Archives for September 2007

XChange, Web Analytics 3.0 and Behavioral Targeting

I am back from from XChange, a conference organized by Semphoic in Napa last Thursday and Friday. The Conference consisted of many small discussion groups (“Huddles”) hosted by facilitator experts in specific topic areas. I felt that this was a great way to have all the attendees participate in the conversation. In most of the conferences it is usually one way communication (speaker to audience), even though there is an opportunity to ask questions still only few participants are involved, but these types of huddles provided a way for every participant to talk about their experiences and voice their opinions.

I lead the huddles on Behavioral Targeting and Practical Approach to Online Campaign Measurement.
Eric Peterson of Web Analytics Demystified was the keynote speaker. As always Eric is fun and informative to listen to. In his keynote he talked about how we are fast moving (already are) in Web Analytics 2.0 era and introduced the concept of Web Analytics 3.0, mobile analytics (see side note). Attached is the pdf of his Keynote presentation.

It was a great event and I congratulate Gary, Grace and other members of Semphonic team for arranging such a great event. I look forward to the next year’s event.


Gary Angel and I at XChange

Picture courtesy Eric Peterson


In case you could not make it to XChange and missed my great huddle on “Behavioral Targeting”, you have another opportunity to listen my views on Behavioral Targeting at eMetrics in Washinton D.C. eMetrics is another great conference that brings the participants from all around the world. Last eMetrics in San Francisco was the largest to date, the one is D.C. is expected to bring even more attendees.

Side Note: Eric and I later discussed how I did some early mobile analytics work for one of my clients, a leading mobile services provider, while I was a digiMine (now Revenue Science). At that time we were still trying to figure out the whole mobile analysis. Our solution was a hack; we used wap gateway logs and converted them into web logs format. Phone number was used in place of a cookie. It was not the best solution but given what we had it was great and helped us analyze and meet our business goals. Now the technology is changing and I am sure web analytics tools will become sophisticated enough to cater to the measurement, analysis and optimization needs. I even put together a presentation on how Behavioral Targeting can be deployed combining the web and mobile data; however, this never reached anywhere (long story) but I know it was coming. Revenue Science just announced Mobile BT, more on this later (Disclaimer: The presentation I put together has nothing to do with Revenue Sciences new Mobile BT offering, like I said my presentation never reached anywhere except one person).

Interview with Stephane Hamel

Continuing my series of interviews with Web Analyst, here is an interview with Stephane Hamel.

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

I’m a senior ebusiness advisor for Desjardins General Insurance, which is part of the largest financial institution in the province of Quebec, Canada (desjardins.com). My role is to serve as a “liaison agent” between the business teams and IT (and vice versa). As such, I get involved in the strategy and early stages of ebusiness projects, provide ebusiness as well as IT guidelines and orientations, then supervise the development at a high level and maintain the global vision of the ebusiness ecosystem. Although unofficial, I feel I play a “change agent” and evangelist role, bringing new ideas and communicating them to all stakeholders. My passion for web analytics is a direct link with my responsibilities of analyzing, recommending, communicating & educating about the relationships between the business, the technology, and the web.

How long have you been working in web analytics field?

I really became passionate about web analytics 4 years ago and tried to convince my employer of the time, an interactive agency, that we should invest in web analytics. We became reseller of HBX and I worked with clients that had Coremetrics, Omniture, WebTrends and other solutions. Even before that, I had used WebTrends and LiveStats for several years, but more from an IT perspective.

Tell me about your work, education prior to making a switch to Web Analytics?

I started my career in IT over 20 years ago, a college degree in hand, as a programmer, Unix system administrator and Oracle DBA. In the early ’90, I was lucky enough to work on a research project where we had access to the Internet, and when the first version of Mosaic came out I delved right into it. I quickly switched to become a webmaster for a subsidiary of Microsoft in Montreal (softimage.com), and eventually became ebusiness architect and overlook a very successful B2B project and the major redesign of a dozen web sites ( brp.com).

How did you become interested in Web Analytics?

In my role as the “e” in “ebusiness”, I had lots of discussions with business stakeholders. One day I met a particularly arrogant marketing manager who told me something like “You can’t understand marketing because you are an IT person”. As you can imagine, that shocked me (and more!) because I knew that a good IT person HAS to understand the business of his customers/clients to serve them. I had already worked for the Montreal Stock Exchange where I learned about trading, I worked in a high-end 3D animation company where I learned about the modeling and special effects business, etc. From that day, I decided I would shift my career from a pure IT perspective to focus more on the business side. Without denying my IT background, I’m in a position where I can leverage it and be much more conscious about the ways IT can be leveraged to achieve business objectives. Since then I enrolled in an MBA program where I’ve been listed twice on the honor roll as one of the top 20 students and I have shifted my career toward a more strategic role.

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

About two years ago I became uncomfortable with the business culture where I worked and was planning on going freelance in web analytics. Then I got in contact with a consultant who was helping my current employer with their ebusiness strategy. Desjardins received numerous awards as a “best of class” employer (and it’s true!) and I was really impressed with their business culture, the fact they had a clear strategic vision of where they wanted to be and the money to do it! After a couple interviews they decided to create this new role of ebusiness advisor and I joined.

What are you responsibilities? Describe your typical work day.

Web analytics is a fraction of my responsibilities and we’re lucky to have a whole team dedicated to it. With regards to web analytics, my role is really one facilitator, educating and guiding; from helping define KPI to configuring the WA solution to mentoring the IT person who does tagging. My involvement in the web analytics community helps me increase my expertise and share it with others; it becomes an upward spiral that helps increase experience and build credibility.

What are the skills that you think are important for a web analyst?

We’ve seen a lot of discussion about this on various blogs. To me, the Web needs three ingredients: clear business objectives, a communication strategy and the technology to support them. The best web analyst would be savvy and top of the line in all three… which is probably impossible to find. But everyone can rate himself on a virtual scale and see where they stand and where they want to be.

What, if any, education or work experience helped you in making this transition.

I recently finished reading “Founders at work”, which made me realize our career path is often a question of attitude and a bit of chance that has its roots in the choices we made in our very early jobs (and even our education choices). For me it was pure IT, Web, and expanding horizons into the business side of things.

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

I would have enlisted in the UBC “Award of achievement in Web Analytics” had it been available a couple of years ago (and I’m not saying that just because I will be tutoring the UBC’s “Introduction to web analytics”!). Education is now available, and there are numerous books and blogs to help increase or knowledge. The experience part is a bit trickier, but my view is summed up in a post entitled “Should you switch job?” where I give 3 simple questions to ask yourself: 1) Am I increasing my value in the market? 2) Am I bringing the right value to my employer? 3) Am I being rightly compensated for my value?

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

Would be too long to list here! I’ve been using BookJetty to keep track of those.

What are the major challenges you are facing in this industry?

Scarce resources is an issue everywhere. At the same time, being involved in the local web analytics community makes me realize there is a whole lot of companies that have yet to embrace (web) analytics as a strategic tool to help make better business decisions.

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

Networking, being involved! Web analytics is a bit like the early days of the Web: everyone is willing to help each other, there are so many innovations and opportunities that it’s up to us to decide what we want to do next.

Tell me about your blog.

I started http://immeria.net/ in 2002 on a totally different subject, but really shifted to post more often about web analytics, web strategies and career about 2 years ago.

What is your advice to aspiring web analysts?

“Perseverance”: trust yourself and decide what YOU want to do. The web analytics field is in its infancy and all types of people can have the right “stuff” to be involved. Sometimes in might be just doing one small thing everyday toward your goal, other times it might to have the guts to take hard decisions to put yourself in a better position to achieve your long term objective.

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Behavioral Targeting better than Contextual Advertising

Finally a new study is out showing the value of Behavioral Targeting. AOL and Revenue Science commissioned
JupiterResearch to conduct an independent unbiased study to find the effectiveness of Behavioral Targeting.

The results were based on 2035 respondents answering 25 questions.
Key Findings of this study

  1. Behavioral ads outperform contextual ads by up to 22% (I think it is the CTR that was compared).
  2. 66% of the online user acted as a result of viewing online ads).
  3. 14% more online consumers are more receptive to behaviorally targeted ads than to contextual ads. That is 63% of the total audience.
  4. 93% of the BT receptive audience shop online
  5. BT receptive audience
    • Spend more online
    • Shop online more often
    • Have higher income

  6. Online Shoppers (Frequent, Infrequent) and Non Shopper are all more receptive to BT ads as compared to Contextual Ads.
  7. At least 10% more purchase intenders across 14 categories noticed BT ads as compared to contextual ads. The categories used in this survey were financial services, Auto, Travel, Health Products, Consumer Electronics, Computing Products, Telecommunications, Entertainment, Classifieds, Pharmaceuticals, CPG, Fashion/Style, Education Services and Government Services

“We’re glad to see that the voice of the online consumer echoes our position that behavioral targeting is more effective — for advertisers, publishers, and for consumers –than contextual advertising,” said Marla R. Schimke, VP of marketing at Revenue Science, in a statement. “This study also reaffirms our belief that Internet users favor advertising relevant to them personally and that advertisers should employ behavioral targeting campaigns to maximize their return on investment.”
Source:Information Week

Convergence of Web Analytics and Behavioral Targeting

In January of this year I predicted (A lot of my posts start with this sentence):
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.

Behavioral Targeting – … 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.

So why did I make these predictions?

Well first look at what Behavioral Targeting is and how it relates to web analytics.

Behavioral Targeting is targeting visitors based on their past behavior (on site). Past behavior could range from the very first action a visitor took on the site (if they still have that same cookie) to the most recent action that a user took (in the latest session). (More detailed information is available at Behavioral Targeting)

All these actions are tracked via web analytics data. Web analytics provides the intelligence for behavioral targeting and web analytics is what measures behavioral targeting success. Behavioral Targeting cannot exist in isolation.

Web Analytics provides insight into visitors’ behavior. But insights are only as good as the actions that come out of them. Behavioral Targeting is one of the (better) ways to make those insights actionable. Marketer segment visitors based on the insights provides by a web analytics data and on the business goals. These segments of visitors can then be to target customer with the right Ad/Message/Content/Product (Behavioral Targeting).

I guess Omniture thinks the way I do. The reason I say this is because they filed for a Behavioral Targeting patent and were granted the patent recently. According to a press release from omniture
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has awarded the company a new United States Patent (U.S. Patent Number 7,260,551). The patent is generally directed to performance optimization, and relates to online real-time behavioral targeting and testing systems, such as content targeting on Web sites, targeted ad-serving to maximize cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-acquisition (CPA) revenue yields, the maximization of yields from search engine marketing and improved personalization search algorithms.

So how will Omniture use this patent? I am sure they have already thought about it, but here are few of my speculations.

  1. They can develop their own Behavioral Targeting Capabilities using Touch Clarity, not just on site but offsite as well.
  2. License it to partners who develop behavioral targeting tools or networks that tie in with Omniture’s Web Analytics tool.
  3. Get in behavioral Targeting Ad network game, just like digiMine did when they transformed into Revenue Science. I am not suggesting that Omniture should leave the Web Analytics field as they have a pretty good foothold in this field.

They can also make some extra cash by filing lawsuits against other companies that are infringing on their patent.

So what is next for Omniture? Acquisition of an ad serving company?

Thoughts? Comments?

Interview with Marshall Sponder – Part II

Continuing the interview with Marshall Sponder, here is part II of the 2 part interview. You can read the part I at http://webanalysis.blogspot.com/2007/09/interview-with-marshall-sponder-part-i.html

What, if any, education or work experience helped you in making this transition?

A couple of things helped me that I’d like to share. In 2002, after 9/11, I was out of work for a while and really depressed and broke. I briefly studied Robert Allen’s Internet Entrepreneur training and even managed to hire a life counseling coach, through Robert Allen’s Mentorship Program, for several sessions to help me with my career. It was very tough time for me but the Mentorship helped me and ended up getting me to accept challenges and then landed me a job at IBM when no one was hiring anyone, where I still am. Since the life coach training I have been “driven” to do more, be better, be the best I can be.

Also, my art training is constantly being used. It’s often said that Van Gogh looked at a blank painting and was feeling intimidated….. Until he made the first step, put down the first brushstroke – before the first stoke the very whiteness of the canvass is intimidating. It can almost be said that a painter, upon seeing a landscape, aka Paul Cezanne, my favorite painter, doesn’t know how to paint … the painting materializes once the first brushstroke is taken – then next strokes are then suggested by the previous steps. I find my web analytics work happens much the same way. I often take on a new client, a new stakeholder and listen to what they want (trying to envision what they really want) and then starting at the blank canvas and wondering what I am going to “paint” in. Once I take the first steps, the rest starts coming into place and I know what to do.

All that came to a point of synthesis when I stood in front of Cezanne’s mountain, Mount Saint Victoire in Aix en Provence, earlier this year (and before, in my imagination) I saw my life as a Web Analyst and my life as an Artist running in parallel. There’s a lot of visual data, a lot of web analytics data, but it takes an Artist to decide which data to use, which information is meaningful to the story being told– the story the client needs to see and hear, or the Artist needs to paint.

There’s also another quality of Art as it applies to Web Analytics – in Cezanne’s painting, one sees the whole painting at once and then the details appear; the painting itself is painted “all at once”, stoke by stoke. In that “at once ness” is a sequence of events the eye follows – that appears to alternate the more you look at the paintings. As Delacroix once said, the art of unity is what distinguishes Great Art(ist) from a mediocre one.

While Web Analytics reports are presented serially, much alike a novel or book, the concept is realized “all at once” and yet the order of insight and work comes in a sequence, as an intuitive flash, much as Cezanne, viewed Mount Saint Victoire and saw the great mountain, all at once, as in a hyper real dream. Often, I visualize myself as John Smith, the psychic from the Dead Zone, a USA Network show. When John Smith touches an object he sees its history and what its likely future is. When I “touch” the web analytic data, I often get flashes, like a detective, on what the meaning of that data might be. I then draw upon my left brain to get the data I’ve seen and my right brain to pull all together and make meaning out of it.

Finally, what is known as the 80/20 rule or 90/10 rule applies to both Web Analytics and Painting. I’ve learnt 80-90% of a painting, for me, is done, at least conceptually, in the first hour I work on it. The rest of the painting, the other 20% is hopefully adding to what I put down and tying it all together – and then I stop, and I know exactly when to stop – and I’m done.

Earlier in my life, I didn’t know when to stop – did not know how to complete anything. Often I drop by my studio and see painters doing the same thing – painting and then destroying what they just painted – because they lack trust to believe in their own initial vision and feelings.

I see the same in Web Analytics reports, where data is thrown at the audience without first deciding what all means. It’s the Web Analyst’s job to give the data meaning – to be the story teller for the organization.

Cool this is one of the best description of Web Analytic that I have heard. Now I can see how an artist thinks different from an Engineer like me.

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

Hmm, I guess some SQL database programming might have been helpful – at least, that seems to be what is typically asked for. I noticed that Omniture, for example, often creates large data files that need to be dumped into databases just so you can open the whole file and process the data. I suppose more advanced Excel skills would have helped, as would presentation skills of all types.

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

All the main ones including eAvinsah Kaushik’s book on Web Analytics; however, I find that most Web Analytics books are tough to read though for me, most technical books are. I’m more” hands on”– I need first hand experience with something and then, I find, reading about it after first playing with it, is much more helpful to my learning style.

Which book(s) helped in your job?

A lot of good books out there, and I’ve bought my fair share, but most of what I need is within me, and you can’t really get it in a book. I could rattle of a number of books I’ve read or attempted to read, but none of them seems to have helped me get a new job – because most of the experiences in a book are too generic to the technical situations you need to know for a technical interview.

As I’ve matured, I’ve tended to see books as interesting and helpful when they reflect certain aspects of myself – to confirm what I already know – or inform me about something I wondered about and didn’t know.

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

I believe Web Analysts need to be given a “Seat at The Table” with decision makers; we need to be in organizations that report directly to the business owners, people in charge; not put several rungs away.

I also believe making Web Analysts a commodity is an ever present danger – we must constantly improve our skills and value to those we work with and for or else we can become easily replaceable.

For Web Analytics Vendors, the problem, as an industry, is lack of standardization between platforms and no two Web Analytics Platforms will come up with exactly the same numbers or count visitors, uniques and pageviews the same way based on raw data. In fact, the situation Web Analytics faces reminds me of the situation that Unix faced when I worked in the field – there was an overall standard for Unix, but each vendor implemented it their own way to take advantage of custom hardware and software, making each Vendor Implementation of Unix somewhat different – it cut both ways, being a source of strength for certain tasks, but often made it hard to have interoperable environments.

I think Web Analytics faces the same kinds of problems with the various platforms that really are built around Vendor Solutions.

I know you have several blogs, tell me about them? What kind of article do you write?

I write to 4 or 5 blogs, the most well known is Webmetricsguru.com, which I author entirely, and ArtNewYorkCity.com. I also write for smartmobs.com/ and biggreenblog.com.

I write about anything that I have an opinion about but do try to stay within the theme of the blog I’m writing to, often changing my “persona” as I switch from writing on one blog to another. On occasion I’ll write about a celebrity if I think I can inject enough Web Analytics insight into a buzz topic to make it relevant, because I want the traffic; and often these posts do very well (my Iron Man Trailer posts is an example of stretching myself to capture what I know is popular and yet tie it into Web Analytics, if I can. The Iron Man Trailer was previewed at ComicCom in July and was in great demand my many enthusiasts – I knew this when I wrote my Iron Man Trailer post).

Lately, I’ve used my “abilities” and knowledge to drive phenomenal traffic to my blogs – my intuition showed me how and my reason followed up. Just today, September 10th, 2007, www.Webmetricsguru.com received its 500,000th visitor; my traffic now moves between 2,000 visits a day to 20,000 visits a day, depending on what I write about and the way I use my Search Engine Insights on my Blog postings. (Even a Blog such as Artnewyorkcity.com, not nearly as popular as Webmetricsguru.com, got to be in the top results for keywords like “New York Conceptual Art)”. Part of ranking on the top is for the sheer challenge – to know I can do it, such as my positioning for “Blog Authority”, where my posting is currently #5 out of 83 million pages; Blog posts can rank well very quickly and yet be treated as normal WebPages, an unbeatable combination.

At webmetricsguru.com , I see my self through the lens of a Web Analyst while at artnewyorkcity.com , I become an artist and art critic/reviewer. My mind seems to shift, and even my words and thinking. But I do try to arrive at a synthesis of both Art and Web Analytics and I’ve managed, at my best, to contain both within at the same moment of time

What is your advice to web analysts to keep learning and growing in this field?

  • Join the Web Analytics Association and work on one of our Committees – that will “stretch” anyone and also give the Web Analyst more contacts – and contacts can often end up as one of your future jobs.
  • Become a Blogger and read about your subject; form an point of view and express it often by interacting with the Web Analytics opinions of peers. Increasingly, being part of the “conversation” is necessary; you become part of the conversation by interacting with your peers and stating your position, standing apart, standing out.
  • Be willing to do more than you’re asked to do by your clients, stakeholders and managers – strive to add one extra thing that makes your work better.

What is your advice to aspiring web analysts?

Be yourself, after you figure out what that is. Remember that, at the end of the day, it’s not what you know that matters; it’s what you can do and who believes in you and what you can deliver. It’s your reputation, your integrity, that’s what you need to grow and work on all the time.

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If you are in web analytics field and would like to interview for my blog please contact me at batraonline at gmail.com.

Interview with Marshall Sponder – Part I

Continuing my series of interviews with Web Analyst, here is an interview with Marshall Sponder. I am sure most of you already know Marshall Sponder, he is on the Board of Directors of WAA and author of WebMetricsGuru.com.

What are your current positions and the name of the company(s) you work for?
I’m a senior web analyst who works at IBM.com. At IBM I have a couple of different roles within a team of Web Analysts that support IBM Stakeholders and Brands:

  • Analyst for IBM’s Virtual Business Center in Second Life (and I’ll be speaking about the Metrics Insight and Methodology of Analytics within Virtual Worlds and how it matters in this world at XChange).
  • Systems Group Web Analyst – About half my time is focused on support Systems Technology Group, which at IBM.com consists of both Servers, Storage and Printers.
  • Strategic Web Analyst for IBM.com new projects termed internally “1x2x”. Since June 2007, IBM’s Corporate Portals were improved to add several new features that now set the standard Dynamic Navigation, Cross Enterprise Advertising and Up Sell (Cross Brand) and Personalization. My role is to show specific 1x2x projects worked well (or not) via Web Analytics.
  • Search Area Expert – My experience with Search Optimization, Keyword Research, link analysis, algorithm analysis (both internal and external) is occasionally drawn upon, though much of my search work is outside of IBM these days.
  • Board of Director for Social Media at the Web Analytics Association – IBM supported my candidacy to the BoD of the WAA and now I head up a brand new committee that has 39 members (to date) and is working on defining Social Media Standards, building a Social Network for the WAA and working to increase value of membership in the WAA and the number of Members joining the Web Analytics Association.

How long have you been working in web analytics fields?

About 5 years. It depends on what role you’re talking about. Probably no one has 5 years of experience with Second Life outside of Linden Labs. On the other hand, if you look at my overall experience in Web Analytics, 5 years sounds right.

Tell me about your work, education prior to making a switch (in blog style, from current back to the past)?

I’ve had many careers in my life and it was hard for me figure out what “box” I best fit in. As a teenager I’d look at classified ads in the back of the New York Times and found I did not seem to fit into any box. As I age, like good wine, I’ve gotten better, ripened and learnt to accept my strengths and work on what I’m not so good at.

Before I got into Web Analytics I spent much of the 1990’s as a Unix System Administrator/Consultant working for Wall Street firms specializing in systems upgrades and Y2K compliance – that line of work went kaput after 9/11 and I re-invented myself in my current incarnation as Web Analyst/Blogger/Artist – Marshall Sponder.

My life and carriers in the 1980’s changed a couple of times; at one point I lived in Minneapolis for 5 years and worked as a Test Floor Technician testing high speed mainframes for Sperry (now Unisys) that were water chilled. I also worked in Computer Graphics, getting a Graduate Degree in Communications and Computer Graphics from NYIT – but I found I was no good at Computer Graphics and had little patience for it – so I was not able to monetize that training. I also spent a summer in Vermont painting and aspired to be great painter and still paint, and you can see my work and art musings at my Syntagma Network blog, www.artnewyorkcity.com .

And that’s as far back as is worth going. As far as my educational background it’s B.A. in Art with a minor in Psychology from Hunter College and a M.A in Communications from NYIT and more recently, a Certificate in Marketing Management from Baruch College in 2003.

Why did you decided to switch to Web Analytics?

I fell into it, to be honest. I seem to be able to “dream” up my life situations, and then they happen. I meet people that way too. I started to realize I had the ability to create whatever I can imagine – once I can see myself doing, being, knowing – it seems just a matter of time till I find myself there; and that’s how, I got into Web Analytics.

I looked at Jim Sterne’s book back in 2001, shortly after 9/11, and said to myself, broke and depressed….I can do this …thing that’s called Web Analytics. And today, I know Jim Sterne personally, sitting on the same WAA board that he helped create. You might say the Artist within me dreamed the person I became; Jim’s book on Web Analytics showed me I could be a Web Analyst and the rest just “happened” when it was ready to happen, unfolding, in it’s own way and time.

But it was not that much of a jump as Systems work is actually very similar in a way to Web Analytics, and while I’m a lousy shell scripter I’m great at diagramming and found that, throughout my life I took certain things from my life and synthesized them. In fact, my path (if one can call anyone’s life a path) is the Art of Synthesis and I found that in Web Analytics I could use my Art background to see overall patterns (Right Brain) while also using the systems work I did to approach work systematically (Left Brain). The jump I made into Web Analytics, from Systems Work, was significant but attainable.

I also worked with SEO starting shortly after 9/11 and absorbed much of what my Mentors Bill Hunt and Mike Moran taught me at IBM. Robin Nobles, also part of my Social Media Committee, as is Mike Moran, helped teach me SEO via her books and courses, and so I consider her a mentor of mine.

In many ways, my life often feels as if I “dreamed” it up. Now I’m working on Dreaming up my Social Media Committee and making truly groundbreaking work happen for the Web Analytics Association and for Social Media by presenting the first real set of standards my committee will draft.

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

In 2002, I started taking some risks and doing entrepreneurial work for next to no money just to get experience. One of those jobs ended up giving me the extra edge to win over my competition when I interviewed at IBM in 2003. Also, at the IBM interviews I found that being myself, being me was what they wanted. I decided acting naturally, being true to myself was the best way for me to interview. I don’t think I interviewed that much when I got a job at IBM, for that job, but at that time I was so broke and happy to have a job, I did not even mind the 2 hour commute each way.

As far as most of my job interviews have gone, to be perfectly honest, I’ve been a lousy interviewer – often talking way too much, mostly out of nervousness and shyness.

In the various jobs I’ve interviewed for, in all the various careers I’ve had, I usually had to interview 10 times to get one offer (sounds like a lousy “conversion rate”, maybe I need to “optimize” my landing page, or presentation, consult the Eisenberg Brothers at GrokDotCom.com) but the reality is that I still don’t fit into any “box” comfortably and seem to be better creating my own job and then fulfilling it.

What do you focus on when you are looking for a job as a Web Analyst?

If I were looking for another job (guess that happens from time to time), I’d focus on my relationships and who I know and what I can bring to the table that’s unique form what everyone else does. I want to avoid having my skills become a commodity and I think that’s what happened to my Unix Admin work and I don’t want it to happen to Web Analysts. We really have to guard against our work being commoditized and marginalized by increasing the value of what we do and bring to the table as Web Analysts to the businesses we report on.

In fact, that is why I don’t like books that try to make everyone into a Web Analytics Expert; not only is that not possible, but if it were possible and if Web Analytics were easy, we’d all need to find the next career, the next frontier, real quick. Web Analytics is not easy, that’s why we’re in it.

The more difficult the task or job, the more challenging the role, the more I tend to like it (that is, if the work is meaningful and not “rote” work). I’ve learnt that it’s precisely this that I’m good at. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to translate my strength into an interview that is looking for specific skills and competencies, and never have.

But maybe I’m getting better, with age.

I don’t relish interviewing and I dream up the next job, the ideal job for me, is one that someone influential begs me to take; a mission job. In other words, I’d rather not interview for anything, at this point. People already know what I do well …. I want to be asked to join the next job/mission. I’m done trying to interview because it usually ends up as another attempt to fit into someone else’s box when what I really want is to create my own.

What are you responsibilities? Describe your typical work day?
My work life is pretty good right now.

Typically I arrive at my Chelsea office in Manhattan and read my email in the mornings – often having several phone meetings, one after another. Most of my team is remote, so I’m in constant communication with my team mates, team lead, managers and peers all over the world, but with the main concentration in Raleigh, NC.

For Web Analytics work, I find I need chunks of time, usually 4 hours or more, where I can do a report and come up with the Insight around it, without being interrupted. I try to structure my roles at IBM to allow my work to get done in such a way that I don’t have to take it home with me.

Having said that, I often find myself working till 7PM, but often doing my work is spurts. I often have to take brakes and walk, or think about something else, to clear my mind. Once I settle on what I need to do, the tasks at hand, things come to me quickly, in flashes and I just speed to keep up with it.

What are the skills that you think are important for a web analyst?

A sense of abstract thinking and Art (seeing the whole picture at once) is important for Web Analytics work.

I think what a lot of companies are asking for has nothing much to do with what is needed to be truly effective. In order to be effective as a Web Analyst you don’t usually need a degree in statistics or be trained as a rocket scientist (yet that is what all the job descriptions I’ve seen ask for – like a big long laundry list) (Anil: I agree with you, actually I am thinking about doing a blog post on this very topic. ) you need the ability to understand what some one needs to measure, what the goals are, and a technical mastery to the tools, the web analytics platforms being used. The least important thing is to know the tools beforehand – because anyone can learn them fairly quickly who is not brain dead (yet this is precisely what most interviewers ask for first – knowledge of the tools)

The most important thing, in any job, is being effective in the job you’ll be hired for –being trusted, that you can deliver what say you can deliver on…and a lot of that is based on trust, on conveying confidence, conveying authority. The technical part is more like the icing the cake, as far as I’m concerned. I go for rapport, gut feeling, intuitive knowledge and visualization of what my clients want and need, and even what they don’t know to ask for, but which they still need…I try to give them…and this is not just at IBM, but all my work is done like this.

You know you’re effective when you’re allowed to work on the “big problems” in your organization. It’s a feedback loop. You need to get trust of higher ups so they’ll let you get the relevant experience that actually makes you valuable in the marketplace (so that you can “move up”). The paradox is, believing in your self first, is necessary in order to get any kind of trust and buy in so that you’ll be allowed to work on the big stuff.

You also need people to like you – and for some people, that’s easier to achieve than others. I won’t say that people that are disliked are not effective – they can be also, but they’re probably miserable and less effective than if they were liked.

But none of these skills is actually what is asked of you in an interview – yet some interviewers will make note of them, nonetheless and the one’s that do are the one’s to work for.

To be continued….Part II coming soon, stay tuned.

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Web Analytics Wednesday (WAW) in Seattle (Sept. 12)

ZeroDash1 will be hosting the next WAW in Seattle on Wednesday 12th September.

The event will be hosted at Karma (http://seattle.citysearch.com/profile/44707354/seattle_wa/karma_martinii_lounge_bistro.html) in Seattle.

The first round will be on Web Analytics Association and the second round will be on ZeroDash1.

Please RSVP at http://www.webanalyticsdemystified.com/wednesday/?event_id=2039

Web Analytics is about taking actions

Earlier this year in my 2007 Predictions I wrote:

“Web Analytics won’t be standing alone – Marketers will want 360 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.

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.”

Proving me right once again, Omniture acquired Offermetica, a leading A/B testing and multivariate testing company.

According to the press release

“The acquisition is a key part of Omniture’s strategy to deliver the most comprehensive solution for optimizing online business. Offermatica leverages Omniture’s recent acquisition of Touch Clarity as the two are highly complementary and together address the spectrum from A/B testing and multivariate testing to behavioral targeting. Offermatica enables companies to define and test the structure and elements of their sites, and Omniture TouchClarity™ enables companies to deliver the optimal content to any individual at any time….This combination, with Omniture’s analytics as the underlying foundation, provides the industry’s first and only integrated site optimization suite.”

..A year ago it became very clear to us that our customers wanted to leverage their data through a range of testing and optimization tools. Once we acquired the leading behavioral targeting technology, our customers continued to validate our thinking that in addition to behavioral targeting, A/B testing and multivariate testing were distinct and critical components of their long-term online strategy. Combining these capabilities into a single, integrated offering, built on patented behavioral targeting and testing technology, answers the market need for a complete optimization solution,” said Josh James, CEO and co-founder of Omniture.

I will also take this opportunity to announce that all my predictions for 2007 have come true. I will be doing a follow-up post pretty soon.

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Further Consolidation in Behavioral Targeting

Remember my 2007 prediction about consolidation in Behavioral Targeting space?

In July AOL bought Tacoda , earlier this year Google acquired double click, Microsoft acquire aQuantive and Yahoo acquired RightMedia. The latest is the purchase of BlueLithium by Yahoo. All these acquisitions bring three main things to these companies:

  1. Display advertising capabilities
  2. Reach (Number of user they can reach on the internet)
  3. Behavioral Targeting capabilities

Unlike behavioral-targeting-only networks such as Tacoda and Revenue Science, BlueLithium leverages all major targeting capabilities to produce optimal results.
BlueLithium targets ads based on (source: BlueLithium.com):

  • Behavioral targeting
  • Demographic targeting
  • Contextual targeting (choose from 16 content channels)
  • Geotargeting
  • Zip code
  • Day part
  • Operating system type

So far yahoo has been involved with Behavioral Targeting on their site. With this acquisition yahoo’s display advertising (and behavioral targeting) will extend beyond their own network.

This space is becoming interesting. Like I said earlier this month , It’s a Targeted Targeted Targeted World, you can run but you can’t hide. Behavioral targeting is also coming soon to the TV in your house. (Another company that uses BT is eBay, yes they also are engaged in Behavioral Targeting, you can read about it at Media Post’s Behavioral Insider

Want to talk more about Behavioral Targeting? Come to X Change conference organized by semphonic, I will be leading the huddle on Behavioral Targeting. Can’t make it to the conference but still would like to know how to engage in Behavioral Targeting? Contact me at batraonline at gmail.com.