Web Analytics English (en) français (fr)

From thinktank

Jump to: navigation, search

The Web Analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of internet data for purposes of understanding and optimizing web usage. It can be used as a tool for business research and market research. It helps one to estimate how the traffic to the website changed after the launch of a new advertising campaign.

It helps gauge traffic and popularity trends which is useful for market research. [1]

Categories of web analytics.
  1. Off-site web analytics includes mainly the measurement of a website's potential audience (opportunity), share of voice (visibility), and buzz (comments) that is happening on the Internet as a whole.
  2. On-site web analytics measure a visitor's journey once on your website.

Web Analytics no Statistics

People regularly use the general term 'Statistics' when referring to 'Web Analytics' (or Europa Analytics for analysis of EUROPA websites).
Unfortunately, the word 'statistics' can lead to a wrong understanding of subject. It could make believe people in getting reliqble and pertinent information; while in some cases we could observed an error margin near the 50% (sic!) counted with measures and variables non related to the issue in question.

While web analytics reminds an action and a process - the 'analysis'; i.e. critical lecture.
The word statistics evokes just static acceptaation of a set of numbers. And we could see so called "Reports on statistical analysis"; which are just enumerations of numbers with no added value - aka "analysis".

Indeed, the web analytics tool offers just indicators (in the form of a report), but not does not statistics stricto sensu (indicators where error margin - or - indicator accuracy - has been evaluated/known) [2].

Here comes another great missinterpetation of web analytics reports.
When talking about a report with indicators - whih just and only "indicates".
The statistics sounds so scientific, the makes believing to get highly accurate information.

Solutions for On-Site Analytics

Europa Analytics (EA)

The DG COMM suggest to use the Europa Analytics (EA) solution as it is the in-house solution supported by the European Commission, with the guarantee of the business continuity and general control over the data - in the both sense: controlling the respect of the protection of the personal data and the control over the processed data as such.

Intracomm Analytics (IA)

The IA solution parallel based on the same SW, just measuring the Intracomm (the EC intranet).

3rd parties solution

The DG COMM strongly advices to do NOT use 3rd parties solutions.

Free services as the Yahoo Analytics, Google Analytics represents problems with

  • privacy and data protection;
  • security and business continuity;
  • accuracy

and many more …

Personal Data Protection (alias "Privacy") issue
The European Commission is committed to respect the EU legal framework as declared at Disclaimer - EUROPA Privacy Policy at all EUROPA pages.
EUROPA users then legitimately expect that while surfing over EUROPA websites they are not subjects of personal data retrieval over the frame declared in the upper mentioned disclaimer.
3rd parties' products use extensively cookies and log-file to keep track of the user behaviour on the site. The usage of this data is often behind the control of the EU and its member states as the service providers are hosted out-side of the EU territory with the legislation very often even contradictory to the EU one. So the EU nor its member states have no power to enforce the protection of its citizens.
The "EUROPA Privacy Policy" declares that the users are always explicitly informed when private data is collected and what the EC does with it. A particular example is information that is stored in a cookie for future re-use. The EC considers session cookies acceptable, but if a permanent cookie is used, the users must be clearly informed about and has to get the explanation. The details are described in the IPG.
To be noted that that the data privacy is closely followed by the European Parliament - for example the Parliamentary question on European Commission's Privacy Policy (30 March 2009) followed on the press. This debate has been provoked by the decision of the US government to take off all youtube videos from their pages because Google privacy problems.
EUROPA visitors have already noticed that some of EUROPA sites make use of Google Analytics and some have complained about possible privacy issues that this could raise (see Google's privacy policy).
In future it's possible that EU institution shall be forbidden to use 3rd parties solution - as in some EU member states the public administration is already forbid to use them (see decision of Unabhängige Landeszentrum für Datenschutz Schleswig-Holstein (a German Data Protection Institution).
The EC is in contact with Google and the EU Data Protection Officer. It might be necessary to request the official position of the Data Protection Officer whether the privacy statement from Google is acceptable and compliant with the EU directive on data protection Regulation (EC) N° 45/2001.
Business Continuity
The 3rd parties can discontinue their services at any moment; namely the free services can be discontinued without any notice
Data accuracy
In case of a drop down data could be "re-adjusted" by provider according the general trends without noticing users, how may believe analysing real data. With the in-house solution, the eventual loose of data is notified; while having control on the "inners" of the system internal system, the detailed explanation of the indicators is guaranteed.
Accuracy of method based on analysis of the sever log-files (used on Europa Analytics) and the method based on the page tagging (used by 3rd parties initially due to non availability of the logfiles) is still the question; the both methods have their advantages and supporters.
In-adequate metrics
3rd parties solutions are based on the IFABC metrics considered as industrial standards. These metrics are adapted to the buying and selling digital media - which is not at all the purpose of the public authority websites. The Europa Analytics is evolving towards better adaptation of the particularity of the business of the public sector websites (The 1st result is the Report Organisation, which enables to make the difference between EC staff usage and the EU citizens and Business usage; but the aim is to go much further and develop more adapted reports even specific indicators).

As conclusion, the using 3rd parties solutions is bringing more disadvantages then advantages. In the view of the European Commission Data Protection Strategy (5.11.2010), using 3rd parties solution may be seen by citizens as a little strange.

Personal tools