Y! and WAA

WAA Logo Yahoo!

This is old news, but hasn’t been announced anywhere, so …

Yahoo! has joined the Web Analytics Association as a Founding Corporate Member.

If you look at the bottom of the WAA home page you’ll see logos from the other founding corporate members. Except for Yahoo, they are all vendors of web analytics software. So why is Yahoo! there?

You may have noticed that Yahoo! has made a major commitment to the Web. But it’s also made a major commitment to the data that powers engaged users and interactive marketing. Appointing a Chief Data Officer is one sign of that. Another is being involved in Web-related standards bodies, whether it be helping standardize display ad dimensions, how to accurately collect information, construction of privacy policies, reduction of email spam, etc. The WAA certainly embodies the ideals of community, standards and best practices, so it makes sense for Yahoo to be involved and to support the WAA at this significant level.

Y! and WAA

Fireclick’s Index

Fireclick IndexIn an era when web analytics ASPs are looking for any advantage, positioning yourself as a domain expert by publishing syndicated research data – and perhaps even charging for it – looks like a safe side business.

To that end, Fireclick announced that they’re providing a site for free distribution of a number of metrics. Check out http://index.fireclick.com/ for a dozen or so numbers around conversion rates and site metrics.

Fireclick doesn’t say much about the methodology used, so it’s hard to know how representative these numbers are, or even how comparable they are. For instance, “Cart Abandonment Rate” for Specialty sites are in the mid 60 percent, while Electronics sites are in the low 80s. Similarly, Specialty page views (sorry, still can’t bring myself to say ‘session length’) are double that of Electronics. Is this due to the nature of the products being sold (and thus the audience), or perhaps one or two outlier sites that are skewing the numbers?

Still, kudos to Fireclick for publishing these metrics, and for resisting the temptation to publish trivia like “browser market share.” More data for the data geeks. You know who you are.

Fireclick’s Index

Yahoo! grabs Konfabulator

Konfabulator is a Javsacript-based engine that makes it really easy to create mini applications (they call them “widgets”). First available for the Mac, a lot of people cried foul when Apple shipped similar functionality (called “Dashboard”) in Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) a few months ago. By then the Konfabulator guys had ported the application to Windows. And now Macworld is reporting that Yahoo! has bought the company and will give away the app.

Jeffrey McManus, who worked on making it happen, has a note about it on his blog.

This is a pretty smooth move on Yahoo!s part. Given the huge reach this application will have on Windows and Mac (and maybe more, according to the article), I bet all the cool widgets will be developed for Konfabulator first. I can envision a time when even Tiger users are running Konfabulator, due to the enormous about of stuff that will be available for it.

So hey, check it out.

Yahoo! grabs Konfabulator

Who Are You?

http://www.flickr.com/photos/photojo/27602762/I was recently told

I looked at your ‘about’ page. it’s more about what you do than who you are.

Fair enough, and a good observation. But how does one define who one is? I’m thinking specifically about web analytics and user tracking. We want to provide compelling content (or products, services, etc) that engage users. The best way to do that is to know who they are.

Traditionally, web sites have used several means for determining who you are, including

  • demo- or biographical – age, gender, income, education, etc.
  • attitudinal – what do you think? do you like hockey?
  • geographical – where do you live? work? travel to?
  • behavioral – What do you read? What do you buy? When do you do it?

Of course there are also random factoids, like “what’s your favorite swear word?” Sometimes the answers are insightful, sometimes entertaining, but usually they are of little value.

Back at Accrue, customers and prospects used to ask me if I had recommendations for survey tools, and how to combine log data with registration data, because without them they couldn’t “personalize” the experience for the visitor. At first I was baffled by this, and used to tell a (fictitious) story:

I go to the same coffee shop every morning, and have been doing so for six months. I order roughly the same thing every day. I know the first names of the three servers, and they know my first name, and what I like.

When I go to the coffee shop, they recognize me, they treat me like a valued customer, and they anticipate my desires based on my previous behavior. They never asked me how, and they certainly didn’t follow me around to see where I lived or worked. They just paid attention.

Here’s the thing. What you do is more observable, more accurate, and more informative than your answers to a registration or survey form. If you’ve ever heard the phrases “do what you say you will do” or “actions speak louder than words” then you know what I’m talking about. And yet I see registration forms on web sites when there’s no good reason to have them. My guess for these are three-fold:

  1. Some of these web sites are run by folks that have come from the offline media, where behavioral tracking is impossible, so they don’t think about it.
  2. Some of these web sites don’t have useful behavioral tracking, so are trying to make up for it by asking you tons of demographic questions.
  3. Some of these web sites have wonderful tracking, but no way to act on the data they collect. In short, they can’t personalize, or target, based on behavioral data.

Of course getting things in balance is key. I buy everything with one credit card. But if my credit card company started sending me very personalized offers based on my behavior, I might get freaked out about the privacy implications, and start using other credit cards, or paying with cash. So I want you to pay attention, but not too much.

Who Are You?

Usama Fayyad Named a 2005 AAAI Fellow

Today Yahoo! announced that Usama Fayyad, he Of Many Titles (Ph.D., SVP, Chief Data Officer, head of Yahoo Research Labs…) has been named a Fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence.

I was in a project review meeting with him yesterday and he was right on top of things: asking detailed questions and referencing algorithms, papers and software as if he were still doing active research.

In my experience, it’s rare that an individual can see the curvature of the earth and also be able to strafe the neighborhood to diagnose the blades of grass on your lawn, but Usama does it well – sometimes within the same sentence.

Usama Fayyad Named a 2005 AAAI Fellow

Focus is Local

I’ve been reading lots of stories about Yahoo! vs. Google. No doubt the Clash of the Titans saga makes for good copy, and yes, of course there are folks within Yahoo who are fixated on Google.

But as yesterday’s earnings results show, Yahoo! is a lot more than search. I don’t sit in on other BUs strategy meetings, but I suspect they track the likes of Electronic Arts, Apple & Napster, AOL IM, eBay & Amazon, NBC & CNN, Hotmail, MSN, CNET, Monster, Match.com etc. — in these meetings, I bet Google doesn’t show up on the radar, or is a small blip at best.

Not long ago, Yahoo wasn’t in the search business. The depth and breadth of the offering a couple dozen months later, the favorable impression in the community, and the rapid innovation coming out of Yahoo Search is a testament to the people brought in to deliver on an executive vision. It wasn’t about competing with anyone, it was about becoming a major player in an important space. Now I see that same executive focus on data. I wasn’t at Yahoo two years ago, but I heard stories. In fact about a year ago, one of the employees inside Yahoo told me I should stay far away from “the data group” as it was a morass of confusion. A year later there are a lot of changes in the data group, largely driven by the same executive team that decided we needed to invest in search. It’s both energizing and draining to be a part of those changes.

SDS doesn’t directly compete with the data groups from the companies that Yahoo BUs compete with. But with the influx of folks from those other companies to Yahoo, when we visit them and tell them what we can offer them today and what the roadmap looks like, there’s universal feedback that SDS has a compelling story relative to the businesses they just came from – a roadmap that will allow all the BUs to run their businesses on data-driven analytics and insights. That’s why I keep going to work.

Focus is Local

Omniture Scores $40 Million

The Salt Lake Trib has the story.

A $40M investment, led by Bank of America Venture Partners. Hummer Winblad came in again. Valuation at least $200M post. They needed the cash .. number of employees tripled in the last 12 months and they intend to hit 600 in the next 12. If I assume $100K/year (loaded) per person, which is probably conservative even for Utah, that’s a $60M expense rate. Fortunately they are projecting $40M in sales, so assuming they can ramp sales, they can sustain the losses for a couple of years.

Interestingly enough, $40M is more than Accrue’s IPO.

Omniture Scores $40 Million

When Your Worldview Needs to Change

Ben, I know how you feel.

Sometimes the investments required to improve our lives seem like so much work. Getting out of one’s comfort zone can be disorienting. It’s like the frog that sits in increasingly warmer water – he senses he’s uncomfortable but doesn’t do anything about it, until it’s too late.

But Ben – it’s not too late for you. Some hints: modify your Firefox search box, or install a toolbar. Best of luck.

When Your Worldview Needs to Change