Monday, October 29, 2007

A view of the web analytics market

Is it the end of recreation for competition and innovation?

This week buzz was all about Omniture acquisition of Visual Sciences. This gives us a pretty good indication of where the market is heading: consolidation, less competition at the high-end level, but also a potential for more maturity. At the same time, Google Analytics is pushing from the base and adding new features that will make entry-level competition slowly disappear. Is it the end of competition and innovation? I don't think so. Innovations still abound and there are plenty of space for new ideas: think about TapeFailure, RobotReplay, ClickTale, CrazyEgg and others that are interesting innovations in search of a bigger role (yes, maybe eventually absorbed by the bigger players). Coremetrics, WebTrends and ClickTracks and others remain very good solutions for some companies.

End-to-end view

My take is also that monitoring will eventually be much closer to web analytics (the Keynote, AlertSite and Gomez of this world) and end-to-end monitoring of the user experience will play a bigger role. It's obvious that a degraded web performance or poorly performing enterprise systems have a direct impact on conversion and outcomes on the frontline. Unless I'm mistaken, this is not measured by any of the ASP-based solutions.

Qualitative data

From another angle, qualitative data such as surveys, polls, content ratings will also naturally merge with web analytics platforms. We already see it with OpinionLab being integrated to SiteCatalyst through the Omniture Genesis integration platform.

Commodization of the core tools

Wikipedia says of the word "commodization" it "is a process that transforms the market for a unique, branded product into a market based on undifferentiated price competition" and continue saying "a performance oversupply- which means that the market is performance saturated and any differentiation, even when being offered, is more than what the market demands". Considering most companies are barely using the core web analytics component of their solution, let alone more advanced features, it is very difficult to pick a vendor solely based on their core web analytics capabilities (data collection, reporting, ease of analysis, segmentation). The "web analytics 1.0" aspect is being commoditized.

While the tools appear to become a commodity, the job isn't any easier. Analysts skills are scarce, implementations are often botched, and actionable insights end up competing with other business priorities. Knowing something should be improved is one thing, having the resources (budget, people, time) to do something about it is a different story.

Actors of business optimization

We're not only witnessing the evolution of the web analytics industry. Through online process analysis and optimization, we are actors of the transformations that are changing the way business is being conducted online, and off line.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Web Analytics Quebec got a Facebook group

As much as I hate Facebook for its obvious failures in the area of usability and some very anoying features, I'm giving a try at creating a Facebook group dedicated to the local web analytics community in the province of Quebec, Canada.

So if you live in Quebec and you are a practitioner in web analytics, a PPC or SEO specialist, an ebusiness strategist or manager, a designer, a web developer or just interested in the field of web analytics and online business optimization, this is the place!

Facebook Group: Web Analytics Quebec

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Competing on analytics and business optimization

Another big news today: Omniture acquires Visual Sciences.

While Omniture tagline is "The leader in online business optimization" and VisualSciences's one is "Real time analytics", the press release headline sports:
"Combined Company Dramatically Accelerates Development and Delivery of Industry-Defining Business Optimization Platform"
We're slowly but surely getting away from "web analytics" and "online optimization" and elevating the bar to "business optimization" and "competing on analytics". Just like ebusiness buzz is fading to become pure "business", web analytics is maturing to analytics.

Some people at my current job didn't catch my move to go freelance in web analytics. What they obviously fail to understand is that web analytics is just an excuse to get in the field of analytics (without the "e") and business optimization.

At the same time, while Google is commoditizing web analytics, the acquisition of Visual Sciences by Omniture is a good indicator of a maturing market. Omniture is taking the high-end lead, way ahead of Coremetrics, WebTrends, Unica and myriad of smaller solutions.

I see all of this as being very positive for the web analytics industry, for businesses, and honestly, for me too!

Here's some of the best stories about Omniture acquiring Visual Sciences:

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Life, death, childhood dreams and living with integrity

A colleague told me about Randy Pausch "last lecture", a tradition from Carnegie Mellon whereas one give a lecture like he would be dying soon. Except this time, it's true for Dr.Pausch. He is suffering from pancreatic cancer, a father of three and computer science professor who did amazing things in the field of virtual reality.

I invite you to take a 10 minutes pause and listen to him celebrate the chance he had been given to live the life he always had dreamed of. He was inspirational to me, I hope he is for you to.

There's a 1 hour version of Dr.Paush last lecture, and a condensed (10 minutes) from his appearance at Oprah.

Some quotes from Dr.Randy Paush
"Experience is what you get when you don't get what you want"
"If you are doing a bad job and nobody points it out to you, that's when they have given up on you"
"The brick walls are there for a reason: they let us prove how badly we want things"

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

[WAQ] Web Analytics Quebec, Thursday, October 25

This month, the "Web Analytics in Québec city" get together is joining with another event called Yulbiz-Québec, organized by my friend and web analytics entrepreneur from iMinr named Stéphane Guérin.

Who: bloggers, entrepreneurs, strategists, designers, web analysts, VC, geeks :)
When: Thursday October 25th, around 7:00pm
Where: Taverne Urbaine chez Mo, 810 boul. Charest Est, Québec

Come join us for a chat, a drink and some tapas!

You might want to let me know or Stéphane Guérin if you come, so we can plan for enough room for everyone!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Webcom-Montreal: November 14th

Webcom-Montréal is coming on November 14th. This one day event offers three tracks:
  1. Interactive communication
  2. Interactive marketing
  3. Interactive solutions

My good friends Jacques Warren from WAO Marketing and Simon Rivard, VP Marketing for Canoe, and myself will be together on a panel about "how to optimize conversion rates with the help of web analytics". Here's the blurb from this panel intro:

In the last few years the importance of Web analysis has grown worldwide as well as in Québec. Web site managers are looking for additional knowledge on their Web site traffic as well as using Web analysis to improve their business. Web analysis transforms Web practices as well as interactive marketing culture & strategies. Accountability, performance & optimisation are now major stakes with a growing number of organisations.

Since the Web Analytics Association is an associative partner of this event, members can get a 15% discount on the registration.

Seminar in Toronto: boost your website impact with Web analytics

ClickInsight, from Toronto, is doing a seminar in November about boosting your web site's impact, effectiveness and ROI with web analytics. June Li is another person I met through eMetrics and the WAA. She is the founder and managing director of ClickInsight, a consulting firm specialized in online marketing optimization. Co-presenting at this event is Alex Langshur, from PublicInsite (Ottawa), specialized in optimization for the public and non-profit sectors.

The three of us (plus Joseph Carrabis) are also on the advisory board of the upcoming eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit that will go on from April 1st trough 3rd in Toronto.

Ok, now I can imagine all the folks from Montréal and Québec wondering when there will be something similar here. The Web Analytics get together I've been organizing for a year now will continue to happen and I'm seeking your feedback and comments to improve this monthly event. This month I had managed to get Omniture Regional Training to our door, now I'm thinking about a product agnostic training day or a workshop that would be specifically tailored to our local reality; send in your suggestions and I'll try to work out something that will cater to your needs and expectations.

Friday, October 19, 2007

WAM & Omniture Training in Montreal: outcomes

WAM - Web Analytics in Montreal

Our monthly web analytics get together had to move to a new venue at the last minute because there was not enough room at our initial location. That's a good indication of the growing importance of web analytics, but also a red flag for me that organizing web analytics 5-7 is getting more difficult and time consuming.

The crowd of about 35 people chatted for a while and from the discussions I grasped, the networking seemed to be good. Then we took a few minutes to hear Matt Kohl, manager of Omniture Support, talk about a couple of ways to ease web analytics adoption and improve problem resolution.

Omniture Regional Training

There's nothing like a good training session to make you realize there's so much to learn, so much to do, and so many opportunities for improvement!

Day 2 and 3 of our training session was another steady round of tips & tricks. Even when you think you know the concepts and the product, there's a bunch of insights that are really worth taking time away from work.

If you are an Omniture user, beg your boss, make a plea for the relief of your (web analytics) soul and attend the Basic and Advanced User training sessions. But don't be fooled by the word "Basic", it's not a Web Analytics 101 course! A good advice is to use the tool for a while before attending training, this way you'll get the most out of it and the learning experience will be even more rewarding.

Career management for web analytics

I met June Dershewitz at the last S-F eMetrics during a very fun kite flying session with Jim Sterne, Joseph Carrabis and Andrea Hadley.

A few days before eMetrics D.C., June contacted me to ask for permission to use one of my posts in her presentation about Career Management Strategies for Web Analytics Professionals. I think June is a proponent of career stability and she said to be very happy with her current career. That's one of the message conveyed in her presentation: you don't have to hop around, you can also grow from within. At the same time, I told her I was going freelance and she wanted to know more about it. The aspect of freelancing is also in her presentation.

You should have a look at her presentation and do a quick introspection: this will help you make sure you are in control of your own career.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Tonights Web Analytics Get Together: new venue!

Tonights web analytics get together is so popular that I had to find another venue!

We will meet at the Hyatt bar around 6:00pm. It's also located within the Complexe Desjardins building but a couple of floors on top of our original location, Bâton Rouge.

We can still go eat some ribs afterward!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Web Analytics Get Together is THIS Wednesday!

This is going to be exciting!

Don't forget our Web Analytics Get Together in Montreal. Check out the location and agenda.

Here's five reasons why it's gon'a be fun!
  1. This will be the largest ever gathering of web analytics people in Quebec: so far, over 40 confirmations! Yes, that's right, over 40! I heard through the branches that our neighbours from Toronto and New-York are getting jealous! :)
  2. eMetrics is going on and there's a hell of a lot of positive waves coming from D.C.: the strongest ones being a new version of Google Analytics, and Microsoft Gatineau sneaking it's nose out the door.
  3. Plus eMetrics Canada's Marketing Optimization Summit coming this spring in Toronto. As a member of the advisory board of this event, I'm looking for your input! Will you be there? What are your expectations? Want to be a sponsor? Or be a speaker? Come see me!
  4. Omniture is very present on the Montreal/Quebec market, come talk to Matt Kohl, manager of Omniture Support and hear what can be done to improve user adoption and successful use of a web analytics solution.
  5. Hmmm... Bâton Rouge ribs!

And the best reason of all: it's a local event for all of us! As my friend Jacques Warren once said "intelligent people, intelligent conversations, no sales pitch".

Monday, October 15, 2007

Announcing eMetrics Canada (Toronto), April 1-3

I knew about it for a couple of days but had to keep it undercover until the official announcement at eMetrics D.C. So it's now official: there will be an eMetrics Summit in Toronto, April 1-3.
  • April 1st: BaseCamp is the one day workshop led by the Web Analytics Association and is a great jump start for those who are new to the field of web analytics.
  • April 2-3: the eMetrics Summit itself, with speakers, keynotes and various topics tracks.
I had the pleasure of speaking at eMetrics San-Francisco in the spring and I'm honored to be on the advisory board for the first ever Canadian eMetrics Summit, along with June Li (ClickInsight) and Alex Langshur (PublicInsite). In this role, my "duties" are to provide support for sessions content and tracks, speakers, sponsors and marketing and media coordination.

If you have any questions regarding this event, feel free to contact me or visit the official Canada's Marketing Optimization Summit.

Omniture Training in Montreal: day 1

It's getting late, but I wanted to report on the first ever Omniture University Regional Training in Montreal. While all eyes are turned toward eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit in D.C. some interesting activities are going on in other parts of the world!

I was responsible of planning this event with Omniture so it's with a bit of relieft that everything went smoothly: we got the training manuals on time, everyone found the place without difficulty and we're benefiting from a full-featured classroom.

The Omniture Training is a very well tuned engine and the agenda of the day was just enough to go trough the planned content while allowing for open questions and exercises. Along with basic concepts and reports overview, we're benefiting from participants interactions and Doug McCormick Jr., our trainer, does a great job answering everyone's questions while keepig a good pace.

Tomorrow we will continue the User Training, then go into more Advanced concepts and conclude with a Web Analytics Wednesday. All in all, a great web analytics week!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Camp Okutta: a shocking campaign

While taking a break from work and looking at some videos, I stumbled on a shocking viral campaign called "Camp Okutta: An adventure Camp for Kids". It's a summer camp like any other, except for a little detail.

We can't think of children being equipped with guns and throwing grenades without having a strange feeling in our spine. We get horrified at wars in distant countries like Darfur, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and others where children are indoctrinated and enrolled to fight.

Again today, in Cleveland, another child took a gun and rampaged his high school. Canada also had its sad share of shootings. I'm taking two minutes to support people like Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu, father of Julie Boisvenu who was assassinated in 2002, and is fighting to get stricter laws, better control of firearms and support for the victims. I'm also thinking about General Romeo Dallaire, who lived the horror of Rwanda and share the stories of a genocide in the hope it will make a difference for peace.

There's no explanation for loosing a child because of firearms.

Great minds thinks alike: Bryan Eisenberg

Let me share a recent experience. A few days ago I had the chance to spend some time with Bryan Eisenberg. Who? If you don't know who he is, read on. Otherwise, skip the next paragraph!

Bryan and his brother Jeffrey are the co-founders of FutureNow Inc., he is the author of several best sellers in the field of online marketing and conversion, a renowned worldwide speaker, and the guru behind the concept of "persuasion architecture". He is, along with a few others like Avinash Kaushik, what we would call a Guru. Don't worry if they don't admit to be one: guru, like leadership, is something others see in you, not something you can claim yourself.

I spent about an hour with Bryan. We talked about my goals as a freelance, discussed persuasion architecture, and I had the honor to take a glimpse at the internals of their process and tools. Persuasion architecture is all about process, but it's also supported by a tool (or a set of tools) that could elevate any analyst job to levels of insights that were unimaginable without actually tying up Bryan to a chair beside you.

Market Motive, the new internet marketing think tank, can now count on Bryan as a leader of online conversion. Great minds thinks alike: Market Motive is bringing the cream of the crop that businesses need to understand in order to get a competitive advantage online.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Search for all things Web Analytics

I've been working with the Web Analytics Association team to integrate a search feature on their site. Not only that! We've also made it so you can search for all things web analytics. WAA volunteers have been scavenging the Web for the best web analytics information source: nearly 200 indexed sites are now included in the official Web Analytics Association Search. Content is classified using tags such as "blog", "reference", "services", "solution" and others for easier refinement of search results.

If you are a Web Analytics Association member and run your own blog, find out more about how to use this new search feature or just get searching!

You can see the WAA Search widget in action in the right sidebar of my blog at

Quick poll: How should WASP be sold?

As you might know (or not), I will soon be a freelance web analytics consultant. One of my goal is to continue the development of the Web Analytics Solution Profiler. I see two levels of offering:
  1. Free: A free version (in fact, donation based, but that model asn't proved very effective!) that will offer basic implementation diagnostic.
  2. Special Edition: A high-end version that will go in much more details for specific web analytics solutions. Think of it as "WASP Omniture Edition" or "WASP Google Edition", etc.

Some of you answered my previous poll about "Which features would you like to see added to WASP?" and 40% of you said "site crawl and implementation diagnostic".

I'm now seeking your input to see "Which WASP packaging would be most efficient for you?". Please take 2 seconds to answer my quick poll (fill the poll here if you don't see it below).

Feel free to post your comments or send me a personal email with your feedback.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Going freelance!

Although working for one of the best employer in Canada, despite the outstanding working environment and great projects (and the budget to do them), a good introspection led me to the conclusion I should go freelance.


Then the first question is "what do I want to do?"
  1. Web analytics services: work with clients to asses their needs for web analytics and help them achieve better results online. This might include introducing the concepts of web analytics, bringing the web analytics culture within the organization, coaching, planning, implementation, analysis, training, etc.
  2. WASP: now that a "proof of concept" works, I want to extend the features of the Web Analytics Solution Profiler to levels that have never been achieved before!
  3. Teaching and speaking: Speaking at eMetrics and now tutoring for the UBC Award of Achievement in Web Analytics and the UBC Certificate in Business Systems Analysis are activities I really enjoy and I look forward for other opportunities.
  4. Higher education: complete my MBA and eventually pursue at the doctorate level
Contact me to discuss about engagement opportunities, sub-contracting or if you feel I can contribute to your outcomes!

Stéphane Hamel
View Stephane Hamel's profile on LinkedIn
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Tuesday, October 2, 2007

FAQ: Web Analytics Yahoo! Group - October 2007

I'm giving a shot at building/maintaining an FAQ for the Web Analytics forum. Let me know what you think and if it's worth doing it. New questions will be added and each answer will be refined to give exactly what is needed. FAQ
Last-modified: 2007-10-02
Author: (Stéphane Hamel)
Available online at:

Frequently Asked Questions == FAQ

1. Disclaimer
2. Why this FAQ?
3. Can you answer my web analytics question?
4. How can I add a FAQ and its answer to the FAQ list?
5. What are the forum best practices?
10. What is web analytics?
11. How do I break in the web analytics field?
12. What's the point with cookie acceptance/deletion?
13. Why are Unique visitors/visits/sessions/any metrics not accurate?
14. How can I select the "best" vendor?
15. I want to do XYZ with product ABC. I need help!
99. Credits

1. Disclaimer

Read at your own risk. I make no claim as to fitness for any purpose or absence of any errors, and offer no warranty. May contain traces of nuts.

2. Why this FAQ?

It could be hosted on the WAA site or on a wiki, but chances are those who are new to the forum (thus, more likely to ask a question that has been answered numerous times) don't know where to look for an answer. Posting this FAQ directly to the forum has proven to be one of the most effective way to address Frequently Asked Questions for nearly 15 years in thousands of online forums.

3. Can you answer my web analytics question?

Maybe. But you are better off reading this FAQ and the materials pointed to by it, and if you can't find an answer there, by all means post to the forum.

A FAQ list is intended to reduce traffic on a newsgroup, not eliminate it.

4. How can I add a FAQ and its answer to the FAQ list?

I'm following the threads on the forum and trying to spot what appears to be a FAQ. But you can mail BOTH the Question AND the Answer to me. Then I can add them to the FAQ and it should help people who have that same question later, as well as everyone who reads the group, because they won't see it asked and answered so often.

I do not work on this FAQ every day, but I will try to get updates incorporated in a timely manner.

5. What are the forum best practices?

WAA member-volunteers are doing an outstanding job at moderating the forum and making sure it doesn't get out of control. It's recommended to prefix your subject with a meaningful tag to ease perusing the high volume of posts. Some sugestions are:
  • [Job] - For all job announcements
  • [ProductX] - For a question specific to a product
  • [WaW] - Web Analytics Wednesday
  • [WAA] - Web Analytics Association announcements, giveaways, events, etc.
  • send me your sugestions

10. What is web analytics?

First question first! An official definition from the Web Analytics Association web site: "Web Analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of Internet data for the purposes of understanding and optimizing Web usage." See also the definition of "web analytics" on Wikipedia.

11. How do I break in the Web Analytics field?

See the conversation thread.
  • Recommended books by Avinash Kaushik, Jim Sterne, Bryan Eisenberg.
  • Give it a try on your own website or volunteer to do Web Analytics for a nonprofit organization
  • Try your chance at jobs that seems to be a bit higher than your experience
  • Read the forum and top blogs
  • Attend Web Analytics Wednesdays, eMetrics, XChange, Basecamp events
  • Get educated: UBC Award of Achievement in Web Analytics

12. What's the point with cookie acceptance/deletion?

See the thread about comScore study.

13. Why are Unique visitors/visits/sessions/any metrics not accurate?

See "Doubts about Unique Visitors"

14. How can I select the "best" vendor?

See "Why do web analysts switch packages?" initiated by Robbin Steiff

15. I want to do XYZ with product ABC. I need help!

  1. Read the documentation that comes with your product (in the old days, we said RTFM...)
  2. Search the forum for the product name ABC
  3. Search the forum for all variations of XYZ
  4. See if your vendor offers their own forums/knowlege base
  5. Contact your vendor's support services
  6. Post to the forum

99. Credits

Most of the content of this FAQ was edited from posts found on the Web Analytics Yahoo! Group. When text is taken "verbatim" credits are indicated, if the answer is edited from several posts, there is no specific credit.

Web Analytics Get Together, October 17th, Montreal

This month Web Analytics Get Together is sponsored by Omniture. Thanks guys!

What is it?

A monthly meeting of the local Web Analytics community. A gathering of practitioners in the field of web analytics or related interests (strategy, website optimization, SEO, design, or the Internet in general).

Event details

Last month we gathered about 20 people, this month we aim for more!

  • Come for a drink offered by the Omniture folks!
  • Hear Matt Kohl, Omniture's Manager of Customer Support talk about what can be done to improve user adoption and successful use of a web analytics solution.
  • Of course, we will also share our latest news about web analytics in Québec
  • ... and if you like, stay for supper and eat some ribs!

Bâton Rouge

180 Ste-Catherin West (Complexe Desjardins)
Montréal, QC H5B 1B5

RSVP: simply send me an email, leave a comment below.


If you would like to sponsor this event, present a product or a service, pay for the first round, or simply present something on the subject of web analytics, please contact me. The only restriction, to stay in the true spirit of WaW, is that your presentation be educative or otherwise help people grow in their web analytics practice, not simply to promote your product or service.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Desjardins General Insurance site launch

Over the years, I have participated in many web projects, smaller campaigns up to full ecosystem revamp. Today is the official launch of my employer's revamped web ecosystem: Desjardins General (or Desjardins Assurances Générales in French).

On the surface, it's a new design, new content, renewed branding and a much more pleasing user experience.

Under the hood, it's Microsoft Sharepoint Server 2007 (MOSS) using Content Management System, custom authentication and optimized HTML /CSS rendering of pages... and lots of little tweaks and hacks. Being "early adopters" of a new technology or a new version of a solution is always risky, and of course, we ran into our share of problems. But at the same time, MOSS elevated us to a level where a huge amount of work was saved and the technological platform is in a very good shape to push the envelope. In this project like any other, there is rarely a "best" solution, there is always what appears to be the most promising scenario under the circumstances!

From the organizational perspective, it's a big project involving dozens of people over nearly a year. Financial services and insurance are usually quite conservative organizations, so this is a welcomed shift toward ebusiness and a much better leverage of the Web. And it's not over yet!

As a senior ebusiness adviser/architect, I was much more involved in the early stages of the project: addressing the business requirements and turning them into realistic and feasable solutions. While I used to be deeply involved in project development, this time I had to watch the project evolve from a distance and stay at a 40,000ft view. Still, there's always a warm feeling when seeing the baby's face for the first time! (ok, a bit stretched in my comparison, I have two kids and it's not quite the same... but you see what I mean!)