Thursday, February 26, 2009

Got interviewed at

Jeff Lawrence at interviewed me about WASP.

He said "WASP (Web Analytics Solution Profiler) is a web analyst and online marketers dream for providing validation of web analytics implementation as well as a quick reference guide to various analytics tools among other features."

Read the full interview at "Interview with Stephane Hamel Creator of WASP"

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Running for the WAA Board of Director

My name:Stéphane Hamel
My job title:Web Analytics Advocate!
Company:Immeria Consulting Services Inc.
Sector of activity:Consulting/Academia
Complete profile:

General background/bio

"Stéphane is a leading voice for web analytics, helping businesses and agencies understands the value of online optimization. He has been on both sides of the fence, client and agency, from small projects to complete ecosystem overhauls. Speaker at eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit and other conferences, tutor for the award-winning UBC Award of Achievement in Web Analytics and Business Process Analysis classes, creator of the popular Web Analytics Solution Profiler (WASP) and blogger at Stéphane is an active member of the Web Analytics Association since 2005, coordinating regular web analytics networking and educational events in Québec, Canada."

You should vote for me because...

When I graduated from college over 20 years ago I was quickly introduced to the Unix and Internet culture of collaboration and sharing. SMTP and IRC gave way to HTTP - I mean - email and chat were baby steps toward what the Internet is today. My technical expertise eventually reached a point where I wanted to optimize more than bits & bites and I started to push for processes and business optimization.

From the early days of the Web, witness of the Bubble, Web 2.0 and the evolution from logs to tags, from IT to marketing and beyond, all of those contributed to my passion for analytics. My IT roots evolved into an exceptional skill for analysis and synthesis of complex issues. The Internet culture still fuel my desire to share and collaborate. While I hated speaking in front of the class in high school I now deeply enjoy speaking at conferences. Poor grades in high school turned into good ones in college and exceptional ones in my eBusiness MBA.
Experience, passion, innovation, vision, sharing & collaboration: that’s what I’m humbly offering to you and the Web Analytics Association.

Major contributions I will bring to Web Analytics Association and its membership

I’m focused on three areas of activities: consulting, education and research. I’m striving to help businesses and agencies understand the value of analytics by coaching them to climb the web analytics maturity ladder, by tutoring 3 of the 4 UBC Award of Achievement in Web Analytics classes and Introduction to Business Process Analysis, by being the organizer of Web Analytics Wednesdays in Montréal, speaking at eMetrics events and other conferences and by sharing my voice on my blog.
Research takes the form of various initiatives to foster communication among Web Analytics Association members; contributions includes the WAA search engine and the popular Web Analytics Solution Profiler (WASP), tackling the challenge of quality assurance of web analytics implementations. My interests lies in education & research: formalizing the science of web analytics and seeking ways to make it easier and better.

The years ahead will certainly be as interesting as the recent ones. Teaching a full semester on web analytics at Laval University (Québec city), exploring new management concepts and envisioning new tools to make web analytics easier are some of my goals. Collaboration and communication will remain at the center of those initiatives.

Where the Web Analytics Association should be in the next two years?

History repeats itself. The nascent web evolved into a marketing function and is now integrated within most aspects of the business. Web analytics also grew out of IT system logs to become a powerful tool for marketing optimization. We are now clearly at the crossroad of online business optimization and competing on analytics.

I think the WAA can do even more in the areas of education, standards and best practices. Issues of privacy are not going away, the competitive playing field is quickly evolving and there is still room for innovation. The current economic downturn is shacking the foundation. In a troubled economy, winners and losers are set apart by their capabilities to be bring original solutions, to deliver and act quickly based on factual information rather than succumb to panic and improvisation. The WAA is clearly on the winning side.

What is the biggest challenge facing the digital marketing industry?

We’ve certainly come a long way over the past couple of years. But now we need to move beyond marketing optimization to embrace business optimization. As Thomas Davenport puts it in his great book “Competing on Analytics”:
"three things are at the basis for competition: efficient and effective execution, smart decision making, and the ability to wring every last drop of value from business processes - all of which can be gained through sophisticated use of analytics"
This is where I think we’re headed.

If you are a member of the WAA, I hope you'll support my nomination. If you are not a member yet and you are involved in web analytics, what are you waiting for?

Sincerely yours,
Stéphane Hamel

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Live from Omniture Summit: G.Colony keynote, Forrester CEO

Live from Omniture Summit floor, the keynote of G.Colony, CEO of Forrester, just concluded. If you use Twitter, you can follow me at @immeria for live updates.

Height things to say over coffee to a CEO

  1. "Your website sucks"
    If you are not using persona, scenarios and analytics you are in trouble
  2. "Web is the start of a long voyage"
    From historical file server based infrastructure to the executable internet. The power shifting to client devices and the network
  3. "Bits want to be free... bits want to break the law"
    Control is becoming impossible, find out business model around it.
  4. "Technology is changing your customer... ...your customer will change your company"

    Hours per weekGen Y
    Gen X
    Using mobile:8.95.8
    Playing video games:4.32.0
    Reading magazines (not online)1.72.0
    Reading newspaper (not online)1.21.7
    Using instant messaging56%33%
    Using social network42%17%
    Watching peer to peer videos28%19%
    From this table, it looks like I'm a Gen Y in a Gen X body...
  5. "Move innovation out of the box and into the network"
    Traditional process: finance -> invent -> build -> package (all done in black box - owned, copyrighted, guarded) -> new widget eventually available
    New process: inventors + financiers + brokers + transformers = innovation network
  6. "Great marketing + great technology is the only way forward"
    - Esquire magazine cover ad change (embedded small battery)
    - 3D hologram in company reception hall
    - Ad scan bar ads to use with cell phone photo
  7. "You don’t own your customer... your customer owns you"
    No brand loyalty anymore
  8. "When it comes to technology do me (and your company) a favor... ...stop being clueless."
    Loved this quote: "Like sex, you can’t understand it until you do it"

My take

Great keynote. Most of those points are pretty obvious, everything was in the way they were delivered!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

WASP v1.10: Enhanced for SiteCatalyst

WASP v1.10 is awaiting approval on but is already available from

The focus of this release was on two things:
  • Do a round of bug fixes on crawler related issues
  • The Omniture Summit is the perfect occasion to bring some pretty cool SiteCatalyt tagging diagnostic features.

Advanced SiteCatalyst tags auditing with WASP

Noticeable WASP features for easier Omniture SiteCatalyst and Test&Target tags audits:
  • Detailed "human friendly" breakdown of tags in the sidebar.
  • Quick help for each tag value
  • Datatype validation of tags to make sure the data isn't corrupted
  • Data length validation of tags to make sure their values are not truncated
  • Hihglighted Test&Target mboxes
In the example snapshot (click for larger view), taken off the website, we can easily spot that s_account length might be too long. In this case, the documentation states s_account should be no more than 40 characters. However, this is a soft limit. In the case of pageName, for example, the 100 limit is a hard one and if the pageName is longer it will get truncated (a frequent issue!).

Other enhancements

  • Fixed crawler not starting or hanging
  • Tab focus will now automatically be on the latest web analytics tool WASP can find
  • WebTrends Live & SDC sidebar tags breakdown
  • Round of minor bug fixes
  • Tweaking to some tools detection
Get WASP v1.10 update now!

Omniture Summit day 1: MindMeld

On Tuesday afternoon was held the first ever MindMeld, a gathering of top industry analysts, consultants and important Omniture clients. The MindMeld ideas derives from the eMetrics Industry Insight and XChange idea of doing small groups discussion on various topics. Josh James, CEO of Omniture, introduced the activity to a select group of about 40 people, followed by intros from Matt Langie (Senior Director of Marketing), Jim Sterne (WAA & eMetrics) and John Lovett (Forrester).

Six small teams tackled topics ranging from social media, video and mobile, and raising analytics to the executive level.

I was pleased to be a session leader for social measurement. With representatives from iTunes, Warner Music, Norwegian Cruise Line, Best Buy and Brian Watkins (aka @omniture on Twitter), the session was broken down into three main blocks of about an hour each:
  • scoping and establishing the breath of discussion,
  • identify critical events, technologies and necessary actions
  • report key takeaways, resolutions and call to action (from an individual perspective, for Omniture and the industry as a whole)

Everyone gathered back to present their respective team outcomes. The outputs from this activity are being collected by Matt and will become available to everyone in the coming days or weeks. The goal is to continue the conversation, do statuses and bring new topics at other upcoming conferences such as eMetrics and XChange.

The day concluded with the opening reception at the Salt Palace convention center. The huge conference floor looked a bit emptier than the hugely crowded Grand Palace rooms of last year. But still, attendance was not too bad but obviously impacted by the economy.

Today is kicking off with Josh James keynote, stay tuned for more updates...

Monday, February 16, 2009

I'm heading to the Omniture Summit: here's why

While I’m waiting at O’Hare for my connecting flight to the Omniture Summit I’m thinking of all those who hoped to attend but won’t. It’s clear the current economic situation is pretty bad, budgets are tight and some conferences are even canceled. Even if expensive, maybe even more when you are a one person business like me, I see it as an investment and I’m confident it will turn out positively in the long run.

What can we expect this year? I doubt there will be as much people as last year, but how worse? If anything, those who will be there will be really serious about web analytics!

Should you go?

It’s always debatable whether these conferences are worth it or not as demonstrated by this thread on the Yahoo! Web Analytics Forum. Some will argue the sessions are too superficial, that most of them are disguised sells pitches, or the same info can be found on the Web or in the numerous press releases carefully scheduled to go live during the event.

Here's why I'm going

I don’t see it this way. As a web analytics professional consultant I strive to reach and stay at the top of the wave. In my consulting practice I even go as far as coaching web agencies (my future competitors) so they can develop their own internal web analytics practice. I’m one of the few people in hundred of miles around who is attending. The conference comes with a price tag, but leadership, top expertise and a strong professional network are priceless. This, to me, is where the value of the Omniture Summit is!

Not like being there... but better than nothing

While I'm at the conference I will try to post regularly on my blog and you can follow me on Twitter.

I will also organize another Web Analytics Wednesday so I can share some of what I'll learn.

Last minute scoop!

I had been invited to the invitation-only pre-conference event called MindMeld where leading professionals will gather to discuss today's challenges and the future of web analytics. I got a call a few minutes ago from Matt Langie (Senior Director of Product Marketing) to be one of the discussion leader for the event. Omniture executives, top clients and renowned experts will be attending. Some of those I know will be there: Jim Sterne (eMetrics & WAA), John Lovett (Forrester), Garry Angel (Semphonic), Bill Gassman (Gartner).

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The end of Web analysts? No, the evolution of the analyst role

I love it when I do my morning round of Tweets, blogs and emails and stumble on something like "The end of Web analysts".

Charles Wiedenhoft proposes "that Internet marketing agencies and internal departments do away with the job title "Web analyst" and instead take time to establish and conduct cross-training programs with all personnel to help them understand what the figures mean and how best to use them in order to meet or exceed a campaign's stated objectives".

In my opinion, Wiedenhoft is proposing something that can, or can not work, depending on what I call the "web analytics maturity level" of the organization. A topic I will be presenting at eMetrics Toronto and eMetrics San Jose.
Web Analytics can succeed if you strike a balance between management, resources, objectives, scope, tools and process. Participants in this interactive session will get to know where they stand in their efforts to take advantage of web analytics data and how to get to the next level of marketing optimization.
Most organizations won't have the time/resources to train and disseminate the "analytical mindset", technical know how (yes, the Web/Internet is still quite technical!), communication skills and political acumen a dedicated analyst needs to develop. This, on top of their daily workload and focus on there core competencies.

Also, his position is heavily on the "marketing campaign optimization" while web analytics can and should be used for understanding and optimizing other aspects of the online business. This "slant" toward marketing is omnipresent in the way web analytics is being leveraged today. This is obvious to me as I tutor UBC web analytics intro, marketing optimization and site optimization, but also a course named "introduction to business process analysis". The relationships between business optimization and analytics are so evident in my mind!

And lastly, if anything, web analytics is shifting toward business analytics. Using "analytics" to understand and optimize all aspects of the business (online and offline) as a mean to gain a competitive advantage. That's what Davenport talks about in his book "Competing on Analytics".

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Postulates of Web Analytics

I must admit I stole the idea from Prof. Raymond Hames of the Department of Anthropology & Geography at University of Nebraska-Lincoln: "Goals and Characteristics of Science". I think approaching web analytics with the same scientific rigueur makes a lot of sense!
"The aim of science is to seek the simplest explanation of complex facts. ...Seek simplicity and distrust it."
--A. N. Whitehead, The Concept of Nature
"... when one's thoughts about the way things are supposed to be conflict with what seems to be the actual truth of the matter, we reexamine those notions which led us to erroneous predictions ..."
--Niles Eldridge, Time Frames

The 15 axioms of web analytics

  1. Web analytics is logical (utilizing the appropriate form of logic), reasonable, and rational.
  2. Web analytics makes well-defined claims based upon the best available evidence.
  3. Hypothesis must be falsifable.
    (Falsifiability (or refutability or testability) is the logical possibility that an assertion can be shown false by an observation or an experiment.)
  4. Web analytics requires that claims be examined by qualified peers.
    (Or challenged by the HiPPO - "Highest Paid Person Opinion"!)
  5. Web analytics views unexplained gaps in theories or evidence with suspicion.
  6. Exercise caution both in performing experiments, and in examining and evaluating evidence.
  7. Experiments should be repeatable under similar circumstances.
    (Apply multivariate testing methodology whenever possible.)
  8. Web analytics requires efforts at objectivity, both in control of variables and of biases.
  9. Web analytics does not accept coincidence or unlinked or unproven correlations as proofs.
  10. Web analytics does not accept undocumented anecdotal evidence as good proof by itself.
  11. Web analytics demands extraordinarily good evidence for extraordinary unconventional claims.
  12. Web analytics favors parsimony: that the simplest adequate explanation is preferred.
    (Favor continuous improvement/evolution rather than absolute certainty or truth)
  13. Web analytics demands the honest use of the scientific method and truthful reports.
  14. Web analytics demands every effort be made to control or assess all (appropriate) variables.
  15. Web analytics needs the uninhibited exchange of ideas and greatest possible discourse of the material and knowledge.
When I read this quote I thought of web analytics, multivariate testing and behavioral targeting (or even just cookies!) and how obscure and incomprehensible those things are to most people:
"Although science does not ascribe an absolutism to its laws, it does not follow that one theory is as good as another.... To the general public, uneducated in even elementary science, and used to many technical miracles, the scientific-sounding jargon and forceful arguments of cranks are often convincing."
-- G. D. Goodman

What do you think? Do you agree with those axioms? Should they be formulated differently or are there any others?

WASP v1.09 important upgrade for Mac users

WASP v1.09 was approved on last night, you will receive an automated update notice.

Important update for Mac users!

This release fixes a major issue when installing on Mac OS (but doesn't affect Windows users)
Very weird errors, permissions issues, non-working applications after installing WASP v1.08 addon on Mac OS.
WASP copies the WASP Tag File from the default addons directory to the default Temporary folder. Instead of changing permissions on the file to make it writable, WASP changed the permissions on the destination directory!
If you are running on Mac and are experiencing weird problems, double check the permissions on your temporary folder and make sure the permissions are set to be writable by owner:
Example: d-w--wx-wx   4 you  staff      136  2 Feb 20:55 TemporaryItems
Set to:      drwx-----   4 you  staff      136  2 Feb 20:55 TemporaryItems
The TemporaryItems folder is located under user -> Library -> Caches
I'm terribly sorry about this issue, which is an obvious oversight in quality assurance. Of course, future releases will also be tested specifically on Mac OS.