From the famous analytics.js project to an innovative data service provider
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I posted this content already on Linkedin in March 2022, but I want to make sure it doesn´t get lost in the social network abyss.
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Can you imagine that Segment was as hot as dbt is today some years ago?
Segment started out as an open source JS tracker – the famous analytics.js project (link in the comments). And it was a huge hit! (The 0.1.0 release was on 12.10.2012).
At that time we were implementing the same events over and over on our websites. And there was a backlog of tracking scripts waiting to get implemented. It was the beginning of the second big online marketing wave and new programs (and tracking scripts) were appearing every week. And the dear marketing teams wanted to try them – now (not in months).
Segments approach was a revelation. Simple and elegant. You define your tracking once by using Segments taxonomy and script and define in the script where the data should also been sent to. Voila, one implementation -> multiple destinations.
What came next was impressive journey. First there was the managed service. Now you have an UI to manage source and destinations.
Then Segment rolled out two things that were ahead of their time as well:
– Event history playback – Starting new with Mixpanel, just replay all your historic events into the new account – mind-blowing.
– Access to raw data
Access to raw data today sounds so obvious but it was a huge thing when it was available in the enterprise accounts first and later for everyone (everyone!). Segment was for years now the #1 service for tracking raw data into BigQuery or Snowflake (and not only tracking data – you could also sync your ads data into your warehouse).
And they kept innovating their way forward:
– protocols introduced an integrated tracking plan and custom tracking sdks (I think it was the first kind of service like this)
– a privacy layer that enables you to anonymise, filter & map data before it got sent to destinations (something today everyone wants for GA)
– the first implementation what we call today Customer data infrastructure with their Personas product (where I never really understood the value but I might had the wrong use cases)
It’s interesting to see how they continue the journey after the acquisition by Twilio (an also innovation driven company).
Is Segment the right tracking stack solution for you? Check out our profile in the Analytics alternatives repository.
The analytics.js repo: https://github.com/segmentio/analytics.js/tags?after=0.7.1
Analytics alternatives repo: https://github.com/timodechau/analytics_alternatives