Registration is now open for ACCELERATE 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia on September 18th. Reserve your spot today at Eventbrite — tickets are only $99 USD!


Top 5 Metrics You’re Measuring Incorrectly … or Not

Last night as I was casually perusing the days digital analytics news — yes, yes I really do that — I came across a headline and article that got my attention. While the article’s title (“Top 5 Metrics You’re Measuring Incorrectly”) is the sort I am used to seeing in our Buzzfeed-ified world of pithy “made you click” headlines, it was the article’s author that got my attention. Whereas these pieces are usually authored by well-meaning startups trying to “hack growth” … this one was written and published by Jodi McDermot, a Vice President at comScore and the current President of the Digital Analytics Association.

I have known Jodi for many years and we were co-workers at Visual Sciences back in the day. I have tremendous respect for Jodi and the work she has done, both at comScore and in the industry in general. That said, her blog post is the kind of vendor-centric FUD that, at least when published by a credible source like comScore, creates unnecessary consternation within Enterprise leadership that has the potential to trickle down to the very analysts she is the champion for at the DAA.

Gross.

Jodi does not mince words in her post, opening with the following (emphasis mine):

“With the availability of numerous devices offering web access, daily usage trends, and multi-device ownership by individual consumers, traditional analytics are not only misleading, but often flat out wrong.”

While open to interpretation, it is not unreasonable to believe that Jodi is saying that companies who have invested heavily in analytics platforms from Adobe, Google, Webtrends, IBM, etc. are just wasting money and, worse, the analysts they pay good salaries to are somehow allowing this to happen. She goes on to detail a handful of metrics that are negatively impacted by the multi-platform issue, essentially creating fear, uncertainty, and doubt about the data that we all recognize is core to any digital analytics effort in the Enterprise.

Now, at this point it is worth pointing out that I don’t fundamentally disagree with Jodi’s main thesis; multi-device fragmentation is happening, and if not addressed, does have the potential to impact your digital analytics reporting and analysis efforts. But making the jump from “potential” to “traditional analytics are not only misleading, but often flat out wrong” is a mistake for several reasons:

  1. Assuming analysts aren’t already taking device fragmentation into account is likely wrong. It’s not as if multi-device fragmentation is a new problem … we have been talking about issues related to the use of multiple computers/browsers/devices for a very, very long time. Jodi’s post seems to imply that digital analysts (and DAA members) are ignoring the issue and simply puking data into reports.
  2. Assuming consumers are doing the same thing on different devices is likely wrong. This is a more gray area since it does depend on what the site is designed to do, but when Jodi says that “conversion rate metrics must follow the user, not the device” she is making the assumption that consumers are just as likely to make a purchase on a small screen as a large one. I am sure there is more recent data, but a quick Google search finds that less than 10% of the e-commerce market was happening on mobile devices in Q2 2013.
  3. Assuming the technology exists to get a “perfect” picture of cross-device behavior is flat-out wrong. This is my main beef with Jodi’s post; while she never comes out and says “comScore Digital Analytix is the solution to all of these problems” you don’t have to read between the lines very much to get to that conclusion. The problem is that, while many companies are working on this issue from an analytical perspective (e.g., Google, Adobe, Facebook, etc.), the consensus is that a universal solution has yet to emerge and, if you’re an old, jaded guy like me, is unlikely to emerge anytime soon.

I don’t fault Jodi for being a fangirl for comScore — that is her job — but implying that all other technology is broken and (by extension) analysts not using comScore technology are misleading their business partners is either unfair, irresponsible, or both. The reality is, at least within our client base, this is a known issue that is being addressed in multiple ways. Through sampling, segmentation, the use of technologies like Digital Analytix, and good old fashioned data analysis, our clients have largely been able to reconcile the issues Jodi describes such that the available data is treated as gospel within the digital business.

What’s more, while comScore data can be useful for very large sites, in my experience sites that don’t have massive traffic volumes (and thusly representation in the comScore panel) often fail the basic “sniff” test for data quality at the site-level. I do admit, however, that as a firm we don’t see Digital Analytix all that often among our Enterprise-class clients, so perhaps there are updates we are not privy to that address this issue.

What do you think? Are you an analyst who lays awake at night, sweating and stressing over multi-device consumers? Do you dread producing analysis knowing that the data you are about to present is “misleading and flat out wrong?” Or have you taken consumer behavior into account and continue to monitor said behavior for other potential business and analysis opportunities?

Comments are always welcome. Or, if you want to debate this in person, meet me in person at ACCELERATE 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia on September 18th.

Published on September 3, 2014 under #measure channel, Cookies, General Web Analytics, Web Analytics People

Welcome to Team Demystified: Nancy Koons and Elizabeth Eckels!

I am delighted to announce that our Team Demystified business unit is continuing to expand with the addition of Nancy Koons and Elizabeth “Smalls” Eckels.

  • Nancy has been working in digital analytics for over a decade, most recently at Vail Resorts, and has been a long-time contributor to Web Analytics Demystified’s Analysis Exchange effort. Nancy is also a three time finalist for the DAA’s prestigious “Practitioner of the Year Award” and a frequent presenter at industry conferences. You can find Nancy in Twitter @nancyskoons.
  • Elizabeth has been working in the industry for half-a-dozen years but has  managed to “punch above her weight class” and has established herself as a rising star in the digital analytics industry through her participation in local Columbus events, national conferences, and on Twitter. Elizabeth was the recipient of the DAA’s “Rising Star” award in 2013 and, like Nancy, is a long-time contributor to the Analysis Exchange. You can find Elizabeth in Twitter @smallsmeasures.

Our Team Demystified efforts are exceeding all expectation and are allowing Web Analytics Demystified to provide truly world-class services to our Enterprise-class clients at an entirely new scale.

And did we mention that our Team members get to have fun?  Yeah, @iamchrisle is pretty into the work he is doing for an “anonymous” global client …

We believe that being able to focus 100% on a single client while maintaining direct access to Adam, John, Brian, and the rest of the Web Analytics Demystified Partners and Senior Partners creates a unique value proposition for the analytics practitioner. The addition of industry rock-stars like Nancy and Elizabeth validate that, as does the rate at which we continue to sign up new clients who are leveraging our Team Demystified resources.

Elizabeth, Nancy, Chris, and the entire Team Demystified group will be at ACCELERATE in Atlanta on September 18th. Register using our “Meet the Team” discount code and save 25% off conference registration!

Welcome Nancy and Elizabeth!

Published on August 22, 2014 under ACCELERATE, Analysis Exchange, Web Analytics Demystified Business, Web Analytics People

Team Demystified Update from Wendy Greco

(The following is a guest post from Wendy Greco, General Manager of our Team Demystified business unit. You can meet Wendy and learn more about Team Demystified at our ACCELERATE conference in Atlanta, Georgia on September 18th — learn more about ACCELERATE and register today!)

When Eric Peterson asked me to lead Team Demystified a year ago, I couldn’t say no! Having seen how hard all of the Web Analytics Demystified partners work and that they are still not able to keep up with the demand of clients for their services, it made sense for Web Analytics Demystified to find another way to scale their services. Since the Demystified team knows all of the best people in our industry and has tons of great clients, it is not surprising that our new Team Demystified venture has taken off as quickly as it has. As a reminder, the purpose of “Team Demystified is for Web Analytics Demystified to help its clients add web analysis and technical resources to current Web Analytics Demystified projects by employing qualified and proven independent contractors known to the Demystified partners.

So far, our clients have loved working with Team Demystified. They get the opportunity to accelerate projects by adding additional qualified resources who they can trust due to the oversight of Web Analytics Demystified partners.  Team Demystified resources are currently managing global Adobe Analytics rollouts at leading brands, helping interpret Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics data for top retailers and helping implement web analytics and tag management tools across large enterprises.

At the same time that our clients are loving our Team Demystified resources, our team members are also benefiting from being part of the Web Analytics Demystified family. First and foremost, our Team Demystified resources get to work with the partners at Web Analytics Demystified. Whether it is learning SiteCatalyst from Adam Greco, testing tools from Brian Hawkins or web analysis strategies from Michele Kiss and Tim Wilson, Team Demystifiers get to learn from the best in the business on a daily basis. In addition, all Team Demystifiers were given an all expense paid trip to Portland, Oregon where they attended a full two day training from many of the Web Analytics Demystified partners so they could build up and round out their web analysis skills.

In addition to classroom training, Team Demystified members participate in a weekly Google hangout in which they get to learn from each other and share tips and best practices. On a monthly basis, we provide a special “brown-bag” lunch and learn Google hangout in which Web Analytics Demystified partners or Team Demystifiers can present a topic that relates to their expertise. We also have an internal collaboration tool that allows Team Demystifiers to post any questions they have and get answers from other team members and/or Web Analytics Demystified partners. Finally, all of our Team Demystifiers are receiving an all-expense paid trip to Atlanta to attend our upcoming ACCELERATE conference and some are even presenting at the conference!

As you can see, we are investing heavily in Team Demystified and believe that it is both great for our clients and for the contractors who join us as well. In fact, we don’t think there is any other opportunity in the web analytics field that compares to Team Demystified for those who want to learn as much as possible about the web analytics industry, while also having the freedom and flexibility that comes with working as an independent contractor.

Our model has been so successful with our clients that our biggest roadblock is finding more qualified contractors to join our team. Therefore, if you would like to learn more, we are actively looking for US-based talent in the following areas:

  • Front-End Developers who are well-familiar with analytics tags, tag management, and popular coding platforms
  • Analysts and Senior Analysts, skilled with either Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, or both
  • Analytics Managers, with demonstrated experience growing analytics teams of their own

If you fit this role, even if you are not actively looking now, I would love to talk to you. You can contact me directly via email (wendy@webanalyticsdemystified.com) and I can explain more about how Team Demystified works.  Thanks!

 

Published on July 29, 2014 under General Web Analytics, Web Analytics Demystified Business, Web Analytics People

ACCELERATE 2014 “Advanced Analytics Education” Classes Posted

I am delighted to share the news that our 2014 “Advanced Analytics Education” classes have been posted and are available for registration. We expanded our offering this year and will be offering four concurrent analytics and optimization training sessions from all of the Web Analytics Demystified Partners and Senior Partners on September 16th and 17th at the Cobb Gallaria in Atlanta, Georgia.

Here is a snapshot of the class offerings in 2014:

  • Adam Greco will be offering his Adobe Analytics “Top Gun” class
  • John Lovett is offering a new class on requirements gathering as well as his class on social media analytics
  • John is also joining Michele Kiss and Tim Wilson in offering a class on people, process, and governance
  • Brian Hawkins is offering his class on testing with a focus on Adobe Target
  • Kevin Willeitner is offering his classes on Adobe ReportBuilder and Adobe Discover
  • Josh West is offering a class on tag management systems
  • Michele Kiss and Tim Wilson are offering a class on data visualization and presentation

We are also offering a “technical deep dive” led by Josh West and Kevin Willeitner to allow attendees an opportunity to explore specific issues with Demystified’s best technicians.

Class space is limited so if you are planning to join us in Atlanta I encourage you to sign up soon!

Sign up for Web Analytics Demystified’s Advanced Analytics Education classes today!

Published on July 9, 2014 under ACCELERATE

The Recent Forrester Wave on Web Analytics … is Wrong

Having worked as an industry analyst back in the day I still find myself interested in what the analyst community has to say about web analytics, especially when it comes to vendor evaluation. The evaluations are interesting because of the sheer amount of work that goes into them in an attempt to distill entire companies down into simple infographics, tables, and single paragraph summaries. Huge spreadsheets of data, long written answers, and multiple calls and product demos … all munged down into a single visualization designed to tell the large Enterprise which vendors to call and which to avoid.

In the early days of web analytics having access to these evaluations could be a huge time-saver. At the time there were dozens of vendors all embroiled in a battle for market-share, and so the vendor summary provided an “at a glance” view of the landscape that had the potential to save the Enterprise time and money. Plus, during the early growth period in web analytics, no one vendor had hegemony over the market and so any errors or inconsistencies in the results could easily be swept under the rug based on this being “an emerging market …”

Today, however, the web analytics market is functionally mature, and two vendors have emerged as “market leaders” based on their particular strengths and business models. I don’t even have to tell you who these vendors are; if you work in this industry or you are paying any level of attention to the technology landscape, you already know who they are … and who they are not … which brings me to the main topic I wanted to discuss:

The most recently published Forrester Wave on Web Analytics (Q2 2014) authored by James McCormick is wrong.

You can get a free copy of this report from Adobe, and I would encourage you to have a look yourself, but based on hundreds of implementations, vendor evaluations, RFP processes, and thousands of hours of work on our part, the Partners at Web Analytics Demystified and I can assure you that only one of the vendors dubbed a “leader” in this document is truly leading in the market today. Additionally, another vendor labeled a “strong performer” has consistently demonstrated more leadership and commitment to digital analytics than any of the vendors evaluated.

[At this point you may be asking yourself "why isn't he naming names?" ... which is a fair question. The old me was kind of a dick; the new me is trying to be less of a dick. I suspect that I am doing a poor job at that, but I am trying ...]

I would encourage you, if you are interested, to review the scoring for the Wave reported in Figure 3 on page 9 … and ask yourself “do these results and, more importantly, these weightings, make sense?” For example:

  • A zero weighting for “Market Presence” … despite the fact that two vendors have an increasing lock on the market in 2014, especially when you look at wins and losses in the last twelve months.
  • The “Product” and “Corporate” strategy … which to me seem arbitrary at best, reporting that Google’s product and corporate strategy is “average” while that of a company that is on their third CEO and umpteenth head of Marketing is second only to A) a true market leader who is tied with B) a behemoth who is buying great companies but struggling to retain key employes who truly understand the market.
  • “Application usability and administration” … reporting that again Google is behind a vendor who has not updated their core analytics application for an estimated ten years.
  • The inclusion in the report of not one but two vendors whose names have not come up in Enterprise web analytics circles for years …

Take a look when you have a chance and see what you think. Maybe I’m the one who is wrong, and perhaps after 100+ collective years in this industry it is my Partners and I who have completely lost our connection to the web analytics vendor landscape …

At Web Analytics Demystified we rather enjoy the mature technology market we are working in today. With our clients increasingly standardizing on one, the other, or both of the true market leaders, our ability to move beyond the technology to how the technology is used effectively and efficiently in the business context is made that much easier. When analytics is put to use properly … good things happen.

I welcome your comments and feedback.

Published on May 16, 2014 under General Web Analytics, Vendors, Web Analytics Demystified Business

 


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Last night as I was casually perusing the days digital analytics news — yes, yes I really do that — I came across a headline and article that got my attention. While the article’s title ("Top 5 Metrics You’re Measuring Incorrectly") is the sort I am used to seeing in our Buzzfeed-ified world of pithy “made you click” headlines, it was the article’s author that got my attention.

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SiteCatalyst Unannounced Features
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ACCELERATE 2014 “Advanced Analytics Education” Classes Posted
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Overcoming The Analyst Curse: DON’T Show Your Math!
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The Recent Forrester Wave on Web Analytics ... is Wrong
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Over the past year, I've run into situations multiple times where I wanted an Adobe Analytics segment to be available in multiple Adobe Analytics platforms. It turns out…that's not as easy as it sounds. I actually went multiple rounds with Client Care once trying to get it figured out. And, I’ve found "the answer" on more than one occasion, only to later realize that that answer was a bit misguided.

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In the last few years, people have become accustomed to using multiple digital devices simultaneously. While watching the recent winter Olympics, consumers might be on the Olympics website, while also using native mobile or tablet apps. As a result, some of my clients have asked me whether it is possible to link visits and paths across these devices so they can see cross-device paths and other behaviors.

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I had the pleasure last week of visiting with one of Web Analytics Demystified’s longest-standing and, at least from a digital analytical perspective, most successful clients. The team has grown tremendously over the years in terms of size and, more importantly, stature within the broader multi-channel business and has become one of the most productive and mature digital analytics groups that I personally am aware of across the industry.

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Last week I was surprised by the Twitter conversation a fairly innocuous vent-via-Twitter tweet started, with several people noting that they had no idea you could simple turn off the gridlines.

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Omni Man (and Team Demystified) Needs You!
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Whether you have a single toe dipped in the waters of social media analytics or are fully submerged and drowning, you’ve almost certainly grappled with "engagement." This post isn’t going to answer the question "Is engagement ROI?" ...

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It’s not about "Big Data", it’s about the "RIGHT data"
Michele Kiss, Partner

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have heard (and perhaps grown tired) of the buzzword "big data." But in attempts to chase the "next shiny thing", companies may focus too much on "big data" rather than the "right data."

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