Wednesday, April 30, 2008

[WASP] v0.44: site crawl & report now available

A major milestone toward WASP v1.0. This interim version includes minor fixes and enhancement and a couple of long awaited major features.

Major enhancements

  • Site crawling: you can now ask WASP to recursively crawl a site and get back the tags. In this version it is limited to 100 pages.
  • Open file: got a list of URL's to check? Create a file with one URL per line and let WASP crawl it for you. This feature is limited in this version.
  • Reporting: at any moment you can get a CSV-compatible report containing the HTTP status of the request, the domain, tool type, tool name, page URL and title and lastly, the complete tag.

New & improved

Here's whats new and enhanced in v0.44:
  • Fixed: Sidebar refresh after page load (that bug was really annoying and got people complaining WASP was not working!)
  • Improved: Better detection of some tools like Omniture SiteCatalyst
  • Improved: Includes/enhanced short help for SiteCatalyst, HBX and Google Analytics
  • Improved: Detects a bunch of new tools, see the full list
  • Improved: Compatible with the upcoming Firefox v3.0
  • Improved: Algorithm for detection further improved
  • New: Since WASP detects analytics, surveys, behavioral targeting, a/b & multivariate tools and others, it now shows the type of tool being detected.
  • New: People-powered, collaborative support forum using Get Satisfaction
  • Improved: Revamped the WASP web site to focus more on the three main use: implementation, analysis, market research.

Getting it or upgrading

Three easy ways to upgrade or get WASP:
  1. New users: Visit and click on the "Add to Firefox" green button
  2. Upgrade: If you already have WASP, the easiest way to upgrade is simply to do "Tools/Add-ons" from the Firefox menu, then click on the "Find Updates" button.
  3. Wait: Alternatively, if you already have WASP installed, Firefox will eventually trigger an automatic update and prompt you to confirm.

Coming up next

This is likely the last release before the official WASP v1.0. What remain to be done is:
  • Provide a more "analyst friendly" mode*
  • Improve the reporting feature*
  • Higher limits for crawling*
  • Implementation diagnostic for Omniture SiteCatalyst and Google Analytics*
  • Give the option to open WASP in a pop-up window or a bottom-bar
  • Option to enable/disable specific tools*
  • Licensing model
*Those features are not definitive but very likely. They will be available only in the advanced version.

Now is time to contribute!

There will always be a free, basic version of WASP available.

The more advanced features will be based on an annual license of about 250$ per user (exact pricing to be confirmed). Any contribution received before the official release of v1.0 will be applied as a discount of 200% of the contribution amount.

That is, give 125$ now and get a $250 discount toward the licensing of WASP v1.0!

And by the way, if you like it (or maybe not!), I'm looking for some ratings and reviews on the official Mozilla Addons site

Web analytics bloggers: what's you WA-pon?

While preparing for my WASP presentation at the upcoming eMetrics Industry Insight I did a bunch of analysis for various vertical and regions.

Now that MeasureMap is going to be available right off Blogger, I thought it would be cool to look at what web analytics bloggers are using. Microsoft would call it "eat your own dog food". No surprise, Google Analytics dominates, but WASP goes way beyond this simple fact. Read on...

Tools by Type

  • 85% of the web analytics blogs are using at least one tool, and most of us are using more than one (63%)! But what are the 15% others doing?
  • The 25% of those using Panel-based tools, mostly Quantcast, might explain it...
  • 5% of us are using a survey tool, in this case it's 4Q by iPerceptions
  • At least one site is using a mapping tool (CrazyEgg)
  • Nobody is using behavioral targeting or a testing tool on the home page of their blog.

Tools by vendor

Really no surprise here...
  • Google dominates with 80% (regardless if it's the old or newer GA code, Ad Sense, DoubleClick, etc.)
  • Note this level of analysis is for Companies. So the vendor Omniture includes the following tools: SiteCatalyst, HBX, VisualScience and Test & Target.

Web analytics tools, and others...

  • 53% of web analytics bloggers are still using the older Google Analytics code... what are you waiting for?
  • Seems like Microsoft Ad Center Analytics, aka Gatineau (20%) and IndexTools (15%) are getting good traction among web analytics bloggers.
  • Some strange ones... we guess Omniture SiteCatalyst is used on the Omniture blog...
  • DoubleClick is used on 2% and AdSense on 12% of the web analytics blogs

What can we learn for WASPs

This is the kind of insight I can provide from a special version of WASP I'm using internally. Of course, the larger the sample, the more accurate it is. So far, I've done analysis for verticals such as Insurance and Automotive, regions like Canada, US, UK, and the Nordics. I can also tap on the growing database of data that now encompass 400,000 web sites.

Here's the synopsis from my presentation at eMetrics Industry Insight:
Stéphane created WASP, the Web Analytics Solution Profiler, a free Firefox extension aimed at web analytics implementation specialists and web analysts. WASP validates proper tagging and reveals whether web analytics solutions are properly implemented. On the back end, Stéphane has a bird's-eye view of the marketplace. Which tools are used by which industries? Which sectors are having trouble with implementation and which are getting it right? What are the industry trends?
On Sunday, before the official eMetrics conference, industry's leading vendors, consultants and practitioners will spend the day scrutinizing the latest data and insights. This is going to be fun!

Google Analytics v3.0: my speculation

Digital Alex has an interesting post about what he think will be announced from Google at next week's eMetrics. Basically more social media measurement in Google Analytics trough the integration of MeasureMap.

Of course it's interesting to us, bloggers, but the next level of web analytics is not only about adding Feedburner, MeasureMap or YouTube data. It's about integration, customization, collaboration and visualization brought to the next level.

I think the last post about "The Action Dashboard" from Avinash might not be a coincidence...

Read on...

Google Analytics v3.0?

Here's my take on what I think (and would love to see) in Google Analytics v3.0:
  • API: simply put, all Google services have APIs and there is no reason why Google Anlaytics wouldn't have one... we've been asking for it for a long time. Bet it will be there!
  • Custom reporting: slicing & dicing of data is key. I want to use any metric, any dimension, any segment and create my multi-level breakdown report the way I want.
  • Custom metrics: one user variable? c'mon! I should be able to integrate all the data I want, either from offline sources (welcome API again!) or as new metrics gathered from the web. People have learned to use other fields and do all kind of acrobatics to use more than one user variable... it's time to make it official and easy. For example, wouldn't it be interesting to bring the 4Q data right into GA and correlate the results with user behaviour?

The killer: custom dashboards

Now it gets even more interesting!
  • Import/export: Google Docs spreadsheet doesn't allow you to import data from a web source. Either allow "Save to Google Docs" from the GA interface or import from a web source straight into Google Docs.
  • Google Docs: No more Excel? We all know MS Excel is the web analyst best friend. Why not bring that data into Google Docs spreadsheets? Leverage the collaborative capabilities of Google Docs to share in edit or read only mode and even use the discussion feature to comment it.
  • Charting & Gadgets: from the Google Docs spreadsheet data, it's very easy to build basic graphs and very sophisticated visualizations like Gauges, Time Series, Motion Chart, Timelines, Gantt and Org charts and new ones are being added by 3rd parties.
  • Dashboarding: bring that to the next level, create a fully customized dashboard in iGoogle and share it to whoever you like. iGoogle allows you to include several types of gadgets. Imagine a financial dashboard that would include Google News, Stocks and Web revenues! Imagine a marketing dashboard that would include competitive data, Google Reader RSS feeds from your competitors' blogs along your AdWords and conversion performance shown as gauges and timelines.
  • Alerts: The only thing missing are notifications when values get outside of the acceptable ranges. Google Docs already include the notifications when a spreadsheet, a range or even a specific cell. The only thing missing is allowing to send those notifications based on some rules. I'm sure that would be an easy fix.
Basically, the only missing piece of the puzzle is the ability to import/export to Google Docs! From there, everything else becomes possible...

If my predictions turn out to be true, I would easily see Google Analytics inching even more on the higher end players.

We'll see next week.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

[Job] Online Production Coordinator @

The SickKidsFoundation, one of my clients, is looking for an Online Production Coordinator.

Company: SickKids Foundation
Job Title: Online Production Coordinator
Location: Toronto, ON
Description: Reporting to the Director, Information Technology and New Media, the Online Production Coordinator works with fundraising and shared services teams to maintain all SickKids Foundation’s websites in a manner consistent with the Foundation’s mission, vision and organizational goals.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Delivers and deploys changes to websites as requested by Fundraising teams including web page creation, donor transactions and e-communications
  • Maintains and updates all internet/intranet sites and develops web content and/or graphics as appropriate
  • Creates and administers donor-facing events, campaigns and donation forms
  • Produces HTML, Flash, CSS and/or .NET code as required
  • Evaluates web activity by applying standard analytical techniques and reports results back to teams
  • Performs other projects and/or tasks as required


  • A three-year college diploma and/or university degree in computer sciences, web design, multi-media or related filed
  • A minimum of 3 years experience in website interface design/development
  • A minimum of 3 years experience using HTML, Flash, CSS, etc.
  • Strong understanding of best practices for web communication, usability and accessibility
  • Strong organizational skills and ability to prioritize work
  • Excellent communication skills and a demonstrated ability to constantly re-prioritize work in a fast-paced, service-oriented environment
  • Self motivated; able to work independently and within a team effectively

About SickKids Foundation:

SickKids Foundation was established in 1972. Its mission is to inspire its communities to invest in health and scientific advances to improve the lives of children and their families in Canada and around the world. Its vision is “Healthier Children. A Better World.” In 2007, SickKids Foundation made the largest charitable investment in children’s health care in Canada. A total of $75.5 million was invested in The Hospital for Sick Children and national initiatives across the country. Since the establishment of SickKids Foundation 35 years ago, community support has generated $1 billion towards child health research, education and care.

Hours: 9 am to 5 pm Monday to Friday
Available to: Internal & External Candidates
Submit Resume to:
Human Resources Department
SickKids Foundation
525 University Avenue, 14th Floor
Toronto, Ontario M5G 2L3
email: careers(at)
Only those applicants selected for an interview will be contacted.
No phone calls please.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

eMetrics Industry Insight: WASP market research

Jim Sterne is a no fuss, down to heart guy. Picture this: evening before eMetrics Toronto; dinner with a bunch of speakers. WASP is mentioned and questions abound: how is it being used? Who are the target users? What's the state of development? etc. Then I talk about the market data I'm collecting: which sites are using which tools, what kind of research I can do with it, etc. "That would make a good topic to present in San Francisco" Jim said... the following day it was set! So here it is:

eMetrics San Francisco: Industry insight, May 4th

As I mentioned in a recent post, one of the interesting side effect of WASP is the ability to do market research. On the back end, I get a bird's-eye view of the marketplace: 350,000 sites on a monthly basis, for nearly 100 tools. Which tools are used by which industries? Which sectors are having trouble with implementation and which are getting it right? What are the industry trends?

This is highly valuable information for market and financial analysts covering the web analytics space, for vendors and agencies looking for prospects, or even companies looking at who is using which tools in their specific vertical.

On Sunday, May 4th, I'm honored to talk about the results of my research alongside Nielsen/Netratings, Jupiter Research, Yahoo!, Hitwise, Comscore and my friend Joseph Carrabis. Register for Industry Insight.

If you want more information about WASP market research please contact me.

Friday, April 18, 2008

WASP: Listening to VOC

One of the challenge with a R&D project like WASP and listening to the Voice of Customer is the number of ideas that comes in and how to sort through them while keeping a vision. Every week I get great feedback, suggestions and comments. Of course, sometimes people will send in a few critics, but that's part of the game isn't it?

Please allow me to share some of those ideas and what I intend to do with them.

Browser extension: yes

From the start I envisioned WASP as a browser extension. In my opinion, it doesn't only makes it very easy to constantly be "in context" of a real user session but it also allows for easy ad hoc testing of transactions, secured areas and development environments.

Actually WASP is only available as a Firefox extension, but you can expect an Internet Explorer one in the future.

Site crawling: yes

I've been running a quick poll for a while and that was one of the question. 43% of those who answered asked for the possibility to crawl a site and report on the tags and implementation.

That's coming up in WASP v0.40, currently awaiting approval from the Mozilla Foundation.
  1. "Crawl from here" recursively spider a site
  2. "Load from file" allows you to pick a file containing a list of URLs to check

Reporting: yes

As you browse (or crawl), WASP creates a session log. The resulting CSV report contains the URL, the type and name of the solutions found on any given page, the page title, the exact tags and some other information. This report is available anytime from the "Save log" feature.

Web service or hosted solution: not for now

I'm not planning to create a remote crawling or web service solution for WASP, at least not for v1.0. There are some solutions like that will allow you to test remotely and simulate different browser/OS environments. Or the great Firefox extension from that allows you to build a test script that you can run automatically (and WASP will record correctly). More advanced tools like HP's LoadRunner or MS Visual Studio Team System Test Edition brings the full range of load testing, unit testing and the tools to manage the QA process and track bugs.

Transaction simulation: not for now

Once the site crawling feature is there, why not simply stick in a transaction simulation capability like what DejaClick offers? Two reasons:
  1. there are already great tools to do that and WASP will correctly log the details
  2. WASP is currently quite simple to use, adding such a feature would divert too much from the original intent
Just use the DejaClick extension!

Flash & videos: future

As the industry evolves, tags are appearing more and more in Flash animations and videos. WASP doesn't currently detect those tags but this should come up in a post v1.0 version.

More tools detection: yes

The upcoming version now includes over 100 tag-based solutions in various categories: analytics, testing (A/B or multivariate), behavioral targeting, surveys, session recorders, click maps, etc. In fact, some sites have so many tools in place that the status bar and the number of tabs in the sidebar is becoming an issue (I will fix that in an upcoming release).

Please continue to send in your feedback when:
  • you know a site as a specific solution in place but WASP doesn't detect it: send me the site URL and the tools that is supposed to be there
  • WASP doesn't detect a tool and it's not in the list of known tools: send me a sample site the URL and the vendor URL

Market research: controlled

As is often the case with R&D projects, one of the unexpected side effect of WASP is the ability to do market research. As per the license agreement and the opt-out option, WASP is sending anonymous information about the domain and the tools found. The initial goal was strictly for debugging and enhancing WASP itself.

In fact, I'm receiving information about 20,000 domains every day, over 350,000 monthly. That provides a pretty good picture of the vendors market shares for various verticals and regions. Of course I can also do specific research from any given list.

This is highly valuable information for market and financial analysts covering the web analytics space, for vendors and agencies looking for prospects, or even companies looking at who is using which tools in their specific vertical. For the most part, this is how WASP will be able to survive as a commercially viable product. I'm sure you will understand I will keep a close control over this information and how it is being collected.

If you want more information about WASP market research please contact me.

Send in your feedback and suggestions

Get SatisfactionI have created a customer support collaborative environment to ease the gathering of suggestions and comments using a great new service called Get Satisfaction.

I've got some offers for help, people asking to open source the code (which I won't), even some investment proposals. I still need some time to continue the "incubation" phase and the planning (hey! I've been freelance only since December!).

But I'm listening: if you have any ideas for WASP or any business proposals, don't hesitate to contact me.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Infopresse day on Web Analytics: post scriptum

We've come a long way!

About 4 or 5 years ago, while working for a web agency with worldwide offices and very well known clients, I was mandated to build up a "web analytics practice". The idea was simple: if we measure success of the web sites we build for our clients, we will be able to come up with facts & recommendations to do repeat business and sustain the relationship.

I was supported by the Sales VP and we became reseller of one of the top tools. I did a couple of implementations, did reporting & analysis. Built dashboard and presented to clients. It was a hard sell... Issues were clients who didn't see why they would pay to fix something that was supposed to be built right in the first place because as a web agency "we were the experts". There was also those who didn't see the value of spending thousands of dollars a year to measure success. Or the ones still contemplating monthly hits, page views and visits and being Ok with that. You get the idea...

Now is the time!

Yesterday there was 350 Montreal-based marketers from dozens of companies attending a full Infopresse day dedicated to web analytics. As my friend Jacques Warren said, 5 years ago he presented to a dozen of people...

I was glad to learn that same agency I worked for is now pushing to enhance their web analytics practice, as are all the agencies I know in Québec and dozens of companies. There are some challenges ahead, notably from the staffing and education perspective...

The day in point form

  • Jacques Warren: introduction. An very well done presentation. Good insights, good anecdotes, lots of tips.
  • Your humble: implementing a web analytics program. I wanted to do a presentation in two steps:
    • Context: challenges found in most organizations,
    • Food for thought in 8 points: WA Maturity, Trinity approach, Mutliplicity, Multidisciplinary Team, A Winning Approach, Defining Goals & KPIs, The Process and lastly, the Tools.
  • Agency VDL2 did a case study of Via Rail & Great panel about the two things we talk the most those days: weather & hockey (Go Habs! Go!) We rarely witness companies who are ready to "open the kimono" and show their metrics, their KPIs and their dashboards. I'm sure this was revealing for a lot of people in the room.

Avinash: hero of the day year

It’s always a pleasure to see Avinash Kaushik. His willingness to help on his blog, in person, trough personal emails, trough donations to The Smile Train and Médecins sans Frontière, his friendly and humanistic approach as revealed by the pictures of his kids in his presentation, by providing honest comments, by doing more than just a formal shake of hands, Avinash is unique. His personality not only makes him an amazing speaker, but someone trustworthy of our most honest respect and admiration.

To piggy back on a well know commercial: I first met him at last year at eMetrics SF: it was a revelation. I saw many of his appearance in videos and interviews: he was great. Yesterday: priceless.

So allow me to declare something here: if there is such a thing as “web analytics person of the year” Avinash definitely deserves it!

You might also want to check out the great review from Mitch Joel review: Every page is your home page.

See you at eMetrics San Francisco!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Web Analytics Conversations: Spring 2008 Edition

Last Updated: September 26th, 2008
How do you cope with dozens of web analytics blogs? How do you keep track of the most interesting conversations about Web Analytics? Where can you search the most relevant web analytics resources?

Web Analytics Conversations

Subscribe to the most complete aggregated feed of blogs (currently 130 of them!) discussing about web analytics!Add to Google Reader or use your own reader RSS

Official Web Analytics Search Engine

All those blogs are also included in the official Web Analytics Association Co-Op Search. The search engine includes nearly 200 specialized web sites tagged in various categories: blogs, solutions, services, education, etc.As a WAA member, did you know you can add the official WAA Search Engine to your own blog or site? Check out the instructions on the WAA site (members only). You can see it in action on the right side-bar at can also add the cool WAA Search widget to your iGoogle home page: Add to Google

You can help!

Missing your blog? Invalid entry? Missing valuable web analytics information for the WAA Search Engine? Post a comment or drop me an email and I will fix that!

Full Web Analytics blog list

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Making Web Analytics easier: food for thought

I finished reading Made to Stick a few days ago; "why some ideas survive and others die". Being an entrepreneur & speaker myself, this book will join my well furnished bookshelf, along with Blink, The Tipping Point, The Attention Economy and several others.

Here are some tidbits of wisdom I gathered from the book

The curse of knowledge

The curse of knowledge is "a natural psychological tendency that consistently confounds our ability to create ideas." Research in psychology shows that when we know something, it becomes hard for us to imagine not knowing it. As a result, we not only become lousy communicators, it also become harder to be more imaginative. This is empathy. Putting ourselves in the shoes of a beginner or non-expert is important.

As web analysts, we know much more about the web then most people. It's true when we design a site or want to improve it, it's also true when we need to communicate the results of our analysis. It's true when we want to communicate a complex subject in simple terms or when we face the difficult task of bringing web analytics to the corporate culture and need to simplify the process.


WIIFY "What's In It For You", and the other one I really like is "ETDBW" which stands for "Easy To Do Business With" (well presented in The Agenda by Michael Hammer). Let go self interest, you don't build a site for yourself...

One of my great work experience was for Our boss was constantly hammering the ETDBW mantra, pushing us to find new ways to improve our B2B site for dealers. In about 2 years we went from 0% to 80% and even 98% conversion rates for some of the most critical transactions. It worked because we were not doing it for us, we didn't think WIIFMe, we thought WIIFY all the time.

Attention, honesty & trust

Some people have the authority to demand attention. Even if I turned 40 this year, my mother still have some of that authority! The policemen who stopped me on the highway had the authority and all my attention too... Most of the time, though, we can't demand attention; we must attract it.

Web analysts often suffer from "attention deficit"... they struggle to get attention from their peers and managers. Increasing attention relates to honesty - such as when communicating bad news - and trustworthiness of our sources, in this case the web analytics tool we use. Attention, honesty and trust complements each other to increase our authority.

Details & stories

I found many quotes that perfectly relates to analytics in Made to Stick. Novices perceives concrete details just as such: concrete details. "Experts perceive concrete details as symbols of patterns and insights that they have learned through years of experience". We've all seen it: pages and pages of data, graphs and charts. It's often too much details, what we need is the insight. "It's more important for people to remember the relationship than the number. Statistics aren't inherently helpful; it's the scale and context that make them so." But "don't make up your mind and then go looking for the numbers to support yourself"...

I keep saying that it's not about the number, it's about the story. The problem is "ethically challenged people with lots of analytical smarts can, with enough contortions, make almost any case from a given set of statistics". It goes back to the honesty and trustworthy concept.

Solve problems when they need to be solved

The last thing I wanted to share comes from Common Craft. "If you're about to start something new, don't spend weeks trying to make the first attempt perfect. Get started as quickly as possible and learn as you go. Tinker, experiment and look for the big things you can tackle as you go. Solve problems when they need to be solved and you won't feel as overwhelmed by all the things that could be fixed." I like that!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Web analytics is EASY, Easy easy...

If we were shouting out load "WEB ANALYTICS IS EASY" while standing at the top of a cliff we would just hear back "easy, easy, easy..."... That's the kind of reference Eric Peterson used when referring to a recent post of Matt Belkin and myself (although not spelling out my last name correctly and not linking to my point of view here and here...) when talking about the "echo chamber effect". His statement:
You say something for so long, and your buddies all repeat it, that eventually you ignore the reality of the situation and begin to believe something that is clearly not true.
Ouch! That's a constructive comment! Thank you Eric, you just enlighten me. I was lost, you showed me the way. You've been touring the world warning us all that "web analytics is hard". We've heard you load and clear. It must be the absolute truth.

Is there a conversation going on?

Since you didn't post my comment and didn't reply to my email, I'll share my thoughts here instead. (Sadly... it vaguely reminds me of another conversation you had with another thought leader.)

I haven't been in web analytics for as long as you, that's true. But I still have enough experience with complex projects to know that starting up with a preconceived idea that it's "hard", even impossible from what you seem to infer, is a sure way to fail. There's even a whole book on that topic called "The setup to fail syndrome".

Several years ago it was ERP systems, then CRM, now it's web analytics... lots of companies failed, those who succeeded gained a strong competitive advantage. With the economic trouble ahead, we're heading straight into "competing on analytics". You know it, you said it yourself, deploying the tool is just a fraction of the solution: changing the corporate culture is the real challenge. If we say ERP, CRM or web analytics is hard... who is it really helping?

Ok, let's say it's hard, what's next?

In a way, I agree with your statement and the comment my friend Jacques Warren posted on your blog: web analytics is not an easy endeavor. If we want to play with semantic, here's some food for thought:
  • Human nature and leader bias: ask anyone "is your job hard?", regardless of what their actual job is. You are very likely to hear them say "Hell yes!" and they will go on explaining why THEIR job is so hard. In a survey, this is called leader question bias. Inferring a state of mind in the question itself.
  • What is "hard"?: this is a clearly a qualitative value, as human being (and think God we are in a democracy), everyone is entitled to his opinion. And my opinion of something "hard" is when being faced with the unknown and unexpected, mapping uncharted territories where no one else ever succeeded.
    - Landing a man on the moon: yes, that was hard.
    - The first successful heart transplant: yes, hard...
    - Ending hunger in the world: this IS hard
    We know what it takes to succeed in web analytics, and some companies are progressing amazingly well in that space. Again, how is constantly coming back saying "web analytics is hard" helping?

"Web analytics is a process easy"

Why am I saying that? You are the guru, you certainly have a lot of followers (certainly much more than I do!) and that's ok. I'm pretty sure I heard somewhere that "web analytics is a process", heck! to claim a copyright on "web analytics business process" is a pretty strong statement (for those who wonder, check the page footer on so if someone knows how to make it easier, it should be you! Why do you keep on saying it's hard?

Aren't we defining processes to make complex tasks easier?

Web Analytics is a process like any others

Business Process Analysis implies understanding & improving a collection of interrelated tasks which solve a particular issue. Nothing new here... Most businesses face complex and "hard" processes, and the way to make them "easy" is by decomposing them into smaller sub-processes until they are manageable. I strongly believe that bringing the web analytics culture (along with the tools and educating people about it) is not "hard" when you set goals and expectations accordingly.

I prefer to think positively and see every challenge as an opportunity to learn and move forward.

I prefer to act and make web analytics easier to understand when I tutor or when I speak at a conference; when I work with clients to help them learn & understand.

I prefer to think web analytics is easy because "we can do it".

Let's end this rant with a question: Who does it serve to run around saying web analytics is hard? How is it constructive?

(Let's have a beer... or several... at eMetrics!)

Credit: drawing by Aaron J. Louie

Friday, April 4, 2008

Recognizing cultural behavior

At the recent eMetrics Toronto conference I was presenting on a panel with Joseph Carrabis & Simon Rivard from, moderated by Alex Langshur of PublicInsite:
People from different cultures use websites in different ways. Analysis of web data requires sensitivity to these cultural differences. Mouse movements, navigation habits, and language nuances require “localization” rather than mere translation. Learn how cultural segmentation will yield better results and an improved customer experience.
Here's a couple of things I wanted to highlight in my presentation.

What is culture?

Culture is traditionally defined by the codes of conduct, language, art, rituals, morality, norms passed from generation to generation.

But culture is also growing/controlling bacterias in a Petri dish... (my wife works in a lab). By understanding the mechanism behind the patterns, we can learn how to outsmart the bacteria - for example with their communication or environment - in our ongoing battle for our health (or business objective...)

But why is culture so important? Because it makes us "feel fine and welcomed"!

Culture & emotions

Then I presented a cool project called "We feel fine", by Jonathan Harris & Sep Kamvar. They call it "an exploration of human emotions on a global scale". Culture transpire into blog posts, but that's not all: geographic location, gender, age, weather also influence what will be talked about on the web. My take is that culture will influence how we use the web, but our changing emotions will also make a huge difference!

Language is not culture

Merely translating a site from English to French is far from enough to really consider different cultures. Most sites will simply ask for a company, assuming everyone share the same culture attributes (and of course, the same language). Most sites are really doing a bad job of asking location/language, some others are a bit more successful. I used a few automobile sites to make my point. But being a man... what's more "cultural" than the definition of beauty. So I used L'Oréal as an example of adapting for cultural differences through imagery, language and adapting their offering.


When developing personas and our persuasion architecture, it's important to consider the differences in stereotypes between, say, the North-American and European cultures if we want to cater to those profiles. To make my point, I showed a series of "attributes" as highlighted by Pascal Beaudry.

Where's Waldo?

But in the end, am I just another French-speaking guy from Québec-city or am I unique among others, why my own cultural background, my own emotions, my own identity?

Upcoming dinner with Avinash Kaushik & Mitch Joel

A little anecdote: The first time I met Mitch Joel was at a dinner preceding the eMetrics Breakfast a couple of months ago, along with Jim Sterne and Andrea Hadley. I knew who he was: one of the greatest evangelist in the social media/web 2.0 space. He obviously didn't know who I was... But still, when we met again this week at eMetrics Toronto he perfectly remembered about the "link love" from a post I did weeks ago.

We didn't have much time to chat, but here's what I find amazingly interesting: we met face to face only once and despite having thousand of readers and followers in the online social media space, what might be the greatest reward of all is when you can meet and talk face to face with great minds such as Mitch and Avinash Kaushik.

And the opportunity to have dinner with both of them is coming up on April 16th (note: limited seating/pay your own bills). Of course, I quickly sent an email to Mitch to be there!

Like many others, I exchanged emails and blog comments with Avinash several times (how can he find the time to do all of that!). He is even helping me out as an "angel adviser" for WASP and providing invaluable feedback and advices. The first time I met him was at eMetrics San Francisco last year. I was chatting with him while the new version of Google Analytics was being announced on the stage. He was excited like a little child. That's the second greatest thing in our field: we love what we do, we're passionate... we're just like little boys playing Lego :)

T'was eMetrics (Toronto) time...

Time is flying by! eMetrics Toronto is already over! The 200 or so attendees were split among newcomers in the field, experienced people and vendors & speakers who were like a bunch of old school friends hanging out together. From what I could glean from the attendees, it was a great success: plenty of learning, networking, thinking.

I had an initial objective of posting everyday... things went way to fast. But allow me to point to some posts from others who were more diligent then I was:

Who said things happen at the bar?

Jim Sterne said it before: the conference continues long after the official sessions are over. I landed in Toronto on Sunday night and I hesitated to get dinner in my room and work at the same time or go to the hotel bar and relax a bit and get a small snack. I'm glad I did the later! We ended a bunch having dinner, chit chatting and having fun. At one point, the conversation turned to my work on WASP and the market research I'm doing, getting Jim Sterne to say "that would be an interesting subject to present at eMetrics San Francisco". A few hours later it was all set: I will be presenting my market research results at the eMetrics Industry Insight on May 4th, alongside Nielsen, JupiterResearch, Hitwise, Comscore and the like.