Web Analytics 2.0? I am more worried about Web Analytics 3.0!

Published by Eric T. Peterson on September 25, 2007 All posts from Eric T. Peterson

If you’re reading the web analytics blogs, you’ve probably already heard about the recent presentations I’ve given on the subject of “Web Analytics 2.0″. The future of web analytics and the relationship between Web 2.0 technology and measurement is something I’ve been talking about for over six months — I actually have a Web Analytics 2.0 workshop that I regularly give that you can read about under Analytics Consulting on my site — but given that it is “conference season” it is no wonder that this subject is getting attention from other folks in the industry. I have given my presentation at Web Analytics Day in Brussels, SEMphonic X Change in Napa, and will be giving a variation on same at Jim Sterne’s Marketing Optimization Summit in October.

Due to demand, you can download a PDF of the presentation from the white papers section of my site. If you’re interested in learning more about Web Analytics 2.0, please give me a call and I’d be happy to discuss it with you.

Strangely enough, the slides that are generating the most interest and commentary are not those about the Web Site Optimization Ecosystem, the integration of quantitative and qualitative data, or the Web Analytics Demystified RAMP, but rather the few slides I included outlining my thoughts about Web 3.0 and what I am calling Web Analytics 3.0.

What the heck is Web Analytics 3.0?!

Before I can tell you what Web Analytics 3.0 is, I need to tell you what I think Web 3.0 is going to be. The good old Wikipedia basically dodges this by saying:

Web 3.0 is a term that has been coined with different meanings to describe the evolution of Web usage and interaction along several separate paths. These include transforming the Web into a database, a move towards making content accessible by multiple non-browser applications, the leveraging of artificial intelligence technologies, the Semantic web, the Geospatial Web, or the 3D web.

While I know that Judah is all hopped up on the notion of the semantic web, after having traveled to Tokyo and Europe in the past month, I find myself absolutely convinced that the next technology era will be characterized by our collective ability to access the Internet anyplace, anytime, using so many devices we begin to look back on computers much the same way young people do television today — as something nice to use when YouTube is unavailable. Rolf Skyberg, a disruptive innovator from eBay who I met in Rotterdam a few weeks back, called it “digital ubiquity” — the point where we forget that the Internet actually exists and take our ability to access information completely for granted.

Given so many sexy alternatives — 3D web, transforming the Internet into a database, artificial intelligence, and the such — why am I so convinced that in the next three years we’ll be talking about Web 3.0 when we talk about mobile phones and non-traditional browsers?

Easy. The financial opportunity available via the mobile Internet makes the billions transacted today look like pocket change.

Think about it:

Just think for a minute about how your browsing experience might change if the web sites you visited remembered you and delivered a tailored experience based on your demographic profile (theoretically available via your phone number), your browsing history (accurate because you’re not deleting your phone number) and your specific geographic location when you make the request?

Now think about how the advertising buying experience would change if the same were true, not to mention behavioral targeting. I mean, given GPS and demographic data, the behavior being tracked could be “works downtown during the day, checks Facebook on his phone often, lives in the suburbs, surfs sports scores from his neighborhood bar.” The Starbucks web site could have a link at the top with a coupon to save $1 on my double-tall non-fat latte in stores 1 block, 2 blocks, and 5 blocks from my current location; the Best Buy web site could have an in-store promotion for the store I am standing in, targeted to my age and gender; and my search engine could disambiguate my searches based on my demographic profile, my geographic location, and my recent search history to serve me paid search ads designed to influence my geo-spatial movement, not just my likelihood to click.

Jeepers, huh?

Sure there are privacy issues, but given the intensely personal relationship most people have with their cell phones, and the fact that far more people in the world have mobile phones than computers (Gartner estimates 271 million units sold to end-users by Q2 2007) it is easy to make a convincing case for mobile computing and digital ubiquity defining the next technology era, much like social networking, AJAX, XML, and mashed-up business models define the current Web 2.0 era we’re living in today.

Okay, mobile is the future. So what the heck is Web Analytics 3.0?

If Web Analytics 1.0 was all about measuring page views to generate reports and define key performance indicators, and if Web Analytics 2.0 is about measuring events and integrating qualitative and quantitative data, then Web Analytics 3.0 is about measuring real people and optimizing the flow of information to individuals as they interact with the world around them.

Your log file analyzer can do that, right?

The current state of mobile measurement isn’t about Omniture and Visual Sciences, it isn’t about JavaScript and cookies, and it isn’t about page views, visits, and visitors. Web Analytics 3.0 is going to be something completely different, and it will depend on completely new technology. Anil Batra and I talked about a project he did a few years back while he was at digiMine — he hacked together WAP gateway logs into a pseduo-log file, using the phone number in place of a cookie. Brilliant, and the fact that Anil has this experience propels him to very near the head of the class for Web Analytics 3.0 analysts.

In theory, the mobile Internet has many of the same measurements as the hard-wired Internet. But as the information the platform and device providers make available changes, something I very much believe will happen, the quality and volume of information at our disposal will increase and improve. The W3C document on “Mobile Best Practices 1.0″ already exists but surprisingly enough don’t have a section about logging requests or measuring user interaction. M:Metrics is out there providing analyst reports, but the service is more similar to comScore and Nielsen than WebTrends and ClickTracks.

This post is already extremely long but I wanted to start the conversation. In future posts, as time allows, I’ll expand on some of what I believe is possible and how. In the interim, let me know what you think! Am I wrong? Is Web 3.0 bigger than mobile? Or do you already have a handle on measuring your mobile content, even without GPS and phone numbers as unique IDs? Do you personally have experience doing analysis on mobile content? If so, I’d love to hear about your experience.

As usual, I very much welcome your comments but am happy to receive your comments directly via email. Also, if you’re a mobile service provider or device manufacturer concerned with how advertisers and marketers will measure their success through your platform, application, or device, I would love to talk to you about the Web Analytics Demystified vision for Web Analytics 3.0.

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  • http://manuelmontanari.blogspot.com manuel

    interesting, very interesting point of view. While i agree on WA 3.0 being the mobile era, i would point out that it will be mobile combined with the most evolved 2.0 applications (i.e. streaming over mobile, or ajax type interactive applications on mobile to list only a couple).

    think about this: web 1.0 was there while there was no mobile device to surf the web proprerly. When web 2.0 came out mobile devices started to support (not 100% but closely) web 1.0 content type.. now mobile devices are starting to support some of the many web 2.0 applications, but are still behind the full web 2.0 capabilities…

    So Web Analytics 3.0 will be, this is my cheap 2 cents opinion of course, being able to measure mobile devices interaction with content that today we call web 2.0 content.



  • http://www.webanalyticsdemystified.com eric

    Manuel: Thanks. I think Web Analytics 3.0 will let us measure content regardless of origin — the fundamental issue is the diversity of browsing platforms and our ability to leverage whatever additional data is available thanks to the mobile platform.

    I guess in this regard I think about “Web x.0″ less as a technology set and more of an era — Web 1.0 was about pushing content out to the masses via web browsers. Web 2.0 is about collaboration and users pulling the content they find interesting, still largely via web browsers. Web 3.0 will roll all of this together but move out of the browser and into ** whatever ** device you happen to have handy at the time.

    Digital ubiquity.

    So we agree, and thanks for your comment!

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  • http://www.webanalyticsdemystified.com eric

    Eric, you missed this post by Jason Grigsby in Portland on the size of the mobile market:


    2.7 billion mobile phones at use in the world. Jason is referencing this post from Alan Moore that puts that 2.7 billion number in context:


    I especially like this summary:

    “2.7 Billion phones in active use. There is a subscription for 40% of the planet’s population. Maybe 10% of those are multiple subscriptions (in Europe and Industrialized Asia mostly) so perhaps 2.4 Billion people or 36% of the planet’s population actually carry at least one phone.”

    Do you know any web sites that have 2.4 billion visitors per year? Yeah, Web 3.0 is gonna be HARD to measure.

    (You know you’re tired when you’re commenting your own post, huh?)

  • Michael

    I would have to agree with Eric. The future of computing is mobile computing and therefore, we are faced with an interesting opportunity. Is it called Web 3.0? Why not? It certainly is having a huge impact, possibly larger than anything else that I can think of in terms of the overall web experience. Will some of what we call Web 2.0 make it into Web 3.0? I sure hope so, but I also hope that it will be easier to use, more relevant to each of us and that we will have guiding principles in place to help us.

    The numbers speak for themselves. There are three times more mobile computing devices (cell phones, smartphones, etc.) in circulation vs. desktop PCs and the number of new shipments are well above that. We love being connected and stay in touch with our friends, our family and work (maybe be not “love” on that one), wherever we are.

    Being tied to a chair in order to send an email, browse the web, watch that just posted YouTube video, update our blogs, skim over those RSS news feeds or find that location we are looking for through those cool mashups is finally being replaced by technology that allows us to do all of that, on the go.

    Imagine a world where you can use your mobile device to do everything you do today on your PC. Why would you own a PC? There are countries that have simply skipped the desktop to laptop evolution and went straight into the mobile phone revolution.

    I have a feeling that a whole new wave of web business models is going to come up in the next year based on this. With Apple having entered the market with the iPhone, rumors about Google’s new mobile device, Palm launching the $99 Palm Centro today, effective mobile computing is now reachable to all of us.

    It’s going to be interesting.

  • http://www.webanalyticsdemystified.com eric

    Michael: Thanks for your comment and I agree. I don’t think I’ve actually gone to YouTube on my computer since I’ve purchased the iPhone and it is becoming increasingly rare that I read my RSS feeds during my “uptime” (i.e., when I’m online working) rather I browse them during “downtime” via the mobile device.

    I guess the reason I think “Web 3.0″ is an appropriate moniker for this coming change is how profound the change may end up being. Some argue that “virtual worlds” are Web 3.0 but along your lines I don’t think the numbers really support that. I’m using KISS here to try and figure out the most likely “next really big thing” and mobile it it IMHO.

    Anyway, thanks for the feedback!

  • http://www.webdecisionnel.com Denis Lacassagne

    Very interesting debate. It’s always refreshing and energizing to read your posts.
    I’d like to add a “What If” scenario here.

    What if WA 1.0 was all about relevancy ?
    “For god sake, I purred time and money in this bloody site, at least, do I get visitors, visiting and viewing my pages?”.

    What if WA 2.0 is all about efficiency ?
    “I believe we could do better with the same means, just doing it differently. The question is how? The answer lies somewhere in the numbers”.

    What if WA 3.0 would be all about effectiveness ?
    “Do I actually reach my overall business goal?”.

    At this stage, I believe the evaluation will no longer be made by a sole person, working in a single dimension. We’ll come back to the three traditional levels of management : tactical, operational, strategic.

    Tactical : the Web Analytics team will still focus on … Web, but with more and more Artificial Intelligence doing the hard work.

    Operational : the Marketing Dpt has always been looking at a larger picture than the Web only.
    Some entity focus their Marketing on acquisition, conversion, retention. Others work on upselling and cross-selling… They send different messages on different channels, for specific segments… Some others will rely on one to one relationship, inbound and outbound…
    This headache has already a name : EMM, for “Enterprise Marketing Management”.

    Strategic : the CxOs, have never bought the idea of an online channel distinct from the offline world. They are now watching how both worlds are merging together and wait for the outcome, watching some kind of BI tool or ERP like.

    At this stage, what if the “pervasive Internet” would legitimate the “pervasive Analytics”?
    If so, beware with privacy issue…

  • http://www.webanalyticsdemystified.com eric

    Denis: You raise a good point, but I have to say I have always thought about Web Analytics 1.0 (or without any numbers) as needing to focus on efficiency and effectiveness. When I first wrote Web Analytics Demystified years ago I focused on the need to establish and define business goals as a basis for measurement. Over the years, nothing has changed — web analytics needs to be about measuring how visitor behavior correlates to business objectives, not just about data.

    But you make an excellent point — that web analytics does need to be strategic in the organization. I fully agree!

    Thanks for your comment.

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  • http://www.juditvillarreal.com Judit Villarreal

    I think mobile is not exactly the future, actually we are seeing it already. The smart phones/tablets combination are top in sales compared with notebooks/laptos/desktops in 2011. What a liked the most about this article was the facts:

    “Most mobile users around the globe don’t have access to a brilliant browsing experience through their phones, but they will.

    Most marketers aren’t advertising on mobile platforms yet, but they will.
    The most-loved company in the world isn’t in the mobile market yet, but they will be.”

    And just would add “and very soon”.
    Very insightful post!

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As someone in the web analytics field, you probably hear how lucky you are due to the fact that there are always web analytics jobs available. When the rest of the country is looking for work and you get daily calls from recruiters, it isn't a bad position to be in! At Web Analytics Demystified, we have more than doubled in the past year and still cannot keep up with the demand, so I am reaching out to you ...

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A Useful Framework for Social Media "Engagements"
Tim Wilson, Partner

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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Eric T.








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You can contact Web Analytics Demystified day or night via email or by reaching out to one of our Partners directly.

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Web Analytics Demystified, Inc.
P.O. Box 13303
Portland, OR 97213
(503) 282-2601

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