Google Analytics to go Freemium?

abacusThat’s the conclusion I jumped to after seeing this story on Marketing Pilgrim about a piece of Forrester forecasting published today.

Assuming a shrinking use of licensed analytics (installing a copy of analytics software on your own servers) is an obvious one – ever since Google Analytics came out and effectively made one of the most expensive solutions, Urchin, free, and did away the headache of running your own analytics software, how many people have paid that much attention to their own web server logs? Sure, Urchin’s still around but have you actually tried to buy it? You have to go through an Urchin Software Authorized Consultant, and most of them don’t even say much about the product on their sites (they’re big web development/UX consultants mostly).

Predicting a 20% compound annual growth in spend on web analytics is a pretty ballsy move. So I started wondering how that might be – Google Analytics is free and all-conquering, it’s incredibly easy to set up and very powerful. Where are these other paid for hosted solutions anyway?

One thing that you’ll need to spend money on, regardless of what analytics platform you’re using, is web analytics consultants. This is by definition a growth area – there just aren’t that many people out there with the necessary skills right now. People who’ve done a bit more than read Avinash Kaushik’s Web Analytics an hour a day book and truly get it.

There’s a huge benefit to be gained from enlisting the help of someone who truly ‘gets’ what analytics can do for you – helping implement A/B testing, understanding where your traffic is coming from and how people are navigating your site. They just don’t teach you this stuff on marketing courses and your average marketing director or manager doesn’t have the time or interest to get that good.

OK, so there’s a definite expenditure possibility there, but another $250m a year within 3 years? What if there’s more to it than that? What if Google were to apply a freemium model to Analytics? What would you pay for those stats? A decent SLA (service level agreement) and having your data backed up? I know a large company that lost an entire month’s Analytics data. Of course as a free service Google can just say ‘oh well nevermind’. Some people would pay for the surety of knowing that data won’t just be lost.

I imagine there would be price breaks, ranging from free, through a tiny amount to a fairly sizeable amount for sites with huge amounts of traffic (and as such huge amounts of data). Up to 1,000 unique visitors a day for free – people get to learn all about Analytics and try it out for zero cost. Up to 100,000 and you’re looking at $25 a month. Over that level then it’s $100 a month but there’s no server infrastructure or drains on your resources to worry about. They’ve already gone freemium with Google Apps, why not Analytics too? Maybe you’d get a credit back for spend on Adwords.

How much is Google Analytics worth to you?

Image credit: aussiegall

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