Web analytics is the most "dominant digital intelligence (DI) platform capability," according to Forrester analyst James McCormick who penned the latest Forrester Wave Web Analytics: Q4 2017 (fee charged) together with colleagues Gene Leganza and Emily Miller.

The analysts noted that while web analytics have existed since the early days of web browsers, they have evolved as customer digital engagement has changed and as companies undergo digital transformation. They made their claims based on data from a survey from Forrester, their Q2 2017 Global Digital intelligence Platforms Forrester Wave Customer Reference Online Survey which revealed that 73 percent of enterprises use web analytics as the key component of their digital intelligence initiatives followed by behavioral targeting (59 percent), online testing (51 percent), digital data warehousing (50 percent), and application analytics (48 percent)

The Forrester study also claims that despite consumer engagement on mobile apps, mobile browsers, tablets and IoT devices, actual purchases are most often made via a site accessed directly through a browser on a PC or Mac.

Evaluation Criteria

The analysts looked at seven vendors: Adobe, AT Internet, Cooldata, Google, IBM, Mixpanel and Webtrek, each of which has a dedicated web analytics solution with advanced functionalities. Forrester customers also commonly make inquiries around these products, which was one of the qualifiers for consideration.

Ratings of the vendors were based on 32 criteria which were grouped into three high level buckets around:

  • Current Offering: data ingestion, data repository, data model, data access, data ownership, dashboards and Alerts, artificial intelligence AI) and more.
  • Strategy: vendor strategy, vision, road map execution, partnerships and such
  • Market presence: Average deal size, number of customers, overall revenues. Forrester believes these are indicators of financial stability and viability.

Adobe and AT Internet Lead

Adobe is the clear leader when it comes to market share. The vendor also topped all of the other vendors in most of the other primary metrics like AI, data repository, model and access, analytics and reporting, web execution road map, performance among others.,. The only places it fell below another vendor were IBM in terms of deal size, and AT Internet in terms of data ownership and product vision.

Learning Opportunities

The analysts did note that it took new hires time to learn to leverage the solution.

AT Internet is hardly a household name but Forrester analysts were impressed with its features around data privacy, security and confidentiality and compliance. It also outranked all of the other evaluated vendors in product vision and supporting services. That being said there are significant areas like the user interface (UI) that need improvement.

Uncrowned: IBM and Webtrends

IBM and Webtrends shared the lead with Adobe and AT Internet when the last Web Analytics Wave report was published in 2014. Webtrends was not included in this year's Wave perhaps because Oracle acquired part of the company in mid-2017. IBM, which leads all of the vendors in the Wave in terms of “average deal size,” has a successful product in its Watson Customer Experience Analytics; however, its AI ratings are next to nil and it scores poorly in other areas like "web analytics usability and UX" which the analysts weighed heavily. That being said, IBM was rated as a "Strong Performer" and ranked third among all vendors.

Google Uncooperative?

Google was also named a "Strong Performer" though its leadership chose not to fully participate in the Forrester analysts' assessment. CMSWire has asked Google why it came to this decision. At the time of publishing they had not responded with comments. That being said, Forrester noted that even though Google's web analytics product is part of a suite that includes tag management, data visualization, audience management and more, it lacks support and capability for data management, data ownership and the like. Its market share is also dwarfed by Adobe.

Web Analytics Still Matter

Though web analytics may not be as sexy today as they were in the days that a search engine called Alta Vista competed with Google for market share, they still matter. Think about it, how will you be making most of your purchases on Cyber Monday when you are sitting in front of a monitor at work? As importantly, if you are searching for a web analytics solution, shop according to your needs as opposed to which ranks the highest.