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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Demographics in Web Analytics

One thing that's often elusive in doing sites analysis is weeding out the demographics of visitors. There have been natural limitations here as analytics technologies have always had to collect no personally identifiable information, and in connection with this they've also obviously had to keep their privacy policies clear. Vendors like Omniture, Coremetrics, Websidestory and others must adhere to this basic rule, like just about anyone doing business online.

This has meant Web Analysts have been left to things like surveys, offline data sources like call center data, and any associated indirect and/or circumstantial evidence to draw conclusions from. This can get complicated fast, so often marketers opt to keep it simple at least at first. Example:

OK, my top referrer is Myspace, so chances are good most of my visitors are Millennials.

Aside from accuracy considerations, a problem with this though is the results aren't always going to be actionable. The data will come out something that had already been treated as a given...

Well duh, I'm selling ringtones. Tell me something I don't know, like whether we're talking mostly high school or mostly college students...

One fun, free and casual tool that's out now to perhaps help connect the dots is Quantcast. Some of the data it returns on some sites I've worked on looks believable. On low-traffic sites at least though, I'm finding it's way inaccurate, presumably due to limited data: I also checked a well-aged domain held by a popular club here in the city, managed by a few folks I know. Quantcast says it's got roughly 1000 visitors a month, which is of course almost nothing and sounds about right. However they also said an overwhelming majority of visitors to the site are Hispanic, also holding graduate degrees. I do promotional networking at the venue itself on occasion. To my knowledge its average patronage is almost all early-mid 20-somethings (normally a bit young to have finished grad school), moreover pretty Caucasian; perhaps leaning slightly on the WASPy side... So there are some pretty big differences here between who Quantcast says the club's Web audience is, and what I know their meatspace audience to be. It doesn't add up.

I've started connecting a few sites to the tool for quantification, to see how it does with queries regarding others I've background on already. At the very least, on traffic numbers we'll see how it holds up against the reporting sources already in production. They're still aggregating information from their integrated partners, and I'd half-expect them to not come up with demographics at all on some domains even if they weren't still building out their records, but here's crossing fingers and noting a new option for the toolkit in any case.

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Based out of Northern California, bl.asphemo.us 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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