Monday, December 31, 2007

Unnecessary Outcry over Adobe CS3 and Omniture Tracking

On Dec 26th a blog post on Uneasysilence.comshowed that when a user launches CS3 suite adobe calls a server on Omniture. According to the article
When you launch a CS3 application the application pings out to what looks like an IP address - and internal IP address:

This created a lot of paranoia among Adobe users and led to a lot of blog posts and comments on these blog posts (Also see Everybody started talking about how evil adobe is and so on. It appears that we, Web Analytics community and online marketers, have a huge task of educating users about Web analytics tracking and quelling this kind of paranoia.

Finally one product manager from Adobe stepped up to clear all the confusion.

Adobe Product manager wrote a reply on Adbobe Blog. Here is what he wrote:
According to Doug Miller from the team, "Omniture is Adobe's web analytic vendor for There are only 3 places we track things via Omniture anywhere in or around our products.":
  • The welcome screens (these things) in some Adobe apps include a Flash SWF file that loads current news, special offers, etc. These requests hit servers and are logged, like regular browser-based traffic, by Omniture.

  • Adobe Bridge embeds both the Opera browser and the Flash Player, both of which can be used to load Adobe-hosted content. These requests are also logged.

  • Adobe apps can call various online resources (online help, user forums, etc.), and those requests are logged. [Update: To clarify, those contacts are made only if the user requests them--e.g. by choosing Help->Adobe Exchange.]

This, as far as I've been able to discover, is the extent of the nefarious "spying." If I learn anything else when more people get back on email, I'll update this post.

Let me start by saying that the kind of tracking Adobe appears to be doing is pretty harmless to you end users. Now let me ask a question to all these people, who became so paranoid about Adobe and Omniture Tracking. “Do you know that you are being tracked at a lot of places?” I am sure you have done one or more of the following

Connected to the internet – Do you know that ISP track of what you do online? You should read my blog post titled “ISP Based Behavioral Targeting.
Visited any site on the internet? - A lot of sites (and in fact they all should) track user behavior to create a better experience for users and to help them in their business goals.
Installed a toolbar – Do you know that their activity is being tracked by toolbars you install?
Used any social networking site where they volunteered all sorts of information.
Used a credit card. – Yes they have whole history of what you bought, when and where.
Bought a product on any major retail chain, used a credit card or a club card. – They keep track of what you buy, when and where too.

Since you are tracked everywhere, why is there a paranoia about being tracked by Adobe? Actually the kind of tracking Adobe is doing is not even close to the information you are giving away via other activities (some of them mentioned above). The kind of tracking adobe is doing is to understand the usage of their sites and provide a better experience for the users. The way I understand, Adobe is looking at user behavior at an aggregate level and not at an individual level, most of the companies doing web analytics do not look at individual user behavior. Most of the web analytics tools, like Omniture, use an anonymous cookie to track user behavior. This anonymous tracking usually looks at aggregated data for entire user base (or few segments) instead of an individual and hence do not invade your privacy.
So I request you to stop this paranoia about tracking by web analytics tools. They are helping you to have a better experience on the web.

Note: I am not associated with Adobe in any way. I have never worked for them in any capacity and do not know anybody personally at Adobe.


Friday, December 28, 2007

Web Analytics Jobs Trends – 2007

Web Analytics is one of the hottest career fields these days. Organizations are realizing that web analytics can no longer be a part time work and requires full time dedicated staff thus pushing the demand for web analysts.

This year, since making my Web Analytics jobs predictions in Januray, I reported on open job positions every month till August of this year. After August I stopped reporting on the jobs because I did not see any major changes and there was nothing exciting to report. Since the year is coming to an end, I thought I will close out the year with another report to show where we are and what to expect in 2008.

Before we look at the numbers please note that the Dec numbers are taken today i.e. 28th while the rest of the number reported were taken on the 1st of the month. As you know I use two job aggregator sites and for the data. Both of these sites collect open job positions from individual company sites and from job boards such as also provides job boards called job-a-matic, like the Job Board I have on my blog. job board allows individual bloggers or site owners to quickly create a job board specific to their site’s content.
Note: Those who are curious to know what to expect in terms of salary, I will be posting the results of Job Survey on 1st of Jan 2008.

Let’s take a look at the numbers.

When I first reported the open Jobs in January, there were 1024 open positions that had the word “Web Analytics” in them. In the very first month the open jobs were up to 1711, a jump of 67%. It is quite possible that due to holidays not many positions were advertised and when people were back from holidays they started advertising open positions and hence we saw this big jump. Well this year, as of Dec 28th, there are 2068 open positions, that is 102% increase from January this year. I don’t see much change happening in next 3-4 days so January 1st numbers will be about at the same level.
Looking at the trend in 2007, we can expect a big increase in open positions in February and the whole year

Note: Month in the above graph represents the month when the data was gathered. A lot of job positions are never listed on any job board or company sites. These jobs are filled by networking and referrals. So key to finding a job is increasing your network. Let people know that you are interested in Web Analytics.

If you want to start a career in web analytics and don't know where to start, check out my article starting a career in Web Analytics and my Web Analyst interview series to see how others got started in web analytics.

Which tool experience is in demand?

Omniture remains the most sought after tool experience, followed by WebTrends.
In this month, Google Analytics displaced Coremetrics from 3rd spot and is behind Omniture and WebTrends.

In 2008 I expect Google Analytics to be in hot demand. As Google releases new features and opens up the APIs it will become more complicated to implement and use.

Stay tuned for the Salary Survey results to be published on January 1st.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

FTC Proposes Behavioral Advertising Privacy Principles

To address consumer privacy concerns associated with Behavioral Targeting FTC proposed privacy principals.

The purpose of this proposal is to encourage more meaningful and enforceable self-regulation to address the privacy concerns raised with respect to behavioral advertising. In developing the principles, FTC staff was mindful of the need to maintain vigorous competition in online advertising as well as the importance of accommodating the wide variety of business models that exist in this area,” according to its proposal “Behavioral Advertising: Moving the Discussion Forward to Possible Self-Regulatory Principles. The proposal states that behavioral advertising provides benefits to consumers in the form of free content and personalized advertising but notes that this practice is largely invisible and unknown to consumers.

Below are the principal they proposed:

  • Every Web site where data is collected for behavioral advertising should provide a clear, consumer-friendly, and prominent statement that data is being collected to provide ads targeted to the consumer and give consumers the ability to choose whether or not to have their information collected for such purpose.

    Sooner or later that is going to be almost every site that you encounter. Since there is no common definition of Behavioral Targeting any targeting (since it will uses onsite behavior, geo or any data collected from users ) can be considered behavioral targeting.

    Give consumers the ability to choose whether or not to have their information collected for such purpose - it is not clear if they mean opt-in or opt-out.

    I am in favor of providing an opt-in instead of opt-out. In my post on Google and Doubleclick privacy concerns, I wrote:
    I believe that if consumers are provided proper education (I will write about consumer benefits in one of my future posts) than they can infect benefit from Behavioral Targeting. It will be a win-win situation for all the parties involved. Proper education and disclosures by advertisers, publishers and networks will ease the concerns regarding Behavioral Targeting. Consumers have the right to opt out of Behavioral Targeting but what is lacking is proper education on how to do so. The networks currently opt-in users by default; however, in my opinion the proper process should be opt-out by default and opt-in if user chooses to opt-in, just like we do for emails and newsletters. This process will move the burden from users to the advertisers, publishers and networks.

  • Any company that collects or stores consumer data for behavioral advertising should provide reasonable security for that data and should retain data only as long as is necessary to fulfill a legitimate business or law enforcement need.

    “Reasonable” is very vague since every company can define it’s own explanation of reasonable.

  • Companies should obtain affirmative express consent from affected consumers before using data in a manner materially different from promises the company made when it collected the data.

    This is to safeguard against changing privacy policies. Since almost all the privacy policies have a clause which says something like “We reserve the right to change this privacy policy. New privacy will be posted on this page”. It is hard for consumers to keep track of what has changed since they agreed to the privacy policy.

  • To address the concern that sensitive data – medical information or children’s activities online, for example – may be used in behavioral advertising, FTC staff proposes:

    • Companies should only collect sensitive data for behavioral advertising if they obtain affirmative express consent from the consumer to receive such advertising.

    • FTC staff also seeks comment on what constitutes “sensitive data” and whether the use of sensitive data should be prohibited, rather than subject to consumer choice.

    My opinion: Sensitive data should be prohibited. However it won’t be easy to define what constitutes sensitive data especially when it has to apply to various countries and cultures. Sensitive information in one country might not be sensitive in another country or culture.

Comments? Questions?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

NebuAd’s response to my blog post Part II

In response to my post on ISP based Behavioral Targeting, I got 2 response from NebuAd, one of them was posted at The latest response is for one of the issue that was not answered in previous response:

The ISPs are completely passive in NebuAd’s model. In addition, there is no pop under, and the ads NebuAd sells to do not take over the publisher’s inventory. More specifically, NebuAd's technology does not include any type of overlays that affect publisher content or ad inventory without their knowledge.

Consumers do not see any more ads than they would otherwise see, and they are standard ad types, such as banners ads displayed only where you would expect to see them. The use of pop-ups and pop unders remains a publisher decision. With NebuAd’s solution, the ISP role is completely passive. They merely allow NebuAd’s equipment to reside on their network and are not involved in the advertising process. No data is shared between the ISP’s data systems and NebuAd’s data systems

NebuAd purchases online display inventory from publishers, mainly through leading ad networks. Targeted advertising that the consumer sees is placed there on the ad inventory that the publishers regularly sell to ad networks. These ad networks work with NebuAd to identify and deliver the right ad for the right user, allowing for the publisher to get a higher price from the advertisers who want the targeting. NebuAd’s revenue is generated by advertising sales during this process – the ISPs do not sell any of the advertising.

Monday, December 17, 2007

NebuAd’s response to my blog post

In response to my post on ISP based Behavioral Targeting, I got the following response from NebuAd:

Below are a couple of quick points from NebuAd’s CEO Bob Dykes to explain and clarify some of the information.

There is no information shard between NebuAd and the ISPs - the only involvement between the two is the agreement that lets NebuAd place the appliance in the ISPs network. To further ensure privacy, NebuAd does not collect the websites visited and map those back to the specific user. Instead it converts, via an appliance located in the ISPs network, the key user identifiers, such as IP addresses, to a one way random number so that the central servers see this and not the original identifier.

NebuAd works by listing categories (e.g. “Cars – SUV – Lexus”) and noting if random number goes to a site, or perform a search, that is related to the category. If yes, then it notes that interest mapped to the random number, but do not map the URL’s visited, just the interest. This is why, since it doesn’t even have the info on sites visited, there's no mechanism to map the random number to specific URLs
Since NebuAd and the partner ISPs do not exchange data, the ISPs do not see the categories each random number visits, and NebuAd does not receive specific customer information, so there is no way for either NebuAd or the ISPs to match specific customer information with even the categories of information associated with the randomized numbers. NebuAd also does not retain the raw data mapped back to the anonymous user profiles.

They have not yet provided any response to the following point that I made in my previous post:

It is also not clear to me if the ISPs will work with individual publishers or networks and provide behavioral data to power their ads on publishers inventory or if they will override publishers inventory with their own ads (which will probably cause sudden death of ISP based targeting) or if they will do popups (pop under) creating new inventory. NebuAd does however have a service for publishers where publishers can use their services on their own inventory; however I am not clear how ISPs plan to use it.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

ISP based Behavioral Targeting

In an articles titled Watching What You See on the Web Wall Street Journal talks about ISP (Internet Service Provider) based behavioral targeting.

ISP based behavioral targeting idea has been kicked around for some time and NebuAd is one of the first company that made a product know as “deep-packet inspection boxes” for ISP to track user behavior online and then serve ads based on these behaviors.
This kind of targeting enables ISP’s to be a player in growing behavioral targeting market and generate a new stream of revenue.

This kind of technology is beyond simply using anonymous tracking. ISP do have a lot more information than just the browsing behavior. They have name, location, age, social security number (SSN). They know what time users login to their machine, when is the internet being used, what kind of sites are visited at what times, which sites provided information before a user made a purchase etc etc. This is far more information than companies like Revenue Science or Tacoda has and obviously can provide better targeting than Revenue Science or Tacoda can do.
However this also raises far more privacy concerns than companies like Revenue Science and Tacoda raise.

According to the article
The technology does raise privacy issues. The Internet-service providers often know other information about consumers, such as their names, locations and age and income ranges, which can be very valuable to potential advertisers, especially when combined with Web browsing habits. "Some of these [Internet equipment] guys are traveling in dangerous territory," says Emily Riley, an advertising analyst with Jupiter Research. "Should one company have all of that data in one place? It's a little troubling."

Other than user privacy there is another huge issue that this article did not talk about. In a network like Revenue Science or Tacoda publishers and advertisers (data providers) have to opt-in to participate. If a publisher/advertiser does not want to enable advertisers to use their data then they simply do not participate in the network. Advertisers can also choose to just use their site’s data to be used to only power their own advertisements. E.g Delta airlines can choose to participate in a retargeting campaign on a network like Revenue Science. They can retarget all the users who viewed fares to a particular destination but left the site without buying the ticket. To do so they will allow the network to collect information on all those users whom they want to target and then only allow the network to use those behaviors (users) to target their ads only. Alaska airlines cannot use Revenue Science and target their ads based on the behaviors on Delta airlines network. This is an explicit agreement between the publisher/advertiser and network.
However in case of ISP based targeting; data providers (publishers, advertisers and other sites) don’t have to opt in. They are opted in by default. Using the example above, a user’s behavior on Delta airlines site (and also information about who clicked on Delta’s ads across internet) is captured without Delta Airlines explicit approval. Now, ISP’s can use that information to power Alaska airlines advertisement and drive all those users, who could have purchased their tickets from Delta, to Alaska airlines. I am sure Delta won’t be happy about it. This applies to every single site on internet, they do not have an option their data will be used and in most cases to power competitors ads, this is a huge deal. I think it is, what do you think? I am sure there will be advertiser backlash too with this kind of technology.

It is also not clear to me if the ISPs will work with individual publishers or networks and provide behavioral data to power their ads on publishers inventory or if they will override publishers inventory with their own ads (which will probably cause sudden death of ISP based targeting) or if they will do popups (pop under) creating new inventory. NebuAd does however have a service for publishers where publishers can use their services on their own inventory, however I am not clear how ISPs plan to use it.

As I predicted earlier this year Behavioral Targeting has become a very common term among marketers. To cash in on this phenomenon a lot of new technologies and companies are springing up, I expect this trend to continue in 2008, we will see more innovation in coming month. Mobile and TV behavioral targeting is next in line too.


Sunday, December 02, 2007

Behavioral Targeting and Affiliate Marketing

Behavioral Targeting (BT) provides a great opportunity for Affiliate Marketers and Networks to reach right customer and increase the conversion.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate Marketing is way for advertisers to reach potential customers and only pay when a visitor takes some predefined action. Predefined actions range from a sale to registration. Recently Pay Per Click has also been added to affiliate programs. Generally, the website (publisher) places an advertisements on their site and when a predefined action results by a visitors referred (clicked) by that ad, the advertiser pays the publisher a % or a fixed amount. I won’t go into further details of affiliate marketing but you get the idea.

As you know now that one of the major benefits of Affiliate programs is that an advertiser gets an inventory on publisher’s site without paying anything. Advertiser only pays when a visitor becomes a lead or a customer. This is like sales people on commission only program.

However there is even bigger benefit than just getting free inventory. The ability to put an ad serving (and tracking) code on these affiliate sites (publishers). Just think about how many sites Amazon, eBay, commission junction, linkshare etc. have their codes on. Amazon was the one of the early advertiser who realized the power of Affiliate programs. Google, not matter how you look at it is also a type of affiliate program, in most case advertisers get free inventory and only pay when a click happens (and now Google has pay-per-action program which is true affiliate program).

The widespread tracking code on the internet provides a huge opportunity for affiliate networks and advertisers (like eBay, Amazon) to engage in behavioral targeting and reach potential customer with the right message at the right time.
Let’s take a look at a scenario to further understand how this can work.
A user visits eBay and looks at certain products and bids on a camera but lost the bid. Next day eBay gets another seller who is selling the same camera. How can eBay reach the user who lost the bid? Well one way is they can send her an email (She might not be actively checking my email). Second is tell the about that camera when she come back to eBay (that might be too late). Third is they can use their affiliate site to put that camera offer right in front of her if she happens to visit any of the affiliate site (and there are a lot of them). She has shown interest in the camera so why not use your affiliate code to put the right offer in front of her. The code is right there make use of it. Some might argue this is crossing the privacy line but that is whole another issue to discuss.
Amazon already does similar targeting by its Omakase links but it is not true behavioral targeting. They use the keywords or browsing history which goes back since they day they were born. I see offers from Amazon that are not even relevant to me anymore, they were at one time but Amazon still thinks I am interested even though I have not clicked on those products in years.

Affiliate networks like Commission Junction and Link Share are in great position (eBay uses Commission Junction). They know what kind of sites a visitor (or customer) visits, what kind of products/offers he/she is interested in by looking at their click or purchase behavior. Can’t they just automatically put offer s/products in front of customers?

The way most of the affiliate networks work today is not very efficient for any of the parties involved. They need to step it up a bit. Here are my thoughts on all parties involved how Behavioral Targeting (BT) can help them.

Publishers: A publisher has to decide what advertisers they want to sign up for, this is their guess on what will work. I have spent months trying to figure out what will work for my customers. Also then the link generation process is so difficult. Say a publishers sign up as an affiliate for (check out, it has banner), now the publisher has to go find the products that are relevant to their customers if they want to target with right banners. In this case maybe it is restaurants in Seattle. It is such a pain that majority of publishers don’t want to deal with it and just put a generic banner. Won’t it be nice if CJ or in this case was able to put the right offer based on Geography and other browsing behaviors on either CJ network or site itself?

Customers (visitors): Customers (Visitors) don’t have time, they will only click on ad which will be relevant to them. A generic message from or eBay or Amazon is not enough. Show them a message which will make them click right away. If a customer has already been to and looked for Indian Restaurants in Seattle and now when the customer is in Seattle (Geo location) surfing on this affiliate site, why show her a generic message? Why not show her offers for Indian Restaurants?

Advertisers: Even if advertisers are getting free inventory now, it is not going to last. Inventory is limited, publishers are going to replace their banner with something that will make them money (AdSense has replaced several affiliates). So grab this opportunity. Put relevant message, gone are the days when generic message would have worked (did they ever worked though). Use the browsing behavior on your site (or a behavioral ad network, your affiliate network will have to offer behavioral targeting soon) to target the right messages.

Affiliate Networks: Why are they still operating using the old model where they make the publisher s guess what products or offers will work for them (Google is following this model too with their pay-per-action model). Why can’t you let publisher put some generic code on their site and then serve ads based on user behaviors? I have seen a lot ads sitting on a publisher site not generating any sales, few clicks, who is benefitting from all this? Not the affiliate network. Not the publisher. Advertiser? May be. Visitor? May be. Now if you had placed a right message (determined from user past behavior) then chances are that all of the parties involved will benefit. It is worth trying. Test it. Use the data you collect, the data from advertisers' site, the data from publishers' site. It is not going to be easy but it is doable. Acquire a behavioral targeting company, use their technology and network too.

Affiliate marketers and networks have a huge opportunity to cash in using Behavioral Targeting. They just have to move fast.

Comments, Questions?

Here are some more posts on Behavioral Targeting.

If you like this post, you might want to subscribe to my blog feed. Click here to subscribe to Web Analysis, Behavioral Targeting and Online Advertising

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

2007 Web Analytics and Behavioral Targeting Predictions Follow-up

In January of this year I made five predictions about Web Analytics and Behavioral Targeting for year 2007. Since the year is coming to an end, I feel it is time to do a recap of these predictions and see where I stand with these predictions. Let’s take a look at one prediction at a time.

  1. Prediction: Web Analytics- A Great Career Field– There will be a lot more jobs in this field in 2007. A great year for those who are planning to enter this field or looking to move into better jobs in this field. Most marketing jobs will have web analytics as a requirement. Currently there are 1024 open job on but I expect this number to rise as there will lot more openings than qualified candidates.

    Follow-up – This was an easy one, I was hiring at that time (and currently too) and based on my discussion with various folks in the industry it was clear that more and more companies were starting to use Web Analytics and it was becoming difficult to find web analyst. When I made this prediction on January 3rd there were 1024 open “web analytics” positions listed on, a job aggregating site. Since making this prediction I did a monthly follow-up on open jobs from Jan – Aug, you can find the last (Aug) follow-up at
    On Nov 20th there were 2045 open positions listed on, 99.7% increase since I made this prediction in January. Open positions have been up every month and Oct was the highest month ever with 2085 open positions on Oct 1st. So with this I can say that my prediction number one has come true.
    If you are trying to get into web analytics field I recommend reading interviews I did with various web analysts in the field (Yes I am still doing these interviews, if you want to participate please email me at batraonline at

  2. Prediction: Lot more new writers – There will a lot more bloggers and writers in this field. Can somebody count how many blogs on Web Analytics are currently? This will help me set the baseline.

    Follow-up - I don’t know how many total blogs on web analytics were there last year but know for sure that a lot of new blogs on web analytics have started since I made that prediction (If I can locate all the blogs then I will publish a list in near future). Three new books on Web Analytics were published this year. Web Analytics Books by Avinash Kaushik (Web Analytics: An Hour a Day ) and Jason Burby and Shane Atchison (Actionable Web Analytics: Using Data to Make Smart Business Decisions) were planned before I made my prediction so can’t take credit for those. Justin Cutroni also wrote a book on Google Analytics, a great resource and a must read for all those who are using Google Analytics.

  3. Prediction: Web Analytics won’t be standing alone - Marketers will want 360 view of the customers. Integration of various data sources and tools will be expected from web analytics and other supporting tool vendors. Omniture started the trend with Omniture Genesis and this will continue we will see more acquisitions and partnerships similar to Omnitures.

    Follow-up – WebTrends had similar integrations, the latest one is with SilverPop, an email provider. Another example is WebTrends Marketing Lab integration with Microsoft Dynamics CRM to provide online marketers a consolidated, real-time view into both online visitor activity and offline customer information..
    Omniture’s acquisition of Offermetica and TouchClarity and integration with Salesforce is yet another step in this direction.
    I expect to see this trend continuing in the next year.
    (Also see my recap of this and following predictions.)

  4. Prediction: Web Analytics will be about taking actions – More and more marketers would like to take actions and not just report the findings. It just won’t be about what happened, it will be about taking action to drive sales, user satisfaction, lead generation etc. Incentives and bonuses will be tied to the online KPIs. Optimization and Behavioral Targeting will become a common term used by marketers.

    Follow-up: Megan Burns of Forrester Research echoed the same thing in her Report: Web Analytics Market Pumped for Growth. She said “Many Web analytics companies started collecting data about Web site visits and providing reporting tools to analyze that data," "Now they're moving to the next level of value, which is enabling people to act on that data and becoming a platform for managing interactive marketing activities." (Also see the follow-up I did earlier this year).
    Acquisition of Offermetica (Optimization) and TouchClarity (Behavioral Targeting) by Omniture are strong testament of my above prediction. Marketers are demanding a seamless way to not only learn from data but also to take actions to improve site performance. Some web analytics experts are now calling this Web Analytics 2.0. Here is what Josh James CEO of Omniture had to say when they acquired Offermetica
    “The acquisition is a key part of Omniture’s strategy to deliver the most comprehensive solution for optimizing online business. Offermatica leverages Omniture’s recent acquisition of Touch Clarity as the two are highly complementary and together address the spectrum from A/B testing and multivariate testing to behavioral targeting. Offermatica enables companies to define and test the structure and elements of their sites, and Omniture TouchClarity™ enables companies to deliver the optimal content to any individual at any time….This combination, with Omniture’s analytics as the underlying foundation, provides the industry’s first and only integrated site optimization suite.”..A year ago it became very clear to us that our customers wanted to leverage their data through a range of testing and optimization tools. Once we acquired the leading behavioral targeting technology, our customers continued to validate our thinking that in addition to behavioral targeting, A/B testing and multivariate testing were distinct and critical components of their long-term online strategy. Combining these capabilities into a single, integrated offering, built on patented behavioral targeting and testing technology, answers the market need for a complete optimization solution,”

  5. Prediction: Behavioral Targeting – Only few main behavioral network players will be left and some of the existing ones with poor networks will either go out of business or be sold. See my previous article on why size of network matter. Behavioral Targeting won’t exist in isolation. Web Analytics tool will have to support behavioral targeting and visa versa. Also, on-site behavioral targeting will become very common.

    Follow-up: Several acquisitions happened in Behavioral Targeting since I made the above prediction. Recent acquisition of Tacoda by AOL and BlueLithium by yahoo proved me right. I think Revenue Science is next in line and will be sold in next few months.
    Also acquisition of Touch Clarity by Omniture proves that web analytics tools have to support behavioral targeting and visa versa. It also proves my point that on-site behavioral targeting is becoming very common. ( see my post titled Convergence of Web Analytics and Behavioral Targeting.

Yes, I am 5/5 on my 2007 predictions.

What do I see next? I will be making my prediction soon, but this is what I see coming next

  1. A tighter integration will happen between ad serving and Web Analytics. Maybe Omniture will buy an ad serving company.

  2. Oracle gets into Web Analytics. Yes I think this is going to happen soon.(more on this later)

  3. Google Analytics becomes a strong competitor in enterprise Web Analytics space.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

WebTrends CMO Departing

Nov 1st I reported about the management shakeup at Webtrends. The I did a follow-up after talking to several employees of Webtrends regarding these changes. Though I was offered an opportunity to talk to Tim Kopp, the Chief Marketing Officer of WebTrends whom I have met on several occasions, I could not talk to him because I was in a hurry to put my post out and also Tim had already provided his view to the press and I did not expect to hear anything other than what he already told others.

Today Eric Peterson reported that Tim Kopp is the latest executive to depart Webtrends.
Wow!!! this is definitely another huge news out of Webtrends in less than a months. As I understand Tim was a force behind all the comeback Webtrends was trying to make, so his departure seems to be a big blow to the company. I am sure there will be more turnover, now it will be the time for many old employees to leave. I have been through similar changes in past so I know that it takes time before everything settles down. At the end it might not be such a bad thing, but who knows, time will tell.

I would like to hear the views of Webtrends' employees and of course WebTrends' official words on it.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Web Analytics Survey by Eric Peterson

Twice a year Eric Peterson conducts a survey of the practitioner, vendor, and consultant landscape in an attempt to answer critical questions about web analytics.
This particular survey is focusing on web analytics tools and will examine their distribution of deployment and overall customer satisfaction with the tools and the vendors who supply them. The survey is completely anonymous, and if you have any questions about the survey, please email them Eric Peterson. Take the Web Analytics Demystified Fall 2007 Survey Right Now! It should take about 15 mins of your time.
Everyone who completes the survey will be given a discount code to purchase The Big Book of Key Performance Indicators for over 50% off the cover price (a savings of $10.00!) Additionally, all of the resulting research will be made freely available through Web Analytics Demystified's web site (you can download research from our Spring 2007 survey here.)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Omniture, WebTrends and the Web Analytics Industry

Last week saw pretty big changes in Web Analytics Industry. Omniture bought one of it’s biggest competitor Visual Science and later in the week there was management shakeout at WebTrends.

"This has been one of the weirder weeks in Web analytics ever. One of the biggest publicly traded companies gets acquired, and another lets its executives go. Now I'm afraid to wake up tomorrow and find out what else might be going on," said Eric Peterson to ClickZ.

I agree, the changes in Web Analytics Industry happened so fast that you never know what might next. As I was writing this post I was worried that I will have to change the post by the time I finish it.

Omniture's purchase of Visual Sciences was the first big news of the week. It was great news for Visual Science investors and Omniture. Omniture bought one of their biggest competitors and further strengthened their position as a market leader in Web Analytics industry.
One of the beneficiaries of Omniture/Visual Sciences deal is going be WebTrends. Just like Omniture and other Web Analytics vendors, WebTrends will also have to compete in a market with one less competitor. Not everybody who would have gone with Visual Sciences will now go with OmnitureVisualScience.

I have found that there are generally 3 types of customer. One those who always like to go with number one vendor in the market, they will go with Omniture (and would have anyway) even though it might not give them everything they need for the price they need. There are those who make rational decision based on through due-diligence, they will choose Omniture, WebTrend or whatever tool makes most sense given their needs and budget. And then are those who will go with number 2 or number 3 just to make sure they don’t become prisoners of the market leader and make sure they don’t empower a company to become a monopoly. These customers will choose anybody but Omniture.

Recent changes at WebTrends however have caused some concern in the market. Blogger and Reporters in Web Analytics field have been speculating about what it means to WebTrends and Web Analytics industry. There are conflicting reports on if these changes are to put WebTrends on a path to be acquired in next few months or if they are to better prepare WebTrends to take on Omniture.

In my opinion, it will not be good for web analytics industry if Omniture also acquires WebTrends. As Sean Burton commented on my blog post blog post about WebTrends Management changes “I doubt that Omniture would be looking to buy WT at the junction, and it would be a crying shame if they did.

The competition between the two companies has driven the market forwards, and has resulted in numerous improvements for the end customer.”

WebTrends is a top competitor to Omniture today. As long as these two companies are competing there will be innovation, at least in near future. We certainly need more than one player in the market to continue innovation.

After coming back from WebTrends Engage Conference I came to the conclusion that WebTrends was on the right track with their new products and I expected them to give Omniture run for its money. At that time I did not even think about the management changes that just happened.

I am very impressed with Marketing Lab 2 and hope that WebTrends investors (Francisco Partners) don’t sell the company. If they do decide to sell then they should sell it someone who can keep the competition going on in this market. It is very critical for the growth of Omniture, the other tool vendors and this industry overall.

The sentiment at WebTrends is very positive and all the people I have talked to or heard from did not give any indication that the company is getting ready for a sale, on the contrary they are excited to move forward in this red hot web analytics market.

Here is one of the comments that an employee of WebTrends left on my blog:
“Wild speculation and facts on the ground are, it turns out, two very different things. I am employed @ WebTrends presently, and can tell you that the change in management is a viewed positively by employees. The partners could have sold the company, which is a net positive asset in anyone’s eyes (consider the brand, customers, product set, years of exp. developing solutions in the verticals, 2X growth since divestiture, etc, etc.). But they chose the strategic move, retrenching, which will require further investment but reflects a longer-term view. The interior culture had eroded badly due to the lack of strategically cohesive vision, employee engagement, unity among the functional business units, and execution in the channel. The surgery performed removes the chief architects of the disaster that was our management team. Certainly the partners could now cut staff levels to improve the marketability of the company in the hope of selling. Omniture would be an unlikely suitor given the VS buy (cash, FCC, etc. make their being the only enterprise vendor in the space unlikely). If the worst that happened is acquisition by a better funded SW behemoth as a stand alone business unit I don’t think you’d hear much opposition from employees, and it could radically improve WebTrends position. Change happens in SW. This is just another new day for a company that has grown accustomed to high-velocity change.”

Another former employee (recent) of WebTrends, also seemed very confident in Marketing Lab 2 (ML2) and WebTrends ability to take on Omniture.

One of the current employee said that Webtrends has seen YOY growth in last year and investors did not have to put any more money, which is a good sign but the growth is not what board was expecting based on how fast the industry is growing.
He also said that there is no plan for “fire sale” as a reporter from Portland Business Journal reported. The reporter could not contact the management of WebTrends and reported based on the speculation. He added that the WebTrends Visitor index and Scoring are getting good market traction. More than what WebTrends can currently handle. They have to do some more work on technical side and services to further improve WebTrends position in the market. He said we are rated number one in integration with other vendors such email, behavioral targeting etc. and board wants to continue use these strengths and take the company to next level.

Another senior employee of WebTrends said that these changes were welcome and somewhat expected by the senior team here. He said that the mood was very positive at WebTrends. He said that they know that they are number two in a very hot market, but also are the only sizeable player with new products, a big team in EMEA, partners in Asia Pac, etc., plus $80 million in revenue. According to him, it is okay to be number two, the underdog for once. He was enthusiastic about Webtrend’s new direction and said that they are ready to steal some market share from Omniture. He said “We’ve won some big deals from them recently, so why should we not take more?”

I wish Greg Drew and Jason Palmer good luck in their new ventures. I am sure they will continue to be a part of this growing industry. I also hope that WebTrends will continue to be a strong market force and provide the competitive landscape that this industry needs to keep innvovating.

Thoughts? Comments?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Management Shakeup at WebTrends

According to a news by Portland Business Journal CEO Greg Drew and three other executives at WebTrends Inc. have left the company. Details of their departure remain unclear.
The other executives that are missing from the list on the WebTrends site are Jason Palmer, vice president of product management; Tore Steen, vice president of business and corporate development; and Hamid Bahadori, vice president of product development and hosted operations.

Bruce T. Coleman, CEO of El Salto Advisors, a consulting firm that provides interim management to computer software and service companies is listed as the CEO of WebTrends.

According to the report, a number of former WebTrends employees believe that a quick sale of the company is imminent. They speculate that with its market share slipping, WebTrends management wanted to sell the company to its biggest rival, Omniture Inc., a publicly traded, $107 million company based in Orem, Utah.

Wow, this changes the whole web analytics landscape. Will Omniture buy WebTrends now? I believed that WebTrends was making a comeback and was ready to give Omniture a hard time but I guess I was wrong. Will Omniture buy them and coremetrics right now and just own the whole Web Analytics space?


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Behavioral Targeting and Privacy

Behavioral Targeting and Online Privacy is taking an interesting turn. Yesterday I wrote about Privacy groups proposal to create “Do-Not-Track” for online behavioral targeting just like “Do-Not-Call” list to stop telemarketers from contacting the people on the list.

To counter these groups, AOL took a proactive step by announcing the launch of Privacy education program for Behaviorally Targeted Advertising.

AOL is doing exactly what I wrote in April of this year in an article related to privacy

"I believe that if consumers are provided proper education then they can in fact benefit from Behavioral Targeting. It will be a win-win situation for all the parties involved. Proper education and disclosures by advertisers, publishers and networks will ease the concerns regarding Behavioral Targeting. Consumers have the right to opt out of Behavioral Targeting but what is lacking is proper education on how to do so."

According to an AOL press release:

Program Will Provide Greater Transparency, Enhanced Notice of How Targeted Advertising Works, and Patent-Pending Technology to Protect Consumers' Opt-Out Choices; The Program Will Reach More Than 91% of Online Consumers

“Our goal with this program is to engender greater trust for targeted advertising by communicating with consumers in a more visible way, and by providing them more information about their choices,” said Curt Viebranz, President of Platform-A. “AOL believes that doing more to explain to users the choices they have over the way their data is used, and helping them exercise those preferences will help them feel more in control.”

I also wrote in the previous article:

“The networks currently opt-in users by default; however, in my opinion the proper process should be opt-out by default and opt-in if user chooses to opt-in, just like we do for emails and newsletters. This process will move the burden from users to the advertisers, publishers and networks.”

I don’t think we are going to get opt-in process in near future, here is what AOL talked about the opt-out process:

The expanded use of the TACODA opt-out technology will help better preserve consumer choices. Today, users who opt-out of behavioral targeting by using an opt-out cookie risk having their preference lost if they later delete their cookies. TACODA leverages a Web cache technique to preserve a consumers' opt-out choice even if they delete their browser cookies, something other opt-out systems cannot currently do. AOL is also exploring opportunities to license this technology on a royalty-free basis for use exclusively in consumer privacy protection programs.

“We want to make the opt-out process as simple and transparent as possible,” said Jules Polonetsky, Chief Privacy Officer, AOL. “We urge the industry to join us in ensuring that users who take steps to minimize the data they provide have their choices maintained.”

In another article titled “Online Marketers Joining Internet Privacy Efforts” writes:

AOL says it is setting up a new Web site that will link consumers directly to opt-out lists run by the largest advertising networks. The site’s technology will ensure that people’s preferences are not erased later.
There is a silver lining for marketers, however: the AOL site will try to persuade people that they should choose to share some personal data in order to get pitches for products they might like. Most Web sites, including AOL, already collect data about users to send them specific ads — but AOL is choosing to become more open about the practice and will run advertisements about it in coming months.

I think this is a very smart move by AOL/Tacoda, if it can convince consumers about the benefit of Behavioral Targeting then why not take one step further and have these consumers provide more information about themselves.

Other posts that I recommend
1. Privacy
1. Behavioral Targeting

If you like this post, you might want to subscribe to my blog feed. Click here to subscribe to Web Analysis, Behavioral Targeting and Online Advertising

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Do-Not-Track List: An attempt to kill Behavioral Targeting

An article in AdAge reports that Privacy Groups Propose Do-Not-Track List.

According to the article:

"Demands of these groups would Hinder Marketers' Behavioral-Targeting Practices Online.

Privacy advocates are expected to propose the creation of a do-not-track list, a sort of internet version of the Do Not Call Registry, at a news conference tomorrow.

In addition to the list, the proposal calls for a requirement that advertisers, as part of their online ads, instantaneously disclose details of what they intend to track. According to a media alert announcing the news conference, the groups behind the proposal include the Center for Democracy and Technology, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, among others.

...Typically, advertisers and online media sellers use web cookies to track and maintain information about online consumers. A cookie might be used to figure out what's in a user's shopping cart on a retail website or to record a user's login for a particular site so that user doesn't have to re-enter a login name and password every time they revisit the site. Cookies can also be used to track surfing behavior and offer up ads based on a user's surfing history.

Thanks to such behavioral-targeting technology, a user looking at a specific type of auto on a car-review site, for example, could be targeted with an ad for that particular make and model even when they move onto a general-interest site. Behavioral targeting tends to create more valuable inventory and be more effective, according to many advertisers and publishers familiar with the technology.

…However, consumer-privacy advocates charge that collecting such information in order to target ads creates "a privacy imbalance that has deprived Americans of the right to control their personal information."

So my questions to these groups are:

  1. If consumer don’t like the irrelevant ads but still prefer free ad-supported content to paid ad-free content, how are these groups going to provide that?

  2. How are they going to create Do Not Target list without (Personally Identifiable Information) PII information?
    1. One solution is used by NAI, that is to drop a cookie to indicate that user should not be tracked. But if a user deletes NAI cookie then the user is back in “Do-Track” list since most of the targeting solutions are “Opt-Out’ systems (user is opted-in by default).

    2. Another solution is to create a universal cookie that might be able to get by without any PII information but who is going to maintain that? Google? Microsoft? Yahoo?(Just Kidding)

  3. Is anonymous tracking really a privacy concern? Do consumers really care about Privacy? Or is this mostly a concern of these groups? Anonymous cookie tracking is still better than what these users provide online to the social networking sites. Look at, where users voluntarily provide information everyday about their whereabouts, likes, dislikes, friends etc.

In my previous posts concerning privacy I proposed that Behavioral Targeting should be “Opt-In” instead of “Opt-out”, let the users make a call if they would like to be tracked to see more relevant ads.

Here is what wrote
"I believe that if consumers are provided proper education (I will write about consumer benefits in one of my future posts) than they can in fact benefit from Behavioral Targeting. It will be a win-win situation for all the parties involved. Proper education and disclosures by advertisers, publishers and networks will ease the concerns regarding Behavioral Targeting. Consumers have the right to opt out of Behavioral Targeting but what is lacking is proper education on how to do so. The networks currently opt-in users by default; however, in my opinion the proper process should be opt-out by default and opt-in if user chooses to opt-in, just like we do for emails and newsletters. This process will move the burden from users to the advertisers, publishers and networks.

In short run this could result in a lower reach for BT providers. But if the benefits to consumers are properly stated then most of the consumers will be willing to participate. If you (network or advertiser) tell a consumer that he/she does not need to go looking for deals or offers of products/services that he/she is in the market for, these deals/offers will be provided to him/her based on her online behavior no matter where in the network she is in, I think consumer will love it. If a consumer knows the process and she knows that she is willingly participating in the BT, the click-through rate on the ads will be higher too. Why force users into Behavioral Targeting and raise privacy concerns when you can offer them what they want (when they want) and make them your raving fans."


Monday, October 29, 2007

Is Google’s Behavioral Targeting Flawed?

By now it is well know that Google uses in-session Behavioral Targeting. Eric Lander of Search Engine Journal points out some interesting issues with Google’s Behavioral Targeting

I can see how Google’s BT can be concerning for some advertisers and consumers. Google Behavioral Targeting (BT) by no means is an advanced one. They just use the current search words with the last search words in the same session to figure out user’s intent and then serve the relevant sponsored links.

However, it raises two questions in my mind.

  1. How many times a consumer jumps from one city specific search to another?

    If I live in Seattle, most of my searches are in Seattle area. I hardly switch from “Seattle Care Dealer” searches to “Los Angeles (or any other city) lawn care” search. Does anybody have any study that shows how people switch cities in their searches?

    If I do a search for a “Seattle car dealer” and then a search for a “lawn care”, am I not the same person who was in interested in “Car dealers”? Then don’t you think showing a car dealer ad while searching for “lawn care” is relevant to me? If you agree then I don’t see where is the issue with Google’s Behavioral Targeting? The whole promise of Behavioral Targeting is to show the write ad/content/offer/product to the user based on their behavior instead of the context (in this case showing a “car dealer” ad even though user is searching “lawn care”).

  2. Do consumers (searchers) consider the sponsored links as advertisements or a part of the search result? If they consider these as a part of search results, then yes showing the unrelated results definitely will add to the frustrations consumers’ experience with Search. But if consumers consider them as advertisements more than as a part of search results then, IMHO, it is ok to show out of context ads as long as they are relevant to the consumers. Several studies have shown that Click Through Rate (CTR) on the organic results are far more than CTR on Paid (Sponsored) results indicating that users considers these paid listings more of an advertisements than search results.

What do you think? Would you, as an advertiser, want to see your sponsored links show up out of context (content) but relevant to the user? As a consumer, do you consider sponsored links as advertisements or as a part of the search results?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Behavioral Targeting at eMetrics

Behavioral Targeting (BT), as I predicted earlier this year, has become very common term among marketers. Look at any online marketing events and you will see more than one session on Behavioral Targeting. This was also evident at eMetrics in Washington DC, where a full track was devoted to Optimization and Behavioral Targeting and several other speakers, not in this track, also talked included Behavioral Targeting in their presentations.

In my presentation, I gave an overview of behavioral targeting, what it is, why should marketers get involved with it, the difference between On-Site and Network targeting, who the players are in the market for each type of targeting and also talked about the privacy issues surrounding Behavioral Targeting. I gave several examples showing how business can benefit from Behavioral Targeting. I also outlined a process that you need to follow if you decide to engage in Behavioral Targeting. This is one of the main things that I wanted my audience to take away from this presentation. This process is an outcome of conversations with several customers who have engaged in Behavioral Targeting. To make my point, I cited an example of customer who engaged in Behavioral Targeting network. After running BT ads on one of the leading BT networks, they called me complaining that they were not seeing the value in Behavioral Targeting. After few minutes of conversation it became clear to me that they did not have a proper process in place, they did not fully understand how BT worked and what to expect (one of the reasons of why BT did not work is cited in my previous post titled Size of Your Segment and Network Reach Matters in Behavioral Ad Targeting). Result? A lot of effort, time and money was wasted. So, if you are planning on getting involved with Behavioral Targeting make sure you have a proper process in place (I will outline our process in a future post). (Note: If you were, are or planning to use Behavioral Targeting I would like to talk to you, please contact me at batraonline at

At the end, I showed how on-site Behavioral Targeting can be accomplished without using any third party Behavioral Targeting tools. You can use any Web Analytics tool including Google Analytics, persistent cookies and some coding to get Behavioral Targeting going on your site. This is a great way to try on-site Behavioral Targeting before spending money on third party tools.

If you missed the presentation, don’t worry you will have more chances to hear it in near future. In November I will be doing a free Behavioral Targeting seminar in Seattle so if you are in Seattle area I would love to meet with you there. The final date of the seminar will be posted on this blog and also at ZeroDash1 events page. If you would like to schedule one in your city, email me at batraonline at

Friday, October 12, 2007

WebTrends Engage Conference

Earlier this week, I attended WebTrends’ Exchange conference in Las Vegas. Here are some highlights of the conference.

Evening before the conference

On Monday evening, WebTrends provided us a chance to see Live Diet Coke and Mentos show by, you can see these guys in action here:

Expert Panel on Engagement

Picture courtesy June Dershewitz of Semphonic.

As the name suggest the theme of the conference was visitor engagement. I had a privilege to be on a panel with Gary Angel, Andy Beal, Manoj Jasra, Jim Novo and Jim Sterne. All of us, except Andy Beal, came from Web Analytics background and were in agreement that Engagement was not an excuse, it is a metrics. Andy Beal brought some interesting points about how we should look at engagement not from just web point of view (which was mostly the focus of this conference) but should take other channel e.g. offline into consideration when measuring customer engagement.

360 degree view of the customers

Remember the Predictions I made in January of this year? (Yes they have all come true, 100% on the mark; I just have to do a follow-up post). I wrote
“Web Analytics won’t be standing alone - Marketers will want 360 view of the customers.”.
Guess what? 360 view of customer was another of the subject that was discussed in this conference. Another validation of my predictions.

WebTrends Gone Wild!!!

On Tuesday evening, WebTrends threw a great party at the Palms hotel. The view of Vegas strip from the club was excellent, great choice of venue. It was interesting to see these web analytics folks “engaged” in dancing, free drinks and with each other.

New Products from WebTrends

I was very impressed with Visitor Intelligence and WebTrends Score. I have to say Visitor Intelligence is a great tools for doing advanced segmentation. A very easy to use interface, just drag and drop dimensions and measures and build your segments. It also has the ability to exports the cookie ids so you can take action on your segments, yes I am talking about targeting (behavioral targeting in particular).
Visitor Score allows you to score visitors engagement with the sites, product, attribute scores to various actions that a visitors takes on the site. Visitors Scores will allow you to measure visitor/customer engagement with a very simple interface. However the challenge most of the business will face it to determine what score to assign to which activities (and this is where I can help you). As I wrote last week,
If defined properly (that’s the key) engagement metrics can be good measure of past and predictor of future. Here is tool which can help you in defining engagement. Also, score provides a way to segment your users and then do on-site Behavioral Targeting.
According to my friend Jacques Warren
“Score will need to run on Visitor Intelligence, which will in turn need to run on Marketing Warehouse. This means that you will need to get new money to pay for them, whatever you have spent on the regular product.”

My New Prediction
WebTrends is on the right track with their new products and you will see them giving Omniture run for their money. Omniture get ready for some stiff competition. The more I think the more convinced I get that Webtrends is making the right moves. Howvere WebTrends has to make some more moves to get these products adopted by the market. I have my opinions on how Webtrends can make these products a success, and I already talked to them about it. Thank you for listening, I hope you will also act on what I said. If you are from Webtrends and want to listen to those again I would love to talk with you(Note: I will be at eMetrics next week). I have talked to several people about my concerns and they all agreed, so this is not just me.

Other reads:
Jacques Warren
June Dershewitz

What’s Next for me
I have a lot to write, two main ones are

  1. A follow-up post on my Predictions

  2. My view of the future and how cookie deletion won’t matter, yes, you will have to wait for it. I have discussed my views with two fellow bloggers and they have promised not to reveal it.

Next week, I am going to eMetrics, where I will be speaking about Behavioral Targeting
Then I am off to India for a week.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Interview with Manoj Jasra

Continuing my series of interviews with Web Analyst, here is an interview with Manoj Jasra.

What is your current position and the name of the company you work for?

Director of Technology, Enquiro Search Solutions

How long have you been working in web analytics field?

Since 2002

Tell me about your work and education prior to starting in Web Analytics?

I was actually a university student at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, British Columbia – I joined Enquiro pretty much right out of school

How did you choose a career in Web Analytics?

Enquiro had a need for a person dedicated to analytics so that we could offer our clients more value in our service offerings. Personally I don’t think I ever permanently switched to analytics, rather expanded my search marketing skill set with that knowledge.

How did you find your job at Enquiro? How long did it take?

I think it was a little bit of luck, fate, skills/education and timing. A friend of mine was actually applying to work at Enquiro and I was just coming along for the ride, however I ended up submitting my resume and beat him out for the position. At that time it was a fairly quick interview process with only 1 interview.

What are you responsibilities? Describe your typical work day.
I wear a couple of hats at Enquiro. As the Director of Technology it’s my job to establish relationships with other vendors to help find the best of breed tools to integrate into our services. I also handle many strategic tasks related to Web Analytics ranging from analysis to implementation. Originally my background was in Software development therefore I am always providing consultation on technical SEO tasks as well.

What, if any, education or work experience helped you in making this role?

I think the best way to understand this role is to get your hands dirty with data analysis and implementation manuals. I started by testing on Enquiro’s own site using Omniture’s SiteCatalyst.

What education is lacking, education or experience that would have helped?

There are many good courses and seminars offered by the Vendors and the Web Analytics Association and I am sure if took more of those they would have helped me progress quicker.
What web analytics/online-marketing books have you read and/or own?
I have Eric Peterson’s Big Book of KPIs and Web Analytics Demystified, Actionable Web Analytics (Jason Burby/Shane Atchison) and would love to read Avinash’s Web Analytics: An Hour a Day. I am currently reading Chris Anderson’s, The Long Tail.

Which book(s) helped in you in starting in your job?

Web Analytics Demystified was a good place to start.

What were the major challenges you faced or are facing in this industry?

I think one of the biggest challenges is organizing and prioritizing all the new information that is thrown at you each day – it’s difficult to keep on top of it all

How do you make sure you are learning and growing in this field?

From an SEM and not just Web Analytics perspective, I try to take 45 min to an hour a day to read blogs and news portals. I also try to attend webinars whenever I can to help me leverage new technology/tactics/strategies

Tell me about your blog.

I write Web Analytics World, 50% is dedicated to Web Analytics and 50% is dedicated to SEM/Technology/SEO/SMO. I provide insight on the latest news in the industry; I conduct interviews/podcasts and provide strategic recommendations for online marketing.
What are the skills that you think are important for a web analyst?

I think 2 of the biggest skills required to be a web analyst is to be able combine technical skills along with business/marketing skills in order to understand your customer’s goals and provide value to them. Secondly you have to be passionate about what you do, if you don’t like what you’re doing you will not give 100% effort.

What is your advice to aspiring web analysts?

Theoretical skills are important but will only get you so far therefore it’s important to get “hands-on” experience right away.
If you like this post, you might want to subscribe to my blog feed. Click here to subscribe to Web Analysis, Behavioral Targeting and Online Advertising.
If you want to see what books other web analysts recommend, check out
If you are in web analytics field and would like to interview for my blog please contact me at batraonline at

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Engagement, is it a metric or an excuse?

Avinsah Kaushik, posted a blog post stating that “Engagement is not a metrics, it is an excuse”.

I beg to differ with Avinash on this one. I agree with Avinash that there is no standard way of measuring engagement. And my argument is that we don’t need a standard way to define engagement. Engagement metric is site specific and companies should have their own engagement baselines and trends. It is not a metrics that should be used to compare sites, because, as Avinash said in his post, each site is unique and hence the how each sites define engagement is going to be unique.

Avinash states “One of my personal golden rules is that a metric should be instantly useful. This one is not. Say you measure engagement. It could be a % or a absolute number or a ratio or whatever (in fact it can be any or all of those at the same time). You fire off a graph or a excel spreadsheet with trends. You repeatedly get asked: What are we measuring?”.

Question is when don’t we get questioned? A lot of marketers still have confusion about visits and visitors (believe me for 4 months I had to explain this multiple times to a marketing director of a major company). But that does not mean we should not use them. As an analyst our job is also to explain what measure makes sense, why they make sense and how are they calculated. You have to make sure your KPIs are not for the sake having KPIs, they are Key Performance Indicators for your Business. Same goes with Engagement as a KPI or even just another metric, you have to define it properly keeping your business goals in mind, make sure stakeholders understand what it is showing, why should they care and how it affects the business.

Engagement, to me, is not just about looking at the history, like most of the KPIs do. If defined properly (that’s the key) engagement metrics can be good measure of past and predictor of future. Ultimately there is are business goals for having a website, weather those are conversions, creating a brand value, driving more offline sales or something along those lines. Engagement metrics can also show you where you should spend your money, which segments to cater to. If you correlate your engagement metrics with your goals you will be able to come up with a model for predicting the future. Engagement metrics can serve as the leading indicator telling you if you will meet, beat or miss your goals. Engagement metrics allows you to be proactive. That is the beauty of engagement metrics.
So, given that, I don’t think engagement metrics is an excuse. It is actually very powerful, better than past indicators.

What do you think? Am I missing something?

You should also check out the following
Jim Novo’s blog post
Captian Blackbeaks Blog

If you like this post, you might want to subscribe to my blog feed.Click here to subscribe to Web Analysis, Behavioral Targeting and Online Advertising

Monday, October 01, 2007

WebTrends Engage Conference 2007 in Las Vegas

Next week I will be in Las Vegas on 8, 9 and 10. No, I am not going to gamble (well maybe a little) but I will be there to attend WebTrends Engage 2007 conference. This is another great web analytics conference. I highly recommend this conference even if you are not a WebTrends customer, as it will allow you to see what WebTrends can do for your business. This conference will provide you an opportunity to learn from current WebTrends customers and other experts in the field.

I was a speaker at the last conference in Orlando. This year I will be on a customer engagement panel with elite group of web analytics and online marketing gurus. The panel on consumer engagement will include the following
• Gary Angel, SEMphonic
• Anil Batra, ZeroDash1 (Me)
• Andy Beal, Marketing Pilgrim
• Manoj Jasra, Enquiro Search Solutions
• Jim Novo, The Drilling Down Project
• Jim Sterne, Web Analytics Association and Emetrics

Some of the speakers at the conference are

Paul Wilmington, Naked Communications
Julian Brewer, Barclays Bank
Kevin Doohan, ConAgra
Loran Gutt, ShopNBC

I will arrive there on 8th evening; I would love to meet with readers of this blog, so if you are going to be there email me at batraonline at

You can read about the conference and register at

Monday, September 24, 2007

XChange, Web Analytics 3.0 and Behavioral Targeting

I am back from from XChange, a conference organized by Semphoic in Napa last Thursday and Friday. The Conference consisted of many small discussion groups ("Huddles") hosted by facilitator experts in specific topic areas. I felt that this was a great way to have all the attendees participate in the conversation. In most of the conferences it is usually one way communication (speaker to audience), even though there is an opportunity to ask questions still only few participants are involved, but these types of huddles provided a way for every participant to talk about their experiences and voice their opinions.

I lead the huddles on Behavioral Targeting and Practical Approach to Online Campaign Measurement.
Eric Peterson of Web Analytics Demystified was the keynote speaker. As always Eric is fun and informative to listen to. In his keynote he talked about how we are fast moving (already are) in Web Analytics 2.0 era and introduced the concept of Web Analytics 3.0, mobile analytics (see side note). Attached is the pdf of his Keynote presentation.

It was a great event and I congratulate Gary, Grace and other members of Semphonic team for arranging such a great event. I look forward to the next year’s event.

Gary Angel and I at XChange

Picture courtesy Eric Peterson

In case you could not make it to XChange and missed my great huddle on “Behavioral Targeting”, you have another opportunity to listen my views on Behavioral Targeting at eMetrics in Washinton D.C. eMetrics is another great conference that brings the participants from all around the world. Last eMetrics in San Francisco was the largest to date, the one is D.C. is expected to bring even more attendees.

Side Note: Eric and I later discussed how I did some early mobile analytics work for one of my clients, a leading mobile services provider, while I was a digiMine (now Revenue Science). At that time we were still trying to figure out the whole mobile analysis. Our solution was a hack; we used wap gateway logs and converted them into web logs format. Phone number was used in place of a cookie. It was not the best solution but given what we had it was great and helped us analyze and meet our business goals. Now the technology is changing and I am sure web analytics tools will become sophisticated enough to cater to the measurement, analysis and optimization needs. I even put together a presentation on how Behavioral Targeting can be deployed combining the web and mobile data; however, this never reached anywhere (long story) but I know it was coming. Revenue Science just announced Mobile BT, more on this later (Disclaimer: The presentation I put together has nothing to do with Revenue Sciences new Mobile BT offering, like I said my presentation never reached anywhere except one person).

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Interview with Stephane Hamel

Continuing my series of interviews with Web Analyst, here is an interview with Stephane Hamel.

What is your current position and the name of the company you work for?

I'm a senior ebusiness advisor for Desjardins General Insurance, which is part of the largest financial institution in the province of Quebec, Canada ( My role is to serve as a "liaison agent" between the business teams and IT (and vice versa). As such, I get involved in the strategy and early stages of ebusiness projects, provide ebusiness as well as IT guidelines and orientations, then supervise the development at a high level and maintain the global vision of the ebusiness ecosystem. Although unofficial, I feel I play a "change agent" and evangelist role, bringing new ideas and communicating them to all stakeholders. My passion for web analytics is a direct link with my responsibilities of analyzing, recommending, communicating & educating about the relationships between the business, the technology, and the web.

How long have you been working in web analytics field?

I really became passionate about web analytics 4 years ago and tried to convince my employer of the time, an interactive agency, that we should invest in web analytics. We became reseller of HBX and I worked with clients that had Coremetrics, Omniture, WebTrends and other solutions. Even before that, I had used WebTrends and LiveStats for several years, but more from an IT perspective.

Tell me about your work, education prior to making a switch to Web Analytics?

I started my career in IT over 20 years ago, a college degree in hand, as a programmer, Unix system administrator and Oracle DBA. In the early '90, I was lucky enough to work on a research project where we had access to the Internet, and when the first version of Mosaic came out I delved right into it. I quickly switched to become a webmaster for a subsidiary of Microsoft in Montreal (, and eventually became ebusiness architect and overlook a very successful B2B project and the major redesign of a dozen web sites (

How did you become interested in Web Analytics?

In my role as the "e" in "ebusiness", I had lots of discussions with business stakeholders. One day I met a particularly arrogant marketing manager who told me something like "You can't understand marketing because you are an IT person". As you can imagine, that shocked me (and more!) because I knew that a good IT person HAS to understand the business of his customers/clients to serve them. I had already worked for the Montreal Stock Exchange where I learned about trading, I worked in a high-end 3D animation company where I learned about the modeling and special effects business, etc. From that day, I decided I would shift my career from a pure IT perspective to focus more on the business side. Without denying my IT background, I'm in a position where I can leverage it and be much more conscious about the ways IT can be leveraged to achieve business objectives. Since then I enrolled in an MBA program where I've been listed twice on the honor roll as one of the top 20 students and I have shifted my career toward a more strategic role.

How did you find your new job? How long did it take? Did you interview a lot?

About two years ago I became uncomfortable with the business culture where I worked and was planning on going freelance in web analytics. Then I got in contact with a consultant who was helping my current employer with their ebusiness strategy. Desjardins received numerous awards as a "best of class" employer (and it's true!) and I was really impressed with their business culture, the fact they had a clear strategic vision of where they wanted to be and the money to do it! After a couple interviews they decided to create this new role of ebusiness advisor and I joined.

What are you responsibilities? Describe your typical work day.

Web analytics is a fraction of my responsibilities and we're lucky to have a whole team dedicated to it. With regards to web analytics, my role is really one facilitator, educating and guiding; from helping define KPI to configuring the WA solution to mentoring the IT person who does tagging. My involvement in the web analytics community helps me increase my expertise and share it with others; it becomes an upward spiral that helps increase experience and build credibility.

What are the skills that you think are important for a web analyst?

We've seen a lot of discussion about this on various blogs. To me, the Web needs three ingredients: clear business objectives, a communication strategy and the technology to support them. The best web analyst would be savvy and top of the line in all three... which is probably impossible to find. But everyone can rate himself on a virtual scale and see where they stand and where they want to be.

What, if any, education or work experience helped you in making this transition.

I recently finished reading "Founders at work", which made me realize our career path is often a question of attitude and a bit of chance that has its roots in the choices we made in our very early jobs (and even our education choices). For me it was pure IT, Web, and expanding horizons into the business side of things.

What education is lacking, education or experience that would have helped?

I would have enlisted in the UBC "Award of achievement in Web Analytics" had it been available a couple of years ago (and I'm not saying that just because I will be tutoring the UBC's "Introduction to web analytics"!). Education is now available, and there are numerous books and blogs to help increase or knowledge. The experience part is a bit trickier, but my view is summed up in a post entitled "Should you switch job?" where I give 3 simple questions to ask yourself: 1) Am I increasing my value in the market? 2) Am I bringing the right value to my employer? 3) Am I being rightly compensated for my value?

What web analytics/online-marketing books have you read and/or own?

Would be too long to list here! I've been using BookJetty to keep track of those.

What are the major challenges you are facing in this industry?

Scarce resources is an issue everywhere. At the same time, being involved in the local web analytics community makes me realize there is a whole lot of companies that have yet to embrace (web) analytics as a strategic tool to help make better business decisions.

How do you make sure you are learning and growing in this field?

Networking, being involved! Web analytics is a bit like the early days of the Web: everyone is willing to help each other, there are so many innovations and opportunities that it's up to us to decide what we want to do next.

Tell me about your blog.

I started in 2002 on a totally different subject, but really shifted to post more often about web analytics, web strategies and career about 2 years ago.

What is your advice to aspiring web analysts?

"Perseverance": trust yourself and decide what YOU want to do. The web analytics field is in its infancy and all types of people can have the right "stuff" to be involved. Sometimes in might be just doing one small thing everyday toward your goal, other times it might to have the guts to take hard decisions to put yourself in a better position to achieve your long term objective.

If you like this post, you might want to subscribe to my blog feed.Click here to subscribe to Web Analysis, Behavioral Targeting and Online Advertising

Friday, September 14, 2007

Behavioral Targeting better than Contextual Advertising

Finally a new study is out showing the value of Behavioral Targeting. AOL and Revenue Science commissioned
JupiterResearch to conduct an independent unbiased study to find the effectiveness of Behavioral Targeting.

The results were based on 2035 respondents answering 25 questions.
Key Findings of this study

  1. Behavioral ads outperform contextual ads by up to 22% (I think it is the CTR that was compared).

  2. 66% of the online user acted as a result of viewing online ads).

  3. 14% more online consumers are more receptive to behaviorally targeted ads than to contextual ads. That is 63% of the total audience.

  4. 93% of the BT receptive audience shop online

  5. BT receptive audience

    • Spend more online

    • Shop online more often

    • Have higher income

  6. Online Shoppers (Frequent, Infrequent) and Non Shopper are all more receptive to BT ads as compared to Contextual Ads.

  7. At least 10% more purchase intenders across 14 categories noticed BT ads as compared to contextual ads. The categories used in this survey were financial services, Auto, Travel, Health Products, Consumer Electronics, Computing Products, Telecommunications, Entertainment, Classifieds, Pharmaceuticals, CPG, Fashion/Style, Education Services and Government Services

"We're glad to see that the voice of the online consumer echoes our position that behavioral targeting is more effective -- for advertisers, publishers, and for consumers --than contextual advertising," said Marla R. Schimke, VP of marketing at Revenue Science, in a statement. "This study also reaffirms our belief that Internet users favor advertising relevant to them personally and that advertisers should employ behavioral targeting campaigns to maximize their return on investment."
Source:Information Week