Wednesday, March 5, 2008

It's marketing, stupid!

Continuing on my rant about web analytics being hijacked by marketing and my coverage of the Omniture Summit... I flew all the way from Quebec city to Salt Lake and one of the first thing I see at the airport is a huge banner hanging on top of the baggage claim: "Omniture Summit, where online marketing comes together". I thought Omniture was positioning itself as "the online business optimization platform"!

Impressive start

2000 attendees, a 5 star hotel and even outside lighting changed to "Omniture green". The day started to music and lighting that would make the envy of any discotheque. Rolling statements like "66% of the most innovative companies use Omniture”,"40% of top 100 retailers use Omniture", "9 out of 10 top automotive sites use Omniture", "Omniture process 8.2 billion transactions daily".


The morning was spent on the traditional keynote from CEO, Josh James, announcing a roster of new features and how VisualSciences got integrated into the Omniture Suite. Then Forrester’s Peter Kim took the stage and gave a great keynote. Peter brought us memorable quotes like “TV is just another light source in the room” and some what I found to be a very interesting survey result: when asked if they agreed with those statements...

Ads are a good way to learn about a product78%52%
Buy because of ads29%13%
Companies tells the truth in their ads13%6%

I also liked the other survey result (tried to find the reference but couldn't) stating that 45% of the companies surveyed hoped to improve the online customer experience. Interesting isn’t it? While the room was jam packed with marketing people, it appears the most important thing to work on might not be brand awareness and bringing people to the site, it’s what you do with them once they are there!

Ford’s presentation was also interesting, "numbers are like poetry" and "it’s not the tool, it’s getting people to listen to what the tool say".

Afternoon sessions

There were several tracks for each vertical. I attended the automotive one, then went to Matt Belkins "Think Big: Using Analytics to Win in Today’s Economy". Couple of points made me wonder, like the statement that companies who actually increased marketing budgets during hard economic times got out of it better than those who cut it. Not sure I agree with that based on the evidence that were provided, especially stating that Dell increased 300% marketing budget increase was the reason for their outstanding performance afterward. As web analysts, we should know better... just a percentage without much context is useless. What if Dell’s budget was just 5% of IBM’s one (a likely possibility at the time...)?

Lance Armstrong

The last keynote of the day was inspirational and not related to web analytics at all, but a presentation everyone should see. I took notes during the presentation, thinking of parallels between what Lance Armstrong went through and what we can face in businesses environments, like ignoring the signals and the symptoms or finding excuses for not facing reality. But it wouldn’t do justice to this great person and would be a lack of respect to anyone who’s fighting or had to fight cancer to push the analogies any further.


The day ended up at The Depot for great food and entertainment. I stayed for the Flight of the Conchords show and called it off for the day (well... after reading my emails, checking the blogs, writing this blog post and finalizing an analysis I have to deliver tomorrow!)... going to bed late in the morning.

(I wished I had some pictures but somehow my camera got very low-res ones...)