If you aren’t paying for your email or analytics, then you are the product.

Do you own the data in your gmail account?  Does a business that users Google Analytics own their web analytics data?  Since they are not paying for their web analytics, the answer is a “no”.  Google Analytics is built for Google.  Gmail is built for Google.  Keep in mind that Google is in the advertising business.

Over 96% of their revenues come from the ads they display.  Disclaimer: I have a personal gmail account and I still recommend google analytics for many of my clients, they are both great products. Now having said that, I think it is unwise for a company to use either of these solutions if they consider email or their website to be mission critical.

Who doesn’t these days?  If you’re email went down, or your website disappeared, and it wouldn’t phase you, then your email and your website aren’t important to you.  But if email or your website help you increase revenues, decrease costs, or lower the risks associated in managing your business, then you should be paying for these solutions.

If you don’t believe me, consider what you are trading so that you can enjoy these free tools.  Google adwords indexes the content in your gmail account and presents you advertisements based on the very email you are reading in your inbox.  And the data about your website traffic, the conversions you are gaining, the cost per transaction, the cost to acquire an online client, the cost per lead, and other important data about who is visiting your company website is shared with google so that they can incorporate that information when pricing how much you should pay to advertise on their search engine.

After your employees, the next most important assest most businesses have is their data.  It’s so valuable, in fact, that many media companies, financial services companies, and even telecommunications and car rental companies sell it and this data has become a product in and of itself.  Instead of paying google using money, companies that pay google by offering them their data are overpaying in most cases.  That deal works to the benefit of Google.  If you aren’t paying for these mission critical services, which in both cases are cheap and commodities, then you are the product.

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Paul Lima

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