Search & Measure, San Marco village 24/3/2006 (II. Vendors)

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Ok, back to Friday, the Search & Measure Congress held last Friday between Antwerp and Brussels.
Let’s now take my personal view upon WA vendors.
This blog if off course open to comments and do not hesitate to post your opinion or to contact me.
The only thing I actually regretted about the Congress was that the opportunity for questions was quite limited. I have a few for the different vendors😉

Present WA vendors were: SAS, WebTrends, WebSideStory and NedStat.

SAS:
Last time I was at the CMS congress during the end of 2005, SAS already made a presentation, focusing on the case of the European Commission. I was, at the time, quite annoyed by the presentation in itself because shown measures included Hits and that obviously the wrong technological choice had been made (log files vs. tagging) in view of the projects’ capacity constraints (reporting on immense silos of data within 24 hours. Surely you push your client to use tags instead of log files, assuring a 90% size reduction, no?). For having sit in meetings for a WA product for the European entities, I also know that selling the right solution to those institutions is not an easy task and can not be totally blamed on the vendor.

This however is a call to these European Institutions to get their act in place to do things right: I’m a European by birth, heart and soul and citizen of the world and would really like you guys to start cleaning up your technological mess and start using professionals for your online communication strategy!

Anyhow, getting back to SAS, screenshots were again from the stone age: 2002 and 2004 references from probably Proximus (who choose for the product some years ago and was quite right to do so, at the time) and a nice reference to Hits again!

I did however enjoy the newsletter workflow but couldn’t help from wondering whether that was up to a WA product to do. I mean, a workflow manager is more related to your CMS (it’s embedded into ours: On[i]Systems 3.0) or related to your CRM system where rules are set-up, no?
But cool feature. The ergonomics could be lifted up a bit and I wonder about the flexibility of this.

I also enjoyed the clustering or ability to show decision trees related to variables influencing the conversion events. It reminded me a lot about Answer Tree from SPSS, a nice little and efficient tool, cheap but does what is needed.
Together with Xcelsius from BO, for me, these 2 “external” products can fuse up your WA set-up if and only if links are possible with other applications, paving the way towards Predictive Analysis.

The important thing to remember when comparing the 4 tools cited above is that SAS is far more than only a WA tool. Its philosophy differs and the idea is to integrate, using the some 70 products available from SAS.
It’s a bit the choice between Best of Breeds or integrated systems.
I favor the first option and mostly because I do not know yet how current applications will evolve over time as I mentioned in the Inside article about Content Management Systems. For me, CMS is becoming the ERP of Marketing.

WebTrends:
First of all, do not forget I’m not impartial, please.

I select vendors according to different criteria and choose the product that fits best my current and future expectations of what a WA product should be all about and how this choice can serve best my customers and my partners.

For those who have read my February Newsletter and work with me, they know I was sooo positively surprised to see Xcelsius from BO integrated into the next release, version 8 also called Marketing Lab.
What do you want me to tell you about WebTrends? It’s not the cheapest solution and when integrated with the right partner, it’s surely, certainly, absolutely worthwhile.

That’s all there is to it.
It’s packaged just how it should: flexible to meet any customers needs, allowing you to pay for what you really need, nothing more but allowing you to upgrade when the time is right, for you.
It’s powerful: if a log line is generated at each action you want to measure, WebTrends can report on it or we have the creativity to make it appear, in the format that is right for you.
Can be integrated: ODBC connections are added on top to the already existing csv, Excel, Word, pdf and database exports and it included… a data warehouse!!! (to be released shortly). I wasn’t totally wrong to take he dust off from my Kimball material😉

CRM, ERP, CMS, DAM: integrate and measure to increase productivity (and certainly in a country such a Belgium where everyone knows that HR comes at a huuuuge cost).

WebTrends with version 8, Marketing Lab, surely deserves the title of Hub of Marketing.
Great job, guys, to all those that worked so hard, congratulations!

And thanks to Conrad for his presentation, painting the picture just right and showing the same kind of decision tree as the vendor before him. Xcelsius is truly sexy. Sad to see that the demo of the What If scenario wasn’t enclosed but the next vendor took care of that😉

WebSideStory:
Finally! Ever since the acquisition of Visual Sciences a couple of months ago, I’ve been curious. Also because one of their partners is ZAAZ, featuring Jason Burby, which I very much appreciate and respect. For those who need ideas about measuring the effectiveness of Search on your website, check out his expert advice and opinion on the matter and other interesting thoughts.

I also heard that integration with Falk is complete, which is good news. I’m impatient to see it work.
I’m also curious about the bid manager but wonder about the market share for such a product as I’m not convinced that adoption of the Internet in Europe goes in the same direction for this particular online related subject. I’m open to discussion related to this.

Yes well, I have respect for the company, that’s unfortunately all I can say.
I know of one Belgian client and not the least but the work that lies ahead might be too much of challenge for just a software product. I sincerely hope that the partner is also up for it.

NedStat:
I heard some time ago that market share in my home country, the Netherlands, was quite the opposite to the one in Belgium. Interesting.

I’ll be blunt: I have 2 major issues with NedStat:

  1. Pricing: could it be possible to be more transparent? I appreciate transparency because in this world of reduced asymmetric information, the lack of transparency doesn’t show vision. And this brings me to my second point:
  2. NedStat CEO announced he didn’t consider accurate 1st party cookie measurement to be an issue. I do and didn’t get a straight answer from the vendor present at the Congress: does NedStat assure 1st party cookie serving through it’s asp solution?

Don’t hesitate to contact me for any comments or suggestions. Or even better, post your comments, I’m open for debate. As they say in French: “Il n’y a que les cons qui ne changent pas d’avis!” (only idiots never change their minds).

Closing note:
A quick closing note about the vendors that should maybe be present next year: Omniture and certainly Google Analytics! and maybe eStat…


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