While ComScore formerly charged a substantial setup fee for the implementation of their tracking pixel, now anyone can install it on their website for free. Furthermore, sites with less than one million unique visitors per month will be able to access the ComScore dashboard for free. And those with traffic between 1 and 2 million visitors per month will get a discounted pricing.
Hailed as a positive move by a company that was once lambasted for a pricing model that was unfriendly to new and small businesses' websites, the company's announcement means that more startups can access the information the ComScore provides: "objective, accurate and reliable insights into consumers' online behavior and for details into their demographic characteristics, attitudes, lifestyles and offline activities."
But ComScore is just one of many companies offering analytics for businesses, and arguably as you develop your new startup, you'll want to pay close attention to the information these tools can provide. But before assessing and adopting these tools, you should really think about what you need to measure and what you plan to do with the analytics you glean.
As Andrew Chen writes, "In general, a philosophy on the role of analytics within a startup is: If you're not going to do something about it, it may not be worth measuring. (Similarly, if you want to act to improve something, you'll want to measure it.) Don't build metrics that aren't going to be part of your day-to-day operations or don't have potential to be incorporated as such. Building reports that no one looks at is just activity without accomplishment, and is a waste of time."
Chen lays out a roadmap for startups developing analytics tools, where you tackle certain projects by paying particular attention to those analytics, rather than only looking at web traffic or immediately implementing a full-blown analytics program. Initially, for example, you might want to focus on generating interest and on driving traffic. But you soon need to look at other elements so that you are not just acquiring users, but retaining them. You need to make sure the features you are spending a lot of time developing are really the features that make people want to use and want to stay engaged with your product or service.
As Chen notes, "The key to this philosophy is figuring out how to prioritze the metrics that you build relative to your features. Again, you want to only develop the analytics that you need to build out your product correctly - no more, no less."
To this end, the social gaming company Frosmo have developed their own analytics tools. According to CEO Mikael Gummerus, the information they could get from other analytics wasn't exactly what they needed. They weren't interested simply in the numbers of players of their games or in the virality as gamers recommended it to friends. Instead, Gummerus says they wanted to develop analytics for "game balancing," so they could track bottlenecks in the game play and so they could ascertain the point at which players were willing to purchase virtual goods.
According to Andrew Chen, startups need to pay attention to precisely this sort of thing as they adopt (or, like Frosmo, create) analytical tools. ComScore's move to offer free analytics will certainly make it a lot easier for startups answer some of the questions they might have about users. But as other companies have found, if you are data-driven, you might have to develop your own tools - not necessarily an easy undertaking for a new business, but sometimes necessary.