As (currently) the only Urchin Authorized Consultants in Canada, we’re frequently asked about the difference between Google Analytics and Google Urchin. When people call they seem to think about the relationship as a standard freemium model, with Google Analytics being a limited “demo” and Urchin being the “premium” product.
This is not the case.
So, what are the differences between Google Analytics and Urchin?
Urchin vs. Google Analytics
Free Vs. Three (grand)
GA is, of course, free and available directly from Google. Urchin Software by Google is $2,995 US and available only through Urchin Software Authorized Consultants. If you have Urchin 5, Google will discount the price you paid for it from your Urchin 6 cost.
More report Profiles
While GA only allows 100 report profiles, Urchin provides 1000, as well as 1000 log sources (despite Google’s claims on the urchin website that it supports unlimited numbers of both). These can be extended by purchasing another license.
Hosting on your servers Vs. Hosting on Google’s
Many organizations—for instance, governmental institutions, universities and banks—are typically required to store their web analytics data on their own servers behind a firewall. Urchin 6 provides for this and is very competitively priced compared to other self-hosted solutions such as WebTrends ($10,000+) and is far more robust and detail rich than most log-file analyzers.
Data Reprocessing and Warehousing
Thanks to Urchin’s use of log files it is also possible to reprocess data about your website. Urchin will allow you to dig up old log files and reprocess them according to any new metrics you’ve started using. For example: if you just started tracking a particular form submission as a conversion, by reprocessing historical log files you can see how many visitors converted through that form even through you weren’t tracking it previously.
Further, since you are in control of your own data, there is no risk of Google deleting your website analytics data after 18 months. Though this has yet to happen with Google Analytics, Google does reserve the right to prune data from the GA servers in order to free up space and bandwidth. And if you wanted to follow three year trends in your site, finding out that you only have a year and a half of info left on your account would be a serious bummer.
Reports on spider activity
Per-user drill downs
Since Urchin reads logs, and thus can compare user behavior to IP address, you can dig into many of the same reports from a per-user basis. That said, all information is still anonymous, as it will not let you identify individual users by any recognizable information.
Non-Page related information
Although our “Google Analytics error page tracking” method works pretty well…
Richer Custom Reports
With more data available, richer custom reporting solutions are needed. Urchin provides even more customizable reports, allowing you to gather even more insights from your analytics data.
Google Analytics is still Google’s flagship analytics product, and while Urchin provides a lot of features that GA can not, GA still features several key reports that have not made their way into Urchin yet. These include Advanced segmentation, benchmark analysis, and event tracking.
Finally, and as we suggest (to companies that aren’t mandated to protect informational privacy, of course), if you’re running Urchin Software by Google you can run Google Analytics beside it, using their combined data to give you the best of both worlds.
For an even larger comparison of differences between the two you may find this comparison chart useful.