$165K in Adwords + Broken Google Analytics = Pissed Off Client.

Posted in Analytics

ga
You get what you pay for. It doesn’t matter a fig whether the analytics service provider is a multi-billion dollar global empire corporation or a guerilla search marketing firm in Minneapolis. Serious SEM Clients don’t care if the hosted analytics service is Google-free-with-a-promise or cost thousands each month. When cash money is on the line and analytics disappear our clients are freaked out and pissed off.

In the Real World People Don’t Trust Free Things with Good Reason.
What kind of never-never land do we live in anyway? Have we been lulled into star-crossed stupidity by accepting mission critical hosted analytics services for free with no quality of service promise, little customer service, and spin doctors spinning social CYA laden sound bytes?

Sure Google’s a great company but would any business ever trust free van repairs for morning milk delivery vehicles in exchange for allowing the repair shop access to their bank account information? Would you ever trust an unlimited supply of free hard drives for your server in exchange for log files? How safe would you feel your child’s 33 year old full time school bus driver worked for free just because he loves to be around kids? Little in life is free.

Google Schmoogle-Clients Blame Us.
Even though Google Analytics is an amazing free toy concocted by geniuses, in the real world when I recommend a vendor to a client as capable, reliable, accountable, and effective I put our company’s reputation on the line. We’re held especially accountable for analytics recommendations we make. It doesn’t matter if the services outage is Google’s fault-our clients blame us for making the recommendation. This is the second round of Google Analytics outages since May. There was data loss this time around, in spite of Google’s spin. Client analytics accounts, where we also use ClickTracks, were low for the outage-hours.

This week I’ve fielded tough questions from multiple 6-figure analytics clients like “Marty, why would you recommend something for free that breaks where we have no recourse?” Fortunately aimClear is a ClickTracks partner agency and we’ve nearly completed top to bottom deployment across all of our client accounts. ClickTracks, IndexTools, Unica Affinium NetInsight, and WebSide Story HBX Analytics have support techs we can get on the phone who are willing to remote access into our analytics servers and find out what’s broken. The invoices we pay each month are for quality of service we can take to the bank.

Google’s Quality of Service Promise
Ask yourself if you want the success of your business (food on your plate) to the subject to the following quality of service promise (from GOOGLE ANALYTICS TERMS OF SERVICE, Paragraph 10:

THE SERVICE, THE SOFTWARE AND REPORTS ARE PROVIDED “AS IS” AND THERE ARE NO WARRANTIES, CLAIMS OR REPRESENTATIONS MADE BY GOOGLE AND/OR ITS SUBSIDIARIES AND AFFILIATES, EITHER EXPRESS, IMPLIED, OR STATUTORY, WITH RESPECT TO THE SERVICE, THE SOFTWARE, THE DOCUMENTATION AND REPORTS, INCLUDING WARRANTIES OF QUALITY, PERFORMANCE, NON-INFRINGEMENT, MERCHANTABILITY, OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, NOR ARE THERE ANY WARRANTIES CREATED BY COURSE OF DEALING, COURSE OF PERFORMANCE, OR TRADE USAGE. GOOGLE DOES NOT WARRANT THAT THE SERVICE, THE SOFTWARE OR REPORTS WILL MEET YOUR NEEDS OR BE FREE FROM ERRORS, OR THAT THE OPERATION OF THE SERVICE WILL BE UNINTERRUPTED. THE FOREGOING EXCLUSIONS AND DISCLAIMERS ARE AN ESSENTIAL PART OF THIS AGREEMENT AND FORMED THE BASIS FOR DETERMINING THE PRICE CHARGED FOR THE SERVICE. SOME STATES DO NOT ALLOW EXCLUSION OF AN IMPLIED WARRANTY, SO THIS DISCLAIMER MAY NOT APPLY TO YOU.

Google is a killer-app-free toy and sometimes users get what they pay for. None of us have any right to complain. However our company plans to avoid deploying free mission critical services where we have no recourse when things break. Moving forward we’re going to tell our clients the truth in our SEM contracts. Use Google Analytics at your own risk.

Google Analytics Blog Resources

Google Analytics Outage for 30 Minutes
seroundtable.com 7/25
“There are reports across the web that Google Analytics has gone down for about 30 minutes. First reports started coming in at about 5:30am (EST). By around 6am (EST) people started confirming that they can log into Google Analytics. People were noticing 404, page not found, errors when trying to access reports. Many were completely unable to login to see their reports.”

Google Analytics “Outage” Causes Reporting Delay
Seroundtable.com 7/31
“After several complaints on many forums, including DigitalPoint Forums, High Rankings Forums, and WebmasterWorld, and from the fingers of Andy Beal, Google has officially acknowledged a reporting delay with Google Analytics.”

http://forums.digitalpoint.com/showthread.php?t=417831
Digital Point Forums

http://www.highrankings.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=31444&hl=
High Ranking Forums

http://www.webmasterworld.com/analytics/3395441.htm
WebMasterWorld Forums

http://www.marketingpilgrim.com/2007/07/google-analytics-down.html
Marketing Pilgrim, by Andy Beal 7/3007

http://www.webpronews.com/insiderreports/2007/07/31/google-analytics-not-entirely-dead
Google Analytics: Not Entirely Dead

I’m not buying the “no data loss” bit
“My account shows a huge dip on the 28th then back to normal on the 29th. My other tools show no dip on the 28th at all…”

http://blogs.zdnet.com/Google/?p=674

The Google Analytics outage: Could there be a reason?
By Garett Rogers 7/31/07
“Over the weekend, people had noticed and reported a major Google Analytics outage — days worth of data aren’t available…, “

http://www.e-strategyblog.com/2007/07/google-analytic.html
July 30, 2007 by David Erickson

Google Analytics struggles to stay alive
July 31st, 2007 at 08:57 am ET
Google Analytics is having the time it’s life – down for 3+ days. Frankly I stopped checking too frequently on Google Analytics since their last outage which I had … “

http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,132275-c,google/article.html
Users Upset Over Google Analytics Outage

http://www.intelligententerprise.com/blog/archives/2007/05/google_analytic_1.html

Πρόβλημα λειτουργίας του Google Analytics
Ιουλίου 25, 2007 @ 1:37 pm » Νίκος Καψωμενάκης

  • Nathania Johnson

    Thank you for addressing this. I’ve been noticing problems with Google Analytics for months. On one of my blogs, it tracked for a few days and then stopped. And I have it installed with a WP plugin just the same as my other blogs.

    My hosting companies analytics are solid, though not as pretty and not as many features. Thanks for the tips on other analytics services.

  • Yuri

    If you are sure of something, you gotta take the risk. If you want your clients to use GA, then you take the risk of recommending them. That’s simple.

    For example, I have recently recommended one linkbaiter to three people. Possibly, they will be entrusting their hard-earned cash to him. If it goes well, I doubt they’ll remember me. If not, they’ll blame me for losing the money and time.

    But I think it’s worth taking the risk to go further. No risk, no glory. No pain, no gain :)

    The thing is, of course, is that you probably won’t rely on GA to display all the data year-round. And that’s totally fine. Though, if you use IndexTools or a similar hardcore analytics program, you may not need GA. Hrmm.

  • Adam Sharp

    I definitely had data loss, really ticks me off that they still haven’t fessed up.

    I’d be willing to pay for Analytics premium if it meant better service and some sort of data guarantee. But now I really am thinking about moving to a different Analytics program, even though it’ll be a PITA.

    Excellent post.

  • Marty Weintraub

    Right, we use GA for daily real time daily monitoring and backup analytics.

  • Matthew

    The lesson is to deploy more than one analytics package. If you want to use Google Analytics, make sure you have another analytics program running as well. Actually have three data points and you will be doing really good. With two you have a little recourse to getting something back or fixed. I think Google Analytics is great, but you do not have the contract saying they will stay up a certain amount of time or help you out when you are in trouble. The more data points the better. Think triangle… they all test each other.

  • Marty

    Exactly Mathew. GA is a brilliant during-the-day tool. It’s also easy pull historic data out that is so useful. Like everything Google touches, it works great…and almost always works. However, there’s nothing like ClickTracks advanced labels in GA.

    Every analytic tool has it’s own idiosyncrasies. Multiple data points is the only way to go to ensure credible cover.

  • ian

    The TOS disclaimer is pretty standard boilerplate that you’ll find, I think, in ClickTracks and other services as well.

    I’ve seen equally frustrating outtages with Omniture.

    Bottom line is, no vendor is flawless. Always have a backup.

  • Marty Weintraub

    Yup, you’re right Ian. We have a similar TOI from CT. The difference is the help we get in solving issues with vendors who charge for analytics services. We appreciate your comment.

  • Sue

    Hi Marty,
    Thanks for the post. I also want to say it’s good to see your sense of humor carries over onto the web. Best wishes with your health and your fight with cancer, I’m rootin’ for you.
    Sue

    • Marty Weintraub

      @sue: Thanks for the comment After 5 years, the doctors use the word, “Cure.” I’m so grateful.