When I began to think about my first blog post, I thought I’d touch on the situation in China and the threats faced by web analysts, which will become ever more apparent over the next few years, and something which I’ve been directly faced with. I did a search on the web a while back for discussions online about this very subject, and apart from one brief article from clickz.asia, I couldn’t find much out there.
1) The website was hosted inside China and had a country specific Top Level Domain (I’m traditionally an SEO and having this specific TLD was a massive coup. My friends at Vidahost couldn’t believe we’d even acquired it).
2) China is an untapped online goldmine which is growing all the time with the worlds largest online population (Mashable did a nice infographic to show this) so generating any insight would be extremely interesting.
Over a decent time period I have noticed trends appearing from the traffic which I would expect on a similar UK-based website with a regular online marketing/web content strategy, so this has did allay some of my concerns. Also, the technology report in GA seemed to stand up after looking at browser usage and during the Chinese New Year there was also a slump in visits, so all in all, I was pretty happy.
This was a total lesson in the fact that it is recognising trends, rather than reporting on actual numbers to key stakeholders that is important, and what’s crucial is how you convey this in an understandable fashion. In many cases, it’s going against traditional reporting methods (it depends on the KPIs and the goals of the website) and it takes a lot of hard work to re-think and design your reporting to accommodate it, but you can get there. Think very carefully of what your goals are in China and let’s just hope your stakeholders don’t come from accountancy backgrounds!
The future of Google Analytics in China?
To me it looks bleak. If you’re using Google Analytics as your primary web analytics solution, China can pull the plug whenever they want on all Google products and services.
That being said, i’m not quite sure what would happen to your GA reports. A prudent guess
would be the government will filter all Google information leaving China so we’d get no analytics data whatsoever. To me, lack of data accuracy is upsetting, but no data for a key, booming market like china? UNTHINKABLE!
I don’t see the online population in China slowing down anytime soon and more and more businesses will want to begin to target this huge number of cash-rich users so more people are going to have this dilemma. Would Adobe SiteCatalyst, Webtrends or GetClicky be able to fill in these gaps, or be the best fall-back option if China does pull the ‘Google plug’? Possibly, but at a cost to your business. With the restriction of data in China, I think its going to be a constant issue, but more-so for Google Analytics.
Has anyone else been in a situation like this? Or does anyone have any answers to some of the above speculation I’ve laid out? Would love to hear your thoughts.