Notes on Emetrics Summit San Francisco 2007

Another Emetrics has come and gone. Many of the Summit’s highlights have been presented in other blogs, but I did want to point out a few personal observations:

Big News and Rumors: Eric Peterson strikes out on his own, a new Google Analytics, and WebSideStory changes its name to Visual Sciences. But the biggest question I kept getting was “how do you feel about having to work for Microsoft?”

Attendees: Wow. There were a lot of people. Many faces from Emetrics Santa Barbara 2005 and 2006, but lots of new faces as well. The surge in attendees meant I was running into a lot of people new to web analytics, but I also took note of people representing sub-specialties such as SEO and SEM, now as legitimate peers of web analytics. I don’t remember the number of attendees, but there’s no way all of us would have fit in the Four Seasons in Santa Barbara.
Emetrics Crowd
Kudos to Jim Sterne for having the foresight to move the Summit to a larger venue this year. The Palace Hotel kept up the high standards.

Hiring! Anyone who was hiring stuck a green dot on their badge. There were LOTS of green dots. If you’re interested in web analytics, it seems there’s a job for you, somewhere!
Emetrics SF Badge
Special thanks to Eric Peterson for announcing on stage that the Yahoo! data team is looking to hire over 120 people. Eric, I owe you one – or several. For everyone else .. send resumes!

Vendors: All the vendors you’d expect were there, showing their latest. One vendor was even promoting a sniffer technology, so you didn’t have to manually tag pages – wow! Unlike Santa Barbara, where the vendors were in the same room as the presenters, in SF there was a separate “vendor room.” That increased the times available for product demos, but it did mean attendees needed to make a special trip to the room. The genius move was to put the mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks at the back of the vendor room, which no doubt increased traffic.
Emetrics SF Vendors
And no, the floor wasn’t really sloped.

Blogger’s Lunch: Unfortunately I was on conference calls until 1:30 Monday, so I missed the blogger’s lunch table. In fact, I missed lunch… and Jim’s keynote…

Google Analytics: You’ve no doubt already seen the buzz about the new Google Analytics. What you probably don’t know is that Jeffrey Veen gave a really great presentation. It took him a while to get his Mac projecting, but Brett Crosby did a good tap dance, and the eventual presentation was well worth it. I don’t know if he was using PowerPoint or Keynote or what, but the screen animations looked like somebody offscreen was doing a live demo.
Jeff Veen demos Google Analytics
After the presentation, I asked Somebody Who Would Know about MeasureMap, the blog analytics technology Google bought and then seemed to bury. Did the new Google Analytics contain all that MeasureMap goodness? With a wink and a smile, I was told that MeasureMap isn’t dead, but I got the impression that if I was told more, I would have to be killed. So I got a Google Analytics T-shirt instead.

The Sessions: Of course the sessions are the reasons most people go to Emetrics. As usual, some of them were fabulous and others were take-it-or-leave-it. Unlike previous years, there were so many presenters that much of the summit ran in four tracks. That made it a bit of a challenge to get to every talk I wanted to see. However, four presentations stood out for me.

First was Bryan Eisenberg‘s Persuasion Architecture talk. I love how Bryan brings reality into analytics. Persuasion Architecture focuses on outcomes, not activities. Amen to that!

Second was Joseph Carrabis‘ talk “Quantifying and Optimizing the Human Side of Online Marketing.” Honestly, the title sounded a bit dry and I wasn’t sure why I wandered into that particular room. (I’m sure Joseph could say!) But immediately, I was captivated. First, you need to understand that this talk had nothing to do with web analytics. Second, Joseph comes across like Robin Williams as a professor — he read his material from a script, but packed so many asides and ad libs into the presentation — all relevant — that it was fascinating to witness. He had five points to make, and after 50 minutes, had only covered the first two. He asked the crowd which of the final three we’d like him to cover, and everybody said “all of them! We’ll stay!” Keep in mind, this was the last session of the day and people were getting ready for Web Analytics Wednesday (read: free drinks). That’s how good he was – everyone stayed another 30 minutes. Since returning from the Summit, I’ve been looking up Joseph’s other writings, and my hope is to have him come speak at Yahoo! sometime.

Aside: check out the game. I have no idea what this is, but I hope one day Joseph reveals his findings.

Third was a talk from Seth Romanow and Chris Worland from Microsoft where they coined the term “personamous” to talk about personalized content to anonymous visitors. (During the talk, Seth said personamous.com was still available. A week later as I write this summary, it’s still available.) The reason why this session stood out for me was that they had three main lessons. Two of them (stuff interest/activity data in the cookie, rather than in a central database, and avoid a recommendation engine) were the opposite of what Yahoo! does. My hope is that they came to the conclusions they did based on the the time and available resources to get the job done. Yahoo!’s been doing this for 12 years, so we may be talking on a very different time/resource/focus scale.

Finally, Tim Hart of the J. Paul Getty Trust really nailed how web analytics can help you align your web site with your mission. While he was presenting, I was reminded of Xavier Casanova’s presentation last year where he used web analytics to help his startup figure out positioning, messaging and buzz.

Privacy / Ethics: I had more than a handful of people tell me they’ve been thinking about ethics of web data. During the WAA meeting on Sunday, Jim Sterne made a call for a WAA Ethics Task Force. Alex Langshur and I talked about how important privacy guidelines were to the public sector web sites – something I hadn’t previously considered. René Dechamps Otamendi brought in the European angle. I’m very glad to see an increased level of awareness and interest — and I’m looking forward to additional discussions.

Web Analytics Wednesday (on Tuesday): There was a great turnout for Web Analytics Wednesday, the social event for web analytics geeks – you know who you are. More recruiting ensued…. a number of us then migrated to the WAW after-party, which meant actually leaving the hotel. I don’t think we lost too many people along the way.

There’s an unwritten law that any post about Emetrics has to have a photo of either Jim Sterne or Eric Peterson. Since I mentioned Jim’s “Godfather” video already, and because Eric’s now on his own, here’s Eric, wondering when Andy Benkert (center) and I are going to get the hell out of the doorway:
Bob Andy and Eric at Emetrics WAW
The sign on Andy reads: “Web Analytics Wednesday (on Tuesday) After Party.” Many thanks to June Dershewitz for organizing this WAW!

It was great to meet and/or re-meet so many people. The LinkedIn connections are flying, so we’ll all stay in touch — at least until October, when Emetrics moves to Washington DC.

Other Emetrics summaries (list is in no way complete):

Notes on Emetrics Summit San Francisco 2007

Easy Exits … Again?

The problem with some of the “new Web” applications isn’t the application itself but the business model. Build an incremental feature, create some buzz in the echo chamber, and then sit back and wait for GAMEY (Google / AOL / Microsoft / eBay / Yahoo) to buy your company.

I suspect we all have some ideas about features that could fall into this category. But what if instead of buying your company, the big web portals built the feature themselves? Where’s your sustainable business model?

Specifically, all these N-person shops trying to grab a share of the podcasting world who were at first competing with Apple’s iTunes and now with Yahoo Podcasts

(Thanks to Brad Feld for the GAMEY reference. Brilliant.)

Easy Exits … Again?

Saturday Randomness

Spent a good hour this morning reading Mini-Microsoft, a recent phenom that’s actually been around a while. The comments are the interesting stuff. I don’t really care about the innards of Microsoft, but it’s making me think about how Yahoo works, including SDS and my own group.

Sheesh, blog spam is way up this past week. I moderate comments from all new commentators, so they aren’t posted until I approve them, but they do hit my mailbox. The increase is at least 10x what it used to be, although, fortunately I’m not seeing volumes like Ryan. There must be some new WordPress comment spam software in production. Like Ryan I’m not ready to introduce CAPTCHA.

Speaking of trends, I’m suddenly seeing the Three Letter Acronym “LMK” pop up in email and IM. This started about a few weeks ago. It’s not like I recently moved to a new team with their own lingo — this is from folks within my existing group, in other areas of the company, friends, and business contacts outside the company. It seems to be spreading like crazy. Wikipedia has had an entry for it since the spring. LMK if you’re only recently seeing it too, or perhaps I just haven’t been paying attention?

Finally, this Web 2.0 observation from Matt McAlister:

One [Yahoo] is facilitating community development. The other [Google] is facilitating data retrieval.

Saturday Randomness