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Archive for 'Web Analytics Association'

2012 WAA Award of Excellence

On Tuesday at the Emetrics Summit the Web Analytics Association membership awarded Web Analytics Demystified a 2012 Award for Excellence and dubbed us the “Most Influential Agency” in the digital measurement sector. We are incredibly honored by the award but there are a few folks I forgot to thank at the event that Adam, Brian, John, and I wanted to recognize:

  • Our wives and families, without whom we would not be able to do the work we do
  • Our clients, whose continued support keeps us participating in some amazing analytics around the world
  • Our partners, including Keystone Solutions, IQ Workforce, and eClerx, whose own leadership makes our work better
  • Our sponsors for Web Analytics Wednesday, Analysis Exchange, and ACCELERATE allow us to expand our footprint
  • Our friends throughout the digital measurement, analysis, and optimization community around the world, especially April Wilson who wrote a really nice nomination letter for us

While Web Analytics Demystified can be a facilitator and catalyst for great events, experiences, and engagements, we are only successful because we get such incredible help and support from the community. From each of us to all of you, thank you!


Published on March 8, 2012 under ACCELERATE, Analysis Exchange, General Web Analytics, Web Analytics Association, Web Analytics People, Web Analytics Wednesday

Announcing the Analysis Exchange Scholarship

Continuing our long-standing efforts to support the broader digital measurement, analysis, and optimization community around the globe, I am incredibly happy to announce the creation of the Analysis Exchange Scholarship Fund. You can read the press release and learn more about the effort at the Analysis Exchange web site, but in an nutshell thanks to the generosity of ObservePoint and IQ Workforce we are now able to financially support Analysis Exchange member’s in their efforts to expand their web analytics horizons.

What’s more, as soon as Jim Sterne heard about our efforts, he and Matthew Finlay immediately donated three passes to the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit each year — how amazing is that! Tremendous thanks to Corry Prohens, Rob Seolas, Jim Sterne, and each of their teams for their support of our efforts at the Analysis Exchange.

Analysis Exchange members in good standing are encouraged to apply for scholarship funds. We are open to ideas but in general expect these funds to be used for things like:

  • Pay partial travel or registration fees for conferences like ACCELERATE and eMetrics
  • Pay annual membership fees for the Web Analytics Association or other professional groups
  • Pay partial tuition to the University of British Columbia’s Web Analytics courses
  • Pay partial costs for the Web Analytics Association’s certification
  • Pay for books, software licenses, and so on

Quarterly awards will be up to $500 USD per selected applicant and I imagine we will give two or three away each quarter depending on the quality of applications we get. You need to be a member of Analysis Exchange in good standing and have earned very good scores on projects to be eligible.

I hope you’ll take a minute to learn more about the Analysis Exchange Scholarship. I also hope you’ve been helping in the Analysis Exchange and you’re excited to apply for this funding!

If you have any questions about these funds please don’t hesitate to reach out to our Executive Director Wendy Greco directly. I am also happy to answer questions.

Thanks

Published on January 24, 2012 under ACCELERATE, Analysis Exchange, General Web Analytics, Web Analytics Association, Web Analytics Demystified Business

My New Year’s Resolutions, Demystified

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you had a relaxing and joyous Holiday season and are as excited as I am about what the coming year has in store. While I’m not much for making predictions I am a big fan of making resolutions, both personal and professional. Here are five high-level resolutions that Adam, John, and I have made for 2012:

We resolve to continue to provide great value to our clients.

A consulting business like ours is only as good as the value we provide on an ongoing basis. To that end, all of us are committed to working closely with all of our clients to ensure we deliver business insights and recommendations designed to make our key stakeholders look like heroes within their organizations. While we are intensely proud of the work our client Best Buy has done to become more analytically-minded, we want all of our clients to appreciate the same type of high-visibility wins.

We resolve to have Demystified to evolve with our industry.

You don’t need to be an analyst to see that the “web analytics” industry is changing. Increasingly the work our clients do is less about the “web” and more about the entire digital world, and the people, process, and technology required to analyze and optimize the digital world are different than those we have used in the past. We started thinking about this transformation back in 2009, but at Web Analytics Demystified we are committed to adding resources and knowledge to be the best guides possible as our clients begin to leverage digital business intelligence and data sciences.

We resolve to continue to provide great support to the measurement community.

Web Analytics Demystified is fortunate to be more than just a consultancy, we are part of the foundation of the entire digital measurement community around the world. Through our Web Analytics Wednesday event series, our Analysis Exchange educational efforts, our support for the Web Analytics Association, and now our ACCELERATE conference series we are able to connect with analysts around the world. In 2012 we resolve to do more for the community — watch our web site for news in the coming weeks about all of these efforts.

We resolve to provide more web analytics education in 2012 than ever before.

Our educational effort, Analysis Exchange, has succeeded beyond expectation since it’s inception in 2010, thanks largely to the efforts of Executive Director Wendy Greco. With nearly 1,700 members and nearly 200 completed projects, the Exchange has become the de facto source for hands-on web analytics education. But we believe we have found a way to do even more with the Exchange in 2012, creating more projects and opportunities for any individual motivated to break into this industry.

We resolve to make ACCELERATE the best small digital measurement conference in the world.

In 2011 we tried something new with the ACCELERATE conference. While mistakes were made, and an awful lot of nice people weren’t able to join us due to demand, we believe we are converging on an innovative conference format that will continue to be 100% free to attend. But we promise to not just stop when we find something that works — we are resolved to push ACCELERATE to be the most engaging, most fun, and most valuable small event in the industry.

How about you? What are you resolved to do in 2012?

Published on January 9, 2012 under ACCELERATE, Analysis Exchange, General Web Analytics, Random Thoughts, Web Analytics Association, Web Analytics Wednesday

Finally! Standards come to Web Analytics

Last week I had the pleasure of traveling to Columbus, Ohio to participate in Web Analytics Wednesday, hosted by Resource Interactive’s Tim Wilson and generously sponsored by the fine folks at Foresee. We opted for an “open Q&A” format that turned out pretty well. Turns out the web analysts in Ohio are a pretty sharp bunch so all of the questions I fielded were of the “hardball” type.

One question in particular surprised me, and the answer I gave forced me to elucidate a point I have been pondering for some time but have never voiced in public. The question came from Elizabeth Smalls (@smallsmeasures, go follow her now) who asked, and I paraphrase, “How can we best explain the differences in the numbers we see between systems?” and ”Is there any chance the web analytics industry will ever have ‘standards’?”

Long-time readers know I have followed the Web Analytics Associations’s efforts to establish standards closely over the years, helping to create awareness about the work and also pushing the Association to “put teeth” behind their definitions and encourage vendors to either move towards the “standard” definitions or, at worst, elucidate where they are compliant and where they differ from the WAA’s work.

Sadly the WAA’s “standards” never really caught on as a set of baseline definitions against which all systems could be compared to help explain some of the differences in the data. As a result practitioners around the globe still struggle when it comes time to explain these differences, especially when moving from one paid vendor to another.  But none of this matters anymore for one simple reason …

Google Analytics has become the de facto standard for web analytics.

Google has become the standard for web analytics by sheer force of might, persistence, and dedication. By every measure, Google Analytics is the world’s most popular and widely deployed web analytics solution. Hell, in our Analysis Exchange efforts we focus exclusively on the use of Google Analytics because A) we know that 99 times out of 100 we will find it already deployed and B) nearly all of our mentors have had enough exposure to Google Analytics to effectively teach it to our students.

What’s more, as Forrester’s Joe Stanhope opined the recently published Forrester Wave for Web Analytics, web analytics as we knew it doesn’t really exist anymore:

“Few web analytics vendors restrict their remit to pure on-site analytics. Most vendor road maps incorporate emerging media such as social and mobile channels, data agnostic integration and analysis features, usability for a broad array of analytics stakeholders, and scalability to handle the rising influx of data and activity.”

Joe says “few” vendors remained focused on on-site analytics, but it would be more precise to say “one” vendor — Google — has maintained interest in how site operators measure their efforts with any level of exclusivity and sincerity. In fact, I don’t think we need to call the industry “web analytics” anymore … it is probably more accurate to say we have “Google Analytics” and “Everything Else.”

Everything else is enterprise marketing platforms. Everything else is integrated online marketing suites. Everything else … is all of the stuff that has been layered on top of solutions we have historically considered “web analytics” as a response to an event that can only be accurately described as the single most important acquisition in our sector, period.

Google Analytics is the de facto standard for web analytics, and this is great news.

Assuming you take care with your Google Analytics implementation, whenever there is a question about the data you will have a fairly consistent[1] view for comparison. Switching from one vendor to another? Use Google Analytics to help explain the differences between the two systems! Worried that your paid vendor implementation is missing data? Compare it to Google Analytics to ensure that you have complete page coverage! Not sure if a vendor’s recent change in their use of cookies impacted their data accuracy? Yes, you guessed it, compare it to Google Analytics!

With Google Analytics you have a totally free standard against which all other data can be reconciled.

Now keep in mind, I am absolutely not saying that all you need is Google Analytics — nothing could be further from the truth. Despite a nice series of updates and the emergence of a paid solution that may be appropriate for some companies, I agree with Stanhope when he says that “Google Analytics Premium still lags enterprise competitors in several areas such as data integration, administration, and data processing …”

But that’s a debate for the lobby bar, not this blog post.

If you’re looking for a set of rules that can be universally applied when it comes to the most basic and fundamental definitions for the measures, metrics, and dimensions that our industry is built upon, you don’t have to look anymore. Google has solved that problem for the rest of us, and we should thank them. Now, thanks to Google, we can focus on some of the real problems facing our industry … which again, is a debate best left to the lobby bar.

What do you think? Are you running Google Analytics on your site? Do you use it when you see anomalies in data collected through other systems? Have you used it to validate a move from one paid vendor to another? Or do you believe that the WAA standards already provide the solution I am ascribing to Google?

As always I welcome your opinions and feedback.


[1] Yes, when Google changed the definition of a “session” that impacted their consistency, but once they corrected the bug they introduced it seems the number of complaints has gone down significantly. What’s more, the change made sense and in general we should be in favor of “improving on standards whenever possible” don’t you think?

Published on October 11, 2011 under General Web Analytics, Random Thoughts, Vendors, Web Analytics Association

Amazing news from Analysis Exchange

UPDATED: We got great quotes from the Vice President of Human Resources who hired Jan Alden Cornish that clarify how Analysis Exchange is making a difference when it comes to hiring web analysts.  See below!

If you’ve worked in web analytics and digital measurement for long, or if you’ve ever tried to hire an experienced web analyst, you know that there are not enough qualified, experienced, and well-trained web analysts in the world. What’s more, for the majority of our sector’s development there was literally nowhere someone new could go to get the kind of hands-on education and experience that most hiring managers are looking for. Considered together the web analytics industry has been stuck in a “lose/lose” situation.

The training gap was the central problem we set out to solve in 2009 when we launched the Analysis Exchange. Our goal was to bring “student learners” together with experienced mentors to provide guided education and work to ensure that entry-level analysts were familiar with both the theory and practice of web analytics. Analysis Exchange was designed as a logical “next step” for people who had read books, followed blogs, or taken online training from great groups like the WAA via their University of British Columbia coursework.

What’s more, so that our students would learn to “tell a story with data and analysis” we opted to work with nonprofits from around the globe — a traditionally under-served group when it came to site analysis and insight generation. This turned out to be a great idea, and we are honored every week by a handful of organizations who are willing to help us create valuable training opportunities for our community.

I set a lofty goal for Analysis Exchange when I first announced the effort was open to everyone at the Emetrics Summit in San Jose last May — I wanted to help 1,000 nonprofits and create training opportunities for 500 students. Unfortunately we didn’t meet that goal … but we have made amazing strides, a few of which I’d like to share with you today:

  1. We have grown to over 1,250 members around the world, including 205 nonprofit groups and nearly 650 students. Following the Web Analytics Association we believe Analysis Exchange to be the single largest group of individuals interested in the subject of web analytics in the world — and we’re pretty excited about that!
  2. Our members have completed over 100 projects in the past year. What’s more, our students and mentors have earned awesome scores with an average “likelihood to recommend this mentor/student” score of 9.5 and an average rating for each member’s work of 9.4 (both out of 10.0)
  3. We won a prestigious award from the Web Analytics Association. Analysis Exchange was recognized as the “Most Influential Agency or Vendor” by the WAA at this year’s awards event.
  4. IQ Workforce has just agreed to help us grow and expand our efforts. Given our commitment to incubating new talent within the web analytics community this sponsorship makes great sense (read more about it here) and we’re delighted to have Corry Prohens and his team helping our mentors and students expand their horizons.
  5. We recently had our first student get a full-time job working in web analytics. This more than anything excites me … the fact that Analysis Exchange is working “as designed” for the web analytics community, helping individuals get the experience they need to bridge the gap between “knowledgable” and “employed.”

On this last point I wanted to share a little more detail. We have some pretty motivated mentors and students in the Analysis Exchange. One of our students is Jan Alden Cornish from Carmel, California. Jan has done three projects with us and in one case stepped in and helped out at the very last minute. He’s bright, articulate, and one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet … so when he called and asked me to provide a reference for him on a job interview I was more than happy to help.

According to Jan:

“Completing three projects with the Analytics Exchange afforded me a rare opportunity to work side by side with seasoned practitioners. Each project had it’s own unique set of challenges. Nothing can replace hands on experience with real data and a need to solve real problems. Digital marketing doesn’t take in an organizational vacuum. These projects also provided me an understanding of organizational context in web analytics takes place.”

We also heard from the Vice President of Human Resources who hired Jan, Cynthia Nelson Holmsky:

“As a major e-commerce website we were recruiting for an E-Commerce Analyst and found an alumni of Analysis Exchange.  While the candidate had many years of business and software analytics, his only web experience was through Analysis Exchange.  However that Exchange experience provided just enough applied web analytics to win him the interview.  During this recruitment I met other candidates with strong business analysis backgrounds who lacked any web experience, and I referred all of them to Analysis Exchange as a great place to learn web analytics and expand their career potential.”

Cynthia clearly understands the challenges facing recruiters and HR specialists looking for web analytics talent (emphasis mine):

“Web analytics is still a young discipline.  Many individuals and businesses want to develop competencies in web analytics, but wonder “Where do you go to develop expertise?”  Many colleges and universities have yet to integrate web analytics into their curricula, or what they cover is not hands-on, so Analysis Exchange is meeting a key need in the marketplace for individuals who want real world experience, while at the same time building supply to meet the demand for web analysis talent in the tech job market.  Plus, the Exchange is meeting the needs of non-profit organizations that normally could not tap into this type of expertise.  Analysis Exchange is a  great idea, and a win-win-win model.

Hopefully Jan will continue to support the Analysis Exchange — as a mentor, now that he is working professionally in the field. I also hope those of you reading this post will consider joining Jan in the Analysis Exchange. Signing up takes less than a minute and there are plenty of projects looking for mentors and students available right now.

Published on May 17, 2011 under Analysis Exchange, General Web Analytics, Web Analytics Association

 


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