Is modern web analytics part of web 2.0?

The more I work with web analytics tools, the more it becomes clear that modern internet is not all about the hyped social networking, user generated content, ratings, rankings, peer-to-peer networks etc. On the contrast to this anarchy-looking front, internet services behind the “hood” are actually emerging to be a highly analytical discipline – even from an invividual bloggers. I bet most of the blogger keep on doing the following to a growing extent: 1) checking the stats-part in their blogs; 2) checking whos is referring and reading their posts and 3) becoming either motivated of dismotivated of the lack of readership or comments or at best becoming very motivated because of broad and specialised interest towards their contributions. I do know about you, but at least I tend to doing this more and more often with my blogs.

One of the key shortages that I have found so far in the blogging platforms it the whay how limited the stats-section actually are. With this I mean in their basic features. Yes, I know that one can install e.g. Google Analytics (GA) -tag to the CSS-template and start getting much richer data. But seriously – tell me an average blogger who would do this? Not even in Google’s Blogger the Analytics-part is well integrated into the system. Why could not Google make an limited, but blog customised version of their product available to all Bloggers? I think they should. Moreover, Google acquired last year Measure Map – the simple blog analytics suite. How about integrating this to Blogger & GA?

Anyway, the question that I posed in the title was about web analytics being part the web 2.0 phenomena. I try to discuss it here a bit more in detail:

“Yes – web analytics is part of web 2.0″

  • WA broke mainstream in 2005 – so did web 2.0 – thus it is part of web 2.0.
  • Modern internet is all about understanding internet lifestyle – essential part of this is using statistics
  • Every business and brand are starting to use WA as part of their next generation web sites – thus WA is web 2.0
  • No-one can no longer be in control of the massive flow of internet users. Web analytics gives better control over this and thus is important for any web 2.0 – enthusiastic to master
  • Web 2.0 is about empoworing consumers – what could be a better way to do this than empowering the citizen journalists with tools that in the past were barely available to incumbent media giants

Argument for: “No – it is different phenomena”

  • Web 2.0 is all about networking users – what does stats got to do with this?
  • Web 2.0 is about allowing consumers to connect to interesting and new sources and people- it is much more important to look at how this can be done instead spending time on crunching data.
  • There is already too much of “big brothering” going on – why should we get more of this? Are we loosing all the spontanity in connecting to others?

As you can read between the lines, I am in favour of that web analytics is an essential part of web 2.0. We are more are more into knowing transparently how much readers each “publication” attracts. Many heavy-bloggers even let their readers to log-in straight to their analytics tools. Calvinistic approach, “I have nothing to hide, look from here”, prevails in this genre. Think if we were able to look publicly at e.g. New York Times’s usage data. Media transparency or what?

Anyway, please let us know about your experiences in using web stats/analytics in your web 2.0 cases? What makes you tick on them? Or are they in your opinion totally useless systems, targeted only for corporations? Comments welcome!

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4 Responses to Is modern web analytics part of web 2.0?

  1. PerttuT says:

    Web 2.0 has probably accelerated the Web analytics phenomenon, but I fail to see it strongly related to the Web 2.0. Many of the things that make Web 2.0 so successful are about letting go of the data and it also means letting go of the analytics. This has accelerated the need for better analytics, but it has also made things extremely more complicated.

    On the other hand I understand the connection, because the key differentator behind many successful services is Web analytics. Many new services are using Web analytics very effectively to continuously improve their services (usually this is done automatically). And in many cases the decision-making algorithms are made semi-public so that the users understand why things work the way they do. Web analytics + user-generated content might be something new, but web analytics on its own is just a driver behind the interface, imho.

    The integration of content management tools & web analytics is also something that has been going on for years (mainly because effective personalization demands closely integrated analytics). But I think that it is a good discussion to think about the relationship of Web 2.0 and web analytics since so many of the new services are driven by sophisticated user behavior analytics. There were a lot of worries about online privacy during Web 1.0, but for some reason Web 2.0 has not seen much of these… ? Most people are probably not aware of the amount of data that is being collected by an average blogger. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were to emerge some kind of “big brother free blogging environment”.

  2. Tommi says:

    Yes Perttu. I strongly agree on your point on the controversial linkage between wa and web 2.0 – I wrote the article to bring this point into dicussion.

    The more I work with the professional field with big European companies, the more I realise how new the phenomena of WA is still for the whole industry. Forrester talks about the new era of “left brain marketing”. With this the mean that hard facts = real usage numbers are taken into an essential part of modern marketing planning. The focus is no longer in creativity only, it’s more and more in measurable sales boost and conversion to the targeted behaviour on the sites.

    Thus, I renew my claim – web analtytics, (especially in corporate context), is an essential part of web 2.0. It is about using of richer, more big brotherish data in developing and designing online services. Web 1.0 was more on making the service live in-time and just becoming & being online. The new era is about making a sustainable and auditable impact in this medium.

  3. Leevi Kokko says:

    Two comments:

    1) one of the things that prove WA to be part of Web 2.0 is online giants like Amazon revealing their product-page conversion rates to cross-sell products. Jason Burby wrote a good post to ClickZ about it – already in 2005 (!):

    http://www.clickz.com/showPage.html?page=3551426

    2) especially bigger brands have made extensive [global] investments into their CRM and CMS platforms over the years, and are now expecting ROI for the money spent. In many cases, this gently forces companies to implement modern, high-end web analytics systems to be able to connect online data with other customer analytics, finally leading to more customized/personalized (=profitable) online experience on their sites.

  4. PerttuT says:

    For me Web 2.0 is mostly about empowering users. Thus I think that Web analytics is a natural complement to those users who participate. But the problem for me is that more than 90% of the users are not participating. Manual web analytics is still a very narrow phenomenon, and will more or less stay as it is. Eventually many of us may want to see statistics about our delicious friends, flickr views, wow gaming and rss-reader usage, but how many of us really use that information to guide our behavior? (I don’t have an answer, but it doesn’t feel like a mass-phenomenon. Mainly because I think it is an interesting idea to get data about your own actions… and Im used to being in minority with my ideas ;)

    But I must agree with Leevi, that what Amazon is doing with analytics data is something that is someway changing the rules of the game. Maybe we should separate “manual” web analytics and “automatic” web analytics?

    Amazon uses analytics data to empower 100% of its users. I think that deserves a closer look, because current Web 2.0 services are only grasping the surface, imho. Analytics-driven Websites are definitely something very much Web 2.0, but I would still question the importance of manual web analytics for the masses.

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