Yahoo Does Search: is that a question or a declaration?

Ah, poor Yahoo!.  Half their revenues come from search.  They desperately want people to use Yahoo! Search.  But the world is under the impression that Yahoo! has abandoned search, because they are (or will soon be) using Microsoft’s search index.   The distinction is too subtle for most people, who simply think “Yahoo! uses Bing” .. which isn’t the plan at all.

So imagine my reaction when I read, in Yahoo! News, an article called How to Scope Someone Out Online — basically “web stalking 101” — a sentence that states:

[…] it’s always wise to start with a basic Google or Bing search.

I know, it was just a feed from a PC World article, not written by Yahoo!.  But it does go to show what even the tech world is thinking when the number 2 search engine has fallen off the side of the road.  I suspect Yahoo! has a lot of PR work to do if they want to be seen as serious about search.


Yahoo Does Search: is that a question or a declaration?

Hello eBay!

Thanks for the emails and tweets around my time off, it was short but sweet. While it would have been great to take more time to decompress, I knew what was ahead — and felt like a kid on Christmas Eve. I didn’t want to wait, because …

I’ve joined eBay.

eBay has many fabulous analytical tools already, both commercial and home-grown, for lots of different kinds of analysis. In addition, they are on a road to build out a whole new class of analytic capabilities based on Hadoop. They recently reorganized the data initiatives and groups to form a team that re-focuses the “many standalone tools” mindset to a “platform” for analytics. This holistic vision, and the “central data, distributed analysis” mindset aligns so well with my thinking and interests that I had to make the jump. As much as I love what Yahoo! is doing with analytics, the opportunity at eBay was too compelling to pass up. I mean, come on .. it’s the world’s largest online marketplace!

My discussions with the eBay leadership team told me two important things. First, they are ready to make significant investments in data capabilities to drive the next generation of eBay. Second, the new leadership over the last couple of years is bringing a change to the business, where the company will be much more technology- and innovation-driven than it has been in the past. Many of the leadership hires in the last 18 months are a testament to that. And I like to think I am another proof point.

Having cool technology and a leadership team that understands the value of data is a great start. But the icing on the cake is the level of data and analytics talent within eBay. It is, in a word, staggering. I am truly humbled by the opportunity to work with a group of this caliber.

And now, on a Saturday, I’m off to the ACM Data Mining Camp, hosted at eBay’s north campus…

Hello eBay!

The Last Yodel

When I started my keynote presentation at eMetrics Santa Barbara 2006, I said “there was a time when I was not at Yahoo!, and there will be a time when I’m no longer at Yahoo!.” That day has come .. it’s my last day at Yahoo!.

Lest anyone think this means I’m down on the company — it’s quite the opposite! I’m more positive than ever about Yahoo!, especially the analytics. I am very excited about where the company is going with data. After a short but ill-advised set of changes that de-emphasized a coordinated approach to data and analytics, a new leadership team (read: Carol Bartz) recently reconstituted a central data and analytics group. You may even have heard or read Carol saying we’re looking for acquisition candidates in the analytics space. I’m very glad to see the return of executive leadership that sees the strategic value of data.

I’ve never been one to talk a lot about Yahoo! and I won’t start now, especially the internal goings-on, but there’s new leadership, a new commitment, a new focus, and frankly I’m really glad to see it happening. I am also jazzed about the 2010 and 2011 roadmap for our products, including Yahoo! Web Analytics, our advertising analytics products, and for a lot of internal products you haven’t heard of. Oh, and as I tweeted previously, the YWA team is hiring…

And with that, a chapter closes. Yahoo! has been good to me, and I like to think I’ve been good to Yahoo!. But even the good things don’t always last forever, and after almost five and half years, it’s time for me to say goodbye. I’m going to take a short break, decompress a little, and then gear up for the next thing. But that’s a story for another time.


The Last Yodel

Graphing Yahoo! News Elections Traffic

Just a quick graph that shows daily page views to Yahoo! News. The green line shows the week before the US elections, while the week of the elections is in blue.Y! News PVs, US Elections

This comes from our internal numbers; for “competitive reasons” I removed the legend indicating volume — but you can see the site was much busier than the previous week. Uniques, PVs, and PVs per unique all were way up.

TechCrunch showed some data from Hitwise on market share of visits for Nov 4. It’s a little strange that Yahoo! wasn’t listed in the TechCrunch graph, even though Yahoo! placed first overall. Also interesting that the Drudge Report was so high. Here are the top 10 .. for more, see Media Life Magazine .

Hitwise ranking of election sites

Graphing Yahoo! News Elections Traffic

Yahoo! is hiring (really!)


What with all the news about Yahoo! laying off people, you could be forgiven for thinking that the company isn’t hiring. But in fact, it is. The company “de-invested” in several areas, but is increasing investment in others. Even the data team changed a number of projects, which impacted some people. But Y! is hiring, and the data team is hiring. In fact we really need help, especially if you know C++ and/or SQL. Details are at

Yahoo! is hiring (really!)

Yahoo! acquires IndexTools

iPhone in Hungary
Today Yahoo! and IndexTools announced that Yahoo! is acquiring IndexTools. Here is the official press release.

I’m really jazzed about it. IndexTools is a great group that’s been laser focused on the stuff that customers care about. They have a very practical attitude towards their products. Because they started in 2000, they learned from the pioneers, and built a deep analytics system that really works well. That much was clear as soon as we popped the hood and poked around inside .. unlike a lot of their competition, they didn’t have an old and a new product that they bolted together.

So does this mean we’re going to do “Yahoo! Analytics”, and try to “steal” web sites away from Google Analytics or the commercial web analytics vendors? See, that’s not what this is about. Yahoo! has stated its desire to be a “partner of choice”, and as the new Yahoo! strategy began to sink in, it became clear that the new Yahoo! was going to need to offer a new level of products to its partners. We have many, many thousands of small and medium businesses partnering with us now, and we want to make sure they have the tools they need. We’ve already announced an open strategy where developers can take advantage of Yahoo! products and services; we want to make sure they get the analytics they need too. Yahoo! has so many partners in so many places that can benefit from this technology, it became clear — even obvious — it was now the right thing to do.

Yeah, we still have a team working on analytics solutions for our “owned and operated” world — Yahoo! is too big a customer for IndexTools, or any other commercial vendor for that matter. There’s a world of difference between massive scale for one huge customer, and massive scale for a huge number of small and medium-sized customers. Now we have both.

As for what this means for the web analytics industry, I’ll leave that to the pundits, analysts and fortune tellers.

Here’s some of the combined team after a day of meetings at IndexTools.

IndexTools-Yahoo! Dinner

(and yes, that’s Dennis at the head of the table, farthest away from the camera.)

Some reactions from around the web:

Yahoo! acquires IndexTools

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 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