Marketing analytics and why Google matters


I have been fortunate enough to work on some of our various marketing analytics’  implementations. One specific solution I have talked about before is Customer Experience Analytics (CXA), a solution that facilitates the integration of online and offline data for better customer insights and segmentation. It is a key part of our overall marketing analytics' capabilities.

Marketing analytics: What is it?

We define it broadly as:

Marketing analytics gathers data from across all marketing channels and consolidates it into a common marketing view. From this common view, you can extract analytical results that can provide invaluable assistance in driving your marketing efforts forward.

OK, so here’s where Google comes in. As we build towards a marketing analytics workbench, our use of CXA has delivered web analytics we can use in our datamart at a contact and company level. Google, which delivers over 50% of all our site traffic, is an extremely valuable partner. They are delivering us a majority of our traffic which we can now analyze with our marketing analytics solution.

We have gathered search data and combined it with our other channels in our datamart. With this, we have an opportunity to apply a number of analytical methodologies that drive our decision making (Matt Fulk writes about how we use marketing optimization ). Our goal is to bring all of this rich search and web data into our  marketing analytics workbench to drive our online demand and lead generation strategies.

Here is where Google fails. I am disappointed that they have restricted search query data (in the name of privacy and security) from those signed into any Google account.  Not coincidentally, we do receive search queries for our growing paid search investment. Search guru Danny Sullivan provides terrific analysis of this in his article: Dark Google: One Year Since Search Terms Went “Not Provided.” This is a real miss for Google and the other search engines. For instance, here is a snapshot of the search queries passed to our datamart for one of our web pages:

Almost seventy five percent of all queries are blocked. This effectively limits the value of search queries (which can help with corporate priorities like personalization, segmentation and customer experience) as part of our overall marketing analytics workbench.

What does this mean for Google and other search engines?

  • With other big data to utilize in our marketing analytics workbench, search data will be limited to points like time on page and click through rate. The most strategic data point, search query, will be underutilized or not used at all.
  • The value of search in a digital marketing organization will not be fully realized. Digital marketers will all soon run off of some form of revenue attribution model  for their digital investment.  By limiting data points that can be attached to revenue generation, the overall spend for search investment may be negatively impacted

I am of the mind, as a person who uses search engines frequently, that my query is a call for help. Anyone, and that includes marketers, can use it to better serve my information needs. The ability to utilize search data within our marketing analytics workbench is critical. Google is a business partner in helping deliver relevant traffic.  It would be most useful if they could also help our analytical marketers and data scientists – of which Google has 600  – as well.


About Author

Will Waugh

Will Waugh is an interactive marketer at SAS. Areas of expertise include: digital marketing, lead nurturing, ecommerce, marketing automation, search, marketing analytics and evolving our use of SAS Customer Intelligence solutions. His career spans across multiple marketing disciplines including advertising, promotions, marketing analytics, social and digital marketing. Follow on Twitter: @willwaugh


  1. An interesting article, but neither it nor Danny Sullivans' "Dark Google" article mention that publishers " ... can also receive an aggregated list of the top 1,000 search queries that drove traffic to their site for each of the past 30 days through Google Webmaster Tools". This would allow marketing analysts to assess the impact of the withheld search terms. Essentially, the detail information becomes a sample rather than a census, and, there are methods to check whether the sample is representative.

    • Will Waugh

      Hi Dave
      I appreciate your comment. I hadn't thought about that angle and will take a look to see if it has merit.
      Regardless of that, we still have no way to customize the individual experience and tie where keywords might be important to a segment or account. Additionally, it limits the value of search as you do exploratory analytics and attempt to be prescriptive with next best offers.

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