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5/21/2007
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Put to the Test: WebTrends Analytics 8

The granddaddy in the Web analytics space, WebTrends has more customers and more data collection and deployment options than its competitors. The vendor's software- and SaaS-based offerings are robust and well supported, but they're also complex and potentially expensive. Here are a few cautions and caveats to keep in mind when navigating the 'dizzying array' of reporting and licensing options.

Phil Kemelor is the lead Web Analytics analyst at CMS Watch and author of the "Web Analytics Report".

WebTrends has been in the Web analytics space longer than any of its current competitors, and many experienced Web site analysts got their start working with the tool. On one hand, the company possesses broad experience in multiple data collection methods, best practices and data integration methods, and the company brings an international focus. On the other hand, you may find the product a bit over-designed, more complicated and more expensive than it needs to be.

PROS
• Diverse product portfolio including SaaS, self-hosted, log file and tag-based products.
• Plentiful data export and import options.
• Rich report presentation and data visualization capabilities.
CONS
• Potentially confusing number of development options associated with reporting.
• Complex licensing model.
• Not a real-time reporting solution.

Founded in 1993, Portland, Ore.-based WebTrends has more customers than any of its competitors save Google Analytics, serving more than 10,000 firms ranging in size from small companies to enterprise-class organizations. WebTrends has had a somewhat eclectic ownership history, starting privately, going public in 1999, getting acquired by NetIQ (a software firm) in 2001, and then being taken private again in 2005 by Francisco Partners, a private equity fund.

Like its competitors, WebTrends is diversifying beyond pure Web analytics to focus on the requirements of Internet marketers. Its complete product line now includes:

  • WebTrends Analytics 8 – Web analytics licensed software
  • WebTrends Analytics OnDemand – Web analytics hosted subscription
  • WebTrends Marketing Warehouse 2.0 – customer segmentation analysis and list generation
  • WebTrends Dynamic Search – paid search optimization

Flexible Data Collection as Differentiator

WebTrends presents data collection flexibility that most products do not offer:

  • JavaScript tagging for its self-hosted WebTrends Analytics software or the WebTrends OnDemand SaaS environment
  • Webserver log file analysis
  • Hybrid data collection (combined page tag and log file)

WebTrends flexibility in this area is rare. The market for Web analytics has shifted over the years from being based on conventional licensed offerings using Web server log file data collection to being based on hosted services using JavaScript page tag data collection. WebTrends' data collection and license model may be of particular interest to companies that want flexible in-house options because of Web data security concerns.

WebTrends OnDemand data collection architecture is hosted in redundant, geographically dispersed data centers with automated failover. For enterprise customers, this level of redundancy and failover is typical of most application server environments. It is not necessarily typical among analytics vendors, however, and may be a point worth considering in your evaluation. Some analytics vendors manage their data in only one data center.

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