ERIC T. PETERSON
All Blog Posts
Subscribe by Email
Subscribe by RSS
Archive for April, 2008
As Web Analytics Wednesday continues to gain momentum around the world leading into what is shaping up to be the largest event in WAW history in San Francisco on Tuesday, May 6th, I am pleased to announce that Coremetrics and SiteSpect have both signed on to be global sponsors of this event.
You can read the press release here but the essence of this announcement is that these great companies share my vision for what Web Analytics Wednesday is becoming — the largest and most widely recognized gathering of web analytics professionals in the world. In sharing the vision, their management teams have graciously decided to provide financial support to allow Web Analytics Demystified provide more reimbursement to a larger number of events around the world.
Starting today, we are pleased to be able to help emerging Web Analytics Wednesday chapters cover the cost of providing food and drink to participants. You can read about the WAW sponsorship policy here and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to write me directly.
On behalf of myself, my wife Amity who provides event support, June, and every Web Analytics Wednesday host and participant around the world I want to thank Coremetrics and SiteSpect for their vision and contribution. So far in April nearly 700 people have signed up to participate in Web Analytics Wednesday and we’re well on the way to beat my goal of 5,000 participants worldwide in 2008!
In other Web Analytics Wednesday news …
- I will be in New York this coming Wednesday giving a short Web Analytics Wednesday presentation on “The Future of Web Analytics” at the headquarters of Avenue A/Razorfish. This event is being organized by Joel Collymore, one of the WAW hosting superstars, and promises to be a great event (over 115 people are signed up to attend already!) Sign up here to join us since we need to add you on the security list at the door!
- Don’t forget, if you live in the Bay Area in Northern California or are coming to Emetrics, we are having what is likely to be the largest WAW event in history at the Fluid Nightclub on Mission Avenue. This special WAW on Tuesday, May 6th is open to all web analytics practitioners regardless of whether you’re going to Emetrics or not so please sign up to join us!
- Just in case you live in French Polynesia, the first ever Web Analytics Wednesday event is being held on Bora Bora in Tahiti. Steve Jackson, blogger, consultant, and likely soon-to-be EUWAA leader is heading to Bora Bora for his honeymoon and has offered to help spread the good word. While his new bride will almost certainly not think it amusing, if you can get to Bora Bora I’m buying the drinks!
I am especially excited about the San Francisco event because Coremetrics, ForeSee Results, SiteSpect, and Tealeaf have all made significant sponsorship donations, giving us quite a lot of lattitude to entertain. It looks like our efforts are paying off as the sign-up list is a virtual who’s who of web analytics thought-leaders, practitioner talent, and consulting genius!
Regular readers know that I travel to Europe twice a year to do business and work with my partners Satama and LBi/OX2. During my most recent trip I was delighted to have more time to talk at length with a wide variety of companies, practitioners, and thought leaders and a few things stood out in my mind after these conversations:
- The European market is not unlike the U.S. market in terms of practitioner experience and overall thought leadership. I reported this after my last trip based primarily on survey data, but have been delighted to verify that there are some really amazing people doing some truly great things “across the pond.” This includes end-users and analytics managers inside companies and thought and practice leaders like Steve Jackson at Satama, Aurelie Pols and her team at LBi/OX2, Dennis Mortensen, Lars Johannsen, Oliver Schiffers, Marianina Chapin, Brian Clifton, and a whole lot of folks I’m forgetting to list! In a way, Dennis Mortensen recently became the “Avinash Kaushik” of Europe, a full-blown analytics evangelist!
- The European market is different than the U.S. market in terms of investment in web analytics, although less so that I previously believed. After countless conversations about technology, people, and process, I kept coming back to the same conclusion: Europe is somewhere between two and four years behind the U.S. in terms of investment in web analytics. More specifically, I believe that the northern countries (Nordics, UK, Holland, primarily) are more like the U.S. in terms of their investment and, broadly speaking, the lag-behind time increases as you move further south. My evidence is anecdotal to be sure, but when I tested the theory most people working for pan-European organizations agreed — do you?
Based on these two points I come to the inevitable conclusion that Europe is about to really take off in terms of the adoption and use of web analytics. Those of you keeping track will recall that it was about two years ago that the practice of web analytics really started to accelerate here in the U.S. I think that the northern European countries especially are about to begin this same type of rapid adoption/expansion we’ve seen over the past two years, which is excellent news!
Now, some of you are certainly saying “well duh, Peterson” either because you work for a U.S.-based vendor who has been bulking up in Europe for the last 12 months, or more likely because you’re European and are experiencing what I’ve described first hand. Fair enough. But my point is not that Europe is running behind the U.S. in adoption of analytics; my point is that European practitioners, consultants, and vendors are in a different place than their U.S.-based counterparts and thusly would benefit from a different support organization than we benefit from here in North America. Specifically, I believe that Europe should have its own Web Analytics Association.
Yep, I think we need a EuWAA.
Because the needs of European practitioners, vendors, consultants, and even the European media are different, I increasingly suspect that a North American-based WAA may not be best suited to provide the same type of great opportunities, educational events, and benefits we appreciate in the U.S. and Canada. And, while I agreed to not name names, I think some European WAA members don’t disagree with this assessment and would relish the chance to provide/receive additional value from a more locally run association.
A sister organization in Europe, one governed by a European Board of Directors and funded primarily by European vendors and consulting firms, would invariably be better able to serve the needs of specific markets at different stages of analytics maturity. The EuWAA could set country-specific pricing, have both regional and pan-European events, and make decisions that were carefully focused on the needs of different European constituencies.
I’m not saying anything is wrong with the current WAA; I think that the current and past board’s of directors have done a good job working to include European members in the decision making process and overall value chain. I’m saying is that there is an opportunity to “think different” (to quote Jim Sterne) and consider how a more regional focus might be better for everyone. The NaWAA could focus on North American events, opportunites, outreach, and issues and create even more value for members here in the states and Canada. And the NaWAA and EuWAA could work together to provide value for emerging markets across the globe.
In terms of funding, I would propose that A) there are a ton of European vendors who would be willing to support the EuWAA, B) that the U.S.-based vendors looking to expand into Europe would be motivated to support the group, C) European companies and practitioners would be more likely to support a European organization focused on the specific needs of European businesses and D) it would be very appropriate for the NaWAA to provide seed capital to this new, sister organization.
Web Analytics Demystified would gladly join as a founding member since we’re a global organization!
I don’t want to get into more specifics here, but if you have an open mind you might see that the idea makes a ton of sense and that a lot of the necessary work has already been done. And while I’m not 100% sure which of the European citizens running for the WAA Board have been elected, between those fine folks, the European thought leaders, and forward thinking European vendors and consultancies, I firmly believe that EuWAA can be done successfully.
I also believe, while some will argue this, that the Web Analytics Association in general will be better for breaking up into regionally focused sister organizations. Because our practice is still relatively young, there is undoubtedly differential geographic maturation and I think this needs to be recognized and treated appropriately.
Anyway, I just wanted to put the idea out there. With the annual meeting/party happening in a few weeks in San Francisco it seemed like as good a time as any to bring EuWAA up and get people talking.
Because I have finally, after much goading, joined the Twitter generation. It took Aaron Gray from WebTrends and like 11 beers (which I felt this morning, mind you) after a very successful Web Analytics Wednesday event here in Portland to get me to join Twitter. Hell, I didn’t even join after meeting Biz Stone and boating around Rotterdam with him last summer (sorry Biz!) But Aaron made me wonder who Twitter streams might be used in the engagement calculation so like a cat to milk I went running.
Incidentally I did not say “Twitter has no value” or at least I don’t think I said that. I suspect there was some qualification involved (although see my above comment about 11 beers … sheesh!)
Thanks Aaron. Yet another excuse to play with my iPhone, not my kids. You rule.
Want to follow me? I’m easy to find!
Last Wednesday I had the honor and pleasure of helping break the story about Yahoo’s acquisition of IndexTools. My post was pretty well received, generating over 40 comments and a handful of citations in the popular press. In that post I speculated two things:
- That Yahoo! would offer IndexTools at no charge by Christmas 2008
- That this acquisition was potentially a permanent game changer
This morning Dennis Mortensen sent me an email with the following message:
“your predictions was not that far off!
At his blog Dennis announced that Yahoo! was now waiving all fees for current clients, essentially making IndexTools free. Dennis also announced that current IndexTools partners would be able to deploy new IndexTools implementations free of charge. Finally, Dennis commented that for the time being IndexTools would be closed to new customers, giving Yahoo! a chance to determine what their next move would be.
Christmas, Tax day, whatever. Free is free.
While I am already on record as believing that Yahoo made an excellent strategic move in acquiring IndexTools, the “make it free now” decision is absolutely freaking brilliant and the guys who pulled the trigger deserve a medal.
In one fell swoop, Yahoo! and IndexTools:
- Assuage all of the fears of current customers regarding the transition, any hiccups, etc. by offering the best possible olive branch in the world: free stuff! Worried about the transition? Okay, don’t pay us. Concerned about your data? Okay, don’t pay us. Don’t like Yahoo! that much? Okay, don’t pay us.
- Create instant demand for the product, and an instant revenue stream to the few companies that have been loyal to IndexTools all along. Imagine your glee if you woke up this morning and learned that you’re part of a limited channel able to offer IndexTools at no charge to your clients? I know I’d be pretty happy!
- Serve notice to your competitors, whoever those competitors are, that you are not messing around and they need to get their act together quick. Regardless of what Google says (or rather, has not said) and what Omniture says, IndexTools directly competes for both of their business (and everyone else in the sector to be sure.)
This third point is important, and it speaks directly to why I think this acquisition changes our market more or less forever. So far the team at Google Analytics has been eerily silent — or if they have spoken I have missed their comments — but I have already talked to multiple people who have basically said, “It’s a no brainer, I’ll deploy IndexTools and either run Google Analytics for validation or drop GA entirely.” More importantly, I’m talking to some pretty bright consultants that are chomping at the bit to get away from having to make excuses and write hacks to make Google Analytics do stuff it is not designed to do (screen scraping, really?!) and use a more full-featured application.
It’s not that Google cares all that much I suspect; rather I think they’re more than happy to have a real competitor in the free market, especially one that offers a logical “step up” from the basic functionality that Google Analytics has to offer. I won’t be surprised at all if Brett Crosby publicly welcomes Yahoo! (back) into the web analytics arena in the same way he welcomed Microsoft to the game last year at Emetrics. I’ll be less surprised if Google’s Analytics Evangelist has a happy post about IndexTools sometime this week, especially given his historical evangelism for IndexTools and professed respect for Mr. Mortensen.
The real challenge I see on the horizon is for the paid service providers, especially those focusing largely on the mid- to higher-end of the market (which is to say everyone.)
Consider the following:
- Like it or not, IndexTools is pretty much as good as most of the best analytics offerings out there today. It may not be as pretty, it may not be as “AJAX-y”, it may not be as fast, but this is an offering that goes toe-to-toe with the “mass market” analytics offerings from all the major vendors and in my opinion is every bit as good. Why would I say that? Simple, I have been running IndexTools on my web site for the past six months. IndexTools is not easy, but it is no more complicated than anything else out there (IMHO.) If you look around at comments and what some people are saying you’ll head the same thing over and over: Companies of all sizes have been selecting IndexTools for years based on rich, comparative functionality made available at an affordable price point. IndexTools has great filters, great segmentation, great custom report building tools, great extras like color coding, notes, and dashboards. Did I mention it is now all available for free?
- The complaints about IndexTools are, for the most part, underwhelming. One (nameless) vendor has said that IndexTools is inferior because it wasn’t included in the last Forrester Wave and JupiterResearch constellation. The same vendor said that IndexTools is inferior because someone else said most of their clients are SMBs. The same vendor tries to created FUD around the data center being in Eastern Europe. The same vendor says that IndexTools doesn’t have “deep domain expertise” or “specialized services” The problem is that A) both Forrester and JupiterResearch focused only on U.S.-based vendors and (I believe) excluded IndexTools based on geography, not functionality, B) IndexTools does have some very large clients (Vodafone, PriceRunner, Tesco, ToysRUs — read this interview with Dennis Mortensen for details), C) I suspect Yahoo! will be doing some work on the data collection and reporting architecture over the next few months, and D) IndexTools is very likely to follow Google’s model of relying on external web analytics experts to provide expertise and specialized services (YAAC, right?)
- The valid complaints about IndexTools are either being addressed currently or are likely to be addressed very shortly. Phil Kemelor from Semphonic who also does some work for CMSWatch has looked at the major analytics applications perhaps more than a normal human being should in the process of writing his really, really big book on web analytics tools. Regarding IndexTools, Phil said the following:
“IndexTools does not offer the functionality that distinguishes it from Omniture and WebTrends — for example the ability to analyze unaggregated data from a graphic UI and to perform repeatable Excel reporting. For now, you must use regular expressions to analyze unaggregated data and do manual updates of Excel…just like Google Analytics.”
Good assessment, Phil, and a reasonable critique of IndexTools except. I would only offer that all the major vendors require add-on applications to analyze truly unaggregated data from a graphic UI (Omniture Discover, WebTrends Visitor Intelligence, etc.) and on this point IndexTools has already showed quite a lot of people “Rubix” which is the inevitable response (and which I sincerely hope that Yahoo! decides to release, even if they make us pay something for it.)
Personally I think that the ability to analyze unaggregated data should be in a separate interface, one designed for expert users working in the web analytics hub, and that IndexTools following the SiteCatalyst/Discover, WebTrends Analytics/Visitor Intelligence, NetTracker/NetInsight, etc. model is the right decision.
Regarding the “repeatable Excel reporting” … in my interface under “Settings” I have something called “Scheduled Email Reports” that seems to work pretty well. I can add a bunch of reports and schedule them for delivery in whatever format I choose; It’s not exactly what I want (having used HBX Report Builder, still the gold standard for Excel integration IMHO) but it certainly fills an important need for web analytics practitioners. This may be an IndexTools 10 feature that I am a BETA tester for, which may explain the confusion …
Finally, I would personally offer that Google Analytics and IndexTools are (in their current state) dramatically different applications targeting very different audiences. I am sure to take endless shit for this but I believe that Google Analytics is a great entry-level tool, something designed to seem “easy” and get folks used to the idea of doing web analytics on a professional level; IndexTools is not a great entry-level tool, rather it is a rich analysis engine that is the next logical “step up” from Google Analytics for practitioners and companies needing robust segmentation, customization, and drill-down capabilities.
Don’t believe me? Go to Google Analytics and create the following segment then apply it to your most commonly used reports:
In the body of the document, which I hope I am okay quoting a little bit from, Phil also says (and I paraphrase) that IndexTools strengths include “on-screen drill down detail in reports; ad-hoc analysis features; dashboard presentation and customization” and that in addition to the weaknesses listed above, that a weakness is that IndexTools requires the “manual entry of distribution list recipients.”
Those of you who have seen Phil’s book know that he has done an absolutely amazing job summarizing the strengths and weaknesses of each tool. In his conclusions, Phil has says the following:
“IndexTools should receive consideration if you want a well-priced, commerce-focused reporting solution and do not want to pay Omniture, WebTrends, or Coremetrics prices. If most of your users are part-time analysts and marketers who basically need reporting, IndexTools may be a reasonable selection. If you require complex slicing and dicing, IndexTools should still be on your list. Automated data integration and multiple sites with huge volumes of traffic and multiple campaigns may present challenges to IndexTools. However, because the company has a history of accommodating custom requirements, you should consider the possibility of IndexTools meeting your needs even though you want something outside of their standard feature set.”
My interpretation of this is more or less “look at IndexTools” as part of your consideration process. There are instances where IndexTools may not be appropriate — absolutely true, no application is all things to all people — but if you compare the assessment above to the conclusions provided for Omniture and others I think you’ll see a favorable recommendation for IndexTools (at least I did.) If you’re interested in reading the rest of what Phil had to say, I strongly recommend buying a copy of The Web Analytics Report 2008 from CMSWatch.
Some things are missing in IndexTools 9, mostly the ability to create custom metrics (something I have become pretty used to in Visual Site), and a couple other minor things I like to see in a mass-market analytics solution but I think there are quite a few people who will be willing to look the other way on small points like this given the price point. My basis for saying this? Simple, a rumored 1.2 million Google Analytics deployments and the army of people willing to look the other way regarding the limitations in GA …
Which brings me to why I believe IndexTools is a permanent game changer:
- The paradigm shift I cited in my last post on the subject is going to happen a lot sooner than some people thought. Now, if you know an IndexTools partner, or soon if not, companies really don’t have to worry about the vendor selection process. If you’re new to web analytics you can get Google Analytics; if you’ve pushed past the limited functionality in GA, you can get IndexTools. Total cost for tools: nothing. Companies will be able to (finally) focus on how the tools are used and the process of doing web analytics, not haggle with vendors over pricing, fight with IT over implementation, etc., which is exactly where we need to be. Web analytics is not about the tools, web analytics is about how the tools are used to improve the business.
- The existing for-fee vendors have been served notice and will have to figure out a better sales proposition than “the competition sucks.” I’m willing to be wrong on this point, but I don’t think the current “anti-IndexTools” messaging I’m hearing is likely to hold up under scrutiny. Eventually buyers are going to realize that they’re talking to sales people, some of whom are somewhat integrity-challenged, who will say anything to get them to look away from Yahoo’s offering. This rocks, in my opinion, because it spells the end of the negative selling that has been a hallmark of some vendor’s capabilities. Let’s focus on what makes you truly different, given that I can get something very similar for free, huh? As far as the claim that IndexTools sucks because the analysts don’t cover it? Um, are you sure?
- For the existing for-fee vendors to continue to thrive, they will need to move quickly up-market and focus on the needs of a very sophisticated audience. This is really very interesting since it highlights a growing schism between vendors trying to own the Enterprise and those trying to play nice with others. Don’t know what I mean? Look around for things like “Closed-loop Marketing” and the implication that you should be bringing all your Enterprise data into your web analytics system; compare that messaging to the idea of open architectures and the notion of integrating appropriate web analytic data back into the rest of the business. In fact, now that the pricing battle is coming to an end, I think that this is the next really interesting conversation we’re going to have …
So we start to focus on the application of the tools, not the tools themselves. Game changing. The vendors are forced to refine both their offering and their sales process. Game changing. Consultants have better free tools to work with. Game changing. Web analytics technology is pushed further along towards being a commodity. Game changing.
I’m not one to make a bunch of predictions, but I would challenge those of you who disagree with my assessment to set an alert in your calendar for twelve months from today. When the alarm goes off, take a look at the adoption rate for IndexTools, the trading price for OMTR, and the ownership status of the remaining privately held web analytics vendors in the marketplace today. Again, I am perfectly happy to be wrong about how IndexTools might change the market …
I should reiterate that all of this is not without risks: there is still a lot that could go wrong as Yahoo! integrates IndexTools into their larger offering: the team could become de-focused, key people could leave Yahoo, Microsoft could succeed in their take-over efforts, etc. (and yeah I remember Keylime too, but that was a different time, a different technology, and frankly a different group of people managing the process.) I am very impressed with what I’m hearing so far and look forward to the evolution of the entire web analytics sector, driven in part by Yahoo! and IndexTools.
Again, congratulations to the teams at Yahoo and IndexTools and, um, Merry Christmas to the few IndexTools partners who will have the market cornered on this technology for the time being.
Those of you who regularly attend the Emetrics Marketing Optimization Summit here in the states know that from time to time we hold big Web Analytics Wednesday events in conjunction with the conference. Especially in San Francisco where the philosophical founder of WAW lives (June Dershewitz!) we like to have big events.
This time June and her partner David are planning a doozy!
Thanks to the very generous support of Coremetrics, ForeSee Results, SiteSpect, Tealeaf, and Jim Sterne (Marketing Optimization Summit) we are having a big party at the Fluid Nightclub on Mission Street (just around the corner from the conference hotel.)
You can download a very snazzy PDF invitation or read the press release about the event.
If you’re coming to Emetrics, even if you’re planning on attending a vendor dinner or just hitting the town, we sincerely hope that you’ll join us at this special Web Analytics Wednesday (on Tuesday) event. You can register to join us and get all the details here.