After eMetrics, an urge for Web Analytics European professionalism


European Web Analytics Excellence

The eMetrics summit held in Washington last week was attended by some 480 participants, of which only 9 companies from Europe were present! Amongst which, Italy was represented by Giovanni (left) from BigBang, Scotland by Vicky Brock* (right) from Highland Business Research and us, little Belgians. Avinash (middle) is an exception, I’d call him a world citizen and one of our greatest inspirators.

The week before attending, I received an email from Brian Induni, Web Analytics Association President, regarding a possible subcommittee about certification or how to define Web Analytics professionals.

During the course of this week, I was reminded of the fact that web analytics products are not a silver bullets, independantly of the one you choose. Some products are better than others, will adapt better to your needs; with the Golden Palm going to what I call the analyst nirvana, Visual Sciences. I mean WOW!

All presentators and attendees agree on the fact that Web Analytics is hard!
Education remains the essential underlying theme of sucessfull web analytics projects and as Avinash pointed out, curiosity and spending at least 20% of your time “providing analysis no one asked for and only you can perform” is actually where INSIGHT can be found. Gosh, that was so true!
Please note I used the term insight and not reporting or reports. It’s not about reports as these can be spitted out by any tool. The WSS whitepaper I commented upon (thanks Eric for your comments) last week defines KPIs for the media sector. Such reports can be set-up of course in WSS’s HBX but also WebTrends, Instadia or Coremetrics, amongst others.

The essence lies in the 10/90 rule: for every 10 euros you spend on a product, you should spend 90 euros on brains!
But before you can start to make sense out of all this data you’re getting porred all over you, make sure

  1. your technical basis is sound;
  2. figures rendered are as accurate as they can be (it will never be 100% accurate so please, get over that one!);
  3. a clever person is going to ask the right questions.

I was gleaning through some WebTrends documentation about an event my favorite vendor held with another Belgian partner, (nice color by the way) and stumbled upon a very nice, stylish pdf.

After such a week of knowledge, I was really disapointed to find such an outdated online presentation about Web Analytics.
Because mentioning in red that the “Biggest mistakes that can be made: business managers assuming that web reports are hard to make and understand” is not really what it’s all about.
Indeed, web reports aren’t that hard to make. As long as you get your technological ground layer right…
And indeed web reports aren’t really that hard to understand. But have you ever tried just to ban hits from a marketeers’ vocabulary? I have. Many times over the last few years.
Unfortunately, Web Analytics is not about that.
It’s about asking the right questions and companies that are truly sucessful with WA have moved beyond “web reporting” into an arena of real analysis. Your technological ground layer.
The presentation states “comparable accuracy for log file based and tagging based analysis“. (bottom slide 20)
I’m sorry but I can not agree with that. This issue has been widely debated over the past 18 months all over the WA community. Please refer to chapter 2 (hack #6) of Eric Peterson’s, web analytics guru, Web Site Measurement Hacks, edited by O’Reilly.

Log files measure hits and therefore also traffic from robots and spiders. These can be filtered out using WebTrends filters. Please note that the filtering is based upon know spiders and robots by WebTrends, at the time the latest version was installed. Thus not ideal and you need to keep your versions up.
OX2 cleared release of WebTrends V8.0a in June and we have sucessfully upgraded over a dozen of our clients.

Tags generate log lines in an SDC log file everytime a visitor comes to your website, thus only triggering data for true visitors. Indeed, the JavaScript of the tag is not activated for traffic not showing visitors.

The example in the presentation is based on unfiltered log files, thus allowing for skewed conclusions. Amongst others, the 20% of visit duration over 5 minutes is over estimated. You should look at the difference between average and median time spent…

The choice between log files and tags is often directed by a carefull examination of the online business. I’m not saying tags are always needed but the right balance should be found between the 2 different methods.

I also had a question about slide 48, where correlations or “any to any” reports are mentioned. Eventhough I’ve been fooling around with WebTrends for a couple of years now, I still haven’t managed to create a true product correlations report in WebTrends Analytics. Siegert did manage that one in Instadia, with Guillaume’s and the Danish’s help so if you could enlighten us about that one, that would be very much appreciate.

Amazing work, nice design. I love the little gauge with the smilies. And I’m so happy to be joined by such a great company in order to build a better web. I feel less lonely, trying to preach for data driven decision making.
Web Analytics can be such a powerful tool if well used.  Please bear in mind the importance of learning how to use it helped by PROFESSIONALS.  The more we are, the better we will be able to educate the market and profesionalise our sector (that needs it desperately).  The best advice I could give to someone interested in starting doing Web Analytics is to very carefully select your Web Analytics partner and please don’t let yourself impress by the ‘sales talk’.

We’re not talking about the integration of a free Google Analytics tool here. We’re talking about a commitment by many clients to indeed start “building a better web”, through the use of a slightly costlier tool such as WebTrends.
The web is such a wonderful measurable medium. Use it well, do your homework and it will serve you well.
Use it porely and you’re waisting everybody’s precious time and money, giving my trade and my passion a bad reputation and dragging our continent behind. Please share my European Web Analytics Dream.

You are such a creative company, you are such an example to follow in certain aspects. Please make me proud of the continent I’ve chosen. And please feel free to comment. A sound debate might be what our continental market needs 😉

My door is open. Yours sincerily, ZR34.

* for Julien


2 Responses to “After eMetrics, an urge for Web Analytics European professionalism”

  1. Avinash Kaushik Says:

    Aurélie: One of the great benefits of conferences such as eMetrics and blogs such as this one is that increasingly the Web Analytics practitioners are becoming smarter with every passing second. I think gone are the days when a vendor / consultant / someone in a nice suit and a jazzy presentation could walk in and walk out with a contract. Practitioners now are a lot more empowered, they are asking the tough questions, they are putting vendors / consultants / others in a tight spot. They come to meetings with Eric’s books (which you already reference above for the goodness they contain).

    This is fantastic for everyone in the industry and it means that no one person / company can be so influential that they will be able to brainwash clients into sub optimal outcomes.

    Maybe we are not there 100%, but we are all getting there together and that feels good.

    Thanks all your eMetrics write-up’s, very enjoyable and informative.


  2. Julien Coquet Says:


    thanks for the picture with Vicky!

    See you all in Brussels soon 😉


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