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Segment.io (YC S11) Lets Developers Integrate Multiple Analytics Services (techcrunch.com)
129 points by jamest on Jan 25, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 44 comments



Seems interesting, but I was tasked with integrating several analytics packages at my last startup and it certainly didn't take months to do. All I did was write a few javascript wrapper functions and stick the various mapping in there:

function track(event, category, options) {

  _kmq.push(...)

  _mxp.push(...)

  .

  .

  .
}

edit: Also, I'm interested to see how eager startups are to add yet another $150/mo to their analytics bill when nearly every service starts at that level... While it may not sound like a lot of money, a few analytics engines can add up really fast, especially for a bootstrapped company.


Google Tag Manager (https://www.google.com/tagmanager/) does this.


It's brutal and tedious to add non Google things to track to their Tag Manager. Feels like an engineering written tool, Segment.io's "flip the switches" is way better for the people that use these types of tools, ie marketers.


Hmmm...I'm not an engineer and I love Google Tag Manager. It's not the most intuitive interface, but after a few hours, I can't imagine ever managing scripts anyway else. No need to bug my CTO just to add a conversion pixel? Heck yeah.


If you're looking for another free service that's kinda in between Tag Manager and Segment.io, we built "Add This Script" (https://www.addthisscript.com/) that lets you choose from more than just analytics scripts so you can include jQuery or Facebook widgets and manage that all in one place. We add new services every week or so.

We're also working on some dependency management stuff so you can include jQuery UI and it'll automatically pull in jQuery, for example.


My favorite feature is I can now use ghostery to block just segment.io and i can block ALL the trackers they use! Including any new services that pop up that ghostery doesn't know about yet!


I think most startups can get away with the free plan, if you ask me...

Regardless, I'm a huge fan of what segment.io is doing! I really like their service so far! :)


I do plan to give it a whirl on my next side project. I'm hearing good things.


The prospect of it taking _hours_ instead of _weeks_ is still too steep of an ask.

Basically, if it's going to be me just checking each analytics service in its own tab vs. needing to dedicate hours of development resources to pool everything together, I'd rather just stick with what I have.


Am I missing why anybody would want to use multiple analytics services? Isn't this just creating a challenge for yourself to integrate the analytic data to understand end-to-end behavior?


there's a surprising variety of tools available, and they each accomplish different things.

for example:

mixpanel and kissmetrics are great for tracking custom events and learning deeply about engagement and conversion inside your app.

but you're still going to want hittail or google analytics to analyze your referrers.

and you probably want customer.io, vero, mixpanel or klaviyo to do targeted email marketing, which is great for improving activation and retention.

so i'd say why wouldn't you want to use multiple analytics services? maybe our definition of "analytics" is just broader :)


I already have too many places where analytic data lands up. I can see a business case in building tools to help me consolidate the data in my facebook engagement stats, my SEM referrals, my email clickthrough rates, my ad impressions, and my page level analytics.... but I don't see why I want to reflect single events into multiple analytic services. Maybe it's because I work with an analytic solution that just captures arbitrary events so I can just log everything in one place, so I'm missing the problem with working with services that are less flexible.


This seems like it could be a great way to get their own analytics platform off the ground.


We use Segment.io at GatherContent and it works really well.

Using it with

* Intercom * Mixpanel * Vero * Errorception


With so many companies providing analytics services it's no wonder that a mother API would be very handy to make use of the distinctive features of each one. I was wondering which other verticals this model can be applied to? I know Zappier is integrating multiple APIs when there is an existing logical flow for example. And what happens if the third party services don't provide API access how would you approach that problem? Would you need to make a partnership with each one of them? I am assuming that all the analytics services Segment.io is using already provide API access.


I think anyone who doesn't provide programmatic access to their analytics app is going to fall by the way-side so quickly there wouldn't be much demand for them to be integrated into Segment.io. I'd be interested to see an example of an analytics service that doesn't offer API access.


Why not push for an interoperable standard from analytics vendors?


Because standards are where innovation goes to die.

I'm not saying standards are a bad thing, I'm saying that it's likely counter productive for most vendors at this point in the marketplace.


Segment.io is, in a way, creating one. That said, an interoperable standard would not make it any easier to .push to all of your analytics vendors.

The (hosted) product seems especially useful to non-technical staff, who don't necessarily care about standards and protocols.


I'm reminded of the engineer that saw 20 standards that did almost the same thing, so he created one standard to unify them. And then there were 21 standards.


It's good to know http://xkcd.com/927/ has reached parable status.


These guys are onto something big with this, extremely excited to see how quickly they can move with it. Please keep sharing updates/integrations with us on hn!


Mind to share your mind about how "they are onto something big"? Unless there is a hidden feature somewhere, I really don't see how it's big or why YC invested in it. Sure, it's useful. Sure, it's cool. But I'm afraid that it doesn't solve a big enough problem. Obviously, I'm saying that based on my own experience and knowledge:

- As a developer, integrating the various analytic libraries is trivial. Installing it? (npm install mixpanel) is mostly trivial too. Yes, it'll take a couple hours, but it will still take several hours to set up Segment too. (One might argue that's not true, but that's wrong. Even if you include the Segment.io code, you still need to provide a bunch of options and understand very well all the other analytic libraries.)

- As a manager, I don't want yet another 30$ or 150$ / month when I'm already paying that for the other analytic services. Also, I know for a fact that I can easily find a dev to set up all the analytics for less than 200$.

- As an investor, I ask myself: What's their unfair advantage? It seems like everyone could do such a service and even provide an open-source version of it.

So, yeah, I'm a bit lost. I feel it's a big like Grove.io. I really liked the idea and found it very useful. But I didn't see how it'd work as a business. But then, there are hundreds of huge companies that I don't even get their business model. (Twitter?) So, please don't take this comment as a rent, but more as an eye-opener for me to learn about where I'm thinking wrong : )


I worked with Peter and Ilya last week on putting this into our site. The client-side code took about half an hour, including setting up our segment.io account. The backend code was equally simple (but took longer as there were more calls to replace).

There are a couple major benefits to this service:

1) Your marketing guy can go in and turn different analytics products on/off without touching code.

2) One call to track() pushes events to all of your enabled services. You don't have to add/remove calls to change which services they go to.

3) The backend code is asynchronous. This is a huge win, because you can call it in code handling a web request without worrying about it slowing down the user experience.

4) You don't have to deal with crappy APIs from companies like Marketo. We were able to remove a couple hundred lines of code that dealt with talking to marketo, in favor of one line of code that talked to Marketo via segment.io.


I think that's completely fair.

The main problem with analytics/metrics is that they're all useless - or very close to it. Each of them is horrible about getting data out in order to correlate it with other services.

If segment.io can consolidate metrics data, provide uniform interfaces for getting data in/out, and can start partnering with other services that should be using this data but can't (there are several dozen), they can turn useless metrics data into immediately (possibly automatably) actionable data.

Just a personal vision, and I have no idea if that's where they're goin or not, I just know that needs to happen, and the team behind segment.io has the chops to pull it off.


You might want to check out our service, Klaviyo, and specifically https://www.klaviyo.com/features/integrations. We do exactly what you're describing around connecting your data with data from the all services you use. I definitely think it's the future and the future is coming sooner rather than later.

I also agree that metrics are not nearly as powerful if you can't tie them directly to action. Which is why we built our own, fully featured email solution so you can go from metrics, to important people to engagement automatically.

That's where we think things are headed and it's going to be incredibly empowering.


> Each of them is horrible about getting data out in > order to correlate it with other services.

Hmmm. In what way? We (Chartbeat) provide all of our data through our API, and all of our products are built using those very same APIs.


It took me a while to understand the extent of what these guys were up to, but I now get it.

Assuming that they give you the option to store historical data, they truly are democratizing access to all the data that's out there.

You can start with one analytics solution, and then add / switch to an alternate solution at will. Your data is no longer locked in with one vendor.


The use case I have thought of so far is providers who work with multiple companies (providing web interfaces for them), and therefore are required to integrate with those companies' analytics services. When you are on boarding new clients, or adding analytics to existing ones, a service like this could be extremely useful to cut down on development time.


Excellent, would use it (the backend stuff), would need to be in the EU though :-(


Congrats on hitting TC.

If you guys haven't read Peter's piece on Thorium it's worth noting that these guys aren't just about analytics: http://rein.pk/thorium-reactors/


Love what you guys are doing. Crazy quick turnaround on customer/developer support too. I found an issue in the python API and it was fixed and pushed within a couple hours.


What is the correct way to instrument SCALABLE website analytics if you have a massively-trafficked (almost facebook-size) website?

Are there any resources on this topics?


You can sample, too. Cookie the user with a random number, like 0-1023. If you want a ~1% sample, wrap the analytics call in a Javascript if() statement where it's executed iff n < 10.

You can do this server-side, too. Record all of the data, but skim just a small percentage for a high level view of what's going on. You can always dig into the data later for a more in-depth question.


I assume the issue is building the backend to store all the data. I don't see why instrumenting a popular site is any different to instrumenting an unpopular site.

This is vastly different problem, which is mostly about distributed systems and algorithms.

Alex Smola's Hokusai paper is good place to start for analytics on truly massive traffic: http://www.auai.org/uai2012/papers/231.pdf


We built SnowPlow for exactly this:

https://github.com/snowplow/snowplow

Worth checking out if you're too big for e.g. Google Analytics free tier (10m pageviews+events a month)


Waiting for it to supports gaming analytics like flurry and Apsalar. Awesome support service, too!


Seems amazing, but I'd not love to see some screenshots of the product.


congrats on the launch!

i wonder if they will be able to fix the leakiness problem across all analytics platforms... somehow none of my analytics reports are ever accurate.


This looks great - I'll be trying it out.


Metalytics.


would love to see it for enterprize-level tools, like webtrends and omniture.


Shoot us an email at friends@segment.io we've working on support for these types of big guys, and are looking for users to test them out for us.


The article states that they already have omniture integration on the paid plans.




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