Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Automotive & Web Analytics in Europe - one year later

Update: Following comments & feedback received, the research results have been updated (25th of November). It mainly concerns Sophus3 eMetrics that managed to increase its share - as Peugeot and Citroen are actually using it as they core Web Analytics solution for their main markets. The chart and PDF document have been adapted accordingly.

Last year, I did my own little market research on the European automotive industry and Web Analytics usage, using the excellent tool, Web Analytics Solution Profiler (WASP). Being curious - I decided to do it again and see if there was any major change (revolution?) or specific trend in this industry. Last year 1st place was held by Sophus 3 eMetrics, a industry-specific solution. Is it still the case? Does the crisis made manufacturers to massively switch to the free Google Analytics (or Yahoo Web Analytics)? Are paid vendors left with just their eyes for crying? The answer is just below...

Research background
The context is (almost) the same as last year: the research covered the 5 major markets in Europe i.e. UK, Germany, France, Italy & Spain. It includes 32 brands (last year I forgot Skoda -shame on me!) present on the European soil including premium and luxury ones. That represents in total 135 websites. Note that some brands only have one global website (or local sites under same main .com domain name).

As said, I used WASP to detect "core" Web Analytics solution used on the websites - I didn't look at ad tracking, voice-of-customer nor behavioral targeting solutions. It may be possible that some manufacturers are using other tracking solutions, either own-made or tweaked ones that are not recognized by WASP.

Finally, I regrouped in the total counts solutions from same providers i.e. Omniture includes both Omniture SiteCatalyst and Omniture HBX, Google Analytics includes Google Analytis & Google Urchin...

The full results for 2009 research can be downloaded using the button below:

Download research detailed results
And the winner is...

Web Analytics usage by Automotive manufacturers in Europe 2009
  • Google Analytics took pole position, being present on almost half of the sites (45.9%). Its share progressed by more than +100%! But is it really a surprise? In many case, Google Analytics coexists with a major paid solutions. It is probably used to track specifically search engine traffic and paid search performances as it fully integrates with Google Adword. Yet, Google Analytics is also used main primary solution in 23% of all sites.
  • More surprising is the result for Sophus 3 eMetrics, the industry specific solution, that managed to strengthen its position & presence (30.7% of all sites, +10% vs. 2008). Not only it is resisting against traditional Web Analytics vendors and but it managed to get new customers (Peugeot & Citroen, all major markets) in spite of the crisis. (Updated on 25th of November)
  • Omniture (16.3% of all sites) took the last place on the podium away from WebTrends (14.1%), leading traditional paid vendors (Note: for more details about Omniture result vs. last year - see post comments). In most case it is used as a global Web Analytics solution (i.e. on all local sites) by big players like Audi, Volskwagen or Mercedes-Benz.
  • More and more manufacturers are using more than one solution on their site. The average is 1.25 solution per site vs. 1.1 last year.
  • Some paid vendors lost customers: WebTrends (Ferrari, BMW Germany(!?), Volvo (!?)) and Nedstat (Nissan replaced it by Omniture Site Catalyst).
  • The number of sites with no (known) Web Analytics solution found decreased - only 5 sites with no solution found (vs. 14 last year).
  • The paradox: luxury brands (Lotus, Ferrari, Maserati, Porsche) seems to not want to spend money on Web Analytics as all adopted Google Analytics.
  • The missing ones: Yahoo Web Analytics, Coremetrics & Unica were not found - same situation as last year.
Google Analytics penetration is quite impressive but not really a surprise. Still, it is not yet really replacing paid vendors but for how long? Especially knowing that Google Analytics is closing the gap with paid vendors. Just look at the latest features that were announced last month. On top of that, traditional paid Web Analytics vendors are battling against an industry specific solution, Sophus3 eMetrics that is dominating the paid market and that even increase its presence. (Updated on 25th of November)

However, automotive manufacturers are still licking their wounds from the crisis and may reconsider paying for services that they may get for a much lower cost. Future will tell...

As said last year, this research does not tell anything about the expertise and usage of Web Analytics by the different manufacturers. After all, "a fool with a tool remains a fool" :-).

So what do you think? What comment would you add? Please share your thoughts with the rest of us.

Note: if you spot any error (yes, this can happen :-)), please let me know and I will update the figures accordingly.

Related posts & resources:
Note on Sophus3:
Sophus3 provides two types of online measurement products to automotive manufacturers. the first one, eMetrics is full Web Analytics solution used to measure & track websites activity like traditional Web Analytics solutions. The second one, eDataXchange is a collaborative benchmarking project for the automotive industry. A majority of manufacturers are participating to the eDataXchange project that uses the same tagging technology as eMetrics - both based on TouchClarity script (now Omniture Test & target). However for the benchmarking project, only a subset of key pages are tagged. for more information, see Sophus3 website.


  1. Great work Michael, and thanks for mentioning WASP!

    The growth of Google Analytics is amazing, but as you mentioned, maybe not a big surprise. Omniture seems to be the only real looser (and "others"). What's also interesting is to note the "None found" category drop.

    I will also redo my Top 500 US Retail Sites study and I suspect GA will also be stronger in that market.

  2. You know what I find amazing - thanks for the intersting report, by the way - is that the two companies which increased their % year over year were Google and Omniture. The only comment is "Omniture seems to be the only real looser".
    Interesting bias.

  3. @Stephane: Thanks for commenting. I don't understand your point about "Omniture seems to be the only real looser". Actually, their presence is slightly stronger (didn't decrease).

    Now the reason (as far I can remember) is that last year, no solution was found on Mercedes-Benz site. Previously there were using Instadia solution - that got bought by Omniture. Maybe last year, there were in a migration/upgrade process.

    But Omniture didn't loose customers. Others did...

    @anonymous: thanks for the comment. See above about reason for Omniture "increase" vs. last year. And yes, GA is sneaking in all over the place.

    I think it somehow reflects an increasing of awareness about the important of Web Analytics - whether to improve SEM activities or simple collect some understanding about what happens on the website. GA clearly contribute to this increase of awareness, make WA more accessible.

    Now of course, it doesn't tell much (as I said) about what they do with their tools :)


  4. What's extremely surprising is that Sophus3 are still doing as well as they are. The tool is practically unusable in comparison to GA and the competitive data seriously flawed.

  5. Interesting market review. Thanks.

    I'm not too sure of my facts here and I don't know whether the auto industry consider this. But when they use GA the data is not theirs. Search data and web analytic data belongs to Google and can be sold to anyone.

    Is this true? If it is an the auto industry wakes up to the fact there could be further changes next year.

  6. Marina Delemny - PeugeotNovember 20, 2009 at 3:22 PM

    Having used Weboscope for a few years and just moved to the Sophus3 tool I have to say it's a much better solution. Sophus3 dashboards are customized for Automotive sites which reduce significantly the time spent in finding the data (+ proper support with real expertise in Auto Sites).

    We use GA in parallel for Search Engine Optimization.



  7. @jonnylongden: thanks for sharing your experience about Sophus3. Funny to see how your point of view differs from Marina's one :-)
    Personally I have never used their full eMetrics solution. I only had the opportunity to use the "eDataXchange" solution but I think it is based on same interface. Didn't find it really user friendly.

    @anonymous: I think GA is often offered by media agencies and that the privacy / data ownership aspect is often not mentioned or underestimated. You can opt out and not share your GA data but not sure many think about it.
    I agree it is an important aspect - that is why where I work, we used a software version hosted on our side.

    @Martina: Thanks for your valuable contribution and input. I think I missed that Peugeot is now using Sophus eMetrics, and not just for eDataXchange. Can you tell me if it is only in France or for whole Peugeot group? So I can update my sheet & stats accordingly.
    Thanks in advance.



  8. Talk about a mix up! In fact, I got it wrong about Omniture... I should have said only GA & Omniture have increased their shares. But clearly, GA enjoyed a much stronger growth...

    Sorry about the mix up :)

    BTW, did you look at the growth of "double dipping"? (those using more than 1 tool)


  9. Marina Delemny - PeugeotNovember 20, 2009 at 5:03 PM

    Hello Michael,

    Peugeot and Citroen are using/deploying the Sophus3 solution worldwide (not sure on the exact number of markets though...).

    Thanks again for the useful article, it is really interesting to see how our industry is using Webanalytics solutions.


  10. @Marina: thanks for your input. I have updated not only the chart & results but also some of my conclusions regarding Sophus3 eMetrics position.

  11. @Jonny Longden: Following the update, I am getting back to your former comment: "The tool is practically unusable in comparison to GA".
    I remember that you used to work for Mazda Europe agency - so you have some experience with the tool(that I don't) but that you also wanted to replace it with GA. So, how "objective" is your point of view? :-)

    I mean the tool must be not that "bad" as you described it considering that so many manufacturers still stick with it and that even new ones like Peugeot or Citroen switched to it.



  12. Yes, I used Sophus3 for a long time and had many problems with it. My opinion is completely objective because I no longer have anything to do with the account. However, it's certainly not all bad so I'll start with some positives before moving onto the negatives. And please also remember, these are my opinions alone and have nothing to do with any employer or client I have ever worked with - nor can I say that these are necessarily universal issues that others would have had as well; it's just my experience:


    > They DO understand the automotive industry better than any other supplier.
    > Their customer service is very good (at least for their end clients, not so much if you're an agency).
    > Their back end analytics interface, whilst extremely slow, is actually very flexible and feels more like querying a proper database than an OLAP set-up.


    > Speed. The tool is very slow to use in comparison to other tools, so much so that most of the time you just don't bother. It is more like using Siebel than a web analytics tool.
    > Accuracy of the competitive tool. The eData Exchange tool is supposed to provide benchmark data of all automotive suppliers. However, only key pages of the sites are tagged and non-standard stuff like microsites are ignored. This in my opinion makes the data too inaccurate to use.
    > Tagging. This does not work like any other web analytics tool. Tags are simply bits of code that are placed on the site - then Sophus3 themselves have to sort out all the meta-data and naming conventions at their end. This is a nightmare and removes vital control over how the tool is set up.
    > ALL configuration has to be done by Sophus3. They have to set up all the dashboards, custom metrics etc etc. This wouldn't be so bad, but personally I never really felt that this was done right and therefore wasn't easy to use.
    > No proper page path analysis; no site overlay; no on-the-fly segmentation; and various other missing fundamental bits of functionality.

  13. Just to add, I just expanded this last post into a fuller Review of Sophus3 on my web analytics blog

  14. Marcus Hodgkinson, sophus3November 26, 2009 at 5:20 PM

    I feel compelled to join in the debate as a number of things have been stated about sophus3 in this blog. Obviously, we take any comments about sophus3 very seriously. I therefore appreciate Jonny’s input. In response I would like to state the following:
    Speed. .....I am never satisfied with any response time above a nanosecond, and so I concur. However, please consider that eMetrics is not a web analytics system. It is a service which is based on business intelligence technology (like SAP). The underlying data warehouse includes a range of online and offline data (eg, advertising expenditure, CSI data, showroom traffic, online buzz, vehicle orders, online surveys data etc...and of course web traffic. The response time is therefore dependent on the complexity of the query that is made.
    In our defence - we recently won a major contract where eMetrics was piloted for 6 month next to two major web analytics systems. So, although I freely agree that the system is not the fastest, it seems to be acceptable. However, this does not stop us from continuously working on speeding it up.
    Accuracy.....with respect, I would argue that eDX is unique in offering competitive web traffic data within an industry. It tracks the actual traffic from all the participating sites. The alternatives are based on panel or ISP sampling, ie benchmarks are made on the basis of the behaviour of less than 1% of the actual visitors. The average proportion of UV traffic tracked by eDX (as a proportion of total site traffic) is 85%.
    eDX is run as a “club”. The members (ie the auto manufacturers) decide what they want to benchmark. It is our job to then ensure that we provide the most objective benchmark by selecting the appropriate pages. You are right that “non-standard” pages are not tracked as by definition they are not comparable. By the way, standard model micro sites are tracked.
    Tagging....yes we have chosen an alternative route for tagging. Our clients tend to be large international companies with a huge number of disparate websites hosted in different countries by different suppliers. Our tags are simple and standard. Therefore, our clients are able to minimize their tagging efforts. We are happy to take on the additional work required on our side to ensure that the data is assigned correctly.
    ALL configuration has to be done by Sophus3 The users can create their own reports and save them into their own folders. However, as we see ourselves as a service provider we rather than a tool provider, we aim to take on as much of the administrative burden from our clients as possible.
    No proper page path analysis: agreed, there are better ones.
    No site overlay: Not correct, eMertrics has a site overlay and a heatmap function.
    No on-the-fly segmentation: Not correct, eMetrics provides on the fly very detailed segmentation and affinity analysis.
    Essentially, eMetrics is primarily designed as a service (ie system + in-depth support) to help auto manufacturers gain very specific information to help auto executives make better sales and marketing decisions. I would welcome any input on improvements that we can make towards this objective.

  15. @Jonny: Thanks for elaborating your view & opinion. :-)

    I think you raise an important point in your "pro's" part: they do understand their customers i.e. the automotive industry. I am not sure that many WA vendors can pretend to have such expertise. Most traditional WA vendors are first selling their solution. Of course, things are changing and many started offering more "services". But they can not pretend to be an expert in all areas. It is not because a vendor has 1 or 2 customers from a specific industry that it means it especially fully understand it.

    So based on your comments and Marcus' one, I think that many manufacturers have chosen to favor the services & expertise against features like segmentation, path-analysis, goal tracking.... And possibly find these elsewhere, in another tool like GA (maybe that is one of the reasons of GA penetration). After all it is free :-)

    Thanks for your input.


  16. @Marcus: Thanks a lot for joining the conversation and offering your views as well. I think it clarifies certain points and it will give readers views from the two sides.

    I don't think the perfect solution exist - Sophus3 eMetrics services have strengths & weaknesses. Others do as well.

    It is just a matter of priorities. It can not be by chances that so many manufacturers have chosen your solution. They probably valued more the expertise & services than other aspects. Others put their priorities elsewhere.

    Again, thanks for your contribution.


  17. By the way, to clarify thing on my side too – my employer do not use eMetrics. Some of our national companies participate in the eDX benchmarking program but it is a local choice.


  18. Remi Riviere - Renault NissanDecember 3, 2009 at 11:31 PM

    Thanks for this very interesting review Michael.

    Having been in charge of Interactive Marketing for both Renault in Paris and Nissan in Tokyo, I'd really like to highlight the benefits we get from Sophus3's eDX program.

    It really answers to the question "Gosh... how well do my competitors perform?". We get a monthly report and analysis for each of our main markets, and that saves us loads of time in managing data, building an Executive Summary, and deciding of taking action.

    The tool itself is really user-friendly and tailored for automotive professionals (That's for eDX : I can't comment on eMetrics as we use either Nedstat (Renault)or Omniture (Nissan) -GA is used on a local basis, and is NOT an HQ recommendation-). We can easily extract the information we need at a very operational level (i.e. when we compare the Renault Mégane vs. Toyota Auris).

    At last, Sophus3 animates a forum twice a year, with all the eDX participants : Service is key to why we'll keep on doing business with Sophus3.

    The most important thing to remember is that, as car manufacturers, we DON'T CARE about the analytics tool! We DO CARE about getting the right information at the right time. We DO CARE about our bosses understanding what our job is about and why they should approuve the decisions we recommend.

    In the end, GA could be the best analytics tool in the world, it is absolutely useless if it doesn't help us getting our boss decide of how many millions of Euros we should invest in the Internet.

    Sophus3 simply provides the best analytics service for a car manufacturer : expect them to grow continuously for the coming years!


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