Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Here comes WebTrends Analytics 9 On Premises!

Summer is usually a quiet period – still, WebTrends decided to release the long awaited (at least by me :-)) software version of Analytics 9 and all the great features that come with it! And they even renamed it for the occasion in "Analytics 9 On Premises". Hallelujah!

It was about time!
I must admit that WebTrends v8.5 really started aging – especially when compared to other Web analytics products. Last year, I had an opportunity to have a go at the On-demand version and since then I have been desperately waiting for the software version. This day has finally come. But why am I so happy? Which features make me rejoicing like that?


There is of course the new WebTrends Analytics Insight, its nice interface, the account dashboard and story view but to be honest, I am more excited by some of the features and services that come with it:

  • The REST data extraction API: I wrote a post on it already last year and it seems like my wish has been fulfilled! REST API is in the software version. The ability to extract data in a much easier and more flexible way will make data reporting and – more important – data integration more powerful. Web data will not be isolated anymore. While WebTrends Analytics already offered an ODBC driver, it showed some limitations when used extensively. The new data extraction API should be more powerful (and support Unicode).
  • The data collection API: the collection API provides alternative (and more accurate) methods to collect data from different sources such as mobile and Facebook apps. This is coming at the right moment for me and it will be put to good use, for sure.
  • Alerts: Oh this feature was really missing in previous version! Of course alerting can be used by business users to be informed of major changes but it is also an additional mechanism to improve yourr measurement quality assurance. Ever been in a situation where a developer / agency made changes to a website, messed up with the tagging and you only found out at the end of the month when doing the report? I have been through this toooo often. Alerts will allow me to be notified directly. Yes!
  • Exportable trends: Oh God! How many times have I been asked “how can I export the trend graph of this report” and I had to answer “You can’t – you need to export day by day manually” (usually followed by a “oh” expressing the user’s huge disappointment)? I stopped counting. This time is over – Insight offer ability to export trend data via the Export API.
  • Annotations: Very simple but so useful – I used it a lot on Google Analytics. It will help to put data in context and you probably know how important context is for data interpretation. I hope it is sharable like in Google Analytics.
There are also some new features in the Analytics product, others than the new brand colours:
  • Traffic source reporting: Oh God (bis) – another feature that was cruelly lacking in WebTrends - the ability to have simple categorization of traffic sources: organic search, paid search, direct, campaign and other referrers. It is there now!
  • Ability to add new measures while preserving old data: this more a technical enhancement but a really useful one. It is so frustrating when you create a custom report and then few months later you want to add new measures but either loose past data or need to reprocess EVERYTHING just for a measure. Now, it is possible. Thanks WebTrends.
These are the main reasons that make me, the analytics geek, so excited. Still I will have to wait a little more, until we upgrade our infrastructure here at work as the upgrade will required quite some work. I hope I won’t be disappointed – shouldn’t be. I will let you know, for sure, when I will get my hands on it!

Anyone else dying for having its WebTrends software upgraded to v9? Any On-Demand users willing to share their experience regarding the features I mentioned? I am really curious to know.


Note: I have not mentioned the addition of the bounce rate, a metric that has become a ‘standard’ and missing in WebTrends. It is now available in Analytics Insight but only available at profile level – not at page level. If this is the case, it is a bit a disappointment because bounce rate at profile isn’t that useful. I hope WebTrends will include as a standard measure in a near future - it will avoid a lot of manual calculations.

Related posts & resources:

6 comments:

  1. Michael - Thank you for giving a shout out. Happy you to hear your excited about the release. Don't hesitate to ask any follow-up questions. Will mention your bounce rate comment to the team.

    Cheers - Michele

    @michelewarther

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  2. @Michel: You are welcome. And thanks for the proposal.

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  3. The last time I commented on your blog, you were crying. Hopefully those tears are now tears of joy!

    You asked about sharing of annotations: yes, this is possible and even more. Notes, annotations, and alerts are all sharable via an RSS syndication service that is part of the data extraction API. This means that you can create an alert and your colleagues can subscribe to it via an RSS feed and get the alert in their favorite RSS reader (as well as via email or upon login). It's pretty cool and some of our On Demand customers have done some amazing things with this capability.

    Let me when your team is ready for the upgrade and how we can help.

    -Derek Fine, Webtrends, @derekfine

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  4. That's a good sum-up of the highlights. Yes, we are very anxious to get our hands on it. We're software diehards. The annotation feature alone is worth the upgrade, for us.

    There's a pretty good work-around for per-page and per-search-term bounce out there. Yes, it's a custom report and it absolutely should be built-in, and the two-row output is slightly awkward, but at least it's something that runs automatically and can be viewed in the WebTrends UI. http://www.webtrendsoutsider.com/2009/cool-custom-report-bounce/

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  5. @Derek: Thanks for commenting. Maybe it is a bit too early for the tears of joy. I will keep these for the day it will be available at work. :-)
    The RSS possibility for the alerts/annotations is really cook. Thanks for pointing this out.

    We will keep in touch in the coming months for sure.

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  6. @Chris:Hi, Chris! Thank you for your feedback - as you are probably one of the most expert WebTrends users out there.
    Yes, bounce rate can be obtained via a custom report - good mention, the WebTrends Outsider post (by the way, this blog is a must-read for any WebTrends user). But as you said, it needs to be set-up (using a look-up table) and it is not that straightforward as one still needs to do (basic) maths. Something ok for most of us but you know, sometimes how business" users can be kind of "lazy" :-)

    But I guess WebTrends had to keep few items for next releases ;-)

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