Yahoo! has launched its own analytics tool, promising real-time reports to 13,000 small business customers, with a further role out in 2009.
Following its acquisition of IndexTools earlier this year, the search engine pledges to make visitor analysis available rapidly. This, it claims, will allow marketers to respond quickly to stats on sales, traffic sources and page views.
Annoyingly, at the moment newbies trying to sign up to the service can’t. Instead they have to join a waiting list where they will receive updates (it is a bit like Virgin Galactic but not quite as exciting).
Perhaps because there is no chance of product reviews yet, the blogosphere has instead been buzzing with criticisms of the way Yahoo! is rolling out this important new product. It is possible that the new brand has already been damaged to a degree by impatient commentators.
A wide number of people have slammed this as being simply a two-years too-late copy of Google Analytics. Yahoo! has launched this in a desperate attempt to keep up with the bigger boy in the playground but has missed the boat, some claim.
However, I am not sure I agree with these criticisms. Analytics tools are the obvious next step for search engines and if Yahoo! is to have any hope of competing with Google, it had to develop one. Real-time reporting is also a pretty big deal.
It is a shame that the engine took so long to create a product which is such a staple tool for many marketers. Top marks to the engine for sorting the relaunch so quickly after the acquisition but many search marketers are expressing ambivalence to a new product which seems to only have one main benefit (real time reporting) compared to the Google tool they have been using for years.
Roll-Out Slow Not Slick
I think Yahoo! has failed to sweep the market up into a fever of enthusiasm because its exciting relaunch is not available to users. The few existing IndexTools users and Yahoo! Small Business customers are the only ones who can see this beta product in action. Why announce it then?
The first thing every sector worker wants to do when they hear about the product is to read reviews and share stories but instead it could be months before the average marketer gets to have a play. By then, of course, he or she may have forgotten about the product anyway. Yahoo!’s marketing here has let it down.
Having said that, Dennis R Mortensen, Yahoo!’s director of data insights, described it as “not a free-for-all-come-and-get-it launch but a carefully planned controlled access launch”. So now you know…
Yahoo! Analytics could be a really useful contrivance. It is always a useful thing in this sector to be able to compare data to assess accuracy and, if the real-time updates work, then this will be an extraordinarily useful tool.
Sometimes publicity, product launches or unanticipated events mean websites need to react rapidly to their users to ensure they are positioned for maximum sales, making Yahoo! Analytic’s capabilities essential.
It is also undeniable that competition within the market always helps customers and I anticipate Google will feel under pressure to increase the development of its own analytics tool to retain users. Whichever product emerges as the most popular, we the users will benefit.