ADOBE ANALYTICS VS GOOGLE ANALYTICS. Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics are both web analytics tools that are used to track, store, analyze and monitor web data in order to understand and optimize website use. Web analytics, however, is not only a web traffic measurement process, but can also be used as a tool for business and market research and to evaluate and enhance a website’s effectiveness.

The following list can be a useful starting point for defining analytical metrics described by either of these conventions-

  • Hit – A request for a file from the web server. Available only in log analysis. The number of hits received by a website is frequently cited to assert its popularity, but this number is extremely misleading and dramatically overestimates popularity since the number of hits is really an arbitrary number more reflective of the complexity of individual pages on the website than the website’s actual popularity.
  • Page view – A request for a file, or sometimes an event such as a mouse click, that is defined as a page in the setup of the web analytics tool. An occurrence of the script being run in page tagging. In log analysis, a single page view may generate multiple hits as all the resources required to view the page (images, .js and .css files) are also requested from the web server.
  • Event – A discrete action or class of actions that occurs on a website. A page view is a type of event. Events also encapsulate clicks, form submissions, key-press events, and other client-side user actions.
  • Visit / Session – A visit or session is defined as a series of page requests or, in the case of tags, image requests from the same uniquely identified client. A unique client is commonly identified by an IP address or a unique ID that is placed in the browser cookie. A visit is considered ended when no requests have been recorded in some number of elapsed minutes. A 30-minute limit (“time out”) is used by many analytics tools but can, in some tools, be changed to another number of minutes. Note that a visit can consist of one-page view or thousands. A unique visit’s session can also be extended if the time between page loads indicates that a visitor has been viewing the pages continuously.
  • First Visit / First Session – (also called ‘Absolute Unique Visitor’ in some tools) A visit from a uniquely identified client that has theoretically not made any previous visits. Since the only way of knowing whether the uniquely identified client has been to the site before is the presence of a persistent cookie or via digital fingerprinting, that had been received on a previous visit, the First Visit label is not reliable if the site’s cookies have been deleted since their previous visit.
  • Visitor / Unique Visitor / Unique User – The uniquely identified client that is generating page views or hits within a defined time period (e.g. day, week or month). A uniquely identified client is usually a combination of a machine (one’s desktop computer at work for example) and a browser (Firefox on that machine). The identification is usually via a persistent cookie that has been placed on the computer by the site page code. It is important to understand that the “Visitor” is not the same as the human being sitting at the computer at the time of the visit, since an individual human can use different computers or, on the same computer, can use different browsers, and will be seen as a different visitor in each circumstance.
  • Repeat Visitor – A visitor that has made at least one previous visit. The period between the last and current visit is called visitor recency and is measured in days.
  • Return Visitor – A Unique visitor with activity consisting of a visit to a site during a reporting period and where the Unique visitor visited the site prior to the reporting period. The individual is counted only once during the reporting period.
  • New Visitor – A visitor that has not made any previous visits. This definition creates a certain amount of confusion (see common confusions below), and is sometimes substituted with analysis of first visits.
  • Impression – The most common definition of “Impression” is an instance of an advertisement appearing on a viewed page. Note that an advertisement can be displayed on a viewed page below the area actually displayed on the screen, so most measures of impressions do not necessarily mean an advertisement has been view-able.
  • Single Page Visit / Singleton – A visit in which only a single page is viewed (a ‘bounce’).
  • Bounce Rate – The percentage of visits that are single page visits.
  • Exit Rate / % Exit – A statistic applied to an individual page, not a website. The percentage of visits seeing a page where that page is the final page viewed in the visit.
  • Page Time Viewed / Page Visibility Time / Page View Duration – The time a single page (or a blog, Ad Banner…) is on the screen, measured as the calculated difference between the time of the request for that page and the time of the next recorded request. If there is no next recorded request, then the viewing time of that instance of that page is not included in reports.
  • Session Duration / Visit Duration – Average amount of time that visitors spend on the site each time they visit. This metric can be complicated by the fact that analytics programs cannot measure the length of the final page view.
  • Average Page View Duration – Average amount of time that visitors spend on an average page of the site.
  • Active Time / Engagement Time – Average amount of time that visitors spend actually interacting with content on a web page, based on mouse moves, clicks, hovers and scrolls. Unlike Session Duration and Page View Duration / Time on Page, this metric can accurately measure the length of engagement in the final page view, but it is not available in many analytics tools or data collection methods.
  • Average Page Depth / Page Views per Average Session – Page Depth is the approximate “size” of an average visit, calculated by dividing a total number of page views by total number of visits.
  • Frequency / Session per Unique – Frequency measures how often visitors come to a website in a given time period. It is calculated by dividing the total number of sessions (or visits) by the total number of unique visitors during a specified time period, such as a month or year. Sometimes it is used interchangeable with the term “loyalty.”
  • Click path – the chronological sequence of page views within a visits or session.
  • Click – “refers to a single instance of a user following a hyperlink from one page in a site to another”.
  • Site Overlay is a reporting technique in which statistics (clicks) or hot spots are superimposed, by physical location, on a visual snapshot of the web page.

JavaScript Implementation

Data must be sent to a report suite to be viewed in the reporting process to begin using Analytics. Using JavaScript implementation is the fastest and most common way to send data to Analytics.

Basic Google Universal Analytics JavaScript Implementation

<script> (function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i[‘GoogleAnalyticsObject’]=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,’script’,’//’,’ga’);

ga(‘create’, ‘UA-XXXXXXX-1’, ‘auto’); ga(‘send’, ‘pageview’); </script>

Basic Adobe Analytics JavaScript Implementation

The following steps walk you through a basic Analytics implementation.

First: Download AppMeasurement for JavaScript and the Visitor ID service. The download is available in Code Manager.This download zip contains several files, for now we are concerned only withAppMeasurement.js and VisitorAPI.js

Second: Configure the Visitor ID service. In VisitorAPI.js, add the following visitor ID initialization code at the beginning of the file:

var visitor = Visitor.getInstance("INSERT-MCORG-ID-HERE"); visitor.trackingServer = "INSERT-TRACKING-SERVER-HERE"; // same as s.trackingServer visitor.trackingServerSecure = "INSERT-SECURE-TRACKING-SERVER-HERE"; //same as s.trackingServerSecure /* ============== DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ============

This Adobe Marketing Cloud Organization ID is sent to your administrator when your company is provisioned for the Adobe Marketing Cloud. “INSERT-TRACKING-SERVER-HERE” – (Required)

Your Analytics tracking server. “INSERT-SECURE-TRACKING-SERVER-HERE” – (Required if ssl is enabled) Your Analytics secure tracking server.

Third: Update AppMeasurement.js. Copy the Example AppMeasurement.js Code and paste it at the beginning ofyourAppMeasurement.js file. At a minimum, update the following variables:


s.visitorNamespace = “INSERT-NAMESPACE-HERE”

s.visitor = Visitor.getInstance(“INSERT-NAMESPACE-HERE”)

Fourth: Host AppMeasurement JavaScript and VisitorAPI.js. These core JavaScript files must be hosted on a web server that is accessible to all pages on your site. You need the path to these files in the next step.

Fifth: Reference AppMeasurement.js and VisitorAPI.js on all site pages. Include the Visitor ID Service by adding the following line of code in the or tag on each page. VisitorAPI.js must be included before AppMeasurement.js:

<script language="JavaScript" type="text/javascript" src="https://INSERT-DOMAIN-AND-PATH-TO-CODE-HERE/VisitorAPI.js"> 

Include AppMeasurement for JavaScript by adding the following line of code in the or tag on each page:

<script langauge="JavaScript" type="text/javascript" src="https://INSERT-DOMAIN-AND-PATH-TO-CODE-HERE/AppMeasurement.js">

Sixth: Update and deploy page code. Copy the Example Page Code and paste it just after the opening tag on each page you want to track. At a minimum, update the following variables:-

var s=s_gi("INSERT-RSID-HERE") s.pageName="INSERT-NAME-HERE" // for example, s.pageName=document.title

Seventh: Use the DigitalPulse Debugger to verify that data is being sent Install the Adobe Debugger bookmarklet. After it is installed, load a page where you have deployed page code and then open the debugger. The debugger displays details about the collection data that was sent.


Google Analytics

Google Analytics is free and up to 10 million hits a month will be handled. Google Analytics Premium offers a range of enhanced features such as 1 billion hits a month storage, more flexibility and strong technical support, but it costs $150,000 a year flat.

Google Analytics “Real-Time” allows users to see how many people are on their site at that time, what sources of traffic referred to them, where they are geographically located and what content they are watching.

Adobe Analytics

SiteCatalyst / Adobe Analytics is likely to cost you well over $100,000 per year, as opposed to free Google Analytics. The cost depends on the volume of traffic and the level of service, which depends on your company’s needs. There’s no monthly hit limit for SiteCatalyst.

Adobe Analytics (version15) offers “latest information” reports which provide real-time reporting with low latency. Current data reports allow the user to view almost real-time data on traffic reports and a delay of about 20 minutes on data conversion. This allows the user to check the success of a campaign or piece of content almost immediately after it is launched

Google Analytics is easy to deploy on your website and does not require IT skills. In addition, the application of the Google Analytics Java Script to your page is typically as easy as that. Custom implementation is a choice for those who want to get the most out of Google Analytics.

Implementation requires a qualified professional’s skills and a considerable amount of upfront research is required. Due to the highly personalized implementation, however, the data collected by SiteCatalyst will be tailored to your unique metric needs and may be more useful than what you would get from Google Analytics

Implementation becomes simpler with various tag management tools to configure complex monitoring where there is no need for exclusive developer skills. One of the methods for incorporating Universal Analytics / Google Analytics is DTM or Dynamic Tag Management.

Implementation is easier to configure complex tracking through various tag management tools where no specific developer skills are required. One of the tools for applying Adobe Analytics is DTM or Dynamic Tag Management

5 Custom Variables with old version; 20 Custom Variables with Universal Analytics. Variables can be set to expire at different times, such after a page view, completion of an event, or at the visit level

SiteCatalyst allows up to 75 traffic variables, plus 100 event variables, and 75 conversion variables. Variables can be set to capture whatever data you want, and can expire after a specific time (just like Google Analytics) but they can also be stacked on top of each other, giving you the chance to identify a sequence of events.

Google Analytics does not provide a chat or help line, but has an official User Forum, Help Center and a course on Digital Analytics Fundamentals.” The three-week course helps students understand digital analytics ‘ core principles and how to use them to boost business performance.

SiteCatalyst provides 24/7 assistance and account management, which is an extra charge for training. A variety of SiteCatalyst videos, guides and tutorials are available free of charge through Adobe for those who choose to track solutions online.

Google Analytics maintains up to 25 months of data.

So long as you are a client, SiteCatalyst retains all website data obtained.

According to Tim Wilson – Senior Partner at Analytics Demystified


  1. Cross-session segments are in both!
  2. Both enable multi-suite/property/view tracking!
  3. Sequential segments are in both!
  4. Custom dimensions/variables and custom metrics/events are plentiful (not that users won’t always pine for more)!
  5. Classifications/dimension widening is in both!
  6. They both have reasonably robust eCommerce tracking, including a native concept of “product” and “cart”.

Few facts –

  • Sampling in G.Analytics is becoming less and less frequent
  • Correlations and subrelations between any two props / evars in Adobe are increasingly available
  • GA has smoothed its terms of service as Universal Analytics continues to expand to allow user-level monitoring (as long as fair privacy lines are not crossed)
  • Adobe has streamlined its product / pricing model significantly so that consumers only get many of the most powerful features that used to require extra costs

Things I love in Adobe Analytics

  • Hit Containers — It took me a while to fully grasp the robustness of Adobe Analytics ‘ Hit / Visit / Visitor segment paradigm when it was rolled out, but I always find myself using all three types of containers! In particular, hit (page view) containers are a unique plus for Adobe Analytics.
  • Calculated Metrics — These can be generated for temporary (even throwaway) use by individuals, or they can be deployed to all users.
  • Segment / Dashboard / Bookmark Management — It comes in incredibly handy to be able to actually share these items (rather than templates of these items). And providing the user with the option of either copying or simply linking to dashboards … is fantastic.
  • Segment Stacking — The ability to add several segments at once (‘ I only want to see visits that are First Time Visitors — one segment — and that didn’t buy — another segment — without creating a whole new segment. ‘) This used to be an ad hoc analysis but it’s now included in Reports & Analytics and Report Builder.
  • Pathing on any traffic variable — Since Adobe Analytics has a long history of comprehensive custom variables, the ability to do pathing on these variables pops up is very useful when you least expect it.
  • Excel Integration for Free — Adobe Analytics comes with Report Builder, which allows a high degree of control over what data is being pulled into Excel, when and how (and allows well-formatted results to be scheduled).
  • “Page Names” decoupled from “URLs” — A page is a page is a page … and being able to construct a functional taxonomy for your pages that makes the core unit neither too granular nor too large is quite powerful versatility.

I need better control of

  • The layout of widgets — Not exactly granularity at pixel level, but give me a grid of at least 20 columns
  • Labels and dividers — grouping and organizing of content
  • Trending of data — chart size
  • Sorting control — For numbers lists … and let me assess whether to include a free “percentage of the total”

So, Which Tool is Better? GA OR AA

Since I have used both tools in different applications so that I can come to a conclusion and it depends on your website and business needs.

If you use only the basic level of its functionality, then Google / Universal Analytics is the right choice because it is super easy to implement and your website can immediately show the basic site statistics to your Analytics account’s reporting section.

In case you want your analytics data to be kept as long as you want, then choose Adobe Analytics.

Tracking millions of data is up to you. Google has set prime service costs, while the cost of Adobe Analytics varies according to the data needs.

Complex data tracking is easily achieved by Adobe Analytics, and the results look better than Google.

Many tag management tools are now available for complex implementation purposes. I used CorporateIQ’s Dynamic Tag Management software – The Digital Group’s marketing monitoring tool.

Need help with Digital Analytics? Get in touch:

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