Archives for February 2007

Web Analyst Interview: Julien Coquet

Here is the first of my interviews that I promised in my last post Interview With Web Analysts

What is your current position and the name of the company you work for?

I am currently employed as a Web Analytics Specialist/Consultant at OX2, in Brussels, Belgium.

How long have you been working in this field?

A little over 5 years now

Tell me about your work, education prior to making a switch.

I’m originally a foreign language major, but computers and Internet technologies in general have always been a passion of mine.

Why did you decide to switch to Web Analytics?

I’ve been an avid Internet user since the days of Compuserve and AOL, moving on to university networks, etc… Built my first website with emacs back in 1994 then moved on and followed web trends (no pun intended). Being very involved with the websites I built, both personal and corporate, I always felt very frustrated with early Web Analytics tools , or rather, the lack thereof. So I went ahead and developed my own tools, which remain functional even today 😉 So you can say I received my calling very early on 😉

After that, it’s not so much that I decided to switch to a career in Web analytics but I pursued one as a Web techie.

At some point in that career I had the chance to manage the Web Analytics program for the EMEA division of a large consumer electronics company.

After that contract expired, I went on manage other Web-related projects but strangely, call it professional deformation, I couldn’t help but approach new projects with a Web Analytics angle. Which made me pass as a black sheep. Who cares about that web counter thing anyway? It’s just for personal home pages, right?

How did you find your new job? How long did it take? Did you interview a lot?

I found my current job through a series of social network relations; using tools such as LinkedIn really helped.

On the bright side, there is a lot of demand for Web Analytics professionals in Europe and the circuit is almost… closed circuit 😉

OX2 and me were an ideal match from the start. I interviewed twice with them before I got the job.

I had also received offers from WA vendors and other large companies who wanted an in-house WA expert.

Total time of job search took under 6 months, including my leave from my previous employer.

What, if any, education or work experience helped you in your current job?

Speaking multiple languages helps, especially since the European market addresses up to 20 languages J

I like to think I’ve been around quite a bit and being exposed to multiple cultures helps me better understand and reconcile differents aspects of a project, especially in a multi-cultural context such as Europe.

Obviously, prior experience with Web Analytics tools made a huge difference and, as I mentioned, there is a very low supply of Web Analytics specialists in Europe…

What education is lacking, education or experience that would have helped?

I like to rely on common sense and intuition more than I rely on numbers. Having had formal statistics classes would have helped bring a more rational component to my line of thinking.

What are you responsibilities now? Describe your typical work day.

Having both a technical background and a good understanding of how a company works and does business, I like to think of myself as the ideal buffer/mediator between IT and Business.

This is most helpful in Web Analytics projects where everyone needs to understand the relevance of proper reports to their individual interests. If people see what’s in it for them, then my work is done! 😉

I do mostly consulting work now, running pre-sales pitches, product trainings and workshops. Lately a lot of my time has been devoted to market research and OX2 branding for France, which is going to be my new dedicated market.

Typical day starts with coffee, in massive quantities 😉 Then WA-related RSS feeds, our own blog stats, market research, searching for new prospects. And of course other projects I’m working on 😉

Work day starts at 9AM and ends around 7PM, give or take half an hour.

How do you make sure you are learning and growing in this field?

I keep myself informed (RSS, blogs, forums) as much as I can and stay open to new ideas, concepts… and rumors 😉

What web analytics/online-marketing books have you read and/or own?

  • Eric Peterson’s “WA Demystified” and “Hacks
  • The Eisenbergs’ Waiting for your cat to bark?
  • Currently reading : The Long Tail (Aurélie had a spare copy)

What were the major challenges you faced or are facing in this industry?

Market maturity when it comes to Web Analytics, especially in larger companies

Do you have blog? If yes, what kind of article do you write?

I co-author the WebAnalytics.be blog at http://webanalytics.wordpress.com with Aurélie Pols and René Dechamps.

I also have my own blog at http://juliencoquet.wordpress.com where I discuss my views on websites of interest, Web Analytics-related information, current events, cooking recipes 😉

What is your advice to aspiring web analysts?
Being proficient with one given WA tool is not the key to better understanding how your reports are being used.

Try to see the big picture first, then focus on details : that goes for everything from business requirements to implementation to reporting.

And finally, get people to realize they can (and should be) held accountable for their website’s results.

Interview with Web Analysts

I predicted in January that there will be a lot of jobs in Web Analytics field this year but not enough people to fill these jobs. I have also come across a lot of people who want to enter this field but had no idea where to start. In order to bridge this gap and provide information to all the aspiring web analysts, I decided to interview a few people who recently started their carrier in this field.

If you are somebody who just started your career in Web Analytics or are thinking about making a switch to Web Analytics then this series is definitely for you. I am sure; people who have been working in this field for a few years will also find it valuable.

My interviews series will start later this week, so stay tuned.

If you would like to interview please email me at batraonline (at) gmail.

Omniture Web Analytics Competition & BYU


Maybe this is old news to some of you but it is new to me. I came across BYU’s eBusiness Center site and found out that Omniture and BYU’s eBusiness center have teamed up to present a Web Analytics Competition.

I have seen several SEO competitions in past but this (to my knowledge) is the first Web Analytics Competition. A while ago there was a discussion on yahoo web analytics group regarding starting something like this. Maybe Omniture got this inspiration from that discussion or maybe that discussion started because somebody already knew about this competition. Whatever it was, I think this is a very smart move by Omniture. This is a win-win situation for Students, BYU, Omniture and the Web Analytics industry.

So what does it give each of those involved (directly or indirectly)?

  • Students: They get to learn about web analytics and maybe win prizes too. Even if they don’t win prizes it let’s them learn something for free and prepare themselves for the future jobs in Web Analytics and Online Marketing.
  • BYU: Brings their name as a pioneer in presenting first of it’s kind competition and also provides a new job field to its students.
  • Omniture: Omniture has several advantages
    • Helps them enhance their brand as an industry leader by organizing first of its kind competition.
    • Helps them find the right talent.
    • It is a great way to generate Brand Awareness and also let these students test out the tool. A lot these students will need to make investment in Web Analytics tools in near future, when they enter the corporate world. This competition will position Omniture as a tool choice since they would have already played with it.
    • Gets direct feedback from these students to improve their product offering?
    • Maybe get paid for the services from the client, whose website these students will be analyzing. Something similar was done last year by several companies who had MBA students work on real problems (It was in Business 2.0 a while ago, don’t remember which edition)

  • Web Analytics Industry: This competition will generates awareness about Web Analytics among students and help provide new talent for this industry.

I expect to see more web analytics vendors, service providers and schools presenting these kinds of competitions. What do you think?

FOX INTERACTIVE MEDIA ACQUIRES STRATEGIC DATA CORPORA

Fox Interactive Media (FIM), a division of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., has acquired interactive advertising-technology company Strategic Data Corp (SDC).
SDC’s system automatically optimizes the selection of creative for each impression to maximize profitability by combining sophisticated statistical and predictive algorithms, demographic and geographic segmentation, and performance tracking.
SDC’s technology will enable FIM to deliver highly-targeted graphical performance-based advertising on billions of Web pages viewed each day across its growing network. Fox Interactive Media, which includes MySpace, IGN, Direct2Drive, AmericanIdol.com, AskMen.com and more, is one of the most visited networks on the Internet with more than 135 million worldwide unique visitors each month and is the number one most viewed network in the U.S. with over 40 billion pages viewed each month.
SDC has specialized in developing display ad serving and yield-optimization technology that significantly increases the revenue for its clients. SDC’s clients include large ad networks and publishers.
Source: http://www.strategicdatacorp.com/

FIM also has a deal with Google to serve text ads. According to FIM, Google deal will continue and SDC acquisition is only for graphical ads.

Having campaign optimization capabilities within the company and the massive amount of data on the advertising they they will be able to built very effective and powerful ad network. As I predicted earlier this year, Optimization and Behavioral Targeting will be become very common and this deal is a step in theat direction, soon I expect to hear Behavioral Targeting related announcements from FIM.

Interactive Ad Bureau (IAB) Opens D.C. Office and a Lobbyist

Aiming to increase its sway over government, the Interactive Advertising Bureau has opened a Washington, D.C. office and hired its first in-house lobbyist, Mike Zaneis. Source: http://publications.mediapost.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Articles.san&s=55849&Nid=27638&p=420929

Prior to joining IAB, Zaneis served as executive director of technology and e-commerce at U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington.

Zaneis predicts the upcoming Congress will see a number of Internet topics debated on the Hill, including privacy concerns, spyware legislation, data security legislation, and net neutrality.

“Congress is starting to take a look at this and is trying to understand how the Internet really works. And since advertising is the engine that allows the Internet to go, we’re going to have to engage with them and do some education on what our members are doing,” said Zaneis. Source: http://clickz.com/showPage.html?page=3625053

Search for a Mertics to Compare Web Sites

Steve Rubel wrote:
“The page view is on life support. It fails to capture all of the myriad of ways consumers engage in online activities without ever leaving a web page. To get a feel for this, spend some time playing with Yourminis. So what will replace it and when will that happen? Let’s handicap the field.” On his blog What Will Replace the Almighty Page View and he thinks it willbe events or time spent.

Eric Peterson voiced his opinions on this subject on his blog
Worried about page views dying? Don’t be.

I however, have a different opinion than Steve and Eric. I think Unique Users make the most sense of all the different metrics that are discussed in these two articles. I also think that maybe we should not just rely on a single metrics such as page views, unique users, no. of events, sessions etc? Maybe it is time to find a new metrics combining some (or all) of these above metrics to compare web sites?

I am going to list my reasons why I think, time spent, event, pages views and session by themselves don’t make sense as measure to rank one site against another.

Time Spent on Site: I am not going to go into detail on this one, you can read my blog article that explains why I am not a big fan of “Time Spent on Site”.

Page Views:

Page views were not the right metrics to compare web properties to begin with. Why? Because they can be manipulated very easily. Say it t takes 2+ pages on site A to do anything compared to 1 page on site B, is site A really doing better than site B? Additionally you can split your content in as many pages as you want, there is no min standard page size, thus inflating page views.

Events: I think events will have the same issues as page views, plus everything in flash or AJAX interaction could be an event, where do you draw the line? What count’s as a valid event?

Session: I agree with Eric that this is a relatively stable metrics and agree with all the things he listed out for session. However, I don’t think sessions (alone) make sense as measure of measuring relative value of web properties.
I agree that Unique users have issues but those issues affect every web property, most likely in similar fashion. For example, if I delete my cookies, most likely I will delete for both myspace and yahoo.

Here is an example to make my point:
I go to myspace and read 2 pages in 1 min, wait 31 mins and then go back and read 2 more pages in 1 min. So here is what the web analytics reports will look like

2 sessions (visits)
1 unique users
4 page views
2 mins.

Now I go to yahoo spend 2 mins reading 4 pages in 1 session. Here is what the web analytics report will look like
1 session
1 unique users
4 page views
2 mins

What about the following scenario

Which property is number 1? Aren’t they both the same? If you use Session myspace appear to be number 1. But if you look at Unique Users and rest everything too, they both are equal.

What about the following scenario

I go to myspace site and read 2 pages in 1 min, wait 31 mins and then go back and read 2 more pages in 1 min then come back after 2 hours and read 2 more pages for 1 min. So here is what the web analytics report will look like

3 sessions
1 unique users
6 page views
3 mins.

Now I go to Yahoo spend 2 mins reading 4 pages in 1 session. My friend goes and reads 2 pages in 1 mins in one session. Here is what report will look like

2 sessions
2 unique users
6 page views
3 mins

Which property is number 1? Session will say myspace, even tough yahoo is getting more users?.

Will an advertiser be happy by showing same ad 10 times to one user in (more session but only 1 user) or they will be happier by showing the 5 times to 2 users (fewer sessions but more users)? So shouldn’t yahoo be number one in this scenario?

Let’s face it, it is about unique users. But other metrics do play a role in determining the value of a website

So do you agree that it is time to find a new metrics combining some (or all) of these above metrics? Comments/Thoughts?

Omniture Acquires Touch Clarity and WebTrends Announces Partner Integration

Yesterday Omniture announced that it will acquire Touch Clarity, a Behavioral Targeting Company. Within few minutes a WebTrends announced partner integrations with leading digital marketing vendors, including email marketing firms ExactTarget, Responsys and Silverpop; on-site behavioral targeting firms Kefta and Touch Clarity; and consumer opinion and customer voice firms ForeSee Results and OpinionLab.

This promoted me to write this article because this is exactly what I predicted.

You can read the fill press release at
Omniture Acquires Behavioral Targeting Company Touch Clarity
WebTrends Announces Marketing Lab Partners to Deliver More Measurable, Automated Relationship Marketing

Anybody who read my predictions for 2007 (http://webanalysis.blogspot.com/2007/01/my-predictions-for-2007.html) might have already seen this coming.

Here were my 3 predictions for 2007, and this acquisition proves all 3 of them true. My new comments are in Bold

1. Web Analytics won’t be standing alone – Marketers will want 360 degree view of the customers. Integration of various data sources and tools will be expected from web analytics and other supporting tool vendors. Omniture started the trend with Omniture Genesis, and this will continue, we will see more acquisitions and partnerships similar to Omnitures.

– Both the above press releases confirm that this prediction has come true. Customers are demanding this stronger integration. I wrote a follow-up on this same predictions last week, you can read it here http://webanalysis.blogspot.com/2007/02/follow-up-on-my-web-analytics.html

2. Web Analytics will be about taking actions – More and more marketers would like to take actions and not just report the findings. It just won’t be about what happened, it will be about taking action to drive sales, user satisfaction, lead generation etc. Incentives and bonuses will be tied to the online KPIs. Optimization and Behavioral Targeting will become a common term used by marketers.

– Omniture acquisition of Touch Clarity, a Behavioral Targeting company confirms this prediction has come true too. WebTrends announcing partner integration with Kefta (Optimization and Behavioral Targeting) and Touch Clarity (Behavioral Targeting) confirms that marketers are demanding Optimization and Behavioral Targeting. It is not just about reporting, it is about taking actions. In near future I am expecting to see a lot of case studies about what actions customers took and how it affected their bottom line.

3. Behavioral Targeting – Only few main behavioral network players will be left and some of the existing ones with poor networks will either go out of business or be sold. See my previous article on why size of network matter. Behavioral Targeting won’t exist in isolation. Web Analytics tool will have to support behavioral targeting and visa versa. Also, on-site behavioral targeting will become very common.

– Part of this prediction has come true. I have yet to see any consolidation in behavioral network players. But as the above two press releases confirm “On-Site Behavioral Targeting” is becoming common.

Web Analytics is maturing. Gone are the days when marketers were just satisfied by learning like
“Traffic went up”, “Traffic went down” etc. It is about deeper understanding of the visitors behavior (Web Analytics), segmenting them (Web Analytics and Behavioral Targeting), taking actions based on this deeper understanding e.g. targeting relevant content, products etc. (Email, Behavioral Targeting, Optimization).

So I am 2.5 on my 3 predictions. I have already declared 1 more prediction come true (http://webanalysis.blogspot.com/2007/02/follow-up-on-my-web-analytics_09.html). So for the year I am 3.5/5 so far and the year has just started. I feel good about my predictions.

Questions, Comments???

Targeting Cart Abandonment by Email

Today I read an article called Four Ways to Improve Marketing ROI Through E-mail by John Rizzi, CEO of e-dialog. This is a good article for those who are trying to determine how to collect email, learn from email marking and email effectively. In his last point he says “Use Behavioral Targeting” to convert abandoned carts. He suggests using incentives to bring customers back to complete the cart they had abandoned. This is a great idea but I want you to be aware of following two issues before you jump into it.

  1. Lack of Email Address: If you don’t have an upfront email collection process it is very likely that visitors (customers) will leave even before they give you their email address. If that’s the case then you won’t have any email to target (You can still deploy anonymous on-site behavioral targeting. Check out my article on behavioral targeting).
    If you decide to put email collection up front it might cause cart abandonment rate to go up. You have to provide a very good reason to your customers on why they should provide you email even before they started buying anything or checking out. Like any other change on the site, I suggest conducting A/B testing before you start collecting email addresses for all your customers. If the tests do not show desired result you might be better off with on-site anonymous behavioral targeting.
  2. Backfiring of incentives: Let’s assume you have the email address and are ready to send an email incentive. As you already know the word spreads very fast these days. Most of your customers (visitors) will find out about your offers which could ultimately result in two outcomes:
    1. If the incentive is not too enticing (such as free shipping) your customers (even regular customers) might find out about it and start abandoning the cart in anticipation of receiving that offer or they might just use the coupon or offer code given to them by somebody on the internet.
    2. If the incentive is too good (such as $10 free for any purchase over $5.00, not sure why would you do that but I have seen companies giving free money just to get users to signup), the word will spread sending new customers to your site. So be prepared to handle the amount of traffic this viral marketing will generate and a possible bankruptcy.
      Appendix A shows what happened to Starbuck when they sent out an e-coupon to limited number of employees (or that’s what Starbucks thought).

So should you provide incentives to bring back customers who have abandoned carts? Yes I think so but think about all the pros and cons before you jump into it. Below are some of the steps that you should include into your process for using email incentives

  1. Select a sample (say 20%) of visitors, who abandoned the shopping cart, who will receive any offer (I am assuming you have already created and tested a process for upfront email collection).
  2. Test different offers within this selected group. Testing will show you which offer works and which ones don’t.
  3. You can use more behavioral data (and I encourage you to do so) to determine what offer will make sense to which visitor segments (create few manageable segments so that you can stay focused). E.g. A customer who abandoned at shipping step might be more interested in free shipping than a user who added products to the cart but then left without clicking on the final checkout button (provided the customer has given you the email address), a 10% off coupon might be a better offer for this customer.
  4. Unless you purposely want to engage in viral marketing, make sure coupons and codes can only be used by those for whom they were intended for and for specific period only. Also don’t forget to configure your web analytics tools properly so that you can measure effectiveness of these offers.

Note: If you provide users the same kind of incentives 2-3 times to a customer then he/she (most of them) expects it every time.

Appendix A: Starbucks Lawsuit
“Starbucks e-mailed the grande iced beverage freebie to a limited number of employees in the Southeast on Aug. 23, with instructions to pass it on to friends and family.
The forwarding turned into a frenzy as the coupon landed in thousands of inboxes and on Internet message boards – forcing the chain to reject scores of coupon-touting java lovers pouring into stores for the perk.” Source: ocregister.com