing competition will be in favor of the consumers as they will have superior versions of both Adobe SiteCatalyst and Google Analytics Premium to choose from.

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