Welcome back Google Analytics

Yeah we tease him a lot, welcome back, welcome back
Cause we got him on the spot, welcome back, welcome back

Not even three full weeks have gone by since I removed Google Analytics from my website and I can’t handle it. I just reinstalled the tracking code and updated my privacy policy. This website has rejoined the land of ad technology.

In the end, my experiment with log files proved too time consuming. Both AWStats and Webalizer could get me through the basic metrics, but whenever I wanted to go deep into a segment or understand particular navigation flows, I had to write code. It doesn’t seem like much, but writing 10 – 15 lines of Python instead of clicking a mouse a few times quickly adds up.

It was more complicated because I did a piss poor job of managing the conversion project. In fact, calling it a conversion project is a disservice to all other conversion projects. I decided to remove Google Analytics on a whim, updated my privacy policy and went to the races. In retrospect, that was a mistake for two reasons:

  1. I couldn’t compare the information I would generate in my reports with the information that Google Analytics generated in their reports.
  2. I didn’t realize how big Google Analytics was until I uninstalled it. Throughout the process, I kept coming up with questions, thinking how I would answer it in GA (the answer was usually ‘click a mouse 3 – 5 times’) then realizing how complicated the logic was (and how little data http exposes).

So, I’m back to using Google Analytics but I’m not entirely finished with my log file experiment. I’m going to run the two in tandem and invest some time on log files – log files generate some very useful marketing data and I can see them being useful in all sorts of dashboards. But I’m not sure that I’m ready to make them my only analytics tool.

If you have successfully gone front end tracker free, let me know in the comments.

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