Archives for April 2008

eMetrics – Marketing Optimization Summit

I will be at eMetrics – Marketing Optimization Summit on May 4th and May 5th.

On May 4th I will be leading a Web Analytics Association’s Base camp workshop on “Web Analytics for Site Optimization“.

This workshop will give you the tricks, tools and techniques needed to improve navigation, increase engagement and improve conversion rates.

  • Building a measurable site
  • Designing for navigation vs. conversion
  • Improving online persuasion
  • KPIs for ecommerce, content sites, and intranets
  • Understanding visitor behavior
  • A/B & multivariate testing

On May 5th I will be speaking at emetrics. My topic is “Behavioral Targeting Across Ad Networks and on Your Site“.
My session will cover the benefits of BT to consumers, publishers (site owners) and advertisers. I will show what vendors are available to help with different types of BT and review various aspects of BT, from the available technologies to the tried and true techniques to the preponderance of privacy pains. Finally I will walk you through a 5 step process to successful Behavioral Targeting and it is not just limited to online advertising but also how these techniques can be used for onsite advertising and content and product targeting as a part of onsite campaign.

If you are going to be at eMetric, email me so that we can get together. I will arrive on Saturday evening.
See you in San Francisco.

Google Analytics Data Sharing

Google Analytics has an option to allow you to share your analytics data with Google in return for services like Google Benchmarking and enhanced ad features that will be released in future. Google provides following two options for data sharing.

  1. With Google products only

    What do you get with this option? Enable enhanced ad features and an improved experience with AdWords, AdSense and other Google products by sharing your website’s Google Analytics data with other Google services. Only Google services (no third parties) will be able to access your data.

  2. Anonymously with Google products and the benchmarking service

    What do you get with this option? Enable benchmarking within Google Analytics by sharing your website data in an anonymous form. Google will remove all identifiable information about your website, combine the data with hundreds of other anonymous sites in comparable industries and report aggregate trends in the benchmarking service. Google will also use this data in anonymous form to improve our products and services.

Since companies are concerned about their data, the first question that most of them are asking is “Should we share data with Google and how will the data be used?”
In this post I will provide my views on Google Analytics data sharing service. Please note that I am not associated with Google or any Google entity and have not worked with them in any capacity. These are my views only, based on my past experience with Analytics , Online Adverting and Behavioral Targeting companies and services.

So what do I think?

As I had written in past, Google will be entering the Behavioral Targeting space. For it to realize full power of Behavioral Targeting it will need to aggregate the data it collects from sites across the web via its various services such as Google Toolbar, Adsense, Adwords, Google Analytics, YouTube, Google Checkout, Google Optimizer etc. Since there is so much concern about privacy and data usage by Companies like Google, it will create a lot of problem for Google if they just start aggregating all this data. To make sure Google is easing these concerns about how Google can use the data it collects from its services, in particular data from its business oriented services such Google Analytics, Adword etc , it has to seek permission from the site owners (and visitors).
Google is starting this with Google Analytics. It is asking your permission to allow them to aggregate your Google Analytics data in return for some free services such as Benchmarking and others services yet to come.

Option 1

Let’s start with Option 1 “With Google products only”. The description of this option can be interpreted in the following two ways

  1. If you chose this option your Analytics data will be shared by other Google services that you use. This data will only be used to enhance Google products, Adwords, Adsense etc. used by you using your Google Analytics data. So they are asking you to opt-in into tighter integration of these products (sort of like Omniture genesis). Your data will not be shared with any other company or used to enhance Adwords or Adsense for any other company.
  2. Or it could also mean

  3. Your data will be used at an aggregated level to enhance Adwords, Adsense or other Google products to help Google. This is along the lines of Behavioral Targeting. Say you operate an online golf store. You have some buyer who frequently come and buy products from you. Google knows a lot about those users (e.g. they buy golf balls on regular basis and hence are avid golfers). When these users goes on another sites that serves Adsense ads, Google can serve ads about Golf balls or other Golf products even though that site might have nothing to do with Golf, but it knows that these visitors are avid golfers and are more likely to click on golf ads. Now these ads could be yours or of your competitors, you won’t know. Also Google will be able to charge more as they will allow advertisers to reach the right target customers, a great deal for the advertiser and Google. This raises 2 main questions (and maybe a lot more).
    1. Why should you allow Google to use your data to power your competitors’ ads and hence loose customers?
    2. Why should you allow Google to charge more for targeting based on the data that was collected on your site? Shouldn’t you get a piece of it?

Option 2

“Anonymously with Google products and the benchmarking service” has the following two components

  1. Benchmarking: Most of the companies want to benchmark and see how they are doing compared to other companies in their vertical, size etc. This sort of data is usually available from companies like Nielsen Net Ratings, Comscore, Hitwise, Compete for a fee. Realizing the needs of consumers Google Analytics is providing this service as an option in Google Analytics. The data is anonymous and aggregated so I don’t have a problem with letting them use my data and provide me free benchmarking data. (Note: I had talked about them entering this space in my blog post, on April 13 , 2007 ( “Google and Behavioral Targeting” , way before they released the data sharing services).
  2. Google Products: Even tough Google is saying that it will make the data “anonymous”, what it really is saying is that it will remove information about your site from the data (the site where data is collected). In nutshell, I think this still refers to the same type of data sharing as mentioned in point number 2 of Option 1 (above) so I have same concerns as I already mentioned.

So what should you do?

It depends on your situation.

Option Number 1: If it is really to help you better your ads and optimize your site and conversion then you should opt-in. At this time it is not clear. I would say opt-in for a less strategic site (if you have multiple) and see how it works then you can always opt-out if it is not what you expect. I will of course blog about it in future on how they actually use the data.

Option Number 2: For now, in my opinion, you are ok with sharing your data to use Benchmarking services. You can always opt-out later when Google starts to use this data to power Adwords and Adsense.

User Privacy

Even though Google is making the data anonymous it is only referring to privacy of the site not of the individual visitors. It is up for debate who owns the data, the visitor, the website where data is collected or third party tool like Google Analytics. They are asking your (site owners) permission by asking you to opt-in to data sharing. To ensure Google covers all it bases when (note I did not say IF) they decide to behavioral targeting based on all the data collected they will seek to get user permission too (or I think they should).

Privacy policies are different in different countries so you should comply with local privacy policies before allowing Google to aggregate data collected on your site. It is always a good idea to clearly mention in your sites’ privacy policy how you are allowing 3rd parties to anonymously collect and aggregate the data for Benchmarking and other marketing services.

Comments? Questions?

Move over Google Analytics here comes Yahoo Analytics

I am sure a lot of you heard last week that Yahoo got into the analytics field with purchase of IndexTools. At that time it was not clear if Yahoo will continue selling IndexTools for a fee or will give away the tool for free like Google Analytics and Microsoft Analytics (Gatineau or what ever they are calling it these days).

I speculated, in my blog post, that Yahoo will (or should) give away this tool for free. In my mind the advantage of giving away this tool was clear. IndexTools is superior in functionality to Google Analytics, it is far more advanced and rivals tools like Omniture and Webtrends. A free offering from Yahoo would put them in the driving seat of the web analytics world. This free tool will also help them sway marketing dollars that would have otherwise gone to Google.

Another huge benefit that Yahoo will have is the ability to put their pixels (data collection mechanism) around the web and hence collect data. Which, in turn, will help their Behavioral Targeting efforts, which are currently limited to Yahoo portal only. This is huge!!! and something that might be of interest to both Bassel and Usama of the Strategic Data Solutions group of Yahoo (the group that IndexTools will roll into).

(Sidenote: Both Bassel and Usama were founders of digiMine, the company I used to work for, which rebranded to Revenue Science, one of the leading Behavioral Targeting networks. It could be there opportunity to build a huge Behavioral targeting network which could easily be bigger than Revenue Science.)

In my opinion giving the free tool was the way to go.

Well, this morning Dennis R. Mortensen, COO of IndexTools wrote on his blog that Yahoo will indeed offer IndexTools for free.
He also claims that IndexTools offers 80% of Omnitures functionality. So you get 80% of the functionality for Free.
I am sure executives at Omniture, WebTrends, Google Analytics, MS Analytics are scrambling right now to figure out what this all means to their business.
Let’s just say this for now – It will have an impact.

I also had some speculations about web analytics market consolidations in my last blog post. This move by Yahoo and IndexTools is a huge step toward making my speculations a reality.

Here is what I wrote in my previous blog post:

A free offering from Yahoo will change the Web Analytics landscape. If yahoo is smart they will make index tool available for free as soon as possible. I will replace GA with IndexTool in a heartbeat (as I don’t tie my Adwords to GA).

So what’s next?

Here are few scenarios

Scenario 1

  1. Google Analytics, Microsoft Analytics (and some other tools) will not be able to compete with IndexTools free offering.
  2. Microsoft will need to step up its offering quite a bit (considering the deal with Yahoo is not happening), they should buy WebTrends. Webtrends is built on MS technology and provides far more functionality than IndexTools (Let’s call it Yahoo Analytics). Which will make Microsoft the leader, Yahoo second and Google third in web analytics capability.
  3. Now, Google won’t stand still. They will use their stock power to buy Omniture and replace Google Analytics with Omniture.
  4. Which will make Google the leader once again, Microsoft second and Yahoo Third
  5. Microsoft then buys Yahoo and it will be down to two Google and Microsoft. We won’t have one clear leader as both will be close.

Scenario 2

  1. Google Analytics, Microsoft Analytics (and some other tools) will not be able to compete with IndexTools free offering.
  2. Considering Microsoft’s intent to buy Yahoo, Google will spring into action and buy Webtrends and Omniture.
  3. Which will make Google the leader once again, Microsoft second and Yahoo Third
  4. Microsoft then buys Yahoo and it will be down to two Google and Microsoft. We won’t have one clear leader as both will be close.

Scenario 3:

  1. Google Analytics, Microsoft Analytics (and some other tools) will not be able to compete with IndexTools free offering.
  2. Microsoft will need to step up its offering quite a bit (considering the deal with Yahoo is not happening), they should buy WebTrends. Webtrends is built on MS technology and provides far more functionality than IndexTools (Let’s call it Yahoo Analytics). Which will make Microsoft the leader, Yahoo second and Google third in web analytics capability.
  3. Oracle, which is on the sidelines but one Web analytics company recently, jumps into action and buys Omniture and makes it free.
  4. Which will make Oracle the leader once again, Microsoft second and Yahoo Third and Google the fourth.
  5. Microsoft then buys Yahoo and it will be down to three Oracle, Microsoft and Google.

Some other combinations of the above are also possible. Also, there is a possibility of AOL and some agencies getting into the action but you get the idea that the consolidation will continue.

What do you think?

Web Analytics Industry – Consolidation Continues

Last month I wrote about ZeroDash1 and IndexTools getting into partnership. Few days later we (ZeroDash1) were acquired by Ascentium, a marketing an technology company based in Bellevue, WA.

Now IndexTool has been acquired by Yahoo.

“Yahoo! believes that the ability to generate the most valuable and relevant insights is essential to seizing market opportunities and creating successful campaigns,” said Bassel Ojjeh “We expect that the IndexTools’ technology platform will provide our customers the opportunity to more quickly uncover and act on these insights, enhancing Yahoo!’s status as a partner of choice in online marketing and the must buy for the world’s advertisers.”

I am not sure if IndexTools will continue to offer its tool for a fee (as it is today) or become a free webanalytics tool like Google Analytics. I think that Yahoo will take the route of Google Analytics and Microsoft Gatineau and make it a free tool. IndexTool is, however, a better tool in terms of functionality it offers compared to Google and Microsoft’s tool.

A free offering from Yahoo will change the Web Analytics landscape. If yahoo is smart they will make index tool available for free as soon as possible. I will replace GA with IndexTool in a heartbeat (as I don’t tie my Adwords to GA).

So what’s next?

Here are few scenarios

Scenario 1

  1. Google Analytics, Microsoft Analytics (and some other tools) will not be able to compete with IndexTools free offering.
  2. Microsoft will need to step up its offering quite a bit (considering the deal with Yahoo is not happening), they should buy WebTrends. Webtrends is built on MS technology and provides far more functionality than IndexTools (Let’s call it Yahoo Analytics). Which will make Microsoft the leader, Yahoo second and Google third in web analytics capability.
  3. Now, Google won’t stand still. They will use their stock power to buy Omniture and replace Google Analytics with Omniture.
  4. Which will make Google the leader once again, Microsoft second and Yahoo Third
  5. Microsoft then buys Yahoo and it will be down to two Google and Microsoft. We won’t have one clear leader as both will be close.

Scenario 2

  1. Google Analytics, Microsoft Analytics (and some other tools) will not be able to compete with IndexTools free offering.
  2. Considering Microsoft’s intent to buy Yahoo, Google will spring into action and buy Webtrends and Omniture.
  3. Which will make Google the leader once again, Microsoft second and Yahoo Third
  4. Microsoft then buys Yahoo and it will be down to two Google and Microsoft. We won’t have one clear leader as both will be close.

Scenario 3:

  1. Google Analytics, Microsoft Analytics (and some other tools) will not be able to compete with IndexTools free offering.
  2. Microsoft will need to step up its offering quite a bit (considering the deal with Yahoo is not happening), they should buy WebTrends. Webtrends is built on MS technology and provides far more functionality than IndexTools (Let’s call it Yahoo Analytics). Which will make Microsoft the leader, Yahoo second and Google third in web analytics capability.
  3. Oracle, which is on the sidelines but one Web analytics company recently, jumps into action and buys Omniture and makes it free.
  4. Which will make Oracle the leader once again, Microsoft second and Yahoo Third and Google the fourth.
  5. Microsoft then buys Yahoo and it will be down to three Oracle, Microsoft and Google.

Some other combinations of the above are also possible. Also, there is a possibility of AOL and some agencies getting into the action but you get the idea that the consolidation will continue.

If any one of the above scenarios happen then Ian Thomas will be proven right, when he said in 5 years web analytics will be everywhere and all web analytics software will be free. I disagreed with Ian in my response to his prediction, but I also did not deny the possibility of web analytics vendor aggregating the user data across sites and then using that to provide targeted advertising and in return providing the tool for free.

What do you think? Comments?

Side Note: The interesting thing is that IndexTool will become part of Yahoo!’s Strategic Data Solutions. Bassel was one of the co-founders of my ex-company digiMine (which is now called Revenue Science).

Consumer Awareness and Attitudes about Behavioral Targeting

TRUSTe conducted a study regarding American Internet users’ knowledge, attitudes and concerns about behavioral targeting and its implications on their online privacy.

Here are the highlights of the study

  • There is high level of awareness that internet activities are being tracked for purposes of targeting advertising.
  • High level of concern associated with that tracking, even when it isn’t associated with personally identifiable information.
  • 71 percent of online consumers are aware that their browsing information may be collected by a third party for advertising purposes, but only 40 percent are familiar with the term “behavioral targeting.”
  • 57 percent of respondents say they are not comfortable with advertisers using that browsing history to serve relevant ads, even when that information cannot be tied to their names or any other personal information.
  • 91 percent of respondents expressed willingness to take necessary steps to assure increased privacy online when presented with the tools to control their internet tracking and advertising experience.
  • Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) would choose to see online ads only from online stores and brands that they know and trust and 44 percent of respondents would click buttons or icons to make that happen.
  • To the contrary, 42 percent of the respondents say they would sign up for an online registry to ensure that advertisers are not able to track browsing behaviors, even if it meant that they would receive more ads that are less relevant to their interests.

What do these results mean for Behavioral Targeting?

  1. As I have written before there needs to be education about what Behavioral Targeting is and how it impacts consumers.
  2. A Brand has to build trust with consumers and then only can they venture into behavioral targeting. Amazon.com is a perfect example. I have talked to several people who don’t mind targeting by Amazon, though recognize that Amazon needs to improve on what criteria it uses for targeting.
  3. 91 percent indicated willingness to take steps to control their tracking and advertising experience indicates a strong preference towards an opt-in model which I have advocated several times in previous blog posts.

So if you want to enagage in Behavioral Targeting, online advertising or On-Site, here is my quick 5 steps process

  1. First build a trust with your consumers.
  2. Educate them what Behavioral Targeting is and how you collect the data and use it.
  3. Provide them a compelling reason to allow you to collect their data.
  4. Build an opt-in model allowing users to control what data they want you to use.
  5. Give users a way to easily opt-out of Behavioral Targeting.

Comments?

Google Analytics: Tips and Tricks – Why do some search keywords show 0 visits

Question 1: A visitor goes to Google searches for a keyword, come to my site views few pages then goes back to Google does another search and comes back to my site all within 30 minutes (same visit). Which keyword will get credit for the visitors activity?

Question 2: I see a lot of keywords with 0 visits and 0 page views in my Google Analytics keyword report. What does that mean?

Answer:
Google Analytics, assigns the visitors activity to the first keyword that drove visitor to the site and assigns only those pages to the keyword that were a direct result of the first keyword. Note: This test was done on Organic results only, I will look at the impact of paid search (PPC) in my future tests.
Let’s look at an example. I used SeattleIndian.com for this test.
Here are the steps that I took

  1. Did a search on “SeattleIndian.com 0 pages” and landed on SeattleIndian.com via a click on search results.
  2. Bounced back (viewed only 1 page) and went to Google (by typing in Google.com)
  3. Did a search on “SeattleIndian.com 1 pages” and landed again on SeattleIndian.com via a click on search results.
  4. Again bounced back (viewed only 1 page) to Google (by again typing in Google.com)
  5. Did a search on “SeattleIndian.com 4 pages” and landed again on SeattleIndian.com via a click on search results
  6. Viewed 4 pages and left.

Below is the Google Analytics report showing the activity.

As you can see one page that I viewed from 1st keyword “SeattleIndian.com 0 pages” get assigned to that keyword and it also gets the credit for visit. The other 2 keywords do not get the credit for the visit or the pages views. The other 2 keywords will show 0 visit and 0 page views.

So where do the page views associated with the other keyword go? Well, I don’t have an answer for that yet. I am still researching and will blog once I have an answer.

In next article I will discuss which keyword gets the credit for conversion if a visitor uses multiple keywords to come to the site and converts with one of the keywords. Is it the first keyword, 2nd keyword or the 3rd keyword that gets credit? (Assuming visitors used 3 keywords).