Going to eMetrics?

I’m cruising through LinkedIn. I click on the profile of a well-known analytics person, and this ad appears on the page:

Cool to see Jim’s smile on my web browser. đŸ™‚ I wonder if LinkedIn showed me this because they figured I’d be interested (behavioral targeting) or because the profile mentioned analytics (contextual targeting)?

And it reminds me I should probably update my speaker bio, figure out my travel budget, connect with eBay PR to get on their approved speaker’s list, and all of that…

Going to eMetrics?

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

Analytics Haiku

For the past few eMetrics Summits, Jim Sterne has been holding a creative writing contest, with the winner getting a pass to eMetrics. That’s good value for a little creative writing! For the upcoming Washington DC event, Jim decided to limit the entries to haiku.

Last night I had an urge to participate. The timing couldn’t be better — the deadline was September 15! Not to worry, since I’m already attending the Summit, I don’t need a haiku pass. Unbound from the shackles of winning the contest, here are a few haikus for your consideration.

But first. Knowing Jim, I had this suspicion that he’s thrown in haikus as “easter eggs” in his “serious” writing, probably for years. Boy was I right. I found these, buried in some of his old (old!) articles:

They'll buy. And you will
   have done something positive
for the Internet. 

— from The Internet Gift Culture (1996!)

The fact is, if you
   treat people with respect, you
can sell them more stuff.

— from Personalization and Privacy in Perspective (1999)

Variety. Choice.
   Excitement about what's
around the corner.

— from Customer Interface: Easy Doesn’t It (1996)

Smith, this is Sally
   at American Express.
How can I help you?

But what if gumbo
   recipes were exactly
what you had in mind? 

— from Customer Interface: Do You Know Me? (1997)

And then my favorite: Mr. Sterne himself embedded in the haiku — quoted in an article by Wanda Loskot:

Jim Sterne: "The biggest
   mistake is going after
too large a segment." 

— from What Makes People Click? – Targeting! (2000)

Magnificent! Emboldened and inspired by the ancient texts, I thought I’d try my hand at some original verse. While I don’t claim to have reached the pinnacle of haiku, I discovered that a little wine, a healthy disregard for tradition, and a willingness to expose one’s “creative analytical side” results in lyric such as:

Web analytics
   A great and noble journey
The long quest for truth.

(Tip ‘o the hat to Matt Cutler)

We use statistics
   thus we are never certain
of the snowflake's shape.

(er .. ahem)

The Twitter debate
   analytics or measure?
A freakin' hashtag!

(inspiration: Eric T. Peterson here)

Omniture, Webtrends
   Coremetrics and Unica 
Google and Yahoo!

(note if you substitute “Adobe” for “Omniture” it still works! Coincidence?)

And finally, the topical entry.

Gary said it best:
   Adobe buys Omniture
What are they thinking?

(Gary Angel’s blog post)

Analytics Haiku

Palm, Apple and the language of imagery

Dear Sprint –

Congrats on the launch of the Palm Pre. I was previously a Sprint customer and have used various Palm devices, but I stopped being a customer of both quite some time ago. Maybe the Palm Pre is an amazing device, I dunno. I hope it is.

But when I saw this ad in the newspaper, I thought — what’s the imagery trying to communicate here? Why does the Palm Pre need Apple to support it? Like the Pre needs a crutch of some kind. Is it not possible for the Pre to stand on its own?

And hey — using the product-on-white-background-with-reflection image that Apple has made so au courant? I think that’s pure marketing genius but I’m not sure.

But really, the chewed up apple is still standing, holding up the Pre. What are we supposed to be thinking here?



Palm, Apple and the language of imagery

iPhone Sales Tax is on the Unsubsidized Price

So the iPhone 3G S is lust-worthy, if for no other reason than the 3MP autofocus camera and the speed increase. There’s plenty of news about how AT&T is lagging – no MMS (coming), no tethering (maybe coming), giving smaller discounts to iPhone 3G customers than to new customers.

I’m not eligible for the $299 price because I’ve given Apple too much business, thus AT&T has had to subsidize me twice (read: I bought an original iPhone and a year later bought an iPhone 3G). So I get the option to wait until October to get the $299 price, or pay $499 now. I’ll wait, thanks. Maybe for whatever Apple announces next summer.

But Heidi never upgraded to the iPhone 3G, so she’s eligible for the $299 price. Great, let’s put that puppy in the cart. Whoa, look at the tax!

AT&T iPhone tax

Yep, the tax is calculated as 9.5% (welcome to California) on the full $699 retail price of the phone. AT&T doesn’t subsidize that, and I couldn’t find it disclosed anywhere. I asked the Apple Store live chat — they were useless (told me the tax was on the $499 price) until I (duh) backed into the number on my own.

So, Apple’s ads should say the 32GB iPhone costs $699, minus an “instant rebate” that depends on how much AT&T has already subsidized you. But giving the real price wouldn’t sound as lust-worthy, would it?

Update July 18:At the online Apple Store, there’s small print at the bottom of the buy iPhone page that says

In CA, MA, and RI, sales tax is collected on the unbundled price of iPhone.

The CA regulation that requires Apple to collect this tax is documented at http://www.boe.ca.gov/pdf/pub120.pdf. What Apple doing isn’t illegal — just a bit misleading.

iPhone Sales Tax is on the Unsubsidized Price

Is This the Future of Web Analytics?

Long ago I mentioned what I called “vertical analytics” and how blogs may be the next analytics frontier. Fast forward to the present, and blog analytics are “been there, done that.” (The product demo I saw in a hotel room at SES never saw the light of day; the originator went on to other things – and remains active in “general” web analytics.)

bandmetrics-badge.pngI still think vertical analytics is bound to happen. Witness Atlanta-based Indie Music, whose service Band Metrics — “Analytics For The Music Industryâ„¢”, scored angel financing back in November. More than one press report about the financing used a variant of the phrase “Google Analytics of the music industry.”

Compared with some of the graybeards of Business Intelligence, the Web Analytics “industry” has not yet left adolescence. But I think many of the lessons learned in the greater web analytics field, combined with more powerful machines and a greater “popular culture” around number crunching, are going to lead to analytics for very specialized fields. At a minimum, it might move us away from generic tools that look at the Web to tools that have specific knowledge of a particular business — kinda like a specific solution for scheduling & billing for dentists vs. bringing in Oracle Applications and Accenture. What can be bad about that?

Could this be a new analytics growth opportunity, or perhaps just a land grab? Here’s a thought experiment: check out XXXanalytics.com (where XXX is whatever interesting business you can think of) and see if it’s already taken. I tried a half-dozen while composing this post and I was surprised how many were already claimed…

(Interestingly, XXXanalytics.com itself is not taken, nor is dentistanalytics.com)

Is This the Future of Web Analytics?

New Visualization Sites, Tools and Ideas

If there’s one thing better than having lots of data, it’s probably visualizing it.

I’ve been coming across new sites and new ideas for visualizing data, and thought I’d mention a few.

One of the things I love about the New York Times is their smart visualizations. The interactive graphic A Year of Heavy Losses was a huge hit last fall (even if the data was scary as hell) as the financial meltdown was unfolding. Treemaps can be difficult to understand, but this one nailed it.


Even the Times’ day-to-day infographics can be a pleasure to look at. Did you know that the NYT has a Visualization Lab where you can make your own visualizations? It uses the many eyes technology from IBM.

FlowingData explores many visual aspects of data. If you haven’t seen their visualization of Watching the Growth of Walmart Across America, (which uses the Modest Maps library) I highly recommend it — but the site has a lot more to discover.


Jeff Clark over at Neoformix continues to produce thought-provoking visualizations, many full of beautiful insight, like this contrast of two speeches, and some, like his visualization of Obama’s victory speech, are just plain “hang on the wall” beautiful (politics aside). I spend way too much time at Neoformix. Rather than single out one post, check out his Neoformix Review 2008 and see if you’re not intrigued. Jeff also links to other interesting visualization sites and projects.


Infographics should tell a story. Seeing a map of the US with red and blue states doesn’t really give the full scale of how the election went. Mark Newman, however, does a good job showing how using the geographic area is the wrong way to visualize the data, and coming up with better suggestions.


Tim Showers’ visualization discussions are worth checking out. I particularly liked his post on the challenges of visualizing multi-level data .


The TheStatBot does various dives into data that doesn’t normally get the spotlight, such as what post-processing software gets used on Flickr. Here’s a Twitter Wordle they did of Leo Laporte’s various tweets:


And .. if you like infoclutter (and we all do, sometimes, right?), check out this dashboard!

Finally, if you’ve made it this far: not really a data visualization, but a fascinating time-lapse movie of a four seasons in one 40-second video.


Have you seen other interesting visualization ideas?

New Visualization Sites, Tools and Ideas

In 2009

More fit / Less pizza

More photographs / Less pictures

More Tinderbox and OmniFocus / Less productivity pr0n

More action / Less analysis

More blog posts / Less excuses

More technology / Less meetings


May you have appropriately more and less in 2009.

In 2009