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Ever wondered what the differences are between the two big dogs of the analytics world, Google Analytics and Omniture SiteCatalyst? Both are very powerful tools when configured correctly and placed in the right hands. If your familiarity is only with one of these tools, how do you satisfy your curiosity of what the other has to offer and what you would need to get started with the other?

If you’re not familiar with the code involved in tagging a website, then you’re looking at very different experiences:

Google Analytics IconGoogle Analytics


Is built to be easy for non-technical people to use, like dipping your toe into the water of a swimming pool. A quick setup looks like this:

  1. Create an account
  2. Grab the code from the QuickStart Guide and update the GA number
  3. Toss the code on your website (or put that GA number in your CMS)
  4. You are done, let the data start rolling in!

Adobe Omniture SiteCatalyst IconOmniture SiteCatalyst


Is built to be an enterprise solution, like taking a running start and doing a cannon ball into the deep end of the pool. You can pay for and set up an account, but if you just toss the code on your website and think that you’re done, I sure hope that you brought a floatation device.

Out of the Box

Google Analytics is an easy entry point into the world of web analytics and measurement. You can get a ton of information about your users, how they got to your site, what device they’re using, what language their browser is setup for, etc. All of this without any customization.

When you purchase Omniture SiteCatalyst, you’re not getting a Corvette that you can drive off the lot with, you are however getting the blueprint to create that Corvette. You can customize your configuration (and are really supposed too) and get a ton of information to analyze and measure against. The key takeaway is to know that once you’ve completed your purchase, your implementation work is just beginning.


You can turbocharge both of these tools and deliver mind-numbing amounts of data to dig through and analyze. To really harness the power of both, it takes customizing the code on your website, and adding specific tagging on various pages. Whether you’re looking to see how many users are filling out your contact form, or how far through the shopping cart they’re getting before bailing out, you’ll need to provide yourself that data with custom tags.

Once your Google Analytics tracking code is in place, you can do a lot more with event tracking, campaign tracking, and ecommerce tracking, not to mention some of the new goodies Google has come out with lately like content experiments and social data hub, or any other custom tracking solutions you could try. Check out some of the references and resources you can find on Google Developers Analytics page.

Once you’ve purchased Omniture SiteCatalyst, you’ll need to gather business related data together. Start by reviewing your Key Business Requirements (KBRs), which are the key objectives for the site. Then you’ll need to identify the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) which are the metrics and measurements that tell if the KBRs or key goals are being met. These KPIs will be utilized in creating a Solution Design Document which is the roadmap for implementing code on your site.

If you are a web analytics beginner who is interested in getting some information about your website users, Omniture SiteCatalyst is a huge commitment that requires quite a bit of planning and analysis. Giving Google Analytics a test drive would be a safe place to start. This will help you identify the types of data that are available on the web, and assist you in the discovery and configuration of the goals you should set on your website.

If you are an analytics advanced user, here are the key takeaways if you’re considering switching from one analytics platform to another:

  • Switching to (or adding) a Google Analytics implementation is quite a bit different than doing that initial Omniture SiteCatalyst implementation, but since all of your KPIs have been identified, you will need to follow the Google Developer Guides and Reference site for specific configuration settings.
  • Switching to an Omniture SiteCatalyst implementation does take a bit of planning and is a switch of mindset when coming from an analytics solution like Google Analytics. Once you have your KPIs identified than creating the roadmap and actually implementing the code onto your site will be very similar to the custom tracking solutions found in Google Analytics.

Note that these two analytic tools do not need to work independently of each other on your site, meaning if you already have Omniture SiteCatalyst installed, adding a free Google Analytics implementation will cost you nothing but set-up time (and perhaps another portion of a second in page load time of another javascript file). However, if you have a free Google Analytics account and are looking to try out either Google Analytics Premium or Omniture SiteCatalyst, while they will not get in each others way, you will be investing some time and money to do so.

Whether you are a web analytics beginner or an analytics ninja who slices and dices data like a loaf of bread, I hope this brief overview provided some insight into what you need to get started with either Omniture SiteCatalyst or Google Analytics.

Related Resources

Need more help choosing the analytics platform that’s right for you? Read our whitepaper, Marketer’s Guide to Finding the Right Analytics Solution for an overview of the major analytics platforms and for insights into ways you can optimize your solution with the right skills, process, and best practices.  Or, if you prefer to watch and listen rather than read, here’s our webinar on the same topic.

Looking to optimize your current platform? An analytics audit is a good place to start.