Conference time!

It seems that Feb-Mar was a busy #measure conference “season”, and another is upon us! As harrying as it is to try to keep travel schedules straight, I must admit I’m really excited to attend and be involved in these  upcoming events.



Keystone Solutions Speaker Series
“Providing Relevant Experiences without Stalking”
September 26, 2011
Austin, TX

This one day event looks to be a blast. Not only it is hosted by the lovely Keystone Solutions boys and girls, but there are some great speakers lined up: Evan LaPointe, Emer Kirrane, John Lovett, Nicholas Einstein (as Evan puts it, “C’mon, the dude’s name is Einstein!”) and Lee Isensee. I’ll join John, Nicholas and Lee for the panel (I’m not worthy! I’m not worthy!) and am really looking forward to it. It’s a low-cost event, so sign up now!

eMetrics NYC 2011

(“Analytics Career Development” panel)
October 21, 2011
New York City

This panel brings together folks from the small client, larger client and agency/consultancy perspective to talk about career development in analytics. What does a typical career path look like? What should you do to grow and develop, and find your next great opportunity? This session is all about YOU and your future!



Accelerate 2011
November 18, 2011
San Francisco

Web Analytics Demystified‘s one-day FREE (yes, FREE!) event in San Francisco sold out within one day! But don’t worry, wait list places are still available, so go sign up! Some amazing speakers have been announced already, and there’s an opportunity to present in the “Ten Tips in Twenty Minutes” segment and win a $500 Best Buy giftcard! (Now, hmmmm. What shall I fill five minutes with?)

What are you waiting for? Education is just a step away!


Business Analysis and Technical/Implementation skills

There has been some discussion of “Analytics” vs/accompanied by “Implementor” skills in the web analytics industry of late. Given I am far from an expert myself, I’ve enlisted the POV of some clever folks to through in their 5 cents about the need for, or benefits of, implementation and technical skills for web analysts.

Thomas Bosilevac: I love it all
Mashable Metrics
@Bosilytics on Twitter

To paraphrase the Cluetrain manifesto:  “I am not a developer, or a programmer or a code monkey.  I am an analyst.”  That said I am a hell of a Geeky analyst, one that isn’t afraid of digging into some JS code, scraping page variables and utilizing server-side scripting.  However I would be quite depressed if that is all I did.  That said, the wonderful world of web analytics applies both to my left and right brain creating the dream correlation.

Web analytics tagging (ie. Implementation) is a fine art between assuring that data is passed to the reporting platform effectively but in a manner that will not shoot you in the foot later.  I have worked with some of the most talented developers out there, however, explaining that the event tag needs to only fire off on the INITIAL hit seems to pass clear over their heads.  The impact and significance of the matter might as well be the final Space Shuttle already in orbit.  Making a page work well is much different than assuring data is collected well.

For that reason I love my trade.  I get to discuss process management, KPI development and marketing scenarios with top brass at Fortune 100 companies during the day and staying up late assuring the landing page is using the correct eVars or doing server-side scripting to push initial cookie values out of a hit stream.  It is with this duality that each day is different and usually more interesting than the one before it.

Jenn Kunz: Know enough to work with each other
@Jenn_Kunz on Twitter

I do believe, like I suspect most people do, that ideally any analyst will have a good understanding of implementation and any implementer will have a good understanding of analysis. Do I expect an analyst to know the code? No. But a good analyst will know how cookies work and how they affect the data; what the difference is between the different types of variables and how to use them; what kind of configuration settings are available and when to change them. Since they are the ones IN the data, once they have an understanding of how things are set up, they are the most likely to come up with the kind of questions that make an implementation evolve into something better.

As for implementors- you can easily find implementers who have never done analysis. And it’s a shame, but that’s all the industry often expects of them: take a list of business requirements, turn it into a solution, see the code deployed, then wash your hands of it. But what the world needs is some sort of “uber-implementor”: a “tech guy” (or gal as the case may be)  who can tell you the best practices as well as technology limitations as you map out requirements, and who is involved beyond just the deployment of the code, all the way until after the end-users have done their first deep-dives in the reports. No one is going to know how to use those reports better than the person who created them.

Bryan Cristina:  The knowledge will benefit you
@BigBryC on Twitter

I tend to avoid absolutes such as “need” when referring to someone’s skills. I think everyone is different and has their own strengths and weaknesses, so saying someone needs to have implementation skills to be hired might mean you miss out on an excel wizard or just an overall brilliant analyst.

I think Web Analytics involves a full process that begins with measurement planning and moves on to a tagging strategy, an implementation, report building/configuration of the analytics tool, to data gathering, then analysis, onto reporting, presentation, and finally helping facilitate a discussion on recommendations or changes that need to happen.

Implementation is just a part of the analytics process, but it still is an important, crucial part of the overall whole that I think someone would benefit from knowing. At times there are issues with data or a conclusion that doesn’t make sense other than realizing there is an implementation issue (or pick any point along the process). Are you willing to do a lot of unnecessary investigation with just the data you have, wasting precious time, and then finally having to ask someone that knows more than you about how the tags are implemented and how the data is being captured? Or would it be better to be able to identify the issue yourself, know how to fix it, and get it moving towards a resolution immediately? The more you know about the overall process, the more you’ll know where the issues can be, how to fix them, and can ultimately spend more time doing the right kind of analysis.

Michele Hinojosa:  Focus on your strengths
@michelehinojosa on Twitter

I won’t deceive anyone. My experience and skills rest far more on the “business analytics” side than on the “technical” side. Would I love to have the mad tech and implementation skills that some folks have? Sure. Do I fare okay without it? Most of the time.

I do agree with Tim Wilson about Analyst/Implementor skills being more of a spectrum. And yes, having skills that span both can be very valuable. (It’s safe to say that the more skills you can have in your back pocket, the better.) However, that doesn’t mean that if you are more “business analyst” or more “implementor” (aka focus more on one than the other) that you can’t have a successful career.

If you do tend to skew more to one side or the other, you likely will have good opportunities in a company with a larger analytics team, where you’re able to focus on your strengths. Someone who falls more in the middle, with a balance of both skill sets, might suit a “jack of all trades” role, where both skill sets are needed in the one resource.

As our field grows, and teams get bigger, I think we’ll see more specialisation – people focused on more specific skills. (After all, doctors aren’t surgeons and anesthetists and cardiologists and general practitioners. They specialise, but they do all have the same basic knowledge at the core.) My overall advice would be to do what you’re interested in. Doing what interests you means you’re more likely to excel at it, and add value to your company. If you love the business side, focus there. If you’re a code geek, focus on the technical side. That doesn’t let you off the hook entirely – you should still be learning what you can. You’ll want to know enough to work with your implementation or business-focused folks, understand what they’re doing and make the (informed) decisions they need from you. But ultimately, your time is well spent honing your strengths.

Lee Isensee: Titles don’t matter – the team is responsible together for success
@OMLee on Twitter

Having first started my career as an early practitioner, there really wasn’t the idea of implementation and it wasn’t until a couple years later that I understood why – I was consuming what I had in front of me and thought that it was the sky. Woah, information!

Since moving from a practitioner into the vendor realm I have changed my opinion substantially and believe that the solution is not as black and white as “analyst” or “implementer” but rather a unique combination of skills to meet the business requirements, technical requirements and on-going strategy of the customer.

Not once have I ever been in a situation, that resulted in true success, where the “implementer” did not have some level of engagement in the needs of the “analyst” and never have I seen the “analyst” truly believe that the “implementer” was not, at some level, invested in helping them get stuff done.

By creating isolated roles you are setting up your team for lots of finger pointing. Ultimately, your success will not be defined by who to staff on your team, but rather the building-out of your initial strategy, business requirements, technical requirements and phased expectations. It doesn’t matter what the titles, roles, experience, etc. are, rather it is the responsibility of the entire group to take ownership.

Whose responsibility is online privacy?

Kissmetrics and a variety of its clients have been center stage in the news lately for tracking unique visitor behaviour, despite a user clearing their cookies. Shortly after the story broke, a number of high profile clients removed Kissmetrics tracking, arguably “throwing them under the bus” in the process. Now, Kissmetrics and more than twenty of its customers are facing a class action lawsuit, claiming the tracking violates privacy laws. However, there was  a similar lawsuit in 2009 over the use of “zombie cookies”, with some of the same businesses named as defendants.

This got me thinking, and into a rather lengthy debate/rant/conversation with fellow industry member Lee Isensee, which helped to shape (and refine somewhat!) a few thoughts around the responsibilities of the organisation tracking vs. the vendor providing tracking capabilities. While I find myself defensive of vendors and organisations that are being respectful of customers privacy, in line with the WAA Code of Ethics, the real question is:

Whose responsibility is it to protect consumer privacy – the business using the tracking, or the vendor providing a solution or product?

I can’t help but think – if you, as a company:

  • Choose a method of tracking that (many argue) violates users’ privacy and wishes
  • Don’t disclose the level of detail being collected, or how it will be used
  • Face legal action as a result of that tracking, and settle by agreeing not to use that technology again
  • Later, face accusations of similar tracking (similarly intentioned, though the mechanics perhaps differ)
  • But sever ties with the vendor, essentially blaming them, while claiming your company takes user privacy seriously

What conclusion is there to draw from that? Does it suggest that you, as a business, want to do that kind of tracking, and seek out vendors who provide those capabilities? (It’s a little hard to argue the “but we didn’t know” defense if you’ve faced legal action for this type of thing before.)

If that’s the case (and I understand this is a little difficult in the current climate) why not stand by this kind of tracking, disclose the approach and method, and explain the consumer benefits of it? Why claim to be privacy conscious and blame the vendor when your company has a major privacy backlash. You’ve previously chosen to engage in this kind of tracking (and faced the repercussions!) before? What leads you to do so again?

So if a business is inclined to this kind of tracking, what is the responsibility of the vendor providing it? Do they own a customer’s implentation (post initial engagement) or chosen use of the data? Do they owe a duty to the customers of their clients? What legal duty do they owe? Do they owe a duty to allow opt-out? Or is that in the hands of the company doing the tracking? What ethical duty do we impose? (And how far does that go? To the vendors that support the vendor? Ah, forget it. I’m hearing an Adam Carolla “slippery slope” rant starting as it is.)

I’d argue there’s one level of responsibility, that falls squarely to the company itself. A business decides what kind of tracking to do, and which vendors to use. They owe a duty to their customers. If a vendor is found to use “unsavoury” practices, actively recommending those practices in collusion with the business and disregards industry accepted practices, isn’t it the responsibility of the business to have thoroughly evaluated the vendor?

Something along the lines of: we don’t sue gun companies for homicides. The analytics vendor sells the gun, the implementation is the bullet, the business is the person holding the gun … who ultimately made the choice to shoot the customer?¹

Am I way off base? Where do you think this responsibility lies?


¹  I can’t take the credit for all of this. Thanks Lee for boiling it down to a simple analogy.

Choosing the right conference

It’s no secret that I’m a conference junkie. I love all aspects of them: Learning new things, and being inspired by what others are achieving. Networking with smart people and getting to discuss our successes and challenges. (Aka “talking geek”. Love, love, LOVE!) Getting to reunite with people who, I feel, are now becoming good friends. Coming home re-energised, and ready to do more great things. (And getting to travel somewhere new is just an added benefit, even if I inevitably don’t see much besides the conference venue!

Given I do enjoy attending conferences, people have asked me what I would recommend to analysts at different stages of their careers.

So, for what it’s worth, here is my little 1.5 cents.

If you’re brand new to digital measurement … I would encourage a focus on training, rather than conferences. At this stage of your career, you want to figure out which buttons to push to get to the data you want. Yes, you definitely need to keep in mind the bigger picture, but first and foremost, you need to know how to dive on in. If you’re looking to get into the field, try Google Analytics training. If you’re employed and use an enterprise solution, see if your employer will help you attend your vendor’s training, whether it be  Omniture, Coremetrics or Webtrends.

If you’ve already gotten your feet wet … Once you know how to navigate the solution you use, you have two options. One is to seek out further training in another (relevant) toolset. For example, if you’re an Omniture user, you might want to learn Test & Target. Alternatively (or better yet, in addition!) you may want to attend your vendor’s own conference (for example, Omniture Summit or Webtrends Engage.) You’ll take away tips, tricks and new ideas for how to best use the solution you already have.

If you’ve been around for some time … Expand your horizons by attending a more general analytics conference. eMetrics can be a great one for web analytics professionals. When you attend a conference like eMetrics, you’ll have an opportunity to hear from, and network with, other practitioners who may use different toolsets. This gives you an opportunity to hear, think about and discuss analytics more generally, rather than buried in the minutia of Solution X does this in THIS way.

If you’ve been there and done that … Attend an event where analytics is merely a small piece of the conference opportunity. (For example, I was fortunate enough to attend part of Internet Retailer this year, which has a much broader focus than just web analytics.) Sure, you need to make sure that it has enough value for you to justify your attendance. But the truth is, analysts can get somewhat myopic, and forget that many business folks don’t care about the details of analytics as we do. Truly taking a step back, and seeing analytics as a part of the bigger picture of the business, can be incredibly helpful, and allow you to take that same step back in your day to day life.

Apart from that, here are a few of my other, more general conference tips.

1.  Actually experience it. I know we are all swamped, all the time. But traveling to an event, paying an (often) hefty sum to attend, only to sit there on your laptop working doesn’t benefit anyone. Plan your attendance around busy times, but once you’re there, try to use the time to learn.

2. Talk to people. The network you build can not only make conferences more enjoyable, but  also helps you develop a group of people you can reach out to as needed. The web analytics community is a wonderful group, and most don’t bite!

3. Think in advance about what you want to get from the experience. Is there a new challenge you’re struggling with? Look for sessions that will help you tackle it. Planning, at least roughly, what sessions you want to attend can help you ensure that you don’t later regret ones you missed.

4. Share your knowledge. Take notes, or capture your tweets, and bring them back to share with others in your organisation. It’s a great way to make sure a budget travels further.

We work in an ever-changing field, and keeping your sense of curiosity and desire to learn is crucial to your success. So go out there and enjoy the process!

Getting into Twitter for Digital Analytics

[Originally published by IQ Workforce]

Perhaps you’ve been working in digital measurement for a few years, or maybe you’re new. You keep hearing about Twitter and wondering whether you should jump on the bandwagon. Well, you’ve come to the right place.

Why should I join Twitter?

  1. To learn: Step outside the sandbox of your own company, your own analytics solution, and your own challenges. Your eyes will be opened and you’ll start thinking about the bigger picture, and bring your what you learn back to your organisation.
  2. To engage with others: It’s a fantastic opportunity to meet and build relationships with others in the industry. You can debate, discuss challenges, throw ideas around and form connections that may benefit you in the future.
  3. Get help and help others: The web analytics community on Twitter is an amazingly generous group of people. Take @usujason or @VABeachKevin, who respond to fellow analysts’ Omniture questions on a daily basis. Oh – did I mention neither of them even work for Omniture?! Having a problem with Google Analytics? Throw it out. Others may have tackled this already and can give great advice.

So how do you get started?

  1. Create a Twitter account. You can sign up at
  2. Advice for choosing a username:
    • Twitter can be a great opportunity to create your “personal brand.” Using your name, or something close to it, is a good idea. Using your name also helps when it comes time to meet people in person, as they’ll recognize your name from your twitter username.
    • Try to keep your username separate from your current place of employment. (E.g. @TomSmith instead of @TomAtCompanyX.) If you change companies in the future, it’s easier to not have to change your Twitter username. (Obviously though, if you are using Twitter on behalf of your company, this will be different.)
    • Keep it short. Tweets are limited to 140 characters, so the longer your username, the harder it is for people to retweet you. (I can’t really throw stones here, as my username is pretty long, but at least try to keep it on the shorter side.)
  1. Set your Twitter photo (because being a Twitter new user “egg” is totally uncool.) Try to pick one that will help others identify you, should they meet you in person. That means no blurry artsy photos, or pictures taken from a mile away. It can be helpful to keep a consistent photo across networks (e.g. Twitter and Linked In) and try not to change it too often. Remember, Twitter isn’t Facebook – people don’t know you personally, so changing your photo often will often mean they suddenly don’t recognize you.
  2. Create a bio: This will tell people a little about you so they can decide whether to follow you – so make it informative.

Now for some Twitter basics:

  • Retweet: Reposting another user’s tweet, either as-is or with your own comments, indicated by using “RT” or “via.” For example, a retweet with comment might look like this: “Great article! RT @useryouareretweeting: I like this article:”  Keep in mind that while a retweet isn’t technically an endorsement, but it can be construed as one, so add your commentary if you are retweeting something you don’t necessarily agree with.
  • Mention: A mention involves you referencing another Twitter user. Mentions can go back and forth as you have a conversation with someone on Twitter.
  • Hashtag: Twitter users will preface a term with a # symbol to allow easy searching for tweets on the same topic. For example, “@user: I love #knitting”

Next, you’ll want to find people to follow.

A good place to start is by finding the main hashtag used by a community. For web analytics, this is the #measure hashtag. Start reading the #measure hashtag, and follow users whose content you find interesting.

You may also want to look at the hashtags for vendors you use. #Omniture (or #OMTR) is a popular one for Adobe Omniture users, but you can also check out #webtrends, #coremetrics, etc. In fact, following the vendors themselves can often be a good place to get started – most typically have a corporate Twitter account and post industry news.

Do I have to follow someone if they follow me?

No! Twitter is not reciprocal like Facebook. Just because you follow someone doesn’t mean they have to follow you, and vice versa. This makes it easy – follow someone if you want to read what they have to say. Don’t follow them if you don’t. It’s really that simple.

Keep in mind, one of the benefits of a mutual follow is that you can send each other Direct Messages (DMs.) These are 140 character messages that are “private” between you and the person sending it. However, while these messages don’t show up in a Twitter stream, applications can access DMs, so to be safe, don’t include anything truly private in them.

Start posting

There are lots of Twitter users who just lurk (read but don’t post) but to get the most out of it, start posting. Throw in your viewpoint into a discussion (if they’re happening on Twitter, they’re not private, and no one will complain that you’re butting in!) or post links to interesting content you think others would enjoy.

You can also ask questions. You would be surprised who participates in the #measure discussion and is willing to take the time to answer. You can ask questions about the analytics tool you’re using (e.g. “How do I do XYZ in #Omniture?”) or even just a general “Has anyone seen any research on XYZ?” The #measure community is an amazingly generous community who really do help each other, so start asking – and answering others.

From to Clients to Apps

You can choose to use Twitter via the main site. However, many choose to use a Twitter client such as HootSuite or Tweetdeck to allow them to customize their layout. For example, you may want to be able to view your home feed (the tweets of everyone you follow) plus a list, plus a search, all side by side. Check out some of the different Twitter clients and see what strikes your fancy. You may even bounce back and forth between different clients.

There are also great apps for your smartphone or tablet. On the iPad or iPhone, my favorite is Echofon, but there is also the official Twitter app, HootSuite or Tweetdeck. On Android, I primarily use TweetCaster, but you have HootSuite, TweetDeck and many other options too. Play around with a few to see which works best for you. Most have a free version with ads. Once you find one you like, you can pay a few bucks for the premium version for ad-free tweeting.

Create lists

Once you start following users, you may choose to start creating Twitter lists. A list is a group of Twitter users that you group together. That way, you can read just content from your list, rather than from everyone you are following. For example, maybe you would have a “Web Analytics” list vs. “Social Media” vs “Email Marketing.”

I have a list called “Favs” – I follow a lot of people, but these are my “core people”, so if I’m busy and don’t have a chance to read what everyone I’m following is posting, at least I will keep up with my must-read folks. Feel free to check it out:!/michelehinojosa/favs

“But I don’t have time!”

We’re all busy, and in the case of web analysts, normally overloaded. After all, it’s hard to hire good people so most companies are strapped for resources.

My advice if you’re “too busy”:

  1. Start small. Just follow 5-20 key people. It’s not hard to keep up with a small number.
  2. Check in regularly, for short periods of time, to break it up. It’s easier to find five minutes at a few times than an hour block of time.
  3. Mark posted articles to read later, when you have more time.
  4. Use Twitter to actually help you do your job. If you’re struggling with something, seek out help from the community. (Make sure you are abiding by your company’s social media and non-disclosure policies, of course.)
  5. Smartphones can help, by turning time you’d be wasting in a doctor’s office or waiting for a friend into valuable catch-up-on-Twitter time.

So what are you waiting for?


Analyzing the Impact of the Digital Fold

[Originally published on the ClickTale blog]

In the traditional world, we talk about the importance of being “above the fold”: appearing in the top half of the front page of a newspaper. However, on the web the picture is a little murkier. Website visitors will use different screen resolutions, browsers, window sizes and toolbars, essentially leading to a different “fold” line for every user.

Add in the proliferation of devices (desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone) and the challenges are further compounded. So is there even the same impact of content being above or below the fold for online users as there is in the traditional world? Might this impact vary by user, by site, or by page?

Staying Above or Scrolling Below the Fold?

On pages such as a home page, the location of content above or below the fold may have a greater impact. After all, when a visitor arrives to a site, they need to figure out what content or products to dive deeper into. In this case, products or content areas highlighted in the top area of the page may receive higher engagement, simply due to the higher number of “eyeballs” on it during an evaluation phase.

However, the same may not hold true for deeper pages within the site, or for all-in-one landing pages. On a product detail page, where reviewing the content on the page may be crucial for making a decision to proceed to the next step, the click-through rate for a call to action at the bottom of the page could potentially be higher than a call to action at the top of the page.

Impact of Your Calls to Action

The impact of the fold may also depend on the call to action that you are measuring. For example, the ad click through rate may be affected differently by placement above or below the fold than lead submission or an Add To Cart call to action.

How To Analyze Actual Behavior

Design can play a huge role. In some cases, site design may make it clear to the user that there is content below the fold, and encourage content consumption lower on the page.

We can’t just assume the fold affects our site, or that it affects all pages in the same way. We’ll want to start by analyzing actual behavior.

1. Examine your site’s pages (or types of pages) separately. The behavior on your home page may not be the same as your landing pages or product pages. Start with your most important pages and go from there.

2. Use a traditional web analytics tool to give you an idea of the device and screen or browser size your visitors typically use, to start to understand where they see the fold on their machine. However, as you analyze, keep in mind there is no true fold – it is different for every user based on their settings.

To make the data feel more real, change your own computer settings to match your typical visitor, and encourage your creative or design team to do the same. Browse your site using these settings and you’ll get a better idea of what different visitors see and where on their screen it is located.

3. Ensure you are tracking individual calls to action on your pages in enough detail so you can understand (for example) above vs. below the fold performance. While many web analytics solutions will allow you to see if visitors moved on to the next step, if you have two calls to action on the page that link to the same next step, one above the fold and one below, you’ll want to be sure your analytics tool allows you track them separately.

4. Use an In-page analytics tool to understand interaction within your pages. While understanding click-through rate of your calls to action above and below the fold can help, that doesn’t necessarily tell you how many users actually saw the call to action.

5. Take time to segment this information. A good place to start would be the by the different screen and browser resolutions you have already examined. Try bucketing different settings, to analyze a group of visitors.

However, another consideration may be landing page. A visitor who has just landed on the page you are analyzing may be less apt to engage with content below the fold than one who has pathed to the page looking for specific content or products, and is looking to dive into detail about these.

Users looking at different products may also show different behavior. For example, a $5.99 purchase may require less engagement with product details and result in less below the fold engagement than a product that is $599.

6. Start testing. Once you have insights from these sources, you can begin to test the impact of changing them. What if you remove some of the content and make the product detail page shorter? Or move your call to action above or below the fold, or test having one above and one below? What about the left vs. right hand side of the page?

Conducting A/B or Multivariate tests of your layout, and tracking the behavior of these separately, can give you much more insight than pure analysis, because you can see the impact of actually changing things.

Overcoming the Complexity of the Digital Fold

There is definitely a complexity to be managed in analyzing the digital “fold”, but there are also great solutions out there to help us better understand user behavior within the page, and to optimize it for a better user experience and business results.


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:

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:
  • 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:

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”.