Just what the world needs: another web analytics tool

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image I’m amazed and kind of impressed that there are still people out there who want to get into the web analytics business. After all, it’s not like there aren’t plenty of tools to choose from. And the challenges of making money from web analytics are well documented (by me, anyway). So I applaud Elie El Khoury and his team at Fusion Media Labs for their chutzpha in launching Woopra (if that’s not a naming decision driven by .com domain availability, I’ll eat my hat) at this relatively late stage in the game.

Before I go on, yes, I know we’re in the middle of launching our own, not-exactly-first-to-market web analytics service, but as I’ve explained elsewhere, if you want to be in the web analytics business today, you really need to be in some other related businesses as well to pay the bills, and to provide a compelling reason to use your app. So I shall be interested to see how Woopra is monetized (there’s no mention of pricing on the site as yet).

Elie’s background is in graphic design, which can be seen in the very shiny (and very Visual Sciences-esque) UI design. But what else is there to Woopra? The (hilarious) demo video (click the link before it’s replaced with something sensible) doesn’t give much away.

Well, Woopra seems mainly to be aimed at lower-volume (< 10,000 PIs/day) sites, principally blogs. And it focuses on providing very detailed, real-time data about on-site behavior. I have to say that I’m a bit of a skeptic about real-time data – it has the “wow” factor that helps to get people engaged with web analytics, but in all the years I’ve been in this industry I’ve only encountered one or two very specific cases where it could be genuinely useful, and even then, 20-minute old data would have been just as useful. Other features include real-time notifications and visitor tagging.



The most interesting (and alarming) aspect of Woopra, though (which is linked to the real-time component) is the ability to launch a live chat session with someone visiting your site; so if you’re watching someone blundering about the aisles of your virtual store, you can jump in and say “Hey! Looks like you’re lost. Can I help?”

I can say in no uncertain terms that this would scare the bejesus out of me. It violates the (unwritten, unspoken) “pact” that exists between website users and owners; many users know at some level that their behavior is being tracked, but as long as that tracking doesn’t get too “scary” (e.g. receiving an e-mail just after visiting a site that lists all the things you looked at), they’re fairly comfortable. I predict that this feature will create significant discomfort for users; not to mention that it will be hard verging on impossible for a webmaster or site support person to monitor behavior accurately enough to actually justify jumping in and offering help. To be fair, the system does also allow the site user to initiate the chat, which is perfectly acceptable.

Reading this post back, I feel like a terrible old curmudgeon, criticizing this product – it has a kind of youthful enthusiasm to it that was once common in the industry but is now becoming less so as it matures (and now I can add condescending to my list of vices, too). I hope that Elie and his team can find a niche for it.

9 thoughts on “Just what the world needs: another web analytics tool”

  1. This seems gimmicky to me. The only novelty offered by this application is the Creepy Chat Session that would most likely drive away more traffic than it would bring in. It might be interested for a blogger to check which visitors are currently on his site, perhaps to show off to friends or colleagues, but ultimately this app will live its short life on digg and then fade away.

  2. Those interested about checking in real-time who’s on their sites are probably the same ones who are Twitting about checking people real time on their site… Got it? I don’t! 🙂

  3. It would be kinda nice if Microsoft had Live Chat Support on their Help websites. I don’t want to call, and I find IMing a person better and easier to understand through. Since I can type down exactly what I want to know.

  4. For people looking for an open web analytics alternative (with open APIs and plugins APIs) have a look at the promising piwik: http://piwik.org
    piwik is an open source (GPL license) web analytics software. It gives interesting reports on your website visitors, your popular pages, the search engines keywords they used, the language they speak… and so much more.

  5. I’m not so sure why everyone gets so creeped out about LiveChat on a website but not about Twitter, IM, Skype, etc. The LiveChat thing has been around for nearly 10 years now and its so easy to either use it, or just close it out if you don’t want to be bothered. Either way, with a little elbow grease, site owners still know what you’re doing on their sites! Live Chat on a site is no creepier than all the chat requests I get while using email every day, and heaven forbid, certainly a lot less creepier than Twitting all day!

  6. It looks like an interesting twist on Web analytics. If you can get your site approved. Mine has been waiting for weeks now, with no forward progress…
    On another note, live chat is not, as others have said, new. I had service from Hab.la on my blog for a while, until I pretty much stopped using Pidgin (because I began using Twitter and twhirl more) on a daily basis. JavaScript this, JavaScript that, it doesn’t make a difference. They’re all chat programs, and I have yet to see one that doesn’t tell you what page the visitor is on.

  7. I agree with what has been said. I don’t see this tool as adding a whole lot of value to what is already out there.
    About the whole chat thing, I do think it has its place. In a retail site like bestbuy.com or walmart.com, having a little help could be useful. When I’m in one of their stores and I have a question or look confused, I like it someone asks if they can help me. However, a chat window while I’m reading someone’s blog would be a little creepy.

  8. @Matt –
    I disagree that this kind of interruptive chat is not creepy. It’s one thing to offer a “chat now” button (and to tell the user that if they click it, their behavior will be available at the far end) and to have a window pop up saying “Aha! I see you’re looking at our leather bondage gear. Can I offer any advice?” Twitter, IM, and Skype are all totally different because they are for connecting people to other people by choice (whom they usually already know, or at least have chosen to speak with).
    It’s like the difference between calling a friend to ask them to bring over some sugar and the phone randomly ringing in your kitchen, and a stranger saying “I see you’re out of sugar. Would you like me to bring some over?”.

  9. The creepy Chat facility seems perfect for dealing with the random Nazis and sociopaths who occasionally wander into my site and issue threats. Scaring the bejesus out of these people sounds great, but maybe I’m just liking Woopra for all the wrong reasons.

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