Coremetrics vs. Omniture vs. Google Analytics

Updated: Feb 26, 2013

I'm frequently asked about the big three web analytics tools: Google Analytics, Omniture, and Coremetrics. While the question is frequently posed as "which one is the best?" I also hear "how are they different?" So in that spirit I'm putting them head to head and giving my honest and quite comprehensive review of how they do things differently, in the hope that it helps people both choose the right tool and, for the curious, understand how they vary under the hood. And, so I don't disappoint, at the end I'll pick a winner 🙂 I've used each of these three tools extensively so all thoughts come from my own experience.

These are the categories I'll be evaluating:

  1. Admin and Implementation
  2. Data Warehouse Integration
  3. Traffic and Campaign Tracking
  4. Reporting
  5. User Interface
  6. User Community

Note: I am primarily comparing GA (free version), Omniture SiteCatalyst, and Coremetrics Analytics. Where applicable, I've noted paid add-ons like GA Premium, Omniture Discover, and Coremetrics Explore with a dollar ($) sign.  Note that, according to IBM, access to Coremetrics Explore is now built into the standard Analytics package, though there are still strict usage limits unless you pay.


Note: I'm putting implementation in this category just to give it a brief overview. It actually permeates many of the other categories.



Google Analytics


Coremetrics uses several tags that are preset to collect different types of information (e.g. a "registration" tag that has slots for user info). Can add element tracking (similar to events) or extra attributes (similar to custom variables). Has special real estate tags specifically for tracking clicks on a page, which is a neat feature that is unique to Coremetrics.

Implementation difficulty out of 5: 3

Omniture uses different types of traffic (sprop) , ecommerce variables (evars), link tracking, and event tracking to pass in information. Nothing is assumed and everything can (and must) be configured. Code plugins can be added for extra functionality.

Implementation difficulty out of 5: 5

GA provides different preset tags (page view, ecommerce, event) to collect different information, though event tracking is a much more flexible bucket that replaces several of either Coremetrics and Omniture's tracking methods. A lot can be set up in the admin interface without implementing code, e.g. onsite search tracking, which is a great feature not present in Omniture or Coremetrics.

Implementation difficulty out of 5: 2


User management has 2 roles, user and admin. Can assign user groups to limit access.

User management at different levels. Can assign report suites to limit access.

User management has 2 roles, user and admin. Can assign profiles to limit access.


No concept of rules

Can apply IP filters in interface or implement VISTA rules

Enables users to implement rules (called filters) from the admin interface to transform data before it hits the reports


No customization

For better or worse, menu layouts can all be customized.  It's a bit like if Excel had a different layout and options for every company... 

No customization





Google Analytics


Coremetrics doesn't surface a user ID in the regular reports though it can be added into a variable. Can view user ID in the Explore tool and their own user ID gets passed into data feed. 

Omniture doesn't surface a user ID in the regular reports but there is no limit on data collection granularity. Can capture a user-level identifier in an evar for use in reports. Can view Omniture's own user ID in the Discover tool ($) and it gets passed into data feed.

No limit on data collection granularity. Can capture a user-level identifier in a visitor-scoped custom variable for use in reports. Note that this is not against GA's terms of service unless it explicitly contains identifying info (e.g. an email address or username). An ID is fine.


Coremetrics provides clickstream data feeds via SFTP, called the Digital Data Feed. These tables don't contain site promotions or real estate click tracking data, though this could possibly be produced via a custom feed.

Omniture produces clickstream data feeds via SFTP ($). I think these clickstream tables contain all the data provided in the interface, though not 100% sure.

According to commenter Billy below, "the Data Warehouse tool allows you to easily export large volumes of data via email or ftp. The exports can be scheduled via email or FTP to allow for easy integration with other systems."

GA doesn't provide any clickstream tables. By default all data is aggregated and must be extracted via the API, which has some limits on what can be extracted. It is possible to de-aggregate the data and recreate a clickstream by passing in timestamps and other data into custom variables, or by using some of their leftover Urchin functionality to send directly to local servers, but I consider these to be workarounds.


Provides Category Definition File (CDF) functionality that allows for categorizing data and adding supplementary attributes after data collection occurs.  This can be pretty useful for grouping content together or categorizing merchandise, and for passing additional attributes that can't be collected from the page tag.

Provides SAINT functionality which allows for categorizing data and adding supplementary attributes after data collection occurs.  This is mostly used for campaign processing (unnecessary in Coremetrics and GA since campaign data is collected at the source) but can be used to group any kind of information.  Especially useful for passing additional attributes that can't be collected from the page tag.

Data can't be added once it has been collected, aside from a late 2012 update to allow uploading marketing cost data.  Some similar functionality can be done via filters (rules).





Google Analytics


Provides 4 pre-set query strings that are appended to the end of marketing campaigns (no extra code needed)

Additional marketing meta data can be appended as parameters for use in Explore reports. Categorization can also be uploaded via IBM Digital Analytics Multichannel ($)

Provides any number of query string for identifying marketing campaigns but they must be configured and assigned in the JS tracking code.

Provides 5 pre-set query strings that are appended to the end of marketing campaigns (no extra code needed). Also, AdWords is tagged automatically so no query strings needed there.


Campaigns must be categorized (in the interface) into a marketing channel to show up in the marketing report. Doesn't let you drill down to actual pages on referring sites that sent traffic without going to Explore.

 According to Coremetrics, this can also be done by uploading campaign data.

Omniture has 3 major methods for creating marketing reports: reports based on the tracking code, out of the box reports for search/referring sites, and reports set up via marketing channel rules assigned in the admin interface. Confusing and highly unlikely any of these match.

Traffic Sources report that automatically populates based on the referral strings and query strings.


In standard Digital Analytics package, there is an array of options. Each metric lets you choose between 1st click, last click, shared, custom attribution, or same session combined with 1 day window, 14 day window, 30 day window, or 90 day or other window lengths Confusing setup and rarely used.

IBM Digital Analytics Multichannel ($) provides some more intuitive attribution modeling capabilities.

Can set cookie expiration and custom javascript to set marketing channels to any attribution window, though as with Coremetrics this can be confusing. The rules-based marketing channels report is a good report that shows first vs last touch metrics in an easy to read format, but it can't be drilled into easily for more detail.

GA really shines here. The free version of GA provides several Multi-Channel Funnel reports that give a very intuitive way of understanding how users pass between different marketing touchpoints. The paid version of GA provides an attribution modeling tool that lets you quickly view and compare the results of different attribution models ($), which is far and away better than what either Coremetrics or Omniture provides.  


Several tools available to integrate with 3rd parties like email/ PPC vendors and retargeting partners ($)

"Genesis" integrations available for integrating with 3rd parties ($).  This is not automatic and may require considerable configuration depending on the tool.

Very easy (you can do it yourself in the interface) integration with Google's own products: AdWords, AdSense, WebMaster Tools, and Remarketing. GA Premium enables integration with Doubleclick ($)





Google Analytics


Tracks real-time data in Monitor add-on ($). Although it says "real time" it actually includes historical data from the day as well -- this is nice as you can see a trend, but a bit confusing as it fuzzies the distinction between the regular reports and the real-time reports.Omniture has begun producing real-time reports, called Current Data. Tracks real-time data in Real-Time reports


Availability: Coremetrics lets you create report segments in either the main tool Analytics or in the add-on Explore.

Time Limits: Segments in Analytics can be either for one-time only in the past (limited to 35 days) or ongoing, as in starting today without retroactive data (for up to 93 days ata time). Segments in Explore are similarly confined, though it can be extended for a fee ($).

Other Limits: Both types of segments are limited by the # of segments and reports available to the account as they are shared across all users. Coremetrics allows up to 2 simultaneous segments in the Analytics, and up to 10 simultaneous segments in Explore. However, when you use Explore, you can only view a limited number of metrics rather than all the reports.

Availability: Starting from version 15, Omniture SiteCatalyst allows segmentation in the main tool (prior versions allowed no segmentation at all). Segments can also be created in the add-on Discover ($)


Time Limits: No time limits -- segments in SiteCatalyst are available for any time period.




Other Limits: No limit on # of segments that can be created. Can only view one segment at a time in SiteCatalyst. Can view unlimited simultaneous segments in Discover ($) but then you can only view a limited number of metrics rather than all the reports.

Availability: Google Analytics has fully integrated segmentation capabilities.


Time Limits: No time limits -- segments in GA are available for any time period.




Other Limits: No limit on # of segments that can be created. Can view up to 4 segments at a time.


Over a dozen types of modules, several pre-built dashboards Many types of modules, can combine modules across report suites which is nice Fewer types of modules, though a few more became available as of Jan, 2013. Can't combine modules from different web properties or profiles.


Coremetrics has built-in "Insights" reports that indicate when metrics are more than a standard deviation away. There are also some automated suggestions for action based on marketing sources with high engagement, products with high sales, products with high abandonment rate, etc.No intelligence/insights reportingGA has an "Intelligence Events" report that indicates statistically unusual activity on the site.


Coremetrics doesn't have much sampling except for a few pathing reports.  In Explore you can also choose sampled reports to speed up query time and avoid using up unsampled reports, which typically have a monthly limit defined by the contract. I believe SC samples data when users apply segments, but I'm not sure where the threshold is or how to tell that the data has been sampled.  It seems like the sampling threshold is very high, which is great (though again I'm not sure how to know this for sure). GA samples data regularly when users request a non-canned report that forces GA to scan through more than 500k visits. GA's sampling can produce extremely misleading results and is one of its worst features, though they always clearly indicate when sampling has been applied. GA Premium ($) allows for users to request an unsampled report.


Out of the box, Coremetrics has pre-built purchase funnels. Clickstream (pathing) reports can be configured that show how users reach and depart specific pages. Funnel reports can also be configured to show how users path through different pages, but these are not retroactive. Can create clickstream (pathing) reports on any traffic variable, making it possible to path on categories, site sections, etc. Can add events to create a product purchase funnel, which is retroactive. Can create clickstream (pathing) reports for any page, or groups of pages by using the Visitor Flow reports. Can create funnel reports to show how users path through different pages, but these are not retroactive. Can't add events into a funnel.


Reports can be downloaded into Excel format.  Coremetrics also provides an Excel API tool that lets you access your reports directly from Excel. Basically you download their workbook, enable macros, and then select the report you want to access.  It works on a report level, meaning you can extract any reports that exist in the interface but can't combine data points from multiple reports together or customize them beyond editing a date range.  There is also no built-in ability to email these reports.Reports can be downloaded into Excel format.  Omniture SiteCatalyst also has a ReportBuilder tool that lets you access reports directly from Excel.  This goes far beyond report-level as you can select any dimension or metric from within SiteCatalyst, apply segments, combine data points together, and schedule reports to be sent to specific people at a specific time each day/week.Reports can be downloaded into Excel format. Beyond this there is no tool from Google to access reports in Excel, though there are many free and paid 3rd party plugins (e.g. Next Analytics, Excellent Analytics ($)) that provide similar functionality to Omniture's ReportBuilder by hooking into the Google Analytics API. These tools typically let you choose any dimension or metric from within GA, apply segments, and combine data points together.  Admin capabilities like scheduling emails vary depending on the tool.



It's a bit hard to describe the interfaces, so I will show a screenshot of the "location" report for each with some notes. That might be interesting for people who haven't seen it before.


unique feature: Tabs open up at the top to let you toggle between different reports while you work.

coremetrics interface


unique feature: only Omniture lets users tinker with the menu layout, so menu names may be different in any given Omniture instance.

omniture interface

Google Analytics:

unique feature: Simplicity. All reports are grouped into just 5 main reporting categories (as opposed to 10-15 for Coremetrics and Omniture). The bulk of the interface is made up of canned reports with pre-set metrics while Coremetrics and Omniture request that users select the reports and then add in the metrics they want.



Marketingland reports that Google Analytics is on more than 10 million websites, according to Google's last earning call. reports that Omniture is on 183,675 websites and Coremetrics is on 6,053 websites.

These numbers may not be totally accurate since I just pulled them off the web, and obviously large websites that use Omniture or Coremetrics will also have a lot more people using the tool than someone's personal blog with the basic GA code snippet slapped on. However, whether the multiplier is 50x or just 5x, I think it's safe to say that GA has a much larger user community than Omniture, and Omniture has a much larger user community than Coremetrics.

Why does this matter? These tools are complex. Having a large community of users is extremely valuable in terms of solving implementation questions and getting help for interpreting reports. Frequently other users are more helpful than the company's own customer support since they know about unsupported "hacks" and workarounds, and can discuss more open-ended questions.  GA is the hands down winner on this one. Just check the quantity of posts on vs.

Another way to look at this is that there are 63.9 million search results for "Google Analytics", 4.6 million search results for "Omniture", and 200k search results for "Coremetrics". With which tool do you think you're most likely to find that someone already has a solution to your question?


In web analytics, a good user interface and deep, flexible analysis options can lead to a company culture of curiosity and fact finding. The reverse will lead to users who complain, avoid, and/or funnel all tasks through some kind of reporting analyst rather than figuring things out for themselves. This is actually the case for all software but I believe that, unlike other areas, analytics should belong to everyone and not just the "experts". I don't really want everyone updating the website or sending out emails to the customers, but I encourage everyone to jump in, find information about their slice of the business, and act on it!

So, coming from the above perspective, I do think Google Analytics "wins" since it is the most user-friendly of the group, easiest to maintain (least likely to break!), and the most likely to create the above scenario of mass data usage. GA has legitimate weaknesses, at this point primarily around sampling and data warehouse integration, but the majority of its criticisms are, in my opinion, put forth by people who aren't experienced in pushing its limits. It has incredible strengths in terms of segmentation, marketing attribution, and enabling users to investigate ideas on a whim -- in contrast, both Omniture and Coremetrics are primarily geared towards producing reports (and not analysis) without the added functionality of their paid Discover and Explore add-ons.

Obviously, if you're in an organization that only sends data through well-trained analysts rather than the wild masses, your opinion may differ. In that case, still need help figuring out what tool is right for you? One way to look at it is that Omniture operates from the perspective that there are infinite types of websites that are all completely different and unique. Coremetrics operates from the perspective that websites are online retailers. And Google Analytics operates from the perspective that there are content sites and ecommerce sites, and they should all  track the same general success metrics. Which perspective matches your own the best?

72 thoughts on “Coremetrics vs. Omniture vs. Google Analytics”

  1. Thanks Ana. The IT Director tasked me with deciding whether to go with Core Metrics or Omniture. After reading your post and the realization that we will have to pay for these add-ons to gain ANALYSIS, and not simply reporting, I'm almost inclined to suggest paying for Google Analytics Enterprise Solution.

    I am going to do some more researching and comparisons before making my decision, but thanks again for an honest, user experience breakdown.

    • Hi Jesse, GA Premium is great but not all that different from the GA free version – the main differences are more custom vars, unsampled data, and an attribution modeling tool. So if you’ve already used GA’s free version, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what it can do. If you are bumping up against certain limitations or have specific issues you’re trying to resolve, feel free to shoot me a note and I can give you my opinion on what tool would be the best fit.

  2. Hi, Ana, thanks a lot for this, one caveat I spotted is that for Google Analytics it *is still not* acceptable to include data that links up with other sources in some countries. The US it's pretty clear it's fine but for example in the UK, the ToS states:

    "You will not (and will not allow any third party to) use the Service to track, collect or upload any data that personally identifies an individual (such as a name, email address or billing information), or other data which can be reasonably linked to such information by Google."

    Note the 'reasonably linked' bit.

    Annoying eh?


  3. For large companies, G.A. doesn't do reporting by company fiscal periods, the sampled data may be restrictive, and the fact the data/reports might arrive on a Monday afternoon (U.S. time) might not cut it for other countries who need it in the morning first thing for board reporting. But has the most elegant interface and great Adwords integration for marketing.

    I find Omniture lacks basic 'top line' executive summaries and you need to build dashboards with technical help, to get basic information like new buyers, repeat buyers, order / visitor conversion, onsite keyword usage, page views in a session, or shopping cart abandonment etc. Perhaps I'm looking in the wrong place. Coremetrics and G.A. this information is easily available.

  4. Alessandro, yes! GA will allow us to tie together users even as they move across devices, unlike Coremetrics and Omniture -- pretty cool stuff.

    Dan, thanks for the comment and the link to an interesting discussion. Looks like the details of what constitutes allowable personally identifiable info are still being hammered out...

    uu mode, I agree with your assessments. It seems like all these tools have the bad habit of focusing on new bells and whistles before working on basic, obvious functionality like scheduling reports for the morning or having key metrics available out of the box.

    • "GA will allow us to tie together users even as they move across devices, unlike Coremetrics and Omniture — pretty cool stuff"

      If I understand correcltly their concept of "Live Profile", than Coremetrics (rebranded IBM Digital Analytics) should also be able to track users across different devices, if they authenticate themselves on a tagged website

  5. Hi Ana, thanks so much for this educational project on the vendors. However, the information on IBM Coremetrics Web Analytics is out of date and in many places inaccurate. For example, the default starting package has been including Explore, and other additional functionality at no additional cost since summer 2011. Marketing campaigns do not need to be categorized in the UI anymore since July 2011. The attribution capabilities have been augmented with additional attractive visualizations since May 2012 and are in use with hundreds of the brands.we serve.

    Can we schedule some time to go through your list and make the necessary factual corrections please? My colleagues and I can also walk you through the product so you can advise your customers based on today's functionality in the products.

    Thank you again for working to educate the market place.

    Akin Arikan
    IBM Enterprise Marketing Management

    • Hi Akin,
      Thank you for coming by and commenting! It's great to know you guys are reading :D. I did my best to represent these tools as accurately as possible, but I wasn't aware of these updates to Coremetrics. Also, not really sure of some of them - for example, I still don't see where marketing channels are classified automatically. I would love to have the chance to talk through it - will be in touch to set up a time.

  6. It would be useful to explain the meaning of "Implementation difficulty out of 5: 5". Should I interpret that as being five-stars and therefore "very easy" or is the level difficulty 5/5=100% ie can only be implemented by the very experienced?

    Apart from the above....the information is well-presented. Thank you!

  7. Ana,
    When i was working with Omniture, Adobe had several training videos for our account. Pretty soon, I'm going to be working on a CoreMetrics intallation at an ecommerce site. Do I have to wait till I get access to Coremetrics installation, or any other web resources are available beforehand? BTW, your blog is a great resource so far for me.

    • Ah, I see. Unfortunately most of their resources (guides, videos, etc) are only available once you have a login to their support site. However I’ve heard that you can get a head start if you google “Coremetrics user guide” or something similar ;). I’m glad this blog has been helpful – please let me know your thoughts/questions once you get started on the installation!

      • Hello Ana,

        Interesting overview to compare those 3 tools.
        As a side note and to answer Venkata questions, i would add that Coremetrics have a number of PDF ressources (although i think that they are mostly available to customers so far), and they have a great customer service... available via chat.
        This is very handy, and to my knowledge, Omniture do not have a similar system.

  8. Thanks Ana,

    A really useful comparison.... i've been using Omniture for close to five years now, with reasonable GA skills and no experience of Coremetrics. There are a couple of points I woud like to add if I may:

    i) One great feature of Omniture Sitecatalyst is report builder ($) which allows you to easily build excel based reports using Sitecatalyst data and schedule them to be sent to specific people at a specific time each day/week. This feature is invaluable to me as it allows me to get the right data, in the right format, to the right people, at the right time. This would be a good feature to add to the comparison... i.e. I'm aware that GA has an excel API and assume that Coremetrics has something similar as well?

    ii) Another really important feature in Sitecatalyst is the Data Warehouse tool that allows you to easily export large volumes of data via email or ftp. The exports can be scheduled via email or FTP to allow for easy integration with other systems. I'm not sure this was fully covered in the data feed section. Omniture also makes it easy to upload data to the system such as Cost, Margin and Returns data.

    iii) Finally, I believe you may have under-stated the value of saint classifications. In the world of Visits and Visitors (where 1+1 can sometimes equal 1), saint classifications are hugely important and allows retailers to easily create a number of mission critical breakdowns of the data to view conversion from an array of different angles. It's not always easy to pass the required breakdowns on the page so this feature is a big plus for Omniture in my opinion. The drawback of the Saint Classifications feature is the maintenance requirements (Saint Bernard - helps to address this but the next step for Adobe is to allow auto classification rules to be defined.

    Again a great post and it would be really interesting to hear opinions about the comparable GA/Coremetrics features to those mentioned above.

    Best regards,

    Billy Dixon

    • Billy, thanks for the fantastic insight. You make a good point about Omniture’s Report Builder – so much of what we do ends up in Excel, so it really helps to have a tool dedicated to it. GA has a lot of 3rd party add-ons but I haven’t found one that lets you both create and email the report from the same tool. Also a good point about SAINT – I think I never really needed to have all the extra attributes in the web tool itself since we could access all the data in a data warehouse, but it’s also possible I just didn’t know what I was missing ;). I’ll try to make a few additions based on your input.

  9. Thank you for this post Ana! I work with various companies that use Site Catalyst and GA, but needed a good Coremetrics overview. This comparison is helpful. Can you suggest any good IBM Digital Analytics (i.e. Coremetrics) implementation training?

    • Hi Scott, I'm glad you found the post useful! As for Coremetrics implementation training, I don't know of any third party training so I'd suggest checking out the videos and training from the Coremetrics support sections. Also read the Coremetrics implementation manual if you haven't already (if you don't have it, just google it and you'll find it online). And feel free to send over any questions if you have any 🙂

  10. Wonderful comparison that we will surely utilize. Many of our large clients also ask the question what the differences in reporting and data collection are between the enterprise analytics tools. We always take a step back and really try to understand ultimate goals and requirements needed from their website analytics, so much so we wrote a "checklist" of criteria to look for when determining an enterprise web analytics solution, would love your input/feedback Ana!

    • That’s a great and very practical list that shows there is much more to look at than just the tool feature sets. Thanks for sharing. And I love the advice not to go to the website first since they will always just promise they can do everything (and you’ll never find out that’s not the case until long after sending the check).

  11. Thank you for the in depth analysis, like many others I am trying to determine the right track going forward for the seemingly endless streams of user data reporting and analysis.

    I am curious about your thoughts concerning the different tag management aspects and how they may affect implementation and flexibility?

    For example: I know that a SiteCatalyst implementation may be more intensive, but does that extra work=extra value whith the addition of some tagging solution like Adobe's version, Ensighten or Tealium?

    Thnaks Again! Jon

    • Hey Jon, tag management systems won't really add value to the tools, they should just ease some of the implementation difficulties. A good TMS should work with any of these tools so it isn't really a differentiating factor imo.

  12. I was working with omniture and my experiencie with the suporting team was awful, also knoledge base in the internet is so small and not enough to get value from data in Omniture... then I worked uninstalling Omniture and implementing GA Premium, and today I can say that GAPremium has everything that I need to drive good decisions. GA let me run some simple ab testing easily... i love GAPremium!

  13. Whenever someone asks me this question, GA, Coremetrics, and Sitecatalyst, rather than giving a straight answer, I ask 2 questions to them:

    1) How important is your data for you?
    2) Can you afford Omniture product?

    Let me tell you why, GA is by no means free, or cheap, in case of GAP, you just pay with your data rather than dollar amount. So, Google owns your data, profiles of your customers/visitors, their buying affinity, and your site map. Now, if all this is not that big of a deal to you, GA is the best thing since sliced bread, go for it. But then if you think that this information can be exploited to display ads of your competition on your customer's gmail account, youtube account, random searches, images, and what not, consider yourself warned. With Google's policy that they can use the information collected with other services they provide, this is a very real scenario, when someone has bought shirt from your website, starts getting offers on Jeans on his/her Gmail. Would that increase probability of you losing your customer? You decide, I am just saying. And then, the same guy who is selling you adwords is also telling you how good is their adword working for you. Coupled with horrible bot rules in GA, I sense conflict of interest.

    2) Let me put this straight up, Omniture is expensive, not just the tool, but also the services to get this implemented, it's expensive. Omniture resources are expensive, it's maintenance can be tiresome as well. Go ahead, get a fair idea from the market. Talk to Adobe about their pricing strategy. If after all this you think you can afford this, go for it. There is absolutely no tool in the market which can give you such expansive data. Nothing our there which can give you such detailed reports with so much of functionality and customization. Adobe support is the best in the group. They will not help you with implementation, well they would, but again there would be a cost, but they would be on the phone when you have a problem with the tool, and they will definitely work on it to get it resolved. My experience with Adobe service has been phenomenal.

    One thing that you would LOVE about Omniture is it's Marketing channels. They can help you define rules about the traffic coming to your site, the way you want. Every organization is different, therefore marketing strategies are different, you will get an exceptionally good analysis by implementing marketing channel rules according to your organization's spending. One more amazing thing is processing rules, get your account enabled with processing rules, and you will see how easy it becomes to add so much to the reports by yourself. You will start getting reports which you thought were impossible to get without any paid add on tool like Discover or Insight. And I am not even mentioning Genesis, Data Sources, and so much more to inculcate your offline data and form a 360degree holistic picture of what exactly is going on.

    Thank you so much for all this information, Ana, you might consider me an Omniture fan boy, but after using GA< Omniture products for more than 5 years, I can safely say, Omniture pretty much has no competition.

    • Thank you for this detailed comment. It sounds like you have a lot more Omniture experience than myself and I really appreciate your enthusiasm and contribution to the conversation. With all respect, let me try to respond to a few of your comments.

      1) Google using your GA data to help out other companies.
      I agree this is possible. With that said, I'm not sure how or why this would happen. As a Google advertiser, there's no option to target users based on the GA stats of other sites, and I can't imagine why Google would do this themselves for free on behalf of their clients.

      If this is really a concern, GA Premium guarantees that you own your customer data and control how it is shared (ironically, this guarantee is the only thing that has ever made me feel wary about what they're doing with the data in the free version!).

      2) Nothing out there which can give you such detailed reports with so much of functionality and customization as Omniture.
      This one I'm very interested in because so far I've always been able to track and report on nearly everything I wanted in GA. Do you have a few examples of items or reporting that you can track in Omniture but not GA? I, for one, would really benefit from understanding what exactly I'm missing out on 🙂

      3) Adobe has phenomenal customer service
      Ha, here we really had a different experience. In my experience, Omniture customer service was the worst - just really unhelpful, slow, inaccurate, etc. I'm not sure why our experience was so different but I'm glad to hear that other people have had better luck than me. I was thinking of adding a section on customer service to this report and didn't because I suspected my personal experience might not apply to everyone. That now seems validated.

      4) Omniture marketing channels rules
      I did like the idea of the marketing channel rules reports in Omniture, especially that you can set up your own rules in the interface and avoid using SAINT etc. However in practice I ended up not using these reports because they didn't match with the all other existing marketing reports in Omniture, didn't show up in the data feed, and couldn't really be drilled into. I wouldn't mind giving these another go, though it would take a lot for me to view it as better than GA's marketing reports (which for me are the standard in terms of usefulness and usability).

      Thanks again for your comment!

      • Thank you so much for your response, Ana, and that too with bullet points, I like bullet points, makes my life so much easier 🙂

        1) Google in their privacy statement have written down very clearly that they use data from their other services to provide a better experience to the user. This line itself has so many things for me to fear. In my industry, where our biggest headache is to not to lose my customers, if my data is used by anyone to provide a "better experience" to my customers, can be a scary thought. If you look at the privacy policy, it says that they "may keep internal search queries, logs etc to provide you tailored content". Now I can imagine that there are people who wouldn't either read too much into it, or would not mind it. My industry does, we do not want our internal customer data, their buying habits, product affinity, to be shared with anyone. I trust Google when they say that they don't keep personal information, so it's not about that, but our customer's purchase habits are important to us, and we will not want this any organization to take advantage of this. I didn't read anywhere that GAP will make sure that my data is not shared with any other Google services as well. If you are sure that they won't, I would trust you.

        2) I can use up to 150 custom variables on our site, with 100 custom events. This allows me keep a tab on 7 local websites and 1 global site. I can go till 3 levels deep in breakdown reports. Segments allow me to create specific views, and that comes in very handy for me. They also give me an option of analyzing right from the fallout and pathfinder reports. I can create funnels on the basis of user activity on my website in one particular visit, or their entire visit history. We also use our own visitor identifiers, therefore it is so much easier for us to tie this data with offline data, and create a complete customer profile. No matter if visitors are coming from different devices, channels, we are able to identify their behavior and decision making becomes so much easier. Imagine a scenario, where you are able to identify a list of visitors who are always having one particular problem, and you reach out to them proactively. I would like to know about your experience if you were able to get similar information from GAP or any other tool. May be I missed something somewhere.

        3) Hah what can I say about this. Like you said, to each his/her own. I respect your opinion, but then I have had good experience from their client care, their developer forums, and now on social media as well. But yes, there have been times when I have stopped myself cussing on the phone, but these have been few and far between.

        4) At any point of time any organization would be running probably 100 campaigns and more than a few campaign partners. Then affiliates, and other partners who further send traffic to the website. A lot of times you would notice one visitor comes from various channels in one particular visit. That's where this report comes in handy for us. From first touch, to last touch, to breaking down reports from particular vendors, it can give a lot of insight. I am not a big fan of classifications as such, unless I have to see some historical data in current format. Or I have to report to to those who are more interested in getting a bigger picture instead. But marketing channels can first let you define your own rules, which sometimes are important, because out of box rules at times are not enough.

        Again, I can imagine you having a better GA experience, and might have a lot of information for me, so that I can correct myself. So, I will definitely be looking forward to your insight 🙂

      • Hey, thanks for coming back with another awesome response! This blog is usually very geared towards GA so it's great to get your perspective. Yes, let's stick to the bullet points =)

        1) I don't think we'll know for sure what Google is doing with the data unless they make a statement about it one way or the other. I know they don't use it to affect organic search results (they said so here: They do use the GA data for paid search and remarketing efforts, but that's at the request of the GA account owner - I don't see how or why they'd do that on their own. In short, I don't think they're using the GA data for other services, but I certainly don't want to guarantee that on their behalf! So I'll agree with you - if this is a concern, companies should either use another tool or upgrade to GA Premium.

        2) Thanks for this list! I thought through it for a while and you have done a good job identifying several of GA's weaknesses. For example, rollup reporting is do-able in GA but kind of a headache especially if it requires going across domains; you can make pathing reports but they're not retroactive and you can't apply segments; you can't view across visit history (though this has changed in GA's new Universal Analytics platform). So that's a good specific list of some weaknesses. FYI you can capture a user ID that ties to offline data for a customer profile, just put the user ID into a custom var. And custom events are unlimited (one reason I often recommend using them over custom vars).

        3) No more to say here 🙂

        4) Hmm... I just think that GA does it better because it's easier to set up, it's easier to drill down into marketing source/campaign content/ etc, you can see every path to conversion (e.g. email > paid search > direct) and in the paid version of GA see first touch, last touch, or any other attribution model you can think of. But it's probably also related to personal preference - I used the GA one a lot more so I'm a bit biased by now. It is also interesting what you said about visitors coming from various channels in one visit - that's just one more difference between the tools - in GA a new marketing channel begins a new visit so the case you mentioned is actually impossible to see in GA (on the plus side it means the sum of visits from marketing channels always neatly matches the sum of total visits, which is not the case in Omniture).

  14. Hey Ana,

    This comment isn’t directly tied to your blog post but has a similar topic. We performed some research using our tag scanner,, and found some cool stats around Top 100 eCommerce sites and what types of analytics tools they use. Not surprising that the majority are running Google Analytics, and my bet would be that its Google Analytics Premium. Do you know if there is a way to see if a site is running GA or GAP using some plugin (I know Chrome extensions Ghostery and Tag Assistant do not differentiate GA and GAP)?

    Here’s my blog with some cool stats from TagInspector:

    • Cool, it’s always interesting to get some insight into what’s going on out there in the industry. There is no way to tell apart GA and GAP as they use the same tracking code (the differences are just in the reporting interface and how the data gets processed). However you could get a reasonable estimate by looking at how many custom vars are used – in the free version, companies are limited to 5 custom vars while GA Premium enables up to 50. I suspect any company paying for GA Premium would also make use of the additional vars since that’s one of the primary benefits of upgrading.

      I personally would be very surprised if many top ecommerce sites were running GA Premium – from what I’ve seen, most of them are still using Coremetrics/ Omniture (though it’s quite likely they have free GA running alongside it). But I would love to see what your data says!

  15. The part about Coremetrics only takes into consideration the most basic module and only part of it. With a quick scan at the first part I notice someting that can be misunderstood by people who don't know the product: "Doesn’t let you drill down to actual pages on referring sites that sent traffic without going to Explore". In the most basic module of Coremetrics you find the categorization VPCI (vendor, category, placement, Item) where "item" can be something like an advertising banner. So you get the detail of the single banner and, more in general, of a single marketing item, much more details than "the page of the referring site". The user defines the values of the VPCI, so there is flexibility for the user to use his logic rather than being nailed down to the low level concept of a page (nothing prevents the user to use the page in his own usage of VPCI, but he can do better)

    • Ah, another IBM employee. I'll assume you just overlooked mentioning your connection to Coremetrics, but I confirmed it with a few rounds of Googling since I think it helps put your comments in context.

      Anyway, I think the issue is with the distinction between “referring sites” and “advertising”. Your example is advertising – when you advertise, you control the URL and all the tags on it, so you can be as detailed as you like (this is true for any tool). However, when other sites link to you naturally, they don’t add tags to their link. In GA you can always see the actual page, not just the domain, that sent traffic to your site. In Coremetrics, you get this information by creating a report in Explore. It’s not that hard to do but it’s confusing (I got the question enough times that I wrote a post explaining how to do it:

      You can actually see in the comments above that I spoke to a couple of your colleagues at IBM already. We went through every line of this post and I made a few changes at their request, so I’m satisfied at this point that it’s pretty accurate. However if you think I’ve overlooked major pieces of the tool, please elaborate so I can improve my writeup.

      • Browsing internet and sometime posting/commenting as myself and for myself has been my hobby since 1994, but it's the first time I get this kind of reply.

  16. Notice now the question about mobile and live profile. Live Profile is the technical and commercial term that indicates Coremetrics superior capability to track in detail visitor activity, so it is not something you physically use, is a capability whose benefits you get across the product line and in particular when you segment or execute campaigns (can do it from livemail, now also from Marketing Center).
    Sincel integration in IBM Coremetrics has benefited of IBM's global investment in mobile technologies ex. (acquired worklight) so it tracks mobile in great detail and you should be able to do things like targeting people who connectvia mobile device xyz from a given country who have bought offline for more than N$ are female Etc. ...

  17. Great post. I've used all three too, and while I have had more frustrations than I can count along the way, I still think Omniture wins for large organizations (although I'd argue GA for smaller organizations). The price, lack of help documentation / support in general, and nuances of implementation being some tough negative notes, there are just too many other benefits that give it the nod in my opinion.

    I'll focus on the one benefit of Omniture nearest to my heart -- Report Builder. Maintaining reports for hundreds of end users, where you can pull in tons of data points in hidden worksheets, manipulate them with various lookup fields in Excel to show how they come together to produce a holistic view of the data to answer a key business question, and then have that process automated on a periodic basis is totally invaluable. I have no idea how one would maintain an analytics team within a large organization without it. Seems so simple, but it really couldn't be more useful.

    Also, small note, but you can compare Omniture SC v15 segmentations to one another within a report, although only possible to compare two at a time.

    • A few people have noted the importance of Report Builder - I completely agree, though it always seems a bit funny to me that no matter how far along we come with these tools, at the end of the day we still tend to put everything into Excel. The custom reports and dashboards are just never enough. I wish they were, though, because I don't think Excel is ideal for this stuff either.

      Thanks for the note on segmentations, I'll update the post!

    • I would also agree that Report Builder is a HUGE plus. Google Analytics does have similar things like this as well. They have Magic API and there are some tools that interface with their API also. I prefer GAdatagrabber. Great tool to getting GA data in Excel.

  18. You really put some afford into this article. Helped me much to understand the products and for the future having a nice overview about functionality and possibilities of the competitors.

    How you can boost your business with your posts as well.

  19. Any recommendations for organizations who already have OpenText WEM? How does OpenText Web and Social Analytics compare to SiteCatalyst or the others?

  20. I agree completely that SiteCatalyst is a 5/5 for difficulty of implementation and maintenance. I spend a surprising amount of time making sure the data is correct and submitting bug tickets. The customization is a blessing and a curse...

    Regarding GA, are the only two versions the free one and the $150k/year one?

  21. I find it amazing people think SiteCatalyst is even close in price to GA Premium. We have well over a half million uniques per month, and many times that in page views etc..and for us SiteCat costs a small fraction of what GAP costs. $150k per year??? We are an 8 figure ecommerce operation and could never justify such a ridiculous expense.

    Frankly, I think sitecatalyst sucks. It has never performed acceptably. Client care is clueless. Every interaction with client care ends with them telling us to purchase more consulting / implementation hours.

    SiteCatalyst does not even have a multi touch attribution report. It can't even provide raw inbound URLs. It is NOT designed for SMBs. It is designed for large organizations who have in-house analysts. It's garbage and I am pushing hard for us to go to GA (free).

    • Thanks for your comment, very useful info from a small business perspective. From what I've seen SiteCatalyst usually costs more than GA Premium, but since it depends on both the number of server calls and what they determine you're willing to pay, I don't doubt that small businesses could be paying much less. I agree that SC is designed for large organizations with several in-house analysts - unless you have a lot of resources to dedicate to it it really doesn't make sense to use it. I'd just run GA alongside SC for a while so you can cover any gaps between the 2 tools before making a decision on switching over.

  22. This is a really good breakdown of the options available, thank you.

    Was just wondering, is there a way to pass additional data in GA eCommerce tracking like you can in Coremetrics with explore attributes.

    So, if I want to see how a video on a product page influences sales, is it possible in GA?


    • If you want to pass additional data, you can use a custom variable or event tracking. There are a few ways to do this but for example you could set an event on the product page that fires every time a user clicks play. Then you can see the dollar amount tied to those users and compare it to the users who viewed the product but didn't click play. Thanks for the comment!

    • Yeah, GA doesn't have a method for viewing calculated metrics in the report. I personally prefer this as I hated seeing the Coremetrics interface cluttered with similar calculated metrics (all with slightly different logic), but I do recognize the value. If you're frequently calculating a metric, it's probably best to set up a regular data pull via the API and do your calculations in Excel/ Google Sheets.

  23. Ana - thanks for the post and the great follow-up comments.

    One additional question on AB platform integration. Adobe Omniture have Target within their portfolio. Any suggestions for AB platforms to use with GA Premium?

    Thank you

    • Hey Ivan, glad you liked the post!
      I've mostly used Optimizely, which is pretty good (and integrates with GA). Because GA is so popular, all these AB testing platforms seem to have built in GA integrations now, so there are a lot of options. GA also has free built-in AB testing (called Content Experiments), though that doesn't have as many features.

  24. Wonderful post and comments. Choosing between these tools is a big burden in terms of research. The implementation and support are big concerns. I'd really like to use current versions of the tools to get familiar before I buy them. So that gives GA a strong advantage because I know the tool. I also like (and learned through your post) that GA has the largest user community. That's really useful.

    The demos from IBM, WebTrends and Adobe aren't sufficient for me to make a choice. They all look really good. But the devil is in the details. I've looked for YouTube videos to show these tools in use. But I haven't found good ones so far.

  25. Thanks Ana for this wonderful post and comments.

    I have been given a task now to compare GA and Coremetrics. Hope in last 2 years there would be more update to both. I never used Coremetrics and trying to gather more information. Very useful for my study. - Thanks again!

  26. Excellent post. We currently use Coremetrics and GA and looking to compare both systems in order to make a decision about having only one analytics system. This post helped me a lot in my analysis.

    Thanks again!

  27. Ana. Thanks for the level of detail. I have a question about attribution.

    Consider this sample customer path and attribution
    First Visit to the site: Jan 2, 2017 - Google PPC AD -->Site --> Exit
    Jan 31, 2017 - Direct --> Site --> Exit
    April 12, 2017 – Direct --> Site --> Placed an Order (Order Value $500)
    April 29 2017 – Natural --> Site --> Exit

    For the fiscal April 2017, assuming only 1 customer placed just 1 order, which channel do I attribute the $500 to for the 14 day first click attribution?
    Thank you very much for the clarification.

    • Modified question below.
      Ana. Thanks for the level of detail. I have a question about attribution.

      Consider this sample customer path and attribution
      First Visit to the site: Jan 2, 2017 – Google PPC AD –>Site –> Exit
      Jan 31, 2017 – Direct –> Site –> Exit
      April 12, 2017 – Direct –> Site –> Placed an Order (Order Value $500)
      April 29 2017 – Natural –> Site –> Exit

      For the fiscal April 2017,for the time-frame 4/01/207 - 04/29/2017, assuming only 1 customer placed just 1 order, which channel do I attribute the $500 to for the 14 day first click attribution?
      Thank you very much for the clarification.

      • Hi Suneel, I believe you're talking about IBM Coremetrics, right?
        In this case I believe it would get attributed to Direct. The sale happened on April 12, and within your 14 days attribution window (Mar 30 - April 12) the first click was direct.
        I think that's how it works, but I haven't used Coremetrics in years and am not 100% sure anymore.

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