Friday, October 30, 2009

Review: AT Internet NX

Last week at the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit in Washington D.C. there was a big buzz around the new Google Analytics features. But really, Google might win a prize for biggest industry shakedown (close to Adobe purchase of Omniture), but AT Internet would be a good contender for innovation in the field of web analytics. The France headquartered company has been pushing the web analytics envelope for a long time. Very strong in Europe, AT Internet was an early adopter of the freemium model with the Xiti solution launched in 1996!

Here comes NX!

The latest release, dubbed AT Internet Digital WorkspaceNX, has nothing to envy to the leading players in the industry. Here's a summary of the new features:

  • Multiple dashboards
  • Flexible dashboard layouts
  • Cool dashboard widget: monthly objectives

Advanced visualization:
  • Multi-metric and multi-time period diagrams
  • Multi-metric lines & bars graphs
  • Heatmaps (not merely click maps)
  • Radars graphs
  • Slice & dice from any element using a contextual menu available for each item in a table
  • Build custom filters using multiple metrics and operators
  • Merge several elements into one group
  • Easily compare metrics in pop up
  • Create segments using a drag & drop interface, and a variety of operators
  • Create new segments derived from existing ones
Specific features:
  •  Live alerts
  • ClickZone & Scrollview (not new but still unrivaled)
  • Custom data collection


AT Internet is, in my opinion, one of the most underestimated, yet most sophisticated web analytics platform out there. Their product offers a 360 degree view of online analytics:
  • Clickstream data, both tags (and log-based coming in the near future)
  • Server monitoring: if your site is poorly performing or simply down... guess what: your conversion will suffer! Yet, few vendors offer integrated server monitoring
  • Social media monitoring: now unavoidable
  • Both way API to integrate with custom data
  • Technological partnerships to extend the platform
Beyond all those nice features, AT Internet approach is very different from other vendors. Their services can go as far as handling your analytics by providing dedicated analysts. This is one way of going beyond the tool and empowering their clients despite limited budgets and resources availability.

Launch event

AT Internet is doing a Montréal launch event for the NX version, along with the book launch of Nicolas Malo and Jacques Warren.

When: Wednesday, November 4th, starting at 5:00pm
Location: Hotel InterContinental
>>> RSVP to Alexandre Metier: alexandre(dot)metier(at) <<<
(places are limited)

I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge AT Internet great corporate citizenship: they are a corporate member of the Web Analytics Association and they frequently sponsor or present at local networking activities. Would be great if more vendors and agencies would get involved locally, as they do wherever they have offices.

Full disclosure: AT Internet kindly offered a free account to test Digital WorkspaceNX, has sponsored Web Analytics Wednesdays in Montreal and offered occasional dinner, no money or other types of retributions were involved in exchange for this post.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Book review: Web Analytics by Malo & Warren

My friends Nicolas Malo, from France, and Jacques Warren from Montréal, have just published the first web analytics book originally authored in French. Entitled "Web Analytics : mesurer le succès et maximiser les profits de votre site Web", the book is clearly aimed at non-initiated marketing managers.

Organized around three main sections covering the basics of measuring online business success, outcome analysis and site optimization, the book offers a solution agnostic, easy to read and rich in examples overview of the underlying concepts of online analytics. They are not going into too much details, just the right balance, which is perfect for busy managers who just need enough understanding to "get it" :)

My only negative comment is the price... 50$ CDN seems a bit high for an introductory book by first time authors (compared to $30 for the latest Web Analytics 2.0: The Art of Online Accountability and Science of Customer Centricity by Avinash Kaushik).

There will be a special book launch in Montreal, November 4th, at the InterContinental hotel. This launch will be done jointly with AT Internet brand new NX offering (more to come on this). If you would like to attend, please RSVP to Alexandre Metier (Alexandre(dot)Metier(at)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Smarter 404 with embeded Google Search Widget

When I posted on the Yahoo! Web Analytics forum to announce the availability of the free Web Analytics Maturity Model paper, the post included this text: "the paper at" (notice the dot). The link was broken because of the way Yahoo! parses text to automatically build links.

Step 1: Use custom 404 page

The first step to improve broken links handling (404 errors) is to modify your web server configuration to point to a custom page handler instead of the default, very technical and dull error. For example, doing this on an Apache-based web server is as simple as adding the line "ErrorDocument 404 /http404.htm" to a file named .htaccess in the root folder of the site.

The specifics of your server configuration isn't the goal of this post. Contact your IT department or search for "custom 404 page" and similar keywords for additional help.

Step 2: Make a smarter 404 page

The custom 404 page handler is just another HTML page, so it can include your site navigation, brand and useful content. Often, the 404 page will have a de-dramatizing tone and some people have gone to great extent to make funny 404 pages.

Beyond trying to be fun, you want your visitors to get to your content. Two things are invaluable in this context: the referrer and the landing page URL. The next step is to make your visitors life easier by providing a path to the right page, or at least try... To do so, you can add a smart Google Search Widget:

<script src="" type="text/javascript"></script>
<script type="text/javascript">
    google.load('search', '1', {"nooldnames": true});
    function OnLoad(){
        var searchControl = new;
        var siteSearch = new;
        searchControl.execute(location.pathname.replace(/\//g, ' '));
    google.setOnLoadCallback(OnLoad, true);
<div id="searchcontrol"/>

The important elements are:
  • setSiteRestriction(""): forces the search to be contained within your site (change it to your own site domain)
  • location.pathname.replace(/\//g,' '): replace the landing URL slashes with spaces so you can have a more meaningful search keyphrase
  • You might want to add a stylesheet element to your page so the Google Search Widget is larger (something like ".gsc-control{width:480px !important}")
The rest of the code simply handles and render the Google Search widget. In most cases, the automated search will offer some meaningful links destinations. In the worse case, the visitor has a neat search box and the site navigation to find their way around.

Feel free to visit to get an example. Do a "view source" to see how I made mine.

Step 3: Analyze & Improve

Don't forget to put web analytics tags on that page so you can collect information about broken links. For Google Analytics, this is as simple as doing "_trackPageview('/404/'+location.pathname)" instead of the default "_trackPageView()" call. Create a custom segment to view all reports for broken links pages, look at the Content/Content Drilldown report, understand the source of traffic, what your visitors were looking for, and how you can further improve your site based this information:
  • If lots of traffic comes from a couple of sources, you might be able to ask them to fix their links
  • If those errors are the result of a site redesign, you might want to use redirections to map the old page URLs to their corresponding locations
Comments, additional ideas and any feedback is welcomed!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Google Analytics new features: my take

It is now entrenched in tradition: Google Analytics makes announcements at the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit. So here's the latest, straight from the eMetrics floor where analytics evangelist Avinash Kaushik is addressing a jam packed room of enthusiastic web analysts!

Introducing Analytics Intelligence

The feature that excites me the most is something I discussed privately with Avinash a while back: once we spot a dip or spike in a metric, I shouldn't have to manually dig for the other metrics that are correlated with this significant change. The tool should be smart enough to point me to the other few metrics that have the highest correlation with this change.

Here's an example: conversion rate is significantly down. Ok... What does it really mean? Is there a spike in traffic? Or is there an issue in the process leading to conversion? In the former case, it means I'm bringing more unqualified traffic to the site. I can then review my Traffic Sources to easily pinpoint the issue. In the latter case, it means my conversion process as deteriorated or is failing at persuading people to convert.

Other features

There is also a host of new features (on top of the previously announced beta features):
  • Alerts! Once you have a good baseline, you want to be alerted of outliers: values significantly going beyond the historical trend. You can easily set up daily, weekly and monthly alerts.
  • Multiple custom metrics: adding "custom attributes" to visitors/visits is an essential feature of enterprise-level web analytics solutions (but I wish there was also custom metrics at the page level Can have custom metrics at page, visit, visitor level - without limitations!)
  • Multiple-rule filtering: now you can more easily filter reports by building multi-criteria on-the-fly filtering rules.
  • Goals, more goals! (20) of them instead of four.
  • Segment unique visitors: something that should have been there from the beginning
  • Mobile analytics
More info at the Google Analytics official blog.

My take

Google keeps adding new features that challenges the traditional web analytics vendors. I have witnessed exactly the same phenomena in the high-end 3D animation/special effects software industry. When you are an industry leader enjoying high margin on product and services, you accordingly spend a lot of money on R&D. However, when you reach a certain feature set level, adding new innovations becomes exponentially expensive. At the same time, lower (and free!) tools can easily look at the top-line products and replicate and improve upon those features. Basically, the industry is leveling itself off, becoming a commodity: data collection & storage costs are being eliminated, intelligence and automations are being built in. This is obvious  when a competitor you dismissed as being "irrelevant" can relatively easily replicate your unique value and offer a much cheaper (and free!) product. Even more if the true value of a product is being subsidized by other sources of revenues (ads in the case of Google).

The only alternative becomes to expand horizontally. Develop a suite of products. And this is exactly what Omniture has been doing over the past few years. Once it's done, or when you can't financially sustain the model, the way out is to move higher in the food chain... Adobe's acquisition of Omniture for example.

What does it mean for the web analytics industry?

As a member of the Web Analytics Association board of directors, any major shakedown in the industry raises some interesting questions. It is clear to me web analytics industry as we know it today won't exist in two or three years from now. Commodization of web analytics is not inherently a bad thing and is a demonstration of a maturing industry. To me, the path clearly points toward analytics, analysis: business analysis and process optimization, or what some call "business intelligence". On the way to the future, Google mammoth is likely to put several players to extinction...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Web Analytics Maturity Model: free paper available

Today, while at the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit in Washington D.C., I was able to put the final touch on an important personal milestone: I’m really happy to make the Web Analytics Maturity Model paper available for general review and comments. On Wednesday, eMetrics chairman Jim Sterne will moderate the “Marketing Metrics Maturity” keynote panel (1:00pm) where Bill Gassman (Gartner Research), John Lovett (Forrester Research), Laura Patterson (VisionEdge Marketing) and myself (Stéphane Hamel) will debate the value and benefits of such maturity models and how they can be applied to your business.
To download the paper, all I'm asking for is to fill your email in the top-right box at
“So much has been written about why web analytics is valuable and how to make it work technically. The major stumbling block for most organizations is change management. Once convinced that they need to look at business from a different perspective, companies need a roadmap. The end game is so far off and the next steps are unclear” says Jim Sterne.

The paper provides an overview and a proposition for the Web Analytics Maturity Model (WAMM). Specifically, it defines the concepts necessary to understand the model and the motivation and purpose behind it. It describes the structural components, consisting of six key process areas (or pillars) within the six maturity levels of the model, and the principles that underline each of the maturity levels.

The primary benefit of such maturity model is to offer a framework to pause, think, plan and act based on an organization’s measurement and analysis skills. It offers a mean to assess the current and desired state, facilitate communication and change management. Bill Gassman highlights “the first benefit of a maturity model is the conversation it sparks. It puts the team in a mindframe to imagine what could be and to measure where they are”. Continuing on the objective of making web analytics easier, the overarching goal is to help organizations use analytics to make better decisions and extract maximum value from business processes.

The paper is a summary of an eighteen months eBusiness MBA project (Laval University, Québec, Canada). Adapted and derived from height models in fields such as business intelligence, process optimization, as well as those proposed by industry analysts and leaders, it is based on years of experience, countless hours of studying, reading and exchanging with fellow web analytics practitioners, managers, consultants and vendors.

Any feedback about the WAMM is welcomed and much appreciated. For further information, future research, including speaking, consulting and training, see

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

iPerceptions + WASP: my take

I'm really proud and happy to announce iPerceptions has acquired the WASP product line and technology. You can read the official press release, but I also wanted to share some personal thoughts about what it means for me and for the 11,000 WASP users around the world.

Three years in the making

When I started working on WASP, around November of 2006, I was a part-time web analytics practitioner trying to solve, or at least simplify a real issue: how to check if our web analytics implementation was done correctly. I already had several years of experience implementating web analytics tools and knew how complex it was. What started as a proof of concept quickly became an interesting side project. One thing leading to another, a public beta was announced and in January 2009, a commercial product.

An unfulfilled need

Cookie deletion rate is a recurring topic; is it 3%, maybe 10%? It simply amazes me! The primary cause of poor analytics data isn't cookies, it's bad implementation... While you don't have much control over cookie deletion rate, you do have control over the site instrumentation (or you should!). In a study recently commissioned by Google (full PDF report), Forrester revealed the most important consideration factor for choosing a web analytics solution is "reliable data collection" (45%!). Yet, vendors generally do a very poor job at offering quality assurance tools.

Word of mouth kicked in, user base grew to over 11,000 worldwide, 150 tools detection and a  market predicted by Forrester to grow 17% for the next several years. Feedback, feature requests and constructive comments helped gradually tweak the product. There is still a long list of ideas and things to do, and as the market evolve, so will WASP. Alternatives are either too complex, unpractical, or too expensive. Clearly, WASP is answering a need: I have never seen a perfect implementation!

Always be learning

WASP has been an amazing learning experience. As most of you know, I did everything on my own, from development to marketing, commercialization and support. However, I was at a crossroad: do I want to become a product vendor, hire a bunch of people and grow the business, or remain true to the core reason why I wanted to become a freelance. I've been a strong advocate of web analytics, I love teaching & speaking at conferences (hear me at Infopresse in Montreal this Thursday, and at eMetrics Washington D.C. next week!) and my interests are for research & education. WASP is why I won the WAALTER award, and certainly a strong factor behind my election to the Web Analytics Association Board of Directors. I have other projects I want pursue; the Web Analytics Maturity Model, the concept of Just In Time Tagging and other crazy ideas to make web analytics easier.

My future and the future of WASP at iPerceptions

"Why iPerceptions?" you might ask. There were other offers, but iPerceptions is best positioned to bring WASP to the next level while remaining true to its original spirit: free trial, single user entry-base product up to enterprise level capabilities; wide range of products detection; closely listening to the Voice of Customer. They can  bring the expertise and manpower I couldn't.

The popularity of 4Q Online Survey also demonstrates their ability to bring innovative solutions to the market. As an independent thought leader and member of the iPerceptions Advisory Council, I will stay closely involved and help them with new and interesting applications that I'm sure will have profound implications for the analytics community.

Parting thoughts

Thanks to my "angel advisers" (you know who you are!) for your insights & recommendations. Your willingness to help is always deeply appreciated and I'm trying to "pay it forward" whenever I can. Thanks to you: web analysts, vendors, fellow bloggers and users of WASP!

I will keep an eye on WASP and help iPerceptions the best I can. In the meantime, and as always, I'm happy to hear your feedback!

iPerceptions Acquires WASP Product Line to Empower Site Owners to Optimize Web Analytics Performance

Introduction of new easy-to-use tool into the iPerceptions solution set allows users to audit web analytics tags to ensure that quality data is provided to site owners

NEW YORK, NY – October 14, 2009 –– iPerceptions Inc. (TSX.V:IPE), a leading provider of Voice of Customer web analytics, announced today that it has acquired the groundbreaking Web Analytics Solution Profiler (WASP) product line to continue to empower site owners with powerful tools to improve web analytics implementation. The WASP tools complement iPerceptions 4Q and WebValidator solutions by providing site owners and web analytics professionals with an easy and low-cost way to do quality assurance, understand how their web analytics solution is implemented, and make fixes that improve data quality. iPerceptions will continue to make the existing product line, including a free “test drive” version, available through as part of its solution suite.

“We are seeing a pronounced shift towards tactical insights in the world of web analytics,” said iPerceptions President and CEO Claude Guay. “To achieve tactical results, organizations must begin to put muscle behind proper analytics tool implementation, and that’s where WASP’s value is really showcased. We are very pleased to now offer WASP through iPerceptions to extend our customers’ experience and benefits.”

“WASP is a required cornerstone to ensure data quality, leading to better decision making. Today, more than 10,000 analysts use WASP for diagnosis of over 150 different web analytics tools,” said Stephane Hamel. Hamel is the founder of Immeria and a leading Web analytics innovator who developed WASP. “iPerceptions is extraordinarily prescient in its voice of the customer analytics vision, and the company understands the power of the core technology developed by Immeria. Going forward, I am please to also work hand-in-hand with iPerceptions on some new interesting applications with profound implications for the analytics community.”

WASP recently received the Web Analytics Association Leadership and Technical Excellent Recognition (WAALTER) for leadership and innovation in the field of web analytics. The solution provides a powerful crawler for tag edits and features an intuitive interface and compatibility between all major web analytics providers. The new solution, created specifically for web analytics professionals, also features:
  • Page-by-page, technical details for tags (beacons)
  • Crawl whole sites or sections of a site for easier quality assurance and tag audits
  • Convenient sidebar with as-you-browse information for testing complex scenarios
  • Enhanced tag views and more for approximately 150 top web analytic solutions
  • Frequent updates and enhancements

About iPerceptions

iPerceptions is one of North America's leading web-focused Voice of Customer analytics providers. Its webValidator Continuous Listening solution, free website survey solution 4Q, Web Analytics Solution Profiler (WASP) and proprietary iPerceptions Satisfaction Index (iPSI) turn thousands of data points into easy-to-understand strategic and tactical decision support for website marketers. iPerceptions' clients include such well-known brands as InterContinental Hotels, General Motors, Dell, Hyundai, LG Electronics, Choice Hotels International, BMW and Monster Worldwide. iPerceptions has offices in New York, Atlanta, Toronto, Montreal and London.

The TSX Venture Exchange does not accept responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this press release.

Media information: Emily Brady
Brady Public Relations
Tel: 415-606-9350

Investor information: Claude Guay
President & Chief Executive Officer
iPerceptions Inc.
Tel: 514-488-3600
Fax: 514-484-2600

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Free Web Analytics seminar: Oct. 26th, Montreal sponsored by Unilytics

Going beneath web analytics data into real information

Unilytics,  is sponsoring a free, half-day seminar in which they will explore the current state of web analytics and the potential it holds. The first half of the seminar will be high-level and present industry trends and general best practices. It will be of particular interest to upper management. The second half will be more technical and focused on those who make analytics part of their day to day job. You can opt for the full seminar or only the executive portion.

The challenge many companies have with analytics is that there is just too much information to really consume, understand, and action it all. These huge volumes of data are inappropriate for proper decision making. Quantity of information far exceeds quality.

The metrics needed to make truly informed decisions are often hidden by an array of reports and the complexity of their presentation. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) hold the promise of tracking a few select values which elucidate how your web site is performing. These KPIs are even more invaluable when measured against business goals and objectives. In this seminar we'll discuss best practices for determining, measuring, and tracking these KPIs.

Mature analytics adoption often renders simple reports showing most popular web site pages and numbers of visitors as a passing curiosity only. These mundane metrics have given way to integration with cross-channel data as well as other customer data across the organization. We will also investigate the potential of social media, 1:1 marketing, and KPI analysis and governance. Finally, we will demonstrate Webtrends 9 Insight, the latest version of the award winning web analytics software.

Loews Hotel Vogue (Map)
1425 rue de la Montagne
When: October 26, 2009
8 - 9 am Registration & Breakfast
9:00 - 10:15 WA overview & Executive briefing
10:30 - 11:45 Technical discussion & Webtrends v9
11:45 - 12:00 Q&A

About Unilytics

Unilytics offers market leading web analytics products and services to address the needs of eMarketers in all vertical industries. As the world’s largest Webtrends partner, we offer unparalleled product expertise and consulting services for both Webtrends and Google Analytics.