Google Analytics vs. Omniture SiteCatalyst

May 2009 Update:  I wrote this post over 2 years ago while I was still a Master’s student at BYU.  In the interest of full disclosure, I now work at Omniture.  Because I get the bulk of my traffic from search engines and variations on the Google Analytics vs. Omniture theme are always in my top 20 search terms, I wanted to make sure that my readers knew the current situation.  

Not everything I wrote about GA is still true.  There are lots of neat things that GA does now that it didn’t do before, probably the coolest of which is Advanced Segmentation.  My opinion is that SiteCatalyst is definitely worth the investment if you have the resources in place to take advantage of it.  I write this so you know the source of your information.  So now that this topic is taken care of, read on.

I know I’ve written about this before, but as I become more familiar with the different products, I continue to find things that I think are important. There is one main point that I’d like to hit with this post and that is report customization.

Google Analytics: minimal customization allowed
At first glance, Google Analytics appears to offer some very similar reports to SiteCatalyst. With the exception of the Commerce section of SiteCatalyst, Google offers very similar reports and data. And while both products allow you to change the date range, Google does not offer any customization beyond that.

Omniture SiteCatalyst: everything is customizeable
I may be overstating this a bit, but only slightly. Omniture allows you to easily create filters to filter through your data as well as to define your own metrics and have your reports generated in terms of your new metrics. These calculated metrics are based on other standard metrics and applies some math in the analysis. The standard metrics can be on a report-specific basis or a totals basis, so the percentages can be calculated from all metrics across the site or on a line item basis.

This one additional capability that Omniture provides might make it worth the price tag. The word on the street is that Omniture won’t be worth your time unless you’re paying them over $500 a month. And since Omniture charges you by the page view, you’re looking at some serious traffic.

  • Jeff Rosenbaugh

    You should read my most recent posting ( on some of my thoughts.

    Omniture’s SiteCatalyst is a fabulous product, but I see a couple areas where I wish it could improve. Seperating the three categories and not allowing much data sharing between them is pretty frustrating.

  • implementing a web analytics tool

    Omniture SiteCatalyst is a fabulous tool, BUT:
    1. It comes with several standard segmentation options which unfortunately are NOT available for all reports. Getting Omniture to enable missing segmentation options for certain reports is HELL
    2. SiteCatalyst is EXTREMELY buggy, even though we’re at v13.5 now already. Setting up calculated metrics is HELL, because 6/10 times you’ll encounter a problem (usually bug), which means you’ll have to spend countless hours with Omniture engineers to try and get them to fix bugs within a reasonable amount of time
    3. Despite its rapid growth over the past couple of years, it seems Omniture is not investing in resources and has become sluggish, unreliable and extremely difficult to work with. Their solution of hiring “Omniture-approved consultants” is often not helpful, because thanks to SiteCatalyst’s complexity there are a LOT of problems that occur and only the very experienced consultants will know what to do with your problems from the get go (rare to find).

    Unless you really need a tool with lots of bells and whistles do yourself a favour and start with Google Analytics!

  • benrobb

    I’ll agree that a GA implementation is very simple, but the out-of-the-box implementation of SC is just as simple. It’s when you start to get into all the customized reporting areas that things get more complex.

    To your last point though, that’s very fair. Use GA to get your toe in the water and when your needs outgrow it or you start to ask questions that it can’t answer, then it might be time to move on to something else.

  • Jeff Swanson

    I haven’t used SiteCatalyst, so I can’t speak to it. However, Google Analytics has now released the beta version of their custom reporting tool in GA. Does anyone know how this new customization compares to what you get with Omniture?

  • DB

    Benrobb, I have to disagree with you as to the ease of Site Catalyst implementation. We use GA, and we were looking to take our analytics to the next step.

    Not only was Site Catalyst IMPOSSIBLY confusing, THEY CHARGE A $10,000 “IMPLEMENTATION” FEE!. And here’s the best part: You get to install it BY YOUR SELF. Awesome Omniture.

    Everyone I talk to at Omniture thinks GA isn’t even worth considering as competition. They usually say, “you get what you pay for.” $10,000 so I can install your cumbersome code myself? That’s value.

    I’m sticking with GA.

  • benrobb


    If you’re planning on customizing your analytics solutions, at a mid-market or enterprise level, then certainly the out-of-the-box implementation is not going to meet your needs, but if all you want is the out-of-the-box SC implementation, there is one difference between the SiteCatalyst and Google Analytics.

    With SiteCatalyst you host a JavaScript file, then you paste come code into your page that references the JavaScript file and send an image request.

    With Google Analytics there is no JavaScript file, so you just have to paste some code into your page.

    An out-of-the-box SiteCatalyst implementation on this blog took me 10 minutes. To capture internal search terms and make some friendly page names took me about 45 more minutes.

    If you don’t need the customization that SiteCatalyst gives you, then stick with GA. It is a fantastic product. If you need custom implementation and custom data collection, then SiteCatalyst is one of many options available to you.

    With any solution custom solution though, there will be time & effort involved with implementation. If you want the reward, you’ll need to put in the effort.

  • joel


    If you count support as being part of the rationalization, then I would not choose Omniture. I have been waiting over two weeks to get adequate help on a $100k per year install…

    So…recommending GA to biz…

  • benrobb

    @jeff- From my perspective, GA did two important things with their update. 1) They allowed you to send in data without incrementing your Page Views and 2) enabled a new kind of reporting called event tracking which lets you pass a category, an action, a name, and an optional title.

    The functional equivalent in SiteCatalyst would be passing data with an call which won’t increment your Page Views and correlating two props (Custom Insight Variables) which will give you a count of the times that the two values were received in the same request.

    @joel – what’s the issue you’re having?

  • Max

    It seems that in today’s economy you really can’t beat the freeware that Google has to offer and the support that comes with it. However, if you are looking to step your website up to compete with the big players in the online market, Omniture might be the one for you. Check out the article at: to read more about the difference between the two.

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