This week Eric Peterson published a blog post titled ‘Finally! Standards Come to Web Analytics.’ I am very appreciative of Eric generating much needed debate about this extremely important topic because if we don’t do something ourselves, the standards will be dictated to us, and I don’t think any of us want.
Eric says that Google Analytics has become the de facto standard for our industry simply because GA is “the world’s most popular and widely deployed web analytics solution.” If we subscribe to this argument, then the title of the post should have been ‘Finally! Standards Come to Web Analytics…..AGAIN!!!!’ as we have been here before, there is nothing new here.
What Google Analytics has done, publishing a Web Analytics Glossary, is no different than what every other vendor has already done in the past. So why isn’t the glossary that Omniture published 5 years ago, when nearly every Fortune 500 company had Omniture deployed, the de facto standard? Why isn’t the glossary that Webtrends published, before Omniture was even born, the de facto standard?
If the answer to that question is that WT or Omniture or Unica or any other vendor never had the market penetration that GA has, then I would argue that market share shouldn’t dictate who defines standards. Under this argument, all web standards should be defined by the Internet Explorer team (as it has historically been the worlds most popular and widely deployed web browser) — I don’t want that, do you?
What makes standards so valuable and meaningful, is that they are universally accepted amongst all users and vendors. If a vendor, such as Google (and to be fair to Google, they are not taking this stance as far as I am aware), attempts to unilaterally create industry standards, the question that Eric asks at the end of his post is the correct question, does the community at large, both end users and vendors, agree with the GA’s standards?
For Google, or any other vendor attempting to go this alone, this becomes a very dangerous proposition in that if the community feels that the vendor is presenting standards that will immediately benefit them, and not necessarily anyone else, they will quickly lose credibility. That is why historically standards have been created through community collaboration, and yes, it’s damn hard to do but just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s the wrong approach.
I love Eric’s post and take it as a challenge to stop being so damn lazy and make the change we so wish to see happen and continue to work collaboratively as a community and not get distracted by every Zach Sawyer that transfers here from rich, expensive, car driving, high school.