Omniture Acquires Visual Sciences

From their joint press release to-day:

The management teams of both companies will host a conference call and simultaneous audio-only webcast today at 6:00 p.m. (Eastern Time).

Don't miss this. Things just got a lot more interesting (in the competition for market dominance, it's largely them against Google now... In the near term at least, this move helps solidify OMTR's current hold on the enterprise tier).

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C is for Cookie

The whole furor around cookie deletion rates (1st and 3rd party) has been brewing in the Web Analytics scene for a while, so likewise, I've been meaning to comment on it here for a while. How the cookie crumbles is a topic I've been fielding repeated questions about for a solid year or more, and in that time for my clients I've maintained that, relatively speaking, the matter has been a bit of a media-fueled tempest in a teacup.

It was only a matter of time until someone published a thorough discussion of why. If you didn't catch the final version of Stone Temple's very intriguing 2007 Web Analytics Shootout, hit it up and watch for these gems:

...some of the largest sources of error, such as those that relate to session management and counting, do cause a variance in the traffic results returned by the packages, but they do not affect the ability of the program to minitor the key performance indicators (KPIs) of your site.

Even if an analytics package is measuring the behavior of only 80% of their users, it remains highly relevant and valuable data. By contrast, the traditional print industry relies on subscriber surveys, and feels lucky if they get 20% response. They would die for data on 80% of their customers.

The fact is that some percentage of the questionable data is bad, and some of it may actually relate to a real user. The package that throws out too little gets skewed on one direction, and the package that throws out too much gets skewed a little bit in the other direction.

Neither of these changes the ability of these packages to measure trends, or to help you do sophisticated analysis about what users are doing on your site.

Thanks, Eric. I couldn't have summed it up better myself, especially in consideration of how cookie deletion and/or blocking is just one "error" type that can occur.

Now, critics of this stance cite the revenue models of advertising networks, specifically those that make their money by serving impressions (typically pricing by CPM). My opinion there though, is that they have essentially the same calibration tasks to embrace - as part of routine maintenance - as their customers do. The issue is not that in there is no perfect number. It's human nature to seek out impurities, and do things like brand all forms of hypocrisy band along the way and other short-sightedness. In the works of online analytics though, those urges have their place but do have to be kept in check. In this game, yes, actionable guidance is real and essential. As far as hard numbers go however, there is no "final answer."

The real issue is more that it falls to publishers and advertisers to be mutually prepared to haggle it out if/as their numbers don't match up and it's invoicing and/or contract renewals (a.k.a. "remind us again what we pay you people for") time. Sink your teeth in and take a bite; it's part of the fun. Always be tracking and auditing your own end via multiple tools i.e. disparate reporting sources if/as it really, really matters.

  • If you're a publisher, advertisers should want to keep your business. If/as you've a good case to make, do so... or at least make sure someone (your agency if you have one) is watching over your house attentively. It's part of what any involved intermediaries should be there for (and why it's good to have an agnostic middleman in the mix sometimes).
  • On the other hand if what puts food on your table is charging by Impressions (if you're an advertiser), build maximum deviations into your pricing model as a safety net. It's not like publishers don't need you to maintain visibility.

If the relationship's been working out and neither party's made itself a rep with the other for being a choad, problem solved.

I'm using the report's publication as a chance to spew scream cookies about this a little, as one of the most common traps I see people fall into in this space, is habitually obsessing over small incremental accuracies too much, while not monitoring longer-term trends, too much. Some marketers lack patience to pay enough attention to larger trends, and/or worse, fail to invest in positioning to monitor them - caveats and all - from the moment they hit the Web. Among the biggest sacrifices that gets made when problems like these happen is it prevents marketers from getting around to ad-side and/or site-side conversion optimization: Tasks like A/B - or even better - Multivariate testing, for examples. I'm not saying the issue isn't important. I'm saying it is, and things can be done about it, but beyond noting that it's not the end of the world, marketers need to check their heads re. expectations. Different vendors / tools calculate sessions - hence metrics like Visits, Unique Visits and others - differently. Some natural variance in between is going to happen inherently, i.e. even if/when implementations happen flawlessly.

So I've given enough of a spoiler on the report and done my soap-boxing. For more of its details, data and otherwise, go read it. In consideration of top-tier vendors it's unfortunately sparse on Omniture data, but to be fair, aside from their being a market leader I'm picking on that a little extra just as a relatively deep and frequent Omniture user, myself. Anyway... that's good enough for me.

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Google Analytics + Salesforce

The Washington Post reports that Google Analytics and Salesforce are now talking partnership.

This makes sense. Both tools are lightweight and with a low cost barrier. Also, Salesforce was among the first to hype up the idea of software-as-service... in their case "eCRM" or, per their creative "No Software" image which cleverly makes software look about as politically correct as smoking. Benioff may ruffle some feathers and/or frighten people from time to time, but as a technologist his foresight there was right on target. BTW Marc if you ever read this, next time you have (now Governator) Arnie over for a holiday party, have him arm wrestle people!

...Sorry, I just had to indulge and pretend there's a CEO of something reading my blog. My "SEO the CEO" gospel is taking longer to catch on than what would be ideal, and I verified this morning that, as expected the folks at Wired were too smart to (re)print any of that post (it was partly in response to their their "Get Naked" story from a couple issues back). 🙄

Anyway, what will be interesting will be to see if this partnership - if it firms up - ends up an exclusive one or not. If not, then perhaps we'll still see them pair up with other analytics vendors like Omniture someday after all.

If I were Salesforce I'd be looking to potentially establish a partnership with every major side-side analytics player, if possible... including WebTrends for that matter (even though Microsoft is among their current users... and hey wow, their homepage is one solid line of code without a single carriage return; pretty intense). As the grandfather vendor of the space, WebTrends is hardly bed-ridden and still commands considerable respect and pull.

But then of course, I'm not Salesforce. I just work and sometimes live around the corner; they're more buttoned-down and also, like most, can hold their liquor more than yours truly (part of why I mostly stick to wine).

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Emetrics Summit, New Tools

Holy Hasselhoff's Hamburger! The new version of Google Analytics is out of beta! Before getting the email notifications directly from the 'plex or logging in to-day meself to heed the general advsory message within, I noticed SEW reporting on it this morning. Anyway, so now after keeping it on the down-low over the past few weeks, I can comment on it publicly. I may not have known about to-day's Emetrics event nearby until that girl from marketing IM'd me about it last night (Cheers, Natasha), but this product's update was one particular I'd seen coming and had been testing out.

Long story short, the new version is markedly impressive. Again, Google shakes things up on the low-end / lightweight tracking tools tier, giving our friends in Santa Cruz like Clicktracks and others a run for their moolah. Some highlights purely off the top of my head include:

  • It's got a faster, more intuitive and prettier interface.
  • It's much easier to get trended data now. With the initial version of the tool, when one had specific landing pages as conversion KPIs one had to call them out as a specific success event just to get that, even. Now it's no longer a requirement. Trended data on basic metrics like Views, Unique Views and others are now on-hand for any logged directory or URL by default.
  • Data can now be exported in more formats. One used to be able to basically only get at CSV as far as anything usable, but now one can actually export graphs. Now, whether the output CSV still come out occasionally "dirtied" i.e. with certain chars in logged URLs (ex. Top Content reports) getting interpreted as if they were tabs upon export, the tool may still have that problem... but I've not seen it in this new version yet (here's hoping that's fixed).
  • New drag-and-drop customizable dashboards (another nod to something Omniture did first).

To be honest, I had a feeling a new version of the tool was coming, even before I got the privilege of playing with it before to-day's release. I think as early as 3 months ago or more, I started seeing want ads for SEs / Reps around this product running on the WAA's jobs board.

The new release is rolling out gradually. In a masterful marketing move (though it's aexisting subscribers might feel subtly snubbed perhaps), it's going first to new subscribers (remember, being an Adwords advertiser is what gets one in), and then existing subscribers will get migrated over eventually. I half-expect the latter will go down similar to how when Adwords accounts, and then also Blogger accounts, eventually got subsumed into Google Accounts: For an interim period, users may get a "Not Yet" option re. making the switch, but that will eventually go away and all sheep will stay herded accordingly.

But I/clients don't want to run Google Analytics on any/all sites!

Oh, really? Well hm. Far be it for me to wonder what the reason might be 😉 ...but have no fear! Like Anne Rice's "Interview with a Vampire" to Kenneth Branagh's "Frankenstein," this isn't the only important new thing you can be giving a spin; there are other coincidentally cool releases to consider alongside the the reigning blockbuster of the moment: Another item I've been tinkering with of late has been the Beta of Reinvigorate, a similarly lightweight tool only with convenient hooks especially for bloggers and other social types, i.e. with plug-ins for WordPress and Drupal aside from a default tag type (for sites in general).

Another recent find, for me anyway, has been Compete, a cutesy-style complement (my first impression) to Quantcast in one's toolkit. Tools like these - which monitor sites across ISPs, advertiser and publisher networks, from the outside essentially - help with more than just competitive surveillance. They're also handy in trying to stay on top of the increasingly hot debate over cookie deletion rates... a subject I'll comment on more in a dedicated post.

Bottom line of this one: There's absolutely no reason now, why any webmaster, site owner, blogger or other online pimp/whore should now have problems with doing some intelligent auditing reads of just WTF is happening on their properties. Between tools like these, along with freebie open-source tie-ins that just about any decent host would provide (like AWstats and/or Webalizer), one should have no excuse. Nada. None. Maiyo.

If you aren't tightly monitoring your junk already (also, staffing tools with people who know how to use them in the event you're using high-end infrastructure), remember that every moment passed is intelligence lost. So get crackin' - get trackin'! Sandwich your site(s) between a few tools, get some data, and take a big byte. Time isn't just money. It's worth much, much more.

Knight Rider... I took it seriously, didn't we all?!?

Don't let your time run out...

(and stop Hasseling the Hoff; in all seriousness alcoholism is a devastating disease - as is meat addiction for that matter - so that girl's not keeping a lid on her clip was fucked up).

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Wanted: Senior Analyst

Job Description

The Senior Analyst manages the data processing, testing, analysis, and determines data-driven strategy for our client advertising and marketing campaigns. This position will also work closely with their respective media, account and project management counterparts in ensuring campaign objectives are appropriately tracked and optimized. The Senior Analyst will design relevant marketing tests within the context of our campaigns that lead to improved learning and performance, analyze campaign activity from a variety of sources and provide compelling case studies by employing their analytic insight and present their findings, highlighting the key trends and learnings to our clients.


  • Develop measurable campaign objectives, and enable their tracking through site or 3rd party measurement tools: selection, implementation, usage
  • Define base metrics to inform current and future campaigns
  • Collect, normalize, and report on campaigns histories and current activity
  • Analyze performance reports for optimization and learning
  • Develop and present analysis to clients
  • Provide team leadership with media, creative, and account management
  • Manage day-to-day relationships with 3rd party vendors
  • Other duties as assigned


  • 3+ years web analysis experience including SEM (PPC, Paid Inclusion)
  • Excellent writing and editing capabilities
  • Familiarity with online analytics measures, terminology, benchmarks
  • Detail-oriented, with high standards for data accuracy and integrity, and quality of thinking and presentation
  • Excel skills, including pivot tables and vLOOKUPs for data manipulation
  • PowerPoint presentation skills
  • Ability to recognize and correct data problems and inconsistencies
  • Self-motivated, deadline-driven, ability to support multiple projects at a time
  • Understanding of strengths, challenges and complexities of online tracking
  • Skills with 3rd-party ad servers: DART, AtlasDMT, Mediaplex
  • Skills with 3rd-party site-side tools: Omniture SiteCatalyst, WebsideStory Hitbox, WebTrends, Coremetrics, Google Analytics
  • Understanding of statistical analyses, databases and site building basics
  • Bonuses: Experience with A/B and multivariate creative testing, experimental design, SAS or SPSS, e-mail campaign analysis, SEO San Francisco
55 Union Street
3rd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94111
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V: +1 415 817 3800
F: +1 415 817 3801

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"Wikki wikki wikki wikki!"...

"Shut up!"... "(wikki wikki wikki wikki)"...

First, props to anyone who remembers that song. Mark my words: breakdancing will be back someday.

Second, thanks to Jeannette in NYC for reminding me about this recent Wikipedia change. My POV:

Wikipedia is an awesome site, oozing with content and domain trust. Engines have always had a great appetite for it virtually since its inception, and hence for a while now, yes as a place to get links it's been coveted by SEOs and besieged by spammers.

That they've now made all their external links forced-NOFOLLOW is no shocker. Things had gotten to the point where, to counter the vigilance of their Link Nazis failed writers proudly unsupervised Deletionists splendid editors, spammers and non-spammers alike were sicking cron jobs on Wikipedia in order to make links stick (links that automagically reappear every hour/night if/when removed have a way of wearing out humans eventually... Mercilessly fresh!). :mrgreen:

However while I expect this will deter some, it won't deter the more experienced who have made a habit of trying to learn the various dialects of Googlespeak. Several seasoned SEOs believe the NOFOLLOW standard is misunderstood, being as much a social engineering move as a technical one. In other words, Google wants the world to dismiss such links as useless for natural ranking, but behind the scenes clicks on them still count towards getting good relevancy credit under certain circumstances... like when they come from users with Google Toolbar installed for example. That the West Coast G is quietly watching and applying all kinds of data via such means is 99.99% certain, as they'd be foolish not to. I recall all the way back to SES '05: Rand's eloquent take on it was "Evil, evil, evil!" 👿 and he wasn't the first to have taken that stance.

Formally Yahoo sells advertisers behavioral targeting options. Google offers users Personalized Search options, and doesn't sell advertisers behavioral targeting tools... yet. If/when they do make an official play for that turf though, what would be their competitive advantage against Yahoo's version; what would inform their product to give it an edge? Yahoo's been gathering scary gobs of data about what you, me, and everyone else on the Web does for longer than Google has. A crux of Google's brilliant strategy: Yahoo tried to be the Web's premier destination site, the cool club to hang at. Not Google, though. On their domain it's "get in, get out," but pay attention to the Web at large and it becomes obvious they're everywhere pimping ads... (BTW if anyone has any estimates on how many Adsense ads are out there for every YPN ad, please do forward). As for MSN, well they've tried to be just about everything over the years. It's part of why they're still way behind the search game.

Google gathers all kinds of data about people in many ways, for different reasons. Aside from if/when using their Toolbar, any time we're logged into Google accounts and/or have their cookies on our machines, our actions help inform their business (tiny bit by bit, cumulatively). Consider those ads popping into our Gmail - ever eerily at least somewhat on-topic for whatever a viewed thread is - to be a hint of things to come. They may not be collecting personally identifiable information but certainly the CTR they have to measure there could serve more than just setting CPCs for advertisers. Those Blogger accounts all now "upgraded" to Google accounts? Yep. Google Analytics? Fine for White Hat if one (and/or one's clients) can entrust data with Google without flinching, but a potentially fatal misstep for n00b Black Hats.

Sidebar: The idea of constantly aggregating, analyzing and leveraging data is a cornerstone for Google. They live and breathe it, culturally, strategically and tactically applying it to many parts of their operation... just like all the rest of us in the search business, and more power to them for it after all. It's not like they don't make kick-ass stuff technologically, despite how many of us have love/hate relationships with what being Googley seems to be sometimes. (For example, one hiring trick they've seemingly long used has been to consciously keep want ads posted for up to years after respective positions have been actually already filled. Enabled via auto-responders, self-running online interviews etc., the ruse is one of the ways they try to be always pinpointing who and where the world's top talent is. Their files are always getting updated in this way, in case of growth and/or departures etc.)

These details should be noted regardless of whatever Google formally offers advertisers in the coming months/years or not. Among other things, they've refined the art of making the complex look and feel simple while sprinkling in a few mindfucks along the way because they can. This is why in working with them simplicity is often a good way to look back upon their actions, through assumptions at the least, or even healthy paranoia perhaps (depending on the nature of one's projects). There are even certain Firefox extensions for SEO work that are preferred over others which have been found to leave unwanted footprints.

Despite whatever technical truths of the moment lie behind NDAs at the 'plex, Wikipedia's NOFOLLOW defense will probably quiet things down initially at least. It will not however, become a definitive silencer.

As of now are all outbound links from the english Wikipedia Site using the NOFOLLOW attribute, no exceptions. No matter where you place it, Article Page, Talk Page, User Page, Project Page, whatever. No Link will get any credit at the major search engines.
- Search Engine Journal

Meh. It was Google as opposed to a neutral entity that invented NOFOLLOW, and their market share depends on their index staying more relevant than the other guys any way it can, so reading between their lines means there's more to it than that. Bots ignoring links is one thing, credit and how to get it is another, and I doubt the two are in such a cleanly monogamous relationship. Normally, under certain conditions inbound NOFOLLOW links probably still help relevancy scoring... and even if not they sure as hell don't hurt traffic anyway!

It's the Flava, Life Sava!
Don't Believe the Hype!

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Based out of Northern California, is a bl.og dedicated to the advocacy and study of high-impact, data driven marketing disciplines and related concerns: Analytics and Data Mining, Marketing Automation, Integrated Advertising (targeting, retargeting), Demand Generation and Lead Nurturing, Social Media / Social Engineering (Crowd-hacking) and the new PR, Privacy, Security, CRM, SEO / SEM, CRO, ROI... more TLAs (three letter acronyms) than any sane person's daily lexicon should include.

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