Like many bloggers, I use FeedBurner to distribute my RSS feed. They provide well-formed feeds, predictable performance, and a small amount of reporting so I can see how many RSS readers I have and what articles they click on. You might recall that FeedBurner acquired BlogBeat some time back, but I don’t think they actually integrated it into the main FeedBurner offering. In any event, FeedBurner’s reporting makes a decent supplement to Google Analytics.
Looks like soon there won’t be a need to supplement, as TechCrunch is reporting that Google has agreed to acquire FeedBurner. So it’s not out of the question that some kind of BlogBeat-FeedBurner-MeasureMap-GoogleAnalytics mashup is in the future.
So Google will now start including non-web (or vertical search) results. Type “sun” and in addition to web links, a stock chart appears. Type “twinkies” and get photos with web results. “Paris hilton” adds news to the web links. “seattle” has a map and news results. Over time they’ll add more stuff. I’m not sure how they are deciding what to add for what search term.
A couple thoughts here:
Yahoo! has been doing this for a while (e.g. including Yahoo Answers, Flickr photos, etc). While the more comprehensive and contextual results are probably better for most searchers, it comes at a cost: both page construction time (due to multiple fetches the search front-end needs to do for each kind of content) and page weight (the amount of stuff the browser has to download and render). When you’re known for your near-instant results, slowing down those results to add more stuff may result in less satisfaction, not more. I know Y! Search is spending a lot of time trying to get the balance right, and I’m sure G is worrying about the same thing.
Why did they pick “Darth Vader” as the example search query in the press release? I don’t really follow Google but does it have something to do with doing no evil?
Most of us live in a world where we’re focused on the Web, and we really want to optimize the investment being made – whether it be for our blog, our company, or our client. But are we too focused, and not seeing the bigger picture? Are we a slave to our tools, and not the business needs?
Read the CEO’s letter to Web Analytics, where Ron Shevlin (who’s not a CEO, but no matter) asks for a few concrete things out of his Web Analytics group. Note, he’s saying you are the experts, please enlighten us. Make sure you read the comments.
He recently followed it up with a response to a memo that “Web Analytics” (in the form of Eric T. Peterson) sent to the CEO.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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:
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):
It’s a good list, if not misleading (the iPhone will have a keyboard equivalent, for instance) but shows how designers should be ruthless in challenging assumptions, and cutting out what isn’t necessary.
Think about web analytics software. We’re overwhelmed by silly reports, useless visualizations, and bizarre multidimensional slice-and-dice capabilities that don’t answer the business questions.
Junk is the ultimate merchandise. The junk merchant does not sell his product to the consumer, he sells the consumer to the product. He does not improve and simplify his merchandise, he degrades and simplifies the client. — William S. Burroughs
Sounds like the Editor-In-Chief defeats the Corporate Overlord. I suspect the reality is more complex than that.
Honestly, the “10 things we hate” article was pretty weak. Bluetooth not available? Nobody is perfect (number 6)? They don’t pre-announce security updates? Given the contrast between the hate and love articles, I’d say the writers are Apple fans. This was a puff piece for Apple in disguise, wrapped around a controversy.
USA Today is running a couple of opinion pieces, one (apparently staff-written) questioning how well the US government is doing with information security, and calling for more accountability. The report card recently issued by Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, doesn’t look so good. The opinion piece concludes that while the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is trying to lock things down through stricter process, things are going to get worse.
Meanwhile, a rebuttal from Clay Johnson, deputy director for management of the OMB, says the government is “significantly strengthening the protection of citizens’ personal data” by asking the agencies to police themselves, and running a consumer awareness campaign.
Last month, the Identity Theft Task Force issued a Strategic Plan. You can read the plan and supplemental materials on the Task Force web site.
Lars Johansson, the Swedish coordinator for the WAA, has a web site and blog. One interesting thing he does is ask questions of different people who are involved in the Web Analytics field, and publish the conversation on the site.
Today, Lars posted a batch of new interviews, including Phil Kemelor regarding industry differences across the pond, Avinash Kaushik about his book, and yours truly about web analytics ethics.