A frequently asked question that is asked by professionals at all levels (senior, mid, junior). In most cases, YES, it is perfectly fine to have multiple analytics tracking products installed for same website. Different analytics products use diverse technology methods to collect data about website traffic and visitors to the site. The two main methods of tracking activity include cookie-based and IP with User Agent.
In Cookie based tracking, parcel of text is sent back and forth between the web browser and the server it accesses, commonly called as cookie. Each web analytics product can have different default and customizable options for cookies. IP with User Agent tracking typically utilizes log-file analysis for managing its data. This may report higher data numbers than reported by cookie-based tracking due to dynamically assigned IP addresses, bots and robots. 1st party vs. 3rd party cookies: Even among cookie-based tracking solutions, there’s a difference between 1st-party and 3rd-party cookies. Since 3rd-party cookies are set by another source, they are often blocked by security software and web browsers. Hence it is normal to view discrepancies between similar metrics reports created using different products.
Nonetheless, the best way to think of metrics data across different analytics products is to think in terms of trends, as opposed to numbers by itself. In terms of challenges, they include:
- Private browsing: Most popular browsers nowadays provide visitors the option of private browsing. Hence, this means that browsing activity on the website may not be tracked in the Analytics product at all. Hence data reliability becomes an issue.
- Add-ons: There are many add-ons available for specific browsers that can block all types of analytics software tracking, hence no matter what you use, you may still be missing some analytics data. Filters/settings: Many web analytics products provide data filters. Differences exist in the way that filters are applied, or settings are enabled, can drastically affect the data in your reports.
- Caching: Depending on the analytics product, a new page load instance that has been cached may or may not be counted as a new session on that product. As reference, here is website link to different Analytics software available for different needs.
Overall, we do not utilize all of these tools all of the time, but it is beneficial to know about some of the top options and how they meet the business goals of the organization. And using multiple analytics product only gives you added levels of insight into your customers and your success rate.