Recently I read Michael Notte’s excellent post on web analytics and the automotive industry in Europe, and then ended up getting drawn into a conversation about the tool Sophus3, which I used for a long time when I was working with a key automotive manufacturer. I ended up writing a bit of a review for it, so thought I would expand this out a bit on my own blog. I had a lot of problems with this tool and never really felt able to voice my issues about it due to client politics, but now I no longer work with this client I feel it is time my opinions were voiced. Hopefully this will assist with other client’s decision making processes.
Firstly, a disclaimer: these are my opinions alone and have nothing to do with any employer or client I have ever worked with – nor can I say that these are necessarily universal truths that others would have had as well; it’s simply a statement of my experiences working with the tool and supplier. Similarly, the client in question has an excellent relationship with Sophus3 and does get value from the tool; my beef is simply that they could do a hell of lot better and don’t realise it.
Furthermore, it really isn’t all bad – so just to avoid coming across too negative I will start with the positives:
- They DO understand the automotive industry better than any other supplier. No other vendor targets vertical market segements in this way. It means that they have a lot of good insights on how the measurement framework for the sector should work and how reporting should be built.
- Their customer service is very good and their staff are very dedicated to client support (at least for their end clients, not so much if you’re an agency though).
- Their back end analytics interface, whilst extremely slow, is actually very flexible and feels more like querying a proper database than an OLAP set-up. Complex cross-tabs and tables can be built in a way which isn’t really possible in other tools.
- Speed. The tool is very very slow to use in comparison to other tools, so much so that most of the time you just won’t bother. At times it is more like querying a huge SQL database than a web analytics tool.
- Accuracy of the competitive tool. The eData Exchange tool is supposed to provide benchmark data of all automotive suppliers. However, only key pages of the sites are tagged and non-standard stuff like microsites are ignored. This in my opinion makes the data too inaccurate to use. Some manufacturers rely heavily on campaign microsites and the customer never actually hits the main website. Other manufacturers do everything in the main site.
- Tagging. This does not work like any other web analytics tool. Tags are simply bits of code that are placed on the site – then Sophus3 themselves have to sort out all the meta-data and naming conventions at their end. This is a nightmare and removes vital control over how the tool is set up. It also creates a enormous possibilty for error that just doesn’t happen in other tools.
- ALL configuration has to be done by Sophus3. They have to set up all the dashboards, custom metrics etc etc. This wouldn’t be so bad, but personally I never really felt that this was done right and therefore wasn’t easy to use. No vendor, despite what they say, really has a proper handle on measurement strategy. This is something that needs to be handled by either the client or the agency; and they need the hands-on flexibilty to make the tool bend to this strategy.
- No proper page path analysis; no site overlay; no on-the-fly segmentation; and various other missing fundamental bits of functionality.
In summary, at this point in time I can honestly say that I would not recommend Sophus3 to any company, not even automotive manufacturers. The tool isn’t completely useless, but the point is that even free tools like GA are leaps and bounds ahead, not to mention the giants like Omniture and Webtrends. Sophus3 have a good organisational foundation, they just need to seriously update their tool to bring it in line with other players.