Omniture SiteCatalyst vs. Google Analytics

At InfoBase Media Corperation we use Omniture SiteCatalyst which is very complex and is meant as a enterprise solution. We’re not that big trust me, the actual license is actually like $30,000 a year, thankfully we just buy from a reseller called 10XMarketing.

The funny thing is that both companies are located in the Provo-Orem Utah area just like us. I guess the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, unless of course your Google. What I mean to say is that SiteCatalyst frankly is too much for us and is just too expensive for what we use it for. None of us are trained to use it to its fullest capacity and its even been giving us bad data the last week or so.

I think it is mainly because the SiteCatalyst code may not be on every page. It was the past but since we have been adding the Google analytics, which is free by the way, to our site some f the SiteCatalyst code may have been deleted by accident or something. I am not sure the date error could be caused by not having the code on every page due to the nature of the data, which is visits vs. unique visitors.

First I feel it is important define each, both definitions are taken from the SiteCatalyst Glossary of Terms.

The number of times a visitor browses to your site. A visit begins when a person first views a page on your company’s Web site, and lasts until that person stops all activity on the site for a period of 30 minutes (Web analytics general industry standard). The industry assumes that, given the length of time, the person likely closed their browser and reinitiated a separate “visit.” A unique visitor could be responsible for multiple visits (or sessions) during a day, month, and year.

Unique Visitor:
Registered when a person visits a site for the first time within a specified period of time. In other words, while one person may visit your site and view the front page three times, a contact page twice, and several other pages once each, this person would be recorded as one “unique visitor” so you can tell exactly how many individual people are coming to your site.

There are four different time frames SiteCatalyst uses to define unique visitors: hourly, daily, monthly and yearly. An hourly unique visitor may visit your site at 2:01, 2:45, and then again at 3:24. This visitor will register as two hourly unique visitors, because only the 2:01 and 3:24 visits would count as unique visits for their respective hours (2:00-3:00 and 3:00-4:00). This same standard is used to determine daily, monthly and yearly unique visitors for their respective time frames. It can be helpful to ask the following question to see how SiteCatalyst determines who is a unique visitor: “How many different people saw my site during this time period?”

Note: Daily Unique Visitor reports are different from the others in that it is not only cookie-based, but is also IP address based to help catch everyone who visits your site.

Note: The sum of all daily unique visitors is not equal to the total monthly unique visitors for that month. This is because a visitor who returns twice in a given month will count as two daily unique visitors – one for each day they visited, but only as a single monthly unique visitor.

Because a unique visitor can return and make many visits in the course of a day or a month that there should always be fewer Unique Visitors than Visits or they should be equal, Unique Visitors < or = Visits. Another way of putting it is that Visits should never be less than Unique Visitors. But this is exactly the bad data I have been getting from SiteCatalyst for over a month now. Here is some data examples:

Date Unique Visitors Visits Variance
Sep 1, 2006 807 812 5
Sep 2, 2006 997 1003 6
Sep 3, 2006 1383 1348 -35
Sep 4, 2006 1053 1030 -23
Sep 5, 2006 1006 993 -13
Sep 6, 2006 926 903 -23
Sep 7, 2006 964 949 -15
Sep 8, 2006 1299 1249 -50
Sep 9, 2006 1184 1134 -50
Sep 10, 2006 1635 1569 -66
Sep 11, 2006 1327 1320 -7
Sep 12, 2006 1394 1364 -30
Sep 13, 2006 1153 1127 -26
Sep 14, 2006 1082 1074 -8
Sep 15, 2006 988 987 -1
Sep 16, 2006 1237 1217 -20
Sep 17, 2006 1681 1637 -44
Sep 18, 2006 1092 1093 1
Sep 19, 2006 1110 1136 26
Sep 20, 2006 1144 1121 -23
Sep 21, 2006 1824 1755 -69
Sep 22, 2006 1179 1177 -2
Sep 23, 2006 1238 1219 -19
Sep 24, 2006 1651 1575 -76
Sep 25, 2006 1214 1226 12
Sep 26, 2006 1215 1208 -7
Sep 27, 2006 1132 1128 -4
Sep 28, 2006 1090 1095 5
Sep 29, 2006 999 1009 10
Sep 30, 2006 997 970 -27
Total 36001 35428 -573
Oct 1, 2006 1720 1690 -30
Oct 2, 2006 1285 1253 -32
Oct 3, 2006 1166 1166 0
Oct 4, 2006 1075 1095 20
Oct 5, 2006 979 979 0
Oct 6, 2006 987 1001 14
Oct 7, 2006 961 910 -51
Oct 8, 2006 1511 1476 -35
Oct 9, 2006 1366 1398 32
Oct 10, 2006 1659 1618 -41
Oct 11, 2006 1580 1537 -43
Oct 12, 2006 1003 1007 4
Oct 13, 2006 948 941 -7
Oct 14, 2006 623 595 -28

Google on the other hand has not been giving me bad data like this. Now keep in mind we just got all our pages added with the Google analytics code, or at least we think we have. Speculation still exists because Google consistently gives us lower numbers than SiteCatalyst for everything, but at least the numbers have been consistent. Here is our Google data:

Date Range Unique Visitors Visits Variance
Fri 9/1 743 921 178
Sat 9/2 831 1000 169
Sun 9/3 1272 1476 204
Mon 9/4 904 1045 141
Tue 9/5 921 1083 162
Wed 9/6 888 1054 166
Thu 9/7 886 1026 140
Fri 9/8 1192 1440 248
Sat 9/9 1063 1218 155
Sun 9/10 1489 1713 224
Mon 9/11 1230 1458 228
Tue 9/12 1093 1291 198
Wed 9/13 1072 1257 185
Thu 9/14 987 1181 194
Fri 9/15 899 1105 206
Sat 9/16 934 1099 165
Sun 9/17 1489 1718 229
Mon 9/18 1015 1188 173
Tue 9/19 1010 1213 203
Wed 9/20 1009 1226 217
Thu 9/21 1356 1677 321
Fri 9/22 585 700 115
Sat 9/23 591 682 91
Sun 9/24 846 991 145
Mon 9/25 644 763 119
Tue 9/26 580 708 128
Wed 9/27 575 688 113
Thu 9/28 547 664 117
Fri 9/29 459 579 120
Sat 9/30 480 607 127
Sun 10/1 826 1014 188
Mon 10/2 694 814 120
Tue 10/3 585 697 112
Wed 10/4 552 682 130
Thu 10/5 523 627 104
Fri 10/6 473 584 111
Sat 10/7 457 533 76
Sun 10/8 735 873 138
Mon 10/9 955 1175 220
Tue 10/10 1482 1726 244
Wed 10/11 1286 1514 228
Thu 10/12 944 1116 172
Fri 10/13 865 1034 169
Sat 10/14 467 518 51

Conclusion: Google Analytics can actually give you more reliable data than Omniture’s SiteCatalyst and it’s FREE!

79 thoughts on “Omniture SiteCatalyst vs. Google Analytics

  1. I have come upon the exact same conclusion. I have had Omniture training, and have seen it in action on 3 major sites I have helped manage and analyze. For my personal sites I go for the free Google Analytics.

    Omniture is full of bugs and the interface makes it difficult to visualize correlations properly. GA has an extremely simple drilldown process in which your information is presented so nicely that you don’t have to split your head open to analyze.

    Granted, there are less custom variables, and less possibilities with certain tracking elements (campaigns, trkids, etc), but let’s face it, when you’re analysing every little thing to such detail, you’re not spending time adding promotions, content and ideas to your site that could make a nig difference in attracting qualified traffic…

    Google Analytics is more than enough for any small to med-large site…. omniture is for muli-million dollar companies… that have the time and resources to waste money on a whole “tracking” team.

  2. Thank you for the information Bart. Have you noticed a substantial unique visitor count beyond 10-15% when using Google Analytics compared to a log based solution?

  3. Umm… I have not done the math on that. I do have a hunch that Google doesn’t give me all my keywords like my log based program(s) seem to do, or at least that tracking of keywords will be different between the two.

    But it would make sense that there would be an increase in the accuracy of the statistics gathered by Omniture Site Catalyst, Google Analytics, and other solutions that use more than just logs such as cookies.

    However, this may even decrease the unique visitor count. I would really like to get more into conversion and tracking. In fact I’ll take a look at this in one of my future blog posts.

    Thanks Jeff, I hadn’t even thought about how big the difference between the two would be.



  4. We installed Omniture late 2006 and I have been noticing odd behavior since installation on the reporting end. Such as; 15-20% inflation compared to the engine reports (visits, views); pages reporting traffic that weren’t live yet; pages appearing within the clickmap report that aren’t part of a page. When I ask about these items, I am told the reporting is fine; like I am suppose to accept that answer and forget about the mystery occurences. Has any one else experienced these behaviors?

  5. Pages not being \”live\” can still get traffic, search engines are amazing today they can drill, prod, and poke in places they have never been able to go before.

    This could be one reason for your traffic. Another is if you have a large company or even many team members just working on the pages could count as traffic.I am betting its the last, I would go into the Omniture settings and have your office specific IPs or cookies not tracked. I am not sure to what extend Omniture can filter out developers traffic, but I would assume it would be adequate.

    If you have a changing page due to development and have added the Omniture code to that page before all the changes then that would also most likely explain your click map issues.

    its probably a good practice to add the Omniture code to your pages as your final step before making the pages live.

    I hope this helps, Cheers!


  6. No, that page had not even been developed yet; the page was built weeks close to a month later. Omniture was the last step when we did go live with this page, though.

    In regards to the click map, the page has not been touched (this is a different page btw).

    Thanks for your feedback 🙂


  7. i noticed differences in the numbers reported via click map and the numbers from the data warehousing report??

  8. Bart, what is up? This is Matt Newman, from high school. I stumbled onto your site when I googled:

    SiteCatalyst vs. Google Analytics

    I am the webmaster at Wheelchair Foundation, and I have come to the same conclusions you have about Google Analytics and Omniture SiteCatalyst. With Google’s recent upgrades to Google Analytics, I think Omniture is going to lose market share fast unless they do something different. You can’t beat free, especially when it provides more accurate, more user-friendly, and better-managed data. Like all things Google, Analytics is an amazing product that only a big company with nothing better to do with hords of cash and a bunch of geeks with phds would produce for free.

  9. Do you know if omniture by default use 1st party cookie or 3rd party cookie counting Unique visitors/browsers?

  10. Peter,

    From what I know they use their own cookie for tracking. I do believe there is settings in the sitecatalyst admin to set the cookies for certain time frames.

    Useful if you want to expire a special sale or something.

    Does that answer your question? Or are you asking if they can read other websites cookies placed on the users machine?

    A coworker of mine also mentioned that:

    “All tracking systems use third party cookies, cookies are domain based, and you can only drop a first party cookie from the domain or root domain that the browser is accessing. For example: if I am on, I cannot drop a cookie for, but I can drop one for or” – Jared Turner

  11. Don’t want to burst your bubble here. Omniture data isn’t bad folks. They simply have a different setting that doesn’t count a visit if the visitor rejects third party cookies. Google obviously chooses to count visits even if the user rejects a third party cookie. So this boils down to a choice of when to count a visit or not based on user browser settings.

    I do agree however that if your company is small, free is hard to beat. If you’re enterprise, Omniture is a no-brainer over Google. There’s a reason why more and more enterprise folks choose Omniture. It simply gives these companies more of what they need: the ability to customize their tracking solutions like GA can’t. If your small and don’t need all that customization, Google isn’t necessarily a bad idea.

  12. Britton, I really appreciate you defending Omniture’s Site Catalyst. They are a local company here and I have even had them contact me for to be a “Best Practices Consultant”. But most of all I would love to see them maintain their dominance in enterprise level analytics soultions.

    Too many Utah (Utah Valley mainly) based companies like WordPerfect, Novell, and others have been destroyed by giants. The two mentioned of course were by Microsoft.

    Google has yet to devastate anyone else that I know of as Microsoft has when they release a product. Google just doesn’t have the distribution channel that Microsoft has had… so they have had to create a new one.

    Back on track here, I still do not see why SiteCatalysts numbers would have been so much higher than Google’s if is counting less visits than Omniture. But the most important thing is that there is a negative variance with Omniture and not with Google. Thus I deem Google’s data to be more reliably consistent when it comes to Visits and Unique Visits.

    Please, pleas elet me know if they have fixed this… eventually I think my new work OrangeSoda would love to make an agreement with a top tier analytics company.

  13. Well how valid is your comparision if you think your Omniture code is implemented incorrectly anyway. Granted their shouldn’t be more uniques than visits. My experience with Omniture has been really good. When we have run into weird reporting anomalies they’ve been able to correct them after working with their support.

  14. Hi! Im from finland and there is a really intresting web tracking program here called “Snoobi”. I haven`t seen omnitures reporting but compared to google analytics, snoobi gives me much more valuable information about my website. There`s a really good search option in snoobi. For example you last list every visitor with snoobi who has came to my website in 5 days and used word “holiday” in google. Then i can see what pages every separate visitor has clicked in my website and in what order. Then i see for how long they have been in every page. I can also see in what firm they work for and how many times have they visited in my site. I can also make a search that how many of them has visited in some exact page 🙂 This is really good for my addwords campaign.

  15. Ilkka,

    do you have a URL for the “Snoobi” analytics? I am currently testing three or four different analytics on my website. I would love to add one from Europe.

    I am always looking to highlight the best tools for webmasters.

    Cheers, – Bart

  16. Hey folks, interesting thread we have here. I agree that this is a very difficult comparison because the page tags in the above examples were not implemented correctly. And although I have used Google Analytics and WebTrends, I am anxious to use Omniture and Unica at an enterprise level.

    With this said, I think the core reason to use any analytics solution is to bring more value and less waste to your site. If you have millions of people visiting your site, a 10% improvement is 100,000+ unique improvements, which hopefully should increase conversions by an X amount.

    Now the brass tax, which is the holy grail out of all enterprise analytics softwares that you think will make it simple to optimize your efforts that 10% more?

    Let’s keep it simple…and discuss…

    Google in my opinion does the job, if you have tagged your pages correctly, and you have 100% implementation. The problem is that it does not do a good job with offline efforts.

    WebTrends on the other hand, is decent. It does have many features that will allow you to work with databases, email programs and more. The problem I found is that they lack in many add on’s like multi-variant testing and the sort.

    Therefore, any true success from Omniture with these other issues? I’m curious to find out…


  17. Hi,

    I come from an interactive agency, and we have implemented SiteCatalyst 13.5 on about 20 different client sites. We started with Omniture about 9 months ago. It seems to be an uphill battle trying to decifer good data from bad. On some sites, our campaign ids are getting dropped, so we can’t tell what email, banners, prints ads are working and which are not. On one of our more complex sites we have A LOT of custom settings, but the reports contradict each other. SearchCenter data conflicts with SiteCatalyst data. On other sites, we see orders that we know were purchased, have been lost by the analytics system.

    Is it possible that there is no one product out there with 99% accurate data? Is it possible that we are supposed to use these tools to help us with trending, and give an overall idea of what’s going on, but have to accept the fact that it’s not accurate?

  18. Melissa,

    This is a great comment. I appreciate you taking the time to share this perception with us. It has been over a year since I posted this blog post. Since then I have also come to the same conclusion.

    That no one tool can actually give you 100% accuracy. I have three free analytics solutions installed on my blog at the moment. They all differ with the data I receive from them.

    Someday I hope to post a real case study about them. I have not because there are several out there already.

    Again thank you for taking the time to write to all of us.


    -Bart Gibby

  19. We TRIED to implement site catalyst for over 6 months and found so many inconsistencies that we junked the product. It is so complicated and un userfriendly that you need 2 dedicated people just to error check the product. The overhead of running the product was way too high. We ended up going back to Google for some fresh air. However we quickly grew out of the top line numbers we got from Google as you could not drill down to any degree and it was funny how Google always appears to account for over 60% of site traffic when our logfile analyser showed categorically they accounted for 40%. This made us suspicous that Google overinflates their own figures to support their PPC and since they are not audited i think it is easy to believe that Google are looking after their own. There is a huge conflict of interest to sell PPC and then report on it impartially.
    We have since trialied Webtrends, Intellitracker and unica. We found all systems to be ok but unica and Intellitracker stood out a mile as the product for the serious business. Check them out both out as they make omniture and Google look like clowns when it comes down to power, userability and ease of use. Amazing products guys!

  20. I have never heard of Unica. And I didn’t know WebTrends sold analytics. It seems everyone and their dog is doing analytics now a days.

    I know we have very basic analytics program at OrangeSoda, Inc. but we don’t sell it separately from our PPC and SEO services. Its more of a value added service we provide.
    Funny thing is I have not even used it on my blog yet. Simply because I have not received authorization for a an account yet.

    I would like to check out these others you have mentioned Jack. I appreciate the time you took to tell us about your experience with SiteCatalyst and Google Analytics.

  21. I’d like to make a bold statement – there will never be a package that offers 100% data accuracy (even statistics don’t have 100% confidence anyways). The reason is simply because what is involved in the process:
    – all of what you have already mentioned;
    – tracking implementation (in flash vs. html);
    – scripts operation calling the right tags;
    – client server sending data;
    – vendor server receiving data and depositing data accordingly;
    – reporting platform pulling data accordingly.

    If an error occurs in any of those steps, you will not see accurate data. Can they be fully operational 24/7/356? …. didn’t think so! Being said, I think we need to focus more on how we should utilize these tools.

    I wouldn’t want to repeat what’s already said – large firm with good staffing should go for Omniture, etc. What I want to bring up is the lack of collaboration between Marketing and Analytics. I’ve yet to see any company doing a good job at using these tools to support their marketing objectives – I don’t just mean offline analytics, I mean the integration of all types of analytics. Web is only one of many marketing channels. If we have the Integrated Marketing Paradigm, why not an Integrated Analytics Paradigm?

  22. Ken,

    I really like where you are going with your comment. “Integrated Analytics Paradigm” is a very thought provoking topic. Especially for companies who use their website as one of their many sources of advertising and revenue.

    Maybe that the next step with Omniture is to fully integrate a enterprise level full analytics system.

    Crunching numbers from all sources.

    I also like your bold statement. That the perfect data gather analytics solution is not out there and probably never will be. Which as you mention is due to the complexities involved and all the different types of technology working together.

    I completely agree with this.

    I would still like to point out that, just because it is expensive doesn’t mean it is more accurate. On a side note just because it is free doesn’t mean that it is less accurate. As my data I collected above suggests.

    I hope Omnitire has fixed this issue. It is sad day for a company when a competitor can give a product away for free that gives a higher rate of data confidence.

    Again Ken thank you for the awesome foresight into what a true analytics solution can become.

  23. Has anyone run into a scenario where the clicks being reported by the search engines and omniture are close, but the difference between clicks and unique visitors is huge? I’ve been able to accept a 10-15% difference, but when it gets up to 40% a red flag goes up. Say a keyword drove 9,000 clicks, but that only translated into 6,000 visitors. I find it hard to believe the difference is from the same visitor clicking on an ad multiple times, unless there’s fraud involved.

  24. Yes, a very good info on analytics software and the competition. After reading a little more on snoobi I see some faults in Google analytics . Intellitracker’s site did not offer much info at all. What I found most was their client list. And they measure site visitors..kind of funny there.

  25. Matt,

    Do you mean “database marketing” as the database is the product or service that is being sold? Or using databases to do marketing?

    We are talking about internal data used to sell more product or services, add more value to our current and future customers with those products or services, and do it with the least amount of waste by optimizing and integrating marketing campaigns.

    See the largest problem with databases is they have to be used by everyone involved inside the company. Even with proper relationships between the databases people still need to understand the data and use it.

    It also needs to be resource effective. Which right now a system that does all this would either have to be patched together from various 3rd party and internal databases or all custom built internally or by a 3rd party.

    Do you know of any solutions?


  26. We tried to use, but we encountered highly questionable JavaScript coding practices. Our own appraisal of the Omniture code has shown that their developers have attempted to generally follow the variable naming requirements that are described above, but have only done so partially, rendering the effort useless. Thus we are faced with not only a lack of cooperation with the vendor, but a general incompetence. Please see the Omniture representative’s response below.

    /Omniture representative wrote: I’m sorry, but it is not possible for me to have our code rewritten to stop using “f” as a variable, or to have all of our functions and variables renamed. In addition, I cannot provide you with a list of all variables in the s_code.js file because of intellectual property protection issues.”/

    The claim that a simple variable name could have intellectual property implications is patently ridiculous.

  27. Hi we are web interactive company consist of less than 20 workers with less than 5 person handling technical/database and analytics issues.

    we had been using Google Analytics all this while until yesterday our directors bring front Omniture calling it the future of analytics.

    they are not a technical person. they know nothing much about GA as well as Omniture.

    Even though we are a small company, we run web campaigns and solutions to multi million corporation like Samsung, Pepsi etc.

    the question here is, can 2-3 technical person handle the problem that might arise using Omniture? should we stick back to GA?

    thank you for reading

  28. Anthony,

    If I had a team of 2 to 3 people using Omniture’s SiteCatalyst I would be the happiest man alive.

    What I mean is, even though Omniture has its flaws, its main advantage in the future is that it is not Google.

    To answer your question if 2 to 3 people is enough or not. That depends. I would want at least one person focusing on website conversion using the SiteCatalyst product.

    If your 2 to 3 people know and are trained on the program it can be the most powerful tool you will ever use.

    Again, you have to be trained. It is so in depth and covers so many areas of website analytics that you need to be patient and learn it. It is completely customizable!!

    I only used it for 6 months. I taught my self what I could. But I regret to inform you that my main function was to report on SEO campaign metrics using it not increase website conversion.

    So be sure that your company knows using the product will be a waste, a huge waste of money if they do not pay to have you trained properly and in depth on how to use it.

    If they don’t you might as well stick with GA.

    P.S. Love your website. Some great design work. Never actually seen a website offer to go full screen and actually have it make my entire browser disappear. very different. Hope you guys get some targeted website traffic from the search engines with it.

  29. The reason that Visits are lower than Visitors is because Visits are only counted for people that come to your site who are accepting persistent cookies. Visitors are counted even if the persistent cookie is not able to be set.

    You actually quoted this little tidbit straight out of the documentation, though it’s not obvious from the wording. I would imagine any of the support people at Omniture would be able to tell you that as well.

    Anyway, Google counts Visits for both persistent & non-persistent cookied visitors, hence the difference in numbers. For the most part, comparing two different systems like that is dangerous. Some numbers will match, some won’t, and it’s difficult to tell if they’re supposed to or not. Anyway, hope this helps.

  30. Ben,

    I appreciate your feedback. Very excellent point about the cookies.

    However, don’t you think it contradicts the whole idea of tracking both visits and unique visitors? Why not just track one and avoid confusing the user(s) of the SiteCatalyst system.

    I prefer a system that forces me to use consistent measurements. That way I know whether the data is truly related to each in valid methodologies.

    Just set me up a system that works, is consistent and doesn’t contradict itself. That is all I ask for.

  31. I agree completely. I’m not saying I agree with the way they set it up. I actually hate it, but knowing is half the battle right?

  32. Bart,

    All pathing reports in SiteCatalyst are, quite naturally, built around the concept of a VISIT. If you include the the visits of non-cookied users with the visits of cookeid users, you potentially compromise the validity of your pathing data. Non-cookied users are identified using an IP+browser method. It’s the next best thing after no cookie, but still inherently inaccurate given shared IP addresses via proxies, IP-pooling as practised by most ISPs, etc.. In essence, including the visit data of non-cookied visitors in your pathing data pollutes good data (from cookied users who have good visit integrity) with bad (lots of users looking like the same user due to IP sharing and single users looking like multiple users courtesy of dynamic IP allocation).

    I take your point that this can be confusing for those new to SiteCatalyst and the lack of consistency between visit and visitor could be a problem to some, but to flip it around, does it make sense to compromise the validity of pathing data just to achieve this consistency?

    Note also, the pages seen and events triggered by non-cookied users are of course recorded by SiteCatalyst; it’s just that the visit metric itself does not include the visits of non-cookied users.

    For the rest of the comments, it’s difficult to know where to start. Nobody’s going to have a quarrel with “I prefer X” or “I think Y only works for big companies”. These are opinions and everyone is entitled to them. But there are several statements of “fact” above that are, I’m afraid to say, borne of sheer ignorance. My favourite concerned the “highly questionable JavaScript coding practices”. Quick, someone call AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo, eBay, Disney and the rest of the Fortune500 companies out there whose due dilligence failed to uncover this priceless gem.

    Apologies for the sarcasm, but really….

  33. BrownBoy,

    So if I am calculating conversion rate and I have polluted data, then that gives me a polluted conversion rate. Great, I now have data that is either saying my rate is too high or too low.

    If Site Catalyst has a way of turning IP address or Cookie tracking on/off. Then I say Good for them and all who use it. If not then I say bad for them and you are welcome to your contradicting data.

    There is no point in tracking a relationship between two sets of data if you can never get the proper data to leverage that relationship. So just pick one set of data, forget about the relationship. Gather just that set of data as accurately as possible.

    Google seems to get it right… I am fine with lower numbers so long as they are consistent and the relativity of the relationships between the data collected are sound.

    Stop overloading me with data I can’t use. I need data to make business decisions now. Don’t make me have to do more calculations. I don’t need corrupted data that leaves me wondering if it is accurate enough to get the job done.

  34. Ben,

    I agree, knowing how they get their data can be very useful. Especially when the data starts to make you wonder, “How did they get this data?”

    When data starts to get you thinking like that, it is either very good or its very bad. its usually very bad in my experience.

    Ya so the other half of the battle would be compensating for any data that is not valid. Or just starting over.

  35. Bart,

    You can run reports in SC that allow you to see both cookied and non-cookied visitor numbers. You can get visits per visitor using like for like (i.e. for cookied user only) at the flick of a switch. The key to all analysis is knowing where you’re figures come from. If you know that your visits metric does not include non-cookied users – who you can quantify using other reports – then your covnersion data is not “polluted”. It’s only “polluted” if you either:

    a) don’t know that visits excludes non-cookied users, or
    b) have no way of assessing/quantifying the number of non-cookied users.

    The reality is that when trending data, the number of users rejecting cookeis is pretty much immaterial anyway. This is not quite so with pathing data, as a relatively small segment of users who share a same proxy IP, or who are getting different IPs in mid-visits due to dynamic IP allocation by their ISPs, can disproportionately impact the integrity of pathing data in quick order.

    Look, I accept the above is my opinion on what’s more important, but I’m willing to concede that the point is arguable. I’ve no doubt it is *possible* to get decent pathing data out of Google Analytics and, even if the data is compromised by non-cookied visits, this ceases to be quite so importnat if analysts know that their data includes non-cookied visitors; their fallout trends over time will still yield quality intelligence that can be acted upon. Likewise, I’d aruge that the absence of non-cookied visits from SC’s visits metrics is not the big deal you might think it is so long as analysts know that this is the case. Knowledge is power, and all that.

    I have no problem with users who prefer one approach over the other. That’s the type of stuff that makes the world go around. But your insistence that one approach yields *bad* data as oppsoed to *good* data using the other solution, needs to be challenged.

    Stop overloading me with data I can’t use. I need data to make business decisions now. Don’t make me have to do more calculations. I don’t need corrupted data that leaves me wondering if it is accurate enough to get the job done.

    The point is that you wouldn’t have been “wondering” anything if you actually knew how Omniture calculated visits, something every user discovers on first day of basic user training. This isn’t an attack on your intelligence – I’m sure there’s things you know that I don’t. But now it has been explained to you why you saw what you thought was a data anomaly but is in fact perfectly valid data, why not just accept that this is just a different approach that has it’s own benefits, just as Google’s approach has benefits, too? Why the insistence that your analysis efforts in SiteCatalyst are rendered by pointless without an exponential increase in effort? It’s just not the reality, my friend.



  36. BrownBoy,

    I am so glad you have actually been able to help me finally. Its been almost 2 years since I posted this. I never received training, so I was left to my own understanding of the program.

    So for the analytics laymen, which is almost everyone who has posted a comment here. Omniture’s SiteCatalyst really needs either to be more usable for the laymen or Google analytics will always win.

    I love SiteCatlyst, its just not meant for people to understand without training. If you read my summary at the bottom of my post or even my followup post you’ll see that.

    And yes BrownBoy, you win, when it comes to how much effort I put into knowing how to use SiteCatalyst. But that’s my point BrownBoy.

    SiteCatalyst needs someone trained on it and working it every day to maximize conversion. Where on Google’s anayltics its just nice to look at every once in a while and check out certain stats when it comes to conversion optimization.

    But it does all I need it to do, I sue it mainly for traffic sources, I do SEO.

    I am actually looking forward someday to getting a certificate or two using an website analytics program like SiteCatalyst.



  37. hi iam layman when it comes to sitecatalyst and i am using .net application our company has signed up with omniture so i have no choice than implementing it can you help me with some implementation tips and other stuff

    1. What kind of tips are you looking for? Suggestions would depend on what type of setup you are doing.

      But the big thing to remember is that most packages from Omniture comes with training. If you guys bought a package that comes with training I would do ALL the training you can. Just soak it all in and apply everything you can.

      Just ask who ever went through the sales process at your company they should know.

  38. Seriously? There are ways to filter out the non-persistent cookie visitors anyway. My article ( describes these discrepancies in greater detail. Your argument that Google Analytics is more reliable than SiteCatalyst is totally false. I use both systems, and while SiteCatalyst attempts to give you the most robust dataset, Google Analytics hardly compares. Google Analytics is great for the beginner user, but true data analysts need access to all data.

  39. Eric,

    You are right and I agree with you. My argument simply is that Google is simpler, and easier to use. But because of that there are disadvantages to using Google analytics.

    If you setup SiteCatalyst correctly meaning the final data that you use for decision making is filtered and the java code on the site is setup to give you the right page titles, conversions, campaigns, etc. data then yes SiteCatalyst is hands down more useful.

    Perhaps someday I’ll get certified. But not just yet.

    P.S. this post was made about 2.3 years ago.

  40. Bart,

    I want to learn Omniture’s Sitecatalyst and finding hard to get training material. I found good information from this blog but still searching for a good site which provides implementation knowledge.

    Please help me with the information where exactly i can get some material to learn and links for the same.

    Thanks in advance!

  41. Lenin – Aside from the implementation guide available through Omniture’s website, I HIGHLY recommend Adam Greco’s blog: Adam provides great insight into SiteCatalyst in a way that is very understandable, and allows you to take his tips and implement them immediately.

    Aside from that – I posted here just over a year ago, when we had implemented Omniture on over 20 sites. We have more than doubled our implementation since then, and every time, we do something a little different. We are certainly getting better with experience. This is not a tool where you can just slap some code in the footer and be on your merry way. Your data, and ability to get actionable analysis from it, is only as good as your implementation. It takes A LOT of thought and planning for each site to make sure we are getting the information we need and be able to make decisions on.

    Omniture is a great tool. Don’t get me wrong, it has some flaws too, but in many cases if you’re not getting what you thought you would from the tool, chances are, you have not implemented correctly, or have not learned to use the tool in its fullest capacity.

  42. Melissa,

    Excellent followup. I really appreciate it.

    Have you implemented cnames via a sub-domain so you don’t get third party cookies rejected?

  43. I have an Art Gallery, and I am most interested in indentifying and tracking unique visitors. GA does not do this, I know Sitecatalyt does this, and does it well, but even at their “rock bottom” pricing, it’s more than I can afford. Does anyone know of a more affordable option to Site Catalyst?

  44. Michael,

    I use “GA” on this blog and on my many other domains. GA tracks “Absolute Unique Visitors” and visits.

    There are others you can use. Click Tale, 103bees, hitwise, AWstats comes free on most php/apache cpanel servers.

    There are tons of website analytic products out there.

  45. I wasn’t clear. I would like to track indivduals. By that I mean “Jane Doe” and “John Smith” and “Bart Gibby”, etc. First get them to provide the information through registraion, place a cookie, and then monitor their behavior on my site.

    Since my post I discovered Visistat, and they seem to offer this ability along with comprehensive analyics at approx. $30/month, which I think I am going to try. As a sole proprietor with no staff their interface seems simple enough and provides a level of detail I am capable of sifting through.

  46. Michael,

    Looks like a great find. I think I might look into “Visistat” as well. Would be nice for a few of my domains.

    Thanks for sharing.

  47. If anyone knows anything about Omniture they would know that “BrownBoy Belkin” is not interely unbiased when it comes to discussing Sitecatalyst

  48. Bart,

    Your blog was extremely helpful to get a feel of Omniture vs GA and all about Web Analytics. I was surfing for information on Omniture for about 2-3 days now. I work for AAA club south (covering FL, GA, TN and PR) in the database marketing dept as a data analyst. They want me to get started using Omniture. Initially, I was asked to get a feel for the product and its worth and eventually if I found it usable I would be sent for training.
    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated n keep up the good work!

    1. Neelu,

      if your a big corp and can pay someone full time to use the omniture products I would highly suggest it. They are even tracking rankings from Google traffic, as of last month.

      However, if you want a free analytics Google’s is the best I have seen. Google also have a enterprise version but I doubt it is as customizable as you would need.

      If I knew more about your needs I could recommend even something like hitwise, 103bees, or even just webalizer.

  49. Thanks Bart, I will definitely let u know…once I have access. It may be next week before I get a login.

  50. Bart

    Hope ur doing well. I finally got hooked up with Omniture on my machine last Monday. I have figured out some cool stuff we would be using it initially.

    I wanted to ask if there is a way to figure out hits on a page. For instance, say we consider the home page and I want to know the number of clicks on the different links on the home page. As I want to get product specific. Could I just do a fall out report instead?

    Please let me know.

  51. Neelu,

    You could use a number of different reports. One report would be the “next page” or “next page flow” report. Either one would show you what the next page viewed was on from the home page (or any other page you choose to look at).

    You might also want to check out the ClickMap feature. Although the data shown shouldn’t be taken as law, it can give you an overview of how visitors are using the page using the heatmap feature.

    Melissa Kavanagh
    Fuel Interactive
    Web Analytics Specialist

  52. I am not sure why enterprise size companies do not build their own event based systems and warehouse that data – not hard to do at all and you can account and customize everything. Using a simple network protocol to capture data then extracting, transforming and loading – then you’re off to the races. Simple. GA is great for small to mid sized companies but larges businesses will have the budget and need for an in-house system with the data they own.

  53. Kartik,

    I appreciate the compliment and am glad you have found the information useful. It is nice to know that many of my readers ares still finding this comparison of “Omniture SiteCatalyst vs. Google Analytics” useful.



  54. Thanks for the this comparison. However I feel that many of the companies they opt for Omniture as they think Google Analytics is free and moreover the data is in thirdparty server. Anyways I haven’t used omniture yet, probably will try using it asap and would definitely post my feedback. BTW nice post 🙂

  55. I didn’t see anyone mention that GA owns your data, and Omniture does not, so if you move from GA you don’t get to take data with you. omniture is a server request not a user request. I work for Government and we are large and need an application that can report on the many needs we have. GA only allows for one domain name, omniture allows for multiples. The session cookie is all we are allowed to use in Government no persistant cookies. I am open to something that will meet our needs but GA doies not, and Omniture is the only one in the balck, webtrends is in the red, and that worries me.

    1. Judy,

      If you have the budget then I would go with Omniture. There are other solutions than the top three.

      This is a brand new stats program, technically it is in Beta testing at the moment.

      I have used their products for a few years now, this is their latest development.

  56. Thank you very much, I will look into this and I am so happy I found this site with all of this great input.

  57. Rhonda,

    I current’y do not have any idea of when they will release this webstats software. Lets hope they take their time and get as many of the beta test bugs worked out as possible before they charge people to use it.

    But the good news is that it is free until then. I am not sure how portable the data is… you would think you could export it in a SQL or a xml format of some sort in case you ever needed to move to a different platform… wonder if it will accept data from other platforms…

    again this software is still new to me too.

  58. Although I appreciate the argument, I can’t even believe people are defending GA over Omniture. Wow. Surprising. Google gives a lot of “so what?” analysis. Sorry Avinash, but it’s true. It is indeed a great free analytics tool, but trying to derive real, actionable web metrics is very difficult in GA. If you’re a business and are satisfied with HITS (by the way stands for How Idiots Track Statistics) then by all means, go with Google Analytics. But…if you’re interested in advanced segmentation, slicing and dicing data, and really detecting the granular into action…then nothing compares much to Omniture.

    1. Luke,

      wow, you just said the same thing most of us have already. You just decided to call people who use “HITS” as a key metric idiots. I guess its been a while since you have used anything but Omniture… GA never used HITS. Did you even look at my data? its old now, but it was telling me I had more Visitors than I Visits! Last I checked in order to have a visit a visitor had to be present.

      Don’t have any idea why you have a sour attitude, if using Omniture made me result to name calling and a negative attitude I wouldn’t want to use it.

      BTW its pretty easy to defend a free good enough for small business solution over a expensive bloated enterprise level solution in which you have to have a army of people to use. That is if your the small business it is easy to defend of course.

      My main issue with GA is that it is a Google data product. Every day I feel like Google is becoming more and more “Big Brother” like; while keep using all their wonderful free products. Makes me wonder if someday I’ll wake up and Google will be the world government.

  59. No name calling, just stating a fact. My best guess for your bad data was at some point and error in inputting the code. And yes…I do defend Omniture, not just for the enterprise level users, but because I suffered at the hands of GA for years (from both perspectives). Like stated earlier, using GA doesn’t provide enough actionable web metrics. Users (whether it be small business owners, marketers, SEO specialists, etc.) are seemingly always stuck in the “So what?” stage of analysis. And I would argue that it takes an army to run this system. There are a handful of companies which have dedicated only a few people to operate and optimize Omniture….mine being one of them. There are also probably a handful of companies that dedicate armies to feel like they’re getting the best bang for their buck. I will agree, it is a very expensive tool and oftentimes many believe that an expensive tool should yield all the answers of their web traffic…make life easier. If anything…this product opens the door that many other web analytic platforms fail to do. But with any expensive tool, you have to have the talent to run the system.

  60. This is worth reading. I am new to web analytics and our company is looking into using Urchin in-house. We are already using both WT and Omniture. I saw the specs in Urchin and it says it does not support IE8. Is this true?

  61. I love brownboys comments, I too like sitecatalyst and I favor it over GA but only after a lot of research.

  62. Bart, I laughed when I read your comment about GA, hey brother GA IS big brother, welcome to the family…. I still like Omniture site catalyst a lot more, but I saw many steps in GA I had to take to maintain my sites, with all of the domain names as well. Yes I have big sites with over 70 domain names, to fit the public’s ease of use. GA has a ways to go for larger org’s because of the steps in doing things, like I need to set permission so my users can view the reports and set up account for viewers, all while not having the ability to erase past data (not sure if this is true but I was told GA is easy to remove older data) If we lose archived data we lose the ability to run past years reports. I need to have archived data that is still attainable by my users/co-workers. GA is wonderful but still needs to grow to fit with bigger websites I hope they see a value in big websites. I will be the only person managing site catalyst and I don’t fear anything about being over worked, it seems very easy once it is set up, GA would be a nightmare for me at this time. In the future I will have to revisit once GA allows for multi users accounts with permission levels, and so on. I hope more people comment, I love when everyone starts leaving very helpful information, I love this site it is so helpful and very bright people on this site as well.

  63. Judy,

    GA allows for some simple user accounts, such as admin and read only. Have you restricted access to those areas based on user permissions yet. I would hope they would allow for it on a individual basis.

    We have sure had some movers and shakers comment on this blog post. I am looking forward to getting my new blog design active. I have used this one since 2006. Wow my picture was from 2001.

    Back on topic, your managing 70 domains!

    That is insane, setup has and always will be the largest time consumer. I am currently helping a client increase his conversion rate from 0.65% site wide average to at least 1.15%. And it has taken a month to finally work through all the cob webs, permissions, and planning to finally get new page layouts, and the small minor changes that really make a difference.

    I had 160 websites all functional with websites at one time. That was in 2004, toward the end of my college years. But none of them were legitimate businesses, they were just SEO fun test sites, that I was able to break even on.

    Which reminds me how much I really want to get certified Omniture SiteCatalyst and GA. GA is only $50 for the test, I think I’ll take it middle of May.

    Any suggestions for any other analytic certifications I should go after?

  64. Too much work to set this up for a large org and you can not have just read rights they need to be able to manage their sections account and GA will not allow that. I talked to twelve large org’s and they said if they had the money GA would be gone in a flash and they would get a real analytics tool. You had sperate sites we are talliing one site with 32 sites under the main site and GA is not the analytics app taht can accomplish this large of a project. They are for a small site and nothing more. Plus GA has a lot of bugs and they keep saying they are working on them but the folks using it say they never see any changes, and the app is very limited. I also wanted to add Omniture does not have a lot of bugs, you must have been referring to GA. I also have a lot of contacts that use omniture and they love it and they say it is the perfect app for a large org. I also have come to believe this site is really all about promoting GA, and you are not open to promoting anything but GA.

  65. I also noticed you have so many inaccurate comments, omniture insert the code and it is always accurate, GA however has had and continues to have problems all of the time with inaccurate code (tags). You should change the name of your site, I want GA for everyone and I will run down all of the competition, read what you write your a GA guy and you really do not want to promote anything but GA. I really liked this site at first because I thought it was a true comparison but it has evolved into a GA promo site.

Comments are closed.