Avinash Kaushik Gives The Future Of Analytics – GAAC Summit Day 2

Adrian Tan

The second day of the Google Analytics Authorised Consultant (GAAC) Summit 2009 was kicked off with a bang by THE Avinash Kaushik of Occam’s Razor fame. Avinash jokingly mentioned that his blog had visitors from over 170 countries – which represented the entire group of nations with availability of internet access (inclusive of Somalia with its lone working PC…kidding!). But somehow, I suspect there is some truth in his statement. Avinash is highly respected  in the online world, sort of like the de facto Guru for all things web analytics related.

Avinash Kaushik Presentation on Future of Web Analytics

Avinash quickly dived into the heavy hitting stuff with three broad keywords (heh..we are in the keyword business after all) that he thought would be of interest to the audience today – Speculate, Vent, Inspire. I will try to encapsulate what he talked about with liberal doses of my own input (apologies here).

Speculate –  with reference to the Omniture acquisition by Adobe. His view was that Omniture would not as a result "die" due to the merger. The web analytics colossus was where it was today by marketing the sh*t (ok crap) out of the need to track web actions. This started the trend of multi-national companies paying sh*tloads…huge, astronomical amounts of money to Omniture for the expertise to know what was happening on their websites. If Omniture were to vanish, the web analytics eco-system would be detrimentally affected.

So who would be the new king with the void left? Google Analytics, Webtrends, Coremetrics… there has been consolidation of the various tools and the future is unclear. However, what is clear is that vendors like clickTRUE would be quite well placed to support clients who might want to migrate from the Omniture platform and seek assistance in using one of the many web analytics tools available.

Vent – prior to the GAAC Summit, Avinash was asked on his concerns for the future. He suggested two areas.

1. Javascripts are now widely used for the purposes of tracking websites. However, as demonstrated by the phenomenon of Twitter and the various social media, websites may no longer be the centre of the web universe. There is fragmentation in how we users consume. Nowadays, user generated content gets placed on multiple platforms and read through different means (using RSS readers, Adobe AIR). Websites may not even be involved in the just mentioned information flow. This would mean that the tracking code javascripts would be absent too. There is a need to have new methods to measure the success of how your message is communicated to your audience going forward with the "new" New Media.

Avinash Kaushik Presentation on Future of Web Analytics

2. Smart Metrics are not applied often enough. Instead we are distracted by seemingly institutionalised metrics that are possibly redundant and useless now. And this is when Avinash introduced the most important acronym at the summit: HITS or How Idiots Track Success! Most of us have been using hits since time immemorial. We have fundamentally not moved away from analysing server log related data.

And now with Twitter, companies and expert are still harping on the fact that they have generated thousands of followers for their brands. However, followers are akin to visit/hits. There may not be any correlation with the conversation generated and the number of followers an account has. In fact, companies are probably using twitter the wrong way. They are shouting their latest promotions, newletters, press releases to their followers without thought of engaging in any meaningful conversation (measuring the number of replies sent and the replies received).

Avinash Kaushik Presentation on Future of Web Analytics

Avinash then referred to the good work done by the people at ReTweetist who have managed to measure the marketing impact of twittering by tracking the number of retweets that happen. Using another appropriate analogy from Avinash, try not to go for the one night stands (i.e. the HITS) and strive for building relationships (engaging in conversation).

Here's a clip of what the man said himself:

Rounding off the discussion, Avinash explained his last point on Inspire.

Inspire – Displaying pictures of elephants (the big companies) and mice (the small innovators), Avinash switched his focus to how the small guys are doing the small little things that could one day prove extremely important and paradigm changing.

Noting that mobile would be the next front for advertising, these three guys located in Long Island USA, came up with a Mobile Analytics platform using the elegant application of image tags and incorporating Smart Metrics that are tailored to provide intelligence (a highly sought after thing) to the user – especially more if you are an executive in a Telecommunications company. For example, their tool would be able to provide indicators on the mix of iPhones versus normal phones, the comparison of phones with wifi features versus those with radio and which country would have the highest number of Blackberry devices.

Avinash Kaushik Presentation on Future of Web Analytics

Avinash Kaushik Presentation on Future of Web Analytics

This company has located their development team in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (hey, they are geographically so close to us. yay!). They developed an analytics solution that allowed the automated comparison of metrics from various different averaged time frames, the ability to generate forecasts (cool when your advertiser is asking you to look into the crystal ball and provide promises on the success of their campaign down the road) and the flexibility to define customised outcomes with unique goal values.

Avinash Kaushik Presentation on Future of Web Analytics

The development of these tools demonstrate the need for agility and speed when coping with the fast changing needs of the analytics industry. Equally important, it means that the analytics consultants (reminder to ourselves) have to be ready to utilise these tools and translate them into economic value for the clients. This will mean going beyond the run of the mill conversion goals (in which most of us are limited to the 2% industry average…clients are unlikely and unwilling to pay a premium for these small percentages) and pushing for a variety of engagement metrics (tapping on the remaining 98% to be converted..thus finally showcasing our value) on which ever platform (mobile or web) or whatever manner (web portal centric or social media style).

We came away with a crystallization of the tasks ahead as well as the challenges that we will likely face. Also with a picture of us with the man who provided much intelligence today. Thanks for sharing, Avinash and pleasure to have met you!

Avinash Kaushik Presentation on Future of Web Analytics

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