Wednesday, October 29, 2008

WASP Market Research: Top 500 Online Retail Sites

My contribution to last week eMetrics Industry Insight was a short 10 minutes presentation based on WASP Market Research feature. I shared the results of two analysis I've done:
  1. The web analytics tools used on a random sample of 120,000 websites visited by web analysts
  2. An analysis of the Top 500 Internet Retail Sites in the US.

WASP - Web Analytics Solution Profiler Market Research

If you don't see the presentation below, you can get view it on SlideShare.
I have just done minor edits to comment some slides and the design was slightly altered by Slideshare.

The shakedown

Remember that was two days before the announcement of Google Analytics new features.

In my presentation, notice the strong shares of Google Analytics. On slide 10, it's even more interesting to note how often Google Analytics is along with another tool. If I'm Omniture or Coremetrics and I see a growing overlap with GA I would get worried. If I'm one of the 120 other players and Google Analytics is always there... I'm scared like a kid in a haunted house at Halloween!

If you look at the retail sites, 78% of them are already engaged in web analytics. I'm afraid the 22% who aren't will get hit much harder by the economical meldown (slide #8).

The brighter side

On the brighter side, slide #5 indicates "39% of unknown or none", a minor 1% improvement over the presentation I did at the previous eMetrics San Francisco in May (although not significant).

Slide #6 shows the concept of "multiplicity" proposed by Avinash Kaushik isn't quite there yet and there are lots of opportunities for market growth.

The shear reality of the economy

Based on numerous conversations I had at eMetrics, be it with market analysts, vendors or web analysts at companies or consulting agencies, I think we can expect the following:
  • Vendors will see a major slowdown. Companies who are already engaged in web analytics probably won't deploy new solutions for a while. They will do with what they have. Those who aren't and really want to get in will jump on Google Analytics.
  • Consulting agencies will see a slowdown and change in type of service they provide. Often overloaded, some slowdown might be welcome (but not too much!)... agencies will be solicited for shorter, narrower mandates.
  • Web analysts at mature companies. If you are lucky enough to work for a company with a somewhat mature analytical culture, the long term objectives remain and budget shouldn't be slashed radically because the benefits are already proven. As we like to say, it's even more important to do web analytics when the economy goes crazy...
  • Web analysts at early stage. If you haven't demonstrated good ROI and are still strugling with implementation, internal politics and such... good luck!
  • Education and conferences... if your budget for education & conferences is not already slashed to nearly zero... expect it to be pretty soon!
What's your take? Any comments about the presentation or my views of the market are welcome!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Seeking a Top 1000 site list for study

As you might know, I'm not only tutoring for the Web Analytics Award of Achievement at UBC and working on WASP, I'm also very interested in research & education. As part of my involvement with Laval University eBusiness MBA program (Quebec city, in French), I would like to conduct a research on something that have never been done before.

What is the true value of web analytics?

The goal of the study is to find out and quantify how much of an impact web analytics might have on the bottom line, and predict expected ROI. Some possible questions:
  • Are top performers using more sophisticated web analytics tools?
  • Are companies with a more mature analytical culture more profitable?
  • Are they achieving significantly higher online conversion rates?

Seeking Top 1,000 online sites

I need your help!

I'm looking for a "Top 1000" list of some kind (top online retail sites, top UK sites, etc.) ranked by traffic, or better, by benefits or conversion rates, with available public information. If I can get more then 1000 sites it would be even better since I want to create a predictive model out of this data.

I'm thinking of Compete, Comscore,  maybe Bill Gassman from Gartner or John Lovett from Forrester/JupiterResearch have such a list? Of course... I simply can't afford to pay for that data... But I would be delighted to work and share my results with whoever can get me this list! :)

Friday, October 24, 2008

eMetrics Toronto is next!

This week in Washington, the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit announced the date and call for speakers for its Toronto, Ontario conference. We aim to build upon the success and lessons learned in the 2008 eMetrics Summit Series offering a big-picture view of optimizing online marketing value and improving overall business strategy.

The two-day conference (March 29 - April 1, 2009) agenda covers a wide range of topics to provide a holistic view of web marketing optimization, including but not limited to:
  • Discovering the metrics behind opinions and conversations
  • A/B and multivariate testing
  • Online marketing analytics: campaigns, promotions and e-commerce
  • Consumer-generated content: turning threats into opportunities
Marketers and analysts will learn from industry leaders within the online publishing, retail, education, government and non-profit sectors. Experts will share their experience and deliver real-life case studies and more. Attendees will gain firsthand knowledge from in-depth sessions covering search analytics, monetizing online behavior and best practices for measuring results and optimizing the purchase process.

Call for speakers

We are seeking presentations on the nitty gritty of web analytics and marketing optimization as well as sessions on search analytics, email marketing optimization and behavioral targeting. The deadline to submit a proposal via the online form is November 15, 2008.

Advisory board

The conference is co-chaired by Jim Sterne, conference founder and chairman of the Web Analytics Association, and Alex Langshur, president and co-founder of PublicInsite. The advisory board is comprised of the best and brightest in the marketing optimization field, including:
  • Stephane Hamel, consultant and blogger for;
  • Brent Hieggelke, web analytics evangelist and president of Throttle Marketing;
  • Mitch Joel, president of Twist Image;
  • June Li, managing director of ClickInsight;
  • Mike Sukmanowsky, analytics and insight specialist for Rogers Media;
  • Simon Rivard, vice president of marketing for Quebecor Media - Canoe;
  • Jacques Warren of WAO Marketing Inc.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Fun: the ultimate cart abandonment

We all know how web analytics and cart optimization goes along. Looks like someone found the ultimate way to dump the cart altogether! Literally!

Now... for the marketing slant... notice the ad on the side of the other truck: "Target: expect more, pay less"

That would make for a nice viral campaign! :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

WASP: v0.70 is available!

It’s nothing compared to todays Google Analytics announcement, but I’m doing my own little contribution to the web analytics community: WASP v0.70 is now available from

Bug fixes & enhancements

  • Enhanced crawling wizard
  • Faster crawls
  • Crawl data policies: resume, restart, refresh
  • Can handle much larger sites
  • Slightly enhanced reporting (more to come!)
  • Reports now includes meta keywords & description
  • Stealth mode for Google Analytics & Omniture SiteCatalyst
  • Couple of additional tools detected
  • Export to regular sitemap format or special News format
  • Another round of bug fixes

WASP Professional available in closed beta

The full-featured version of WASP is available to vendors, consulting agencies and large organizations. Check out the details.


Get it NOW! Visit and click on the "Add to Firefox" green button.

eMetrics: Google Analytics now more enterprise sassy!

Right from the eMetrics Washington D.C. floor, Avinash Kaushik just announced new features for Google Analytics. Hold on to your hats, as I said earlier, the wind is changing!
  • UI improvements: Minor visual refreshes to “makes it look better” as Avinash puts it (ok... nice)
  • Account management: New account management interface, snapshot of all your sites KPIs and easier multiple-account management (quite useful)
  • Integration: new Ad Sense integration (just makes sense!)
  • Data visualization: bubble motion charts showing 3 dimensions over time! Overall, you can play with 5 dimensions of data at the same time! (this one is really cool!)
  • Custome reporting! As Avinash puts it, “web analytics is intensely personal”, so you can now drag & drop any metrics and create your own reports
  • Advanced segmentation: just as with custom reports, create live segments on the fly!
  • Historical data: everything announced above is available with your historical data
  • API: the long awaited Google Analytics API is finally available. Yeah! So obviously, this also includes feeding Google Analytics custom variables

Raising the bar

As the entry-level bar is raising, (and boy! did it raise today!) the mid-product market will get squeezed and will have a harder time competing with “free” and “more powerful”. Without the same level of resources and visibility Google has, and in face of the actual economic situation, lots of players are doomed. In Europe, where there are lots of smaller web analytics vendors, the value offer might include strong benefits such as awesome service and focus on the local environment characteristics. Otherwise, good luck...

Pushing the envolope

At the same time, innovations in the higher-end of the spectrum will be harder to come by, forcing those vendors to expand horizontally. We already see that happening with Omniture’s purchasing frenzy. At one point however, the “suite” approach will tip on the toes of much larger fishes (as Gartner’s Bill Grassman put it during his Industry Insight presentation) and might eventually become to pray to BI, or more likely, top retail engines, portals and CMS’s.

The Big 3

However, Google isn’t alone with a great “free” and “powerful” solution. We have to admit Yahoo! Analytics (formerly IndexTools) will be a contender in the hearts of web analysts. While speaking with Dennis Mortensen, founder of IndexTools, we touched on the difference in approach between the two companies. Just as Google is using Google Analytics hook people on spending more on ads, Yahoo! is also seeking customers who will be engaging with value-added services such as Yahoo! Store. For the 3rd player, Microsoft Gatineau, I must admit I’m not too sure it’s really picking up and what's the strategy there.

Web Analytics channel on

Alltop, all the top storiesAlltop allows you to "explore your passions by collecting stories from “all the top” sites on the web".

And now it gots its own web analytics channel at

eMetrics: the wind is changing

I got in Washington D.C. for the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit conference on Sunday, in time to join a happy bunch of kite fliers wannabees and an expert in the field, my friend Joseph Carrabis. It was lots of fun and a good opportunity to chat, switching topics as the wind changed, got us all excited when it picked or crashed our kites when abruptly stopping.

We can draw some similarities between kite flying and the way people address web analytics. Getting overly excited, sometimes losing control or losing faith we can make it fly when faced with challenges and turbulence. But that’s not how it should be, as with kite flying, web analytics as some basic principles, you can start small and gradually master the science and techniques to become an expert. And as with kite flying, we learn a lot from more experienced people. But regardless of what we do, even when the wind is blowing steadily, we need to be ready to react and pull the right line to keep control. And it's also true that in the absence of any resources, in the absence of any wind, it's virtually impossible to make a kite fly!

(more pictures from Emetrics Washington DC 08 KiteFlying)

More news from eMetrics to come...

Friday, October 17, 2008

SiteBrand and First Time Visitors

This month Web Analytics Wednesday was sponsored by Sitebrand. Senior Analyst Jim Cain presented a very interesting summary of his white paper "First Time Visitor: A Marketer-Oriented Approach to Optimizing Online Conversions" (get it for free!)

First time visitors are "special"

The topic raised interesting questions and everyone could readily see how important it is to address the specific needs of first time visitors. Why is it what we take for granted in real life seems to be so hard to apply in the online world? Why do so many sites welcome everyone in the same way, regardless of their interest, location or level of engagement with us?

Ask the obvious

Jim explained some of the most important questions to ask about first time visitors:
  • What percentage of your traffic is 1st time visitor?
  • Where do they come from?
  • What are there entry and exit points?
Some might argue that cookie deletion, or geotargetting errors could make the approach difficult to apply. But what about the more than 80% if not 90% or 98% of the time where it works? Why put everyone in the same "unknown" basket when you can at least try to better serve them. Seems obvious to me!

Sitebrand's solution

And that's where Sitebrand comes in: their service makes it easy to create targeting rules based on various criteria. In my experience, even basic behavioural targetting is hard to get done by internal IT teams, so why not outsource this function to Sitebrand. The nice thing is the solution will cooperate with your web analytics solution of choice (actually the behavioral data is collected by Sitebrand, but in the future it will be integrated directly with your existing web analytics solution). Lots of companies are a bit afraid of behavioral targeting costs and complexity, but what I've seen with Sitebrand makes it very easy and affordable.

Sitebrand and WASP

WASP already detects Sitebrand, but with the help of Sitebrand's team, the upcoming release of WASP will highlight the targeting area directly in the page. Click on the thumbnail bellow for a larger view, basically, the behavioral targetting areas are automatically highlighted when the WASP sidebar is open.

Where will it stop? Omniture Developer Connection announced

Just days after purchasing Mercado, Omniture makes another announcement: "a community Web site designed to help our customers build applications that use their Omniture data".

Opening the kimono: Omniture Develop Connection

I went straight to the Omniture Developer Connection and had a look: it's promising! Like one of my old boss said, "opening the kimono" is a good thing! This will give heavy users and partners of Omniture an opportunity to collaborate & share useful enhancements and ideas. A quick look at the API documentation reveals a clear and simple set of calls to make interesting use of reporting, imports/exports, data warehouse calls, SearchCenter and Discover. Let's hope there will be a sufficient number of advocates to make it work!

Possibilities for WASP

I already have lots of ideas for additional vendor specific features in WASP. But this will have to wait until "post WASP v1.0 launch". I'm seeking to enroll at least 2 vendors and 2 agencies before launching WASP v1.0. Of course, the economic downturn is playing me tricks, but vendors who participate in my Corporate licence program will have the opportunity to influence WASP features for enhancements specifically targetted to their users.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Yahoo! Web Analytics and WASP

Last week, most influential bloggers relayed the information about IndexTools being rechristened as Yahoo! Web Analytics. Dennis Mortensen reputation and charisma are legendary, so it was easy to mention it. Dennis even took the time to send me a personal note saying "As you tend to be first with news and as I wanted to make sure I remembered to let you know, so we can be in WASP with the new code". When I saw how many other bloggers were enthousiastically talking about Yahoo! Web Analytics, I figured I could wait a bit instead of just doing a "me too" post. So here's my slant on IndexTools, I mean, Yahoo! Web Analytics.

Hands on experience

I have used or implemented several of the leading web analytics solutions but never had the chance to play with IndexTools. I'm grateful to Miles Bennett, an Indextools Alliance Partner in the UK, who provided me an account for my site so I could see the power of Yahoo! Web Analytics by myself. It's been just a couple of days since I tagged my site, but I can already see why so many people are raving about this solution. Beyond what anyone would expect from a web analytics solution, there are some very powerful features like the dashboards, custom report interfaces and segmentation capabilities that raise the bar for any other free (and some for-a-fee!) competing products. I just played a bit with those features, but this is definitely a difenrentiating factor, and a big one!

IndexTools and WASP

Of course, WASP detects Yahoo! Web Analytics correctly, as well as about 120 other solutions (click on thumbnail for bigger view...). The upcoming release of WASP will make it even easier to do quality assurance of your web analytics implementations by easing the crawling process and offering enhanced reports.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Web Analytics on European automotive sites

Michael Notté, a Web Analytics Specialist working at Toyota Motor Europe, just published "Automotive & Web Analytics in Europe – what are they using?, a quick study he did with WASP.

His results are similar to private studies I've done for other vertical markets, where Google Analytics is leading the pack, then a slew of other tools. But it also shows a large proportion of those sites don't appear to be using any web analytics solution, something very surprising for such a competitive industry where optimization and behavioral targeting are key.

Click on the image to read Michael's full post.

Note: in his comments, Michael notes WASP isn't detecting correctly eMetrics from Sophus3. This is fixed in the upcoming release.

Omniture is at it again: Mercado

From my inbox "We are excited to let you know that Omniture has agreed to acquire the assets of Mercado, a leader in site search and merchandising and a long-standing Omniture partner."

While I see a polarization toward Google Analytics and Omniture SiteCatalyst in the web analytics market space, the strategy are radically different. Google Analytics will continue to enhance its product and offer more features, grabbing some Omniture market, but hurting much more the lower to mid-market solutions. Rumors of a long awaited Google API, more advanced segmentation and other features are surfacing. But ultimately, Google Analytics mission remains to sell ads, either through AdWords or AdSense.

Omniture is playing a different game, they are expanding their portfolio of solutions horizontally, slowly but surely building the infrastructure to commoditize the whole online optimization process. With the acquisition of Mercado, they are adding another poweful site search functionality, but also a very powerful ecommerce platform. It remains to see how it will cooperate with SiteSearch & Content, or if one of the two will be doomed to extinction, but when it comes to merchandising, onsite search can make the difference between survival and growth... or extinction under economical turmoil.

As a senior web architect I have worked on a couple ebusiness ecosystem overhaul, consolidating dozens of websites and repositionning outdated technologies on new platforms. At the time, if Omniture had offered the current CMS, Search, eCommerce, behavioral targeting & testing, Survey and call center/retail analytics, I would have seriously considered it as a viable solution to lower the technological aspect of website development and focus more on the online marketing optimization aspecs.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

WaW: Montreal, Oct. 15th, a free seminar worth a lot!

I've been organizing local Web Analytics Wednesdays in Montreal for over two years now. People have frequently expressed interest to have monthly topics and learn more about what is being done and what is possible.

This month Web Analytics Wednesday, shouldn't be missed!

Come & learn, for free!

Sitebrand, a leader in online marketing solutions, is sponsoring our next Web Analytics Montreal.

Speaking at Web Analytics in Montreal, QC, on October 15, 2008 is Jim Cain, a Senior Analyst at Sitebrand who also serves on the Standards Committee of the Web Analytics Association. As author of a newly released whitepaper titled First Time Visitor: A Marketer-Oriented Approach to Optimizing Online Conversions, Cain sees increasing demand for more insight on the topic of web personalization. "The recent surge in website testing practices shows digital marketers have evolved past traffic generation and into site optimization," says Cain. "I’m really excited to be part of this event so I can explain how any marketer can create a profitable dialog with their most underperforming and under-serviced traffic segment, aka the first time visitor."

As part of the session, which will focus on web personalization and visitor persuasion, Cain will reveal how first time visitors to a website are a unique traffic segment that can – when properly understood and messaged to – have a profound effect on site outcomes. Based on research and proven client successes, Cain will also be speaking about the uniqueness of this visitor type, along with best practices for analyzing and optimizing over time.

Event Details

Date: Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Time: 5:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Place: Le Local
Address: 700 William, Montréal, H3C 1P1, 514-397-7737

Sponsor: Sitebrand

About Sitebrand Inc. (TSX-V: SIB) Sitebrand Inc. (TSX-V: SIB) provides online marketing solutions and related services to major retailers across North America and Europe. Based on its proprietary software, Sitebrand’s Segment&Serve™ personalization platform delivers personalized online marketing campaigns for websites, email, search engine marketing, blogs, banners, point of sale, or any other web medium. Using Sitebrand, online retailers are able to develop customized marketing campaigns that leverage anonymous web analytics and visitor behavior, providing each visitor with a personalized experience to that particular visitor in real-time—generating more customers, more profit per customer, more customer loyalty, and more conversions. Sitebrand was founded in 2000 and is headquartered in Gatineau, Quebec..

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Announcing: Web Analytics Conversations, enhanced and revamped!

Ever wanted to know what are the "best" web analytics blogs? Want to praise yourself for being among the Top 10 web analytics bloggers?

Web Analytics Conversations

I'm introducing the Web Analytics Conversations, a Technorati and Google Blog Search mashup of over 150 web analytics blogs. Not only does it automatically rank blogs by Authority, Freshness and level of Activity, it also shows blog title, description and latest posts. The interface makes it very easy to sort blogs by any of those criteria, plus another one, called WAC ranking!

You can also search any of those blogs with the official Web Analytics Association search engine, which I'm also maitaining, or subscribe to a master RSS feed of all those blogs!

[WAC] the Web Analytics Conversation rank

Blogs can be ranked by WAC scores, which is the sum of the following underlying metrics:
  • Authority, as defined by Technorati, is the number of incoming links in the last 60 days
  • Freshness is the relative recency of the latest post
  • Activity is the number of posts in the last 60 days
The concept is similar to RFM (Recency, Frequency, Monetary value), where each metric is classified into quintiles: slices of 20% each. In the example above, Hitwise is actually shown at first position, with the highest Authority (821/821), a Freshness of 29/51 and an Activity level of 323/390. Each metric is brought back to a 5 grade scale and added up, for a WAC Score of 11/15.


  • The underlying data is automatically cached every day. If you ever happend to be the first person hitting the page for that day, the update process takes about 1 minute... Just be patient and it will get there!
  • There are sometimes bad character conversions, leaving some weird artifacts in titles and blog posts.
  • There is actually some dead wood, blogs that haven't been updated for a year.Those will be more apparent if you sort by lowest scores. I will remove them in the coming days.
  • If your blog isn't listed, let me know and I will add it!

Why I did it?

My primary focus is on WASP. WASP includes some reporting features and I wanted to get more acquainted with the Yahoo! User Interface Library (YUI). Also, since I'm already maitaining the WAA search engine and have been keeping a list of web analytics blogs for over two years, I thought I could automate some maintenance aspects of it. Now, my VP of Finance (read: my wife) would ask me if this is bringing any revenue... well... No... Unless someones find a nice way to monetize it!

Try it out, and let me know your thoughts. What would you like to see there? Any ideas or critics are welcomed!

[Job] Nuance Communication: analytics & BI for voice recognition!

I had a quick email exchange with Jeff Marcus, who has the cool title of "Manager, Applied Data Analysis" at Nuance Communication, a company headquartered in Burlington, MA with offices in Montréal, Québec and throughout the world.

Ever heard of Dragon Naturally Speaking? That's one of Nuance flagship’s products. If you have one of those cool cars with voice recognition, there's a chance there's some Nuance inside. And when you call an airline or phone company and you get to actually say what you want rather then listening to endless prompts such as "Press 1 for sales, 2 for service...", that’s likely Nuance’s too. The job here is to build better models of how callers use those systems so they can be made better and more responsive.

Although we're a lot into web analytics, there are lots of great companies employing data mining for cool and advanced situations. Here's a brief overview of a very cool job.

Job overview

Nuance Communications possesses one of the world's largest sets of data collected from automatic speech recognition applications. We are looking for a research analyst (based in Montréal, Québec, Canada) to mine this data to get more insight into how callers use our systems. We will use the results of this work to drive our application designs and to focus our technology teams on the most critical problems. The results of this work will lead to systems that better adapt to callers and broaden the appeal of this fast-growing technology.

As a research analyst you will work with our application designers and engineers to build models of caller behavior. You will integrate data from various sources and use tools such as Excel and R. Finally, you will communicate your findings to our design, engineering, and marketing teams as well as to selected customers.

A background in statistics, engineering, or linguistics (with emphasis on data-driven methods) could all be suitable for this role.


  • Carry out investigations (a typical example: "What kind of prompt elicits a useful response from the caller?") - this will involve a combination of scripting and manual entry to load data into our analysis tools as well as writing macros and formulas to conduct the analysis
  • Communicate findings clearly and compellingly
  • Be curious - find unexpected patterns and suggest new investigations to the team


  • Advanced degree in Computer Science, Statistics, Linguistics or related field.
  • Curiosity
  • Analytic mindset
  • Quantitative skills
  • Experience using formulas in Microsoft Excel
  • Experience with Perl or Python
  • At least an introductory statistics course
  • Ability to work independently
  • Research methods experience is a plus
  • Experience with SQL a plus
  • Experience using statistical analysis packages like R or S-Plus is a plus
  • Excellent communications skills
View details about this job on Nuance website or apply online.

Note for employers: If you have open positions, I will be happy to forward your job offers, especially if they are in Québec.
Note for job seekers: You have experience in the web analytics field? There are lots of job but you need to know where to hunt. If you are seeking a job and would like to get featured on my blog, drop me an email and I'll see what I can do.

Friday, October 3, 2008

If everyone is looking down, are you looking up?

Several months ago I participated to an electronic book entitled "Winners and Losers in a Trouble Economy". If you haven't read it yet, maybe now is a good time!

2009 Annual Online Customer Engagement Survey

cScape is actually conducting their "2009 Annual Online Customer Engagement Survey", please take a few minutes to fill it out.

The questionnaire takes five minutes to complete and including questions on:

  • Customer engagement strategy

  • Tactics and initiatives

  • Customer engagement and the economic climate

In return for your efforts, cSape will publish the in-depth report on the E-consultancy website in November.

Tough Times Call for Tough Measures

Speaking of surveys and troubled economy, Web Analytics Association Chairman and eMetrics grand master, Jim Sterne himself, wants to know about the impact of the economic situation on your marketing dollars (or lack, thereof...).

Take the survey now!