Google Analytics, the cloud and missing numbers #fail
We ran the backend for a sweepstakes project for ABC/Lost this month -- it was one of those projects you simultaneously love and dread because a company like ABC/Disney can push a LOT of people to the microsite all at once. So, we set up the site on Rackspace's cloud (you can read the details about setting up the project here) and it all worked great.
As a bit of an experiment, we hooked up Google Analytics to the site to track visitors. Now, keep in mind, server stats are always a little tricky, what with bots and other automatic processes hitting your site all the time, but for something as tightly controlled as this sweepstakes site, this was a pretty good test of the technology.
And Google failed.
This conclusion wasn't from an arduous comparison of server logs and weighting what might be a real visit and what might be a bot -- that would be one of those vague, subjective conversations. The fact is that Google reported fewer page views than registrations -- which is impossible as a visitor would have to look at two pages minimum to register. One page to answer the questions, and the thank you page saying 'You got the right!'