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Some quick thoughts on today's announcement[1] from Google that Google Analytics will now be measuring conversions from social media traffic sources and more specifically how this development impacts the wine industry.

My initial reaction? Meh. Sorry, GA hasn't morphed into the BFG 9000 that will finally put down all the Social Media ROI "Walkers" that have risen from the dead en masse recently[2]. (Sorry for that Walking Dead reference... Sunday's season 2 finale is still lingering.)

As a technician, the GA enhancements have the appearance of merely tagging, tracking, and segmenting referral traffic from known social media sources that may eventually convert into sales on owned websites. This is a good thing but it's nothing revolutionary. It's a step in the right direction[3] but large digital properties (should) have already been doing this for years now. Bringing this capability to small(er) businesses, though, is a big deal and Google should be rightly applauded for this advancement.

When it comes to the wine industry, though, there are far bigger obstacles to reaching online DTC nirvana than an aggregation of data into venn diagrams and line charts. The vast majority of wineries are small and individual relationships with customers matter most. As +Gary Vaynerchuk likes to say, it's small town. Due to the daunting barriers to purchasing wine online (three tier, most winery e-comm bites, wine is heavy/expensive to ship, it's breakable, sensitive to heat, winery direct pricing has to guard against channel conflict, no immediate gratification, and on and on), nearly all wine transactions still occur offline. This doesn't mean that activities in social media can't impact wine purchasing behavior. Quite the opposite actually. Wine is ideally suited for social media as an experiential, consumable, luxury product. But the measurability of how these digital activities impact the full range of wine transactions is still not at hand.

We're making progress but we still have a lot of work to do.

[1] http://analytics.blogspot.com/2012/03/capturing-value-of-social-media-using.html
[2] http://www.vintank.com/2012/03/unraveling-the-mystery-of-roi-in-social-media/
[3] http://susanetlinger.wordpress.com/2012/03/20/google-social-report/
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