Web Analytics & the Belgian Press Sector


There has been much writing these past months around the Belgian press. Well, I should say the French-speaking Belgian press, as they sued Google because of Google News (for more about this subject view the NYT article).

The Economist - NewspapersThe press sector is also one in which the Internet is bringing more change. I remember a few months ago The Economist did a special report about the future of newspapers called ‘Who killed the Newspaper‘, even if the dossier was a bit controversial (too negative about the future for some people) it precisely  highlighted the issue that the press is dealing with right now.

This is why we asked Claudiu (our WA Researcher) a new member of our team to make a little study about this sector here in Belgium. Before going into the results, let me share the methodology that we followed.


Claudiu first drew a map of the press sector in order to determine who is who; we only considered the biggest press groups for this study.

Then, he listed all press titles of each group and the websites of these publications along with the WA tools they use.
Note: we can only point out the sites using a tagging method, the WAA recommendation.

This gave us a first impression of who was using what. But we wanted to go further and calculate some kind of market share…

So we did calculations by using the total number of page views per day (as published by Metriweb). So if publication A has 10 times as much page views than publication B, we will consider that A has a market 10 times the size of of B and thus the WA tool used by A.

In the cases where we found 2 different tools within a single publication we gave half of the weight to each of the tools. Eric, I know that you might have some concerns about this methodology in the light of your recent post, but we had to choose a metric available for all websites 😉

So, first here’s the list of press groups that we selected for our study:

The first finding was that all groups use one tool or the other, even if not in all their websites. So this is good news, the sector seems interested in site measurement… Even if we all know that having a WA tool doesn’t mean that it’s actually used, and used correctly… but this is another story 😉

The second interesting finding was the total number of Web Analytics tools used. Only 4 solutions, which were WebTrends, Google Analytics, DeepMetrix & Instadia (bought by Omniture). You can see from the chart below that the leader is without hesitation…

WebTrends with a market share of 46%, Google Analytics follows with 14% and then we find DeepMetrix used by Concentra. Instadia is ‘used’ by Vlan and Vers l’Avenir (Corelio) but these two instances are just tests that our team had been undertaking, so the real number of WA used in the top press groups is limited to 3!
Note also that the websites not using WA tools of these press groups account for nearly a third of total page views (30%).

Belgian Press Sector
Web Analytics solution split across Belgian press sites

So, who uses what?

  • Concentra uses DeepMetrix -as stated, the tool Microsoft acquired last year… The next Google Analytics competitor (as soon as Microsoft launches it again after the hard work they are currently doing. Code name Gatineau)
  • Corelio uses mainly WebTrends except for the former Minoc publications which don’t have any visible tag and Vers l’Avenir that has been testing Instadia these past months.
  • IPM uses Google in his two main websites La Libre Belgique & La Dernière Heure.
  • Mediafin uses WebTrends, and our team is currently helping them with Web Analytics.
  • Persgroep uses also WebTrends with Het Laatste Nieuws and De Morgen, Vacature uses Google Analytics and we didn’t find any tag on their other websites.
  • Rossel uses Google Analytics except for Vlan where some Instadia tags are also present (yes, another of our tests ;-))
  • Roularta uses mainly WebTrends. Google Analytics is also present in easy.be and Trends’ websites. Note that Bizz doesn’t have any tag.

So what conclusions can we draw? WebTrends seems to remain the market leader but Google Analytics in a bit more than a year has managed to become the second most used tool for the press sector in Belgium. Why? Well what can I say… it’s free?

This is a too simplistic argument, even though it is Google’s main USP 😉
Press websites are websites that drive loads of visits and page views. As the new trend in Web Analytics product pricing and licensing (at least the big ones) is to charge per page views, for large websites a tool as WebTrends or Omniture can be too expensive if analytics is not business critical within the organisation. I’m not saying that GA is not a good tool, but if you’re serious about WA you need to export data in order to automatically create KPIs and dashboards to drive actionable insights, which unfortunately are not possible with Google Analytics’s current export capabilities. Furthermore, if these companies do a good job, they will increase their page views and thus WA costs 😉

It’s interesting to note that some Press Groups have kept their WebTrends v.6 license and has opted not to upgrade towards 7 or 8 (pricing issue?). In the coming months (or maybe less), Microsoft will be releasing their free Web Analytics tool, and we can expect a small earthquake in the sector, mainly with this kind of websites running in an advertising business model.

Web analytics too expensive for the Press Sector?

So, the bottom line is that most press groups seem to find Web Analytics tools too expensive. If you’re in that case, I recommend you to look at it not as a cost but more as an investment or an opportunity to increase revenue. Let’s look at how we can show the profits of that investment. Let’s see how we can get Web Analytics ROI.

For this, I’ll get back to a concept I coined a couple of months ago: WAROI (Web Analytics Return on Investment).

This formula allows you to calculate by how much your page views need to be the increased in order to get your Web Analytics investment back  -with an advertising business model.

In my example the increase needed was 17%. This means that if, thanks to Web Analytics, the number of page views increases by 17% you have paid for your ‘expensive’ Web Analytics implementation. And from experience 17% is an easy target 😉

Web Analytics are only expensive if you don’t use them.  If you use them correctly and make adaptations based on your findings, your return will be more than positive.  So, what are you waiting for?

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