Evolution of Digital Analytics Maturity in Canada: Ad Centric or User Centric?

Last time I went to France to visit our colleagues from iProspect in Paris, I was surprised to discover how the Web Analytics practice differs from a country to another. How could it be so different when the tools are the same (only exception being the important reach of AT Internet), the vocabulary is similar and businesses are facing the same analytics challenges around the world (reporting, dashboarding)?

So, what makes it so different? In a word: the level of maturity, this invisible bond between the client and the agency which is pushing the Web Analytics discussions in a certain direction. I am of course not saying that the Analytics practice is less mature in Canada than it is in other countries; it is simply different and could evolve in many different ways over the next years.

Web Analytics in Canada is very site centric. This means that measurement revolves around behaviours happening on the website of the brand or product. Most frequently used tools are Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics, to only name a few.

But there are other angles to consider, that you may already know about, and which are worthy of further investigation.

Ad Centric Analytics

As ad centric analytics is focusing on ad performance, the tools to track the required data are installed on ads, more specifically on a Adserver or on a Demand Side Platform (what is used to managed Real Time Bidding campaigns). Ad centric analysis allows companies to measure ad impressions or ad views along with the interaction with the ad (click or enhanced interaction through rich media).

As you may know, an ad impression is the actual loading of a web page while an ad view happens when the complete ad is shown on the screen for a defined period of time. If a user only sees the ad or if he interacts with it without actually clicking on it, the tracking of the user is very limited and only ad centric tools will provide insights about this user’s behaviour. Some ad centric initiatives are happening in Canada, but often, they are not managed by the same people who are in charge of site centric measurement.

Yet, the two types of approaches are deeply intertwined. Web Analytics teams could therefore include trafficking resources in tracking, since it is critical to get relevant data afterwards. The same team could also be responsible for impression, view and engagement metrics. This approach allows for a complete attribution measure of the entire media mix.

User Centric Analytics

User centric analytics was first based on tracking the online habits of members of a panel. From this sample, extrapolations were made about the behaviour of the population of a website. Well-known examples of user centric analytics companies include comScore and Alexa. Many marketers still pay to use data from these sites, but today, Google Universal Analytics proposes a new approach which might make this type of data more accessible.

Following a user while he’s moving from device to device is now possible, and desirable for marketers of course, who should define exactly what they wish to accomplish since such advanced tracking comes at a price. User centric analysis will never be complete until online and offline activities can both be measured effectively.

This approach will allow web analytics departments to build cross-device conversion reports and evaluate the contribution of each device.


At the moment, Analytics initiatives in Canada are often focused on the site centric component, but specialists are embracing more and more ways of visualizing performance. The ad centric and user centric components should increasingly be integrated into the day to day analysis. Relevant multi channel and multi device reports, complete with attribution and contribution analysis, will then become available on a large scale.

Last week, Facebook launched its new cross device measurement system, a great example of ad centric and user centric coming together. It is just a question of time before other platforms follow Facebook’s lead or web analysts come up with their own original solution to get there.