Web Analytics Association Boston Symposium

Curious about the Web Analytics Association Boston Symposium that just took place on Monday 5/23? Well look no further for a little fun with Twitter analysis and an overview.

Let’s start with the data …


  • 159 unique tweeters used the #WAABos hashtag between 5/22/11 9.24PM and 5/24/11 1.08PM
  • There were a total of 911 tweets to the #WAABos hashtag in this time
  • During the Symposium itself (Monday 5/23 from 1PM through 5.30PM) there were 793 tweets from 125 unique tweeters.
  • This translates to 176 tweets per hour, or 2.9 tweets per minute!
  • 87% of the tweets to the #WAABos hashtag were during the Symposium time (Monday 5/23 from 1PM through 5.30PM)
  • 59% of the tweets to the #WAABos hashtag were Retweets and another 18% of tweets contained mention of another Twitter user. (My, we’re a social bunch!)

Top 10 hashtag contributors:

@OMLee 17% of hashtag tweets
@michelehinojosa 16%
@ashkalei 11%
@RudiShumpert 4%
@kdpaine 3%
@CaseyChesh 3%
@jc1 3%
@Exxx 2%
@KeithBurtis 2%
@johnlovett 2%

Top tweet content:

[Ten points if you can find the word “Pirate” in there.]

Tweet locations:

From @ashkalei:  Map of where #WAABos tweets were coming from: http://bit.ly/mlgyry

Top Take Homes:

Web Intelligence
Suresh Vittal, Forrester

  • Customers are no longer linear, or staying in neat “swim lanes”. We have entered the “splinternet”, where users can connect via multiple devices, and we start bringing that data together for a more comprehensive view of our customers.
  • We need to move from web analytics to all-encompassing web intelligence.
  • Web analytics platforms are perfectly positioned to evolve into web intelligence platforms. Almost 90% of businesses are using or piloting a web analytics platform, and many use more than one. Now, more traditional online channels (search, display, email) are regularly integrated into web analytics solutions, and emerging channels (social, mobile, apps, video) are starting to be integrated.
  • Merging offline, traditional web and emerging channels will give us a  comprehensive view of our customers, and pave the way for web intelligence. (And yes, it’s complicated!)
  • Be guided by a roadmap, and be sure to consider process and the personnel and skills you’ll need, in addition to the technology. Web Analysts alone will not be enough.

Mobile panel

Raj Aggarwal, CEO, Localytics, Justin Cutroni, Director, Cardinal Path, June Dershewitz, Director of Web Analytics and Customer Insight, Apollo Group, Mihael Mikek, CEO, Celtra

  • Mobile is currently fragmented – apps, different operating systems, web. In a year or two, we won’t even be talking about “mobile” – everything will be connected.
  • Your users don’t differentiate between a mobile and non-mobile experience, so you need to integrate your digital strategies.
  • The Three A’s of Mobile: Awareness, Activation, Activity (Apollo Group, June Dershwitz)
  • But these must also be tied to your overall business strategy.
  • Next problem for mobile to deal with: cannibalisation. Are you stealing from other channels or is this new revenue?
  • Mobile apps or mobile web? Right now, mobile apps are superior because you can integrate with other features of the phone (e.g. address book, etc.) However, HTML5 will rebalance that and it is likely that browser based apps will take off vs. OS-specific applications.
  • Difficulty for analysts is understanding behaviour from mobile to web and other channels, as mobile data typically lives in a silo. Crucial for us to start understanding behaviour of users across channels.
  • We can learn lessons from the web, to speed up the learning curve.

Social media panel

John Lovett, member of WAA Board of Directors and Senior Partner, Web Analytics Demystified, Katie Paine, CEO, KD Paine & Partners, Sean Power, Founder, Author, and Consultant, Watching Websites

  • Social can be many things to many people or organisations. This requires the need for custom metrics and integrations.
  • However, the web analytics problem of silos is repeating itself with social. There is isolated use of social media in the depths, but not across the enterprise. (John Lovett)
  • Great debate between Sean Power and John Lovett: Sean argued social media does not scale – you can’t respond to everyone without hiring people to respond one-on-one. John argued companies like Dell are tackling this by teaching their existing employees how to respond. Sean tested this by tweeting Dell while on stage at the panel, to see how quickly they respond. (19 minutes, if you’re curious.)
  • Do you know what Pirate Metrics are? AARRR!  Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral, Revenue: http://slidesha.re/yO8Ml
  • Do we need social media standards?
    • Sean Power: “I don’t think businesses give a s*** about standards.” They care about making money and will do whatever they want.
    • John Lovett: We need at least some standards – definitions of basic, common metrics, even if different tools calculate them differently.
    • Katie Paine: We need standards so we’re not confusing others.
  • What about sentiment analysis? Sentiment analysis is like web analytics – you need the best people, not the best tools. (John Lovett)
  • Need context in social media. A small fly looks terrifying through a magnifying glass – which is what sentiment analysis can do. It’s important not just whether customers are saying something negative, but whether they are more negative about you than your competitors.

Tom Davenport: The New Quantitative Era – Creating Successful Business Change with Analytics

  • Analytics involves moving from descriptive analytics (the “what”) to predictive and prescriptive analytics (the “so what”)
  • In its most basic form, analytics is about making decisions.
  • Using data to make decisions, however, requires mastering analytics, culture and more. It’s no longer sufficient to just be good at one.
  • Become a student of error. Reviewing your mistakes can lead to better decision making.
  • To become successful at analytics, you need to work closely with IT, business decision makers and outside ecosystem members.
  • If you want to make decisions better, it’s not about the math, it’s about the relationships the analyst builds with decision makers.
  • Analytics and the work done should tie to decision. When an analyst receives a request, the first question should be What decision will you make with this data?
  • Skills needed to be a good analyst:
    • Tell a story with data
    • Stand firm when necessary
    • Help from the decision
    • Don’t just identify a problem, fix it
  • The analytics industry has a historical opportunity right now to transform our industries and functions!

Entrepreneurs Panel

David Cancel, CEO and Founder; Performable, Matt Cutler, CEO and Founder, Kibits, Eric Hansen, CEO and Founder, SiteSpect, Jonathan Mendez, CEO,Yieldbot, Dennis Mortensen, CEO and Founder, VisualRevenue

  • Let the market tell you what is right.
  • Everything I’ve done is based on solving customer pain. Can I give you an hour of your day back? (David Cancel)
  • You want a reaction to your idea. “I love your idea”, “I hate your idea”. “Cool” or apathy is not a good thing.
  • Commonly heard: “The last thing I need is another damn dashboard.” What they want is a red phone they can shout questions into.
  • Great companies are bought, not sold. The minute you raise your hand, your value goes down.
  • Charge immediately. From day one. The kind of feedback you get is very different the moment you ask for a dollars. (David Cancel.)

Any other insights that you heard that I missed? Add ’em in the comments!

Want to have at the raw data yourself? This is the archive I used: WAABosTweets052411at0113PM



California Privacy Bill: Commentary and Summary

Consumer privacy has been a hot topic for the past few months. Late last year, the Federal Trade Commission issued their report endorsing a “Do Not Track” option. The Commerce Department weighed in on privacy, leaning towards industry self-regulation. With the buzz privacy was receiving in the media, several browsers soon released updated privacy options. However, without any action by tracking companies to take these privacy settings and apply them in determining whether an individual’s behaviors be tracked, these browser updates are essentially futile.

In April, the Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights Act of 2011 by Kerry and McCain came out recommending:

  • Clear data collection notice, including the purpose of collection and the ability to opt-out.
  • Individuals to be able to access their information, and request cessation of its use and distribution.
  • An opt-out for all data, with an opt-in for sensitive personally identifiable information.
  • Companies to minimize only the data they need to provide transaction or services.
  • Companies bind third parties they share data with as to what they can do with the data.
  • No private right of action.
  • Voluntary “safe harbor” program that would allow companies to exempt themselves from the requirements if they had procedures in place that were just as good.

Now, the California Senate Judiciary has cleared proposed Privacy Bill SB 761. The Bill calls for the Attorney General to adopt new regulations for consumer opt-out of tracking.


While the intention to protect consumer privacy is to be commended, there are some concerns with the proposed Bill.

For a summary of the Bill, please read below under The Bill: In Summary.

State laws in an online world

Global businesses already face a minefield when it comes to international laws. For example, European laws regarding privacy are stricter, with Google Analytics in Germany prohibited.

The reality is, online business does not have a simple physical presence, where state boundaries are easily applied. The draft Bill applies to entities doing business in California with a consumer in California. This appears general enough that it is not limited to simply companies located in California. Has a situation therefore been created where companies across the United States (and arguably, the world) must comply with these proposed regulations for California users?

Recognizing California Users’ Opt-In

How are companies to detect what state a user is located in, to ensure compliance? Understanding that a user is a California consumer, and therefore must be provided with recognized opt-out, would require capture of (and respond to, in real time) IP or physical address – the very data collection that users could be trying to opt out of.

First Party vs. Third Party Data

The Bill does not clearly distinguish between third party tracking done by companies such as ad networks, and first party web analytics for the purposes of site optimization and business analysis.

In one way, the Bill can be read as prohibiting web analytics data capture: the type of data covered includes “Internet Web Sites and content from Internet Web Sites accessed”, including time and date of access – the foundation of first party web data capture.

On the flipside, there are exceptions that can be interpreted as permitting web analytics.

For example, an exception to regulation is granted if analysis of that consumer data is not the company’s primary business. Does this allow for web analytics? Company X sells mobile phones, but analyzes their site visitors. That analysis is not their business, phones are. Is web analysis permitted?

There are also exceptions made for “commonly accepted business practices.” Among them is using data to improve products, services or operations. Arguably, first party web analysis for the purposes of site optimization falls into this. Is it therefore permitted?

An exception is also granted for businesses not collecting or storing sensitive information (defined as medical, health, race or ethnicity, religious, sexual, biometric or social security information.) Does this therefore mean that first party web analytics is permitted for companies not storing any of this type of data? What if a company collects this data but it is completely separate from their online data?

One hopes a revised Bill, or the regulations themselves, would speak more clearly to first versus third party data capture. The current draft would likely lead to litigation to resolve the issue of first party web and business analytics.

Add your commentary

I’d love to hear your thoughts – good, bad or ugly. Please leave a comment!

The Bill: In Summary

California already has in place existing law requiring notification to Californian users of a company’s privacy policy. However, the proposed SB 761 requires the Attorney General to adopt new regulations to allow for consumer opt-out of tracking.

Who would these regulations apply to?

  • Anyone person or entity doing business in California that uses online data collected from a consumer in the state.

What would these regulations require?

  • A company to provide California consumers with a method to opt out of data collection, storage and use.
  • Require disclosure information on data practices and to whom this data may be disclosed to.
  • Prohibit data collection or use if a consumer has opted out.

In addition, the Attorney-General may also require that covered entities provide:

  • A way for consumers to access their information.
  • Data retention and security policies in an easy to understand way.

What type of data is covered?

  • Web sites and what content is accessed
  • Time and date of access
  • Geolocation
  • Method of access (for example, device or browser being used)
  • IP address
  • Personally Identifiable Information:
    • Name
    • Address
    • Email address or username
    • Phone or fax number
    • Government ID number (e.g. passport number, driver’s license)
    • Financial account numbers and the security codes used to grant access to these accounts
    • Sensitive information:
      • Information related to medical history and health
      • Race or ethnicity
      • Religious beliefs and affiliation
      • Sexual orientation or behavior
      • Financial information such as income and assets.
      • Biometric information such as fingerprints
      • Social security information.
      • Does not include:
        • Business information such as business email address or business phone number.

Exemptions from regulation:

  • Regulations should not interfere with a commercial relationship where the consumer has expressly opted in for those purposes. However, the Bill specifically states that if that business is online advertising and marketing, the regulations may affect that relationship.
  • Federal, State or Local government
  • Smaller businesses collecting information from fewer than 15,000 individuals total, or 10,000 in a 12 month period.
  • Business not collecting or storing sensitive information.
  • Companies not using the information to study, monitor or analyze behavior of individuals as the primary business.
  • May be an exemption for commonly accepted business practices:
    • Customer service and support.
    • Using data to improve products, services or operations
    • Basic business functions such as accounting, inventory, QA.
    • Defending rights or property.
    • Complying with law, such as court order, subpoena (etc.)

Consequences of non-compliance:

  • Individuals are able to take civil action for damages between $100 and $1000 per breach, plus punitive damages the court may allow.

To read the full bill, please visit: http://info.sen.ca.gov/cgi-bin/postquery?bill_number=sb_761&sess=CUR&house=B&site=sen

To contribute your thoughts, please comment!

Customer Service: Now that’s how it’s done

Today, I needed to (urgently) buy a new mattress and get it delivered before this evening (lest I have nowhere to sleep tonight …) I did a quick Google Map search to find stores near me and found a Mattress Discounters location close by. This was at about 7.30AM, so I shot them an email explaining the situation (wondering if I would ever get a response) – I needed to purchase a mattress and could I get same day delivery?

Imagine my surprise when shortly before 10AM (their opening time) I actually got a response – a phone call from Mattress Discounters. The guy I spoke with apologised and said they don’t do same day delivery, but another nearby store does, and he had already reached out to the store to have them contact me. Low and behold, I hear the call waiting noise on my phone and realise the other store is already trying to call me.

Doesn’t sound like a big deal, right?

It was a competitor.

Mattress Discounters referred me to a competitor because they knew that I needed something they couldn’t provide. I would say “That’s customer service”, but the truth is, it’s actually “Not-even-yet-a-customer service.”

Did I buy from them? Not this time. Will I remember them next time I’m in the market for a new bed or mattress? Absolutely. Will I be buying next week? No. But sometimes you need to invest now for a long-term return. Mattress Discounters did, and I won’t forget it.

Just to follow this up with more warm and fuzzies, I sent out a tweet about how pleased I was about this morning’s experience. (Mattress Discounters, please get on Twitter so I can show you some love!) I ended up shopping at Sleep Train and had a great experience there too – incredibly helpful salesman, very fast and easy – so naturally I mentioned them in the tweet:

@michelehinojosa: Amazing not-even-a-customer service from Mattress Discounters. Needed urgent same-day new bed, referred to competitor@thesleeptrain #classy

Twenty-five minutes later?

@theSleepTrain:@michelehinojosa We are the place to go for same-day delivery! Let us know how we can help.

Now that’s how it’s done.

A Penny For Your Thoughts on Influence?

[Originally published on the Measure Mob blog]

I was disappointed to not be able to join Keith, Jason and Olivier on the first two Measure “Mobcasts” – those darn international flights sure do get in the way! However, that doesn’t mean I won’t take the opportunity to put in my $0.22. (It would be my $0.02, but I was in Australia, and their dollar is worth more, so I figure I’ve got the exchange rate working for me.)

I wanted to add what are just a few (minor) “parting thoughts” after having an opportunity to hear the guys so deftly discuss their opinions on measuring social media influence. So here are mine …

1. Measuring Social Media “Influence” is Necessary

The reality is, while companies (and even individuals) would love to have an opportunity to engage with every voice that reaches out to them via social media, that kind of engagement isn’t necessarily scalable or realistic, and even if it was, there would still be a need to prioritize the order in which a company reaches out to people.

While that doesn’t mean, to Jason’s point, that anyone should be ignored because their Twitalyzer scores aren’t high enough, some kind of measure of where to start is realistically necessary, especially for companies with a large number of social interactions.

2. Social Media Influence Measurement Isn’t Perfect

I feel like part of where we get hung up is in thinking that if a measure isn’t perfect, it’s not useful. I agree with the guys that a measure of “influence” should be considered in context of other data, and I also agree that it’s probably more realistic to call it “potential influence.” After all, you never know whether someone who is considered to have social media influence is actually going to influence behavior of fans/followers/friends.

As we love to say in the analytics industry – you can’t manage what you don’t measure. However, the unfortunate reality is that you can’t measure everything that you would like to manage. (And our attempts to do so often end with “KPI” Dashboards that show fifty metrics instead of the one thing that executives want, because that measure isn’t truly possible at this stage.)

How could we measure true influence? Maybe: Person A engages with Person B, or shares a positive experience with everyone. Person B then goes, “Huh – I hadn’t thought of going to Restaurant X for dinner” and heads on over. Well, sadly we don’t have that insight. (Yet, or maybe ever.)

So what do we have? We have measures that look at, in the example of Twitter, how many contacts someone has, how often their tweets are shared or responded to, as a proxy for influence. Does that mean that the person following will “monkey see monkey do?” No. Is the measure perfect? No. Is the measure useless? No. Understood for what it is, it can be helpful. Blown out of proportion, of course it’s not. However, I know one thing – digital measurement is a constantly evolving industry. We will get better at this. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t do something with our “first draft”.