Monthly Archives: July 2007

Aberdeen on Web Analytics Education

John Lovett at Aberdeen has produced a review of the educational opportunities out there for folks interested in learning web analytics.  It’s a wide ranging piece covering everything from the Yahoo Group to the various agencies to the WAA courses to the Master of Science in Analytics from NC State.  John says:

“Web analytics usage has reached mainstream status with 82% adoption among companies surveyed recently by Aberdeen.  However, a vast range of maturity exists regarding analytics process, data analysis and corporate understanding of web metrics.  A fundamental impediment precluding many companies from building a successful analytics program is a lack of skilled employees required to manage, distribute and analyze web analytics.”

He addresses this situation in two parts:

Vendor sponsored programs and consultants, blogs, and guru sessions

Community forums, industry associations, and academic programs

These are unlocked research reports, no charge to view. 

The NC State effort is quite interesting; they are taking the “blended approach” I feel is where we are headed.  Data is data, behavior is behavior, and many of the offline analytical disciplines have a lot to offer the folks in web analytics.  We’re already seeing web analytics job postings with phrases like “strong knowledge of SAS and SPSS highly desirable” meaning employers are looking for cross-platform, cross-tool, cross-channel analysts.

The folks with this cross-knowledge set who can also “speak business” are going to be a very hot commodity going forward.  Fortunately, most web analysts already “speak business”, it’s part of the WA culture – and speaking business is the hard part for most analytical minds.  Like I said, the data is data, the behavior is behavior – and the tools are just tools.  Web analytics is patient zero, infecting the corporation with a proper analytical culture.

If you’re a web analyst and are offered a chance to do SAS / SPSS / Business Objects / etc. training, I would jump on it.

Thanks John / Aberdeen for a great “Sector Insight” piece of research.

Live Web Analytics Knowledge Events

WAA BaseCamp and Gurus of Online Marketing Optimization Tour

I’ll be giving an all day workshop on Web Analytics for Site Optimization as part of the WAA BaseCamp series in Los Angeles on 7/23 and Chicago on 8/22.  More details, other courses and cities for this series are here.

The BaseCamps are built on the course material I produced with help from many others for the Web Analytics Association.  This effort resulted in the 100% online Award of Achievement in Web Analytics offered by the University of British Columbia.  The Award of Achievement is four courses with 96 hours of content, so you’re not going to get all of that content in a one day event.  You will get a great “flyover” of all the material in one of the courses in a day long BaseCamp Session – plus the fact it’s live and interactive with the Instructor and peers in the class.

The Gurus of Online Marketing Optimization Tour is also a very interactive presentation plus Q & A event put together in conjunction with the WAA BaseCamp courses.  I’ll be one of the Gurus on the panel in Los Angeles 7/24, Boston 8/21, and Chicago 8/23.  This should be a lot of fun and maybe even a bit of a wrestling match in some cases with fellow gurus Eisenberg, Peterson, Sterne, & Veesenmeyer

More info here, hope to see you there!

Nielsen//Net Ratings & comScore DustUp

Quite of a lot of discussion regarding Nielsen’s (and previously comScore’s) decision to add “duration of visit” as a metric used to rank sites for the display advertising buyer.  They played the engagement card in the press release, the implication being longer duration = higher engagement.  This ticked off the web site analytics side of the house.  A thread in the web analytics group (scroll down for all messages) has all the gory details of the debate on this.

My take is this move really has nothing to do with how you analyze a web site for navigation / actions / conversions and so forth.  The web analytics folks are over-reacting and misinterpreting the intent.  They point out “duration” is not a particularly good metric for many web site analysis applications?  But that’s a different issue.  This move is not about the way we analyze behavior on the site, it’s about:

1.  The display advertising purchase model
2.  A ranking of web sites for that model

It’s not hard to imagine the longer you are on a site, the more likely the display advertising would be seen and an impression registered in the brain.

It’s about being engaged with *display advertising*, not being engaged with your web site or your business.?  Buyers of that kind of media would like to know duration, because it makes sense to them and is used with other electronic media.

Whether Frequency or Duration is a better measure for web display advertising has yet to be seen, but I’d bet on the latter as being the best – for exactly the same reasons the web analytics community thinks duration is a bad idea for site measurement.

Briefly, the argument against using duration for web site measurement is along the lines of usability – the longer it takes to accomplish a task, the worse the web site is at satisfying visitors.  But I would argue when you are task focused you’re not nearly as good a target for display ads, are you?

The only mass media that doesn’t use duration as a measurement of audience quality is print.  The macro conclusion you could make – based on what these measure-ers of all things media are doing – is that display advertising on the web is more like TV and Radio than it is like print.  That makes complete sense to me.

For more info on why it makes sense, you can check the web analytics group for my post.

Interested in bigger picture on this?  Check out my posts in the web analytics group on defining online engagement and how to use it.