Search Marketing Expo Part II
- As promised, here is the second and final part of my report from SMX West,
which I attended thanks to the free WAA pass. I'll focus on the Web
Analytics Roundtable, which took place on the last day. The panel was
moderated by WAA chairman Jim Sterne. Panelists were Gary Angel of
Semphonic, Brett Crosby from Google Analytics, Richard Zwicky of Enquisite
and Mikel Chertudi of Omniture. John Marshall of Market Motive moderated
Q&A. Quite a brain trust, not even counting the folks in the audience,
which included Avinash Kashik of Google and Market Motive, Dennis Mortensen
of IndexTools and others whose names I didn't write down.
I got pinned by Jim Sterne.
What I mean is that Jim was wearing a WAA label pin and when I said,
"Where's mine?" he dug in his pocket and produced one. I can't promise to
wear it on my lapel everywhere I go, but I promise it will be visible. I've
been wearing a rather different lapel pin for about three years -- a folded
flag to remember my niece's husband, who was killed in action in Iraq. But
back to analytics.
As a kick off, Gary Angel did an excellent job of identifying the elephants
in the analytics living room, calling absolute numbers notoriously
unreliable and messy and never able to be reconciled with one another.
Angel walked us through a list "What Really Matters" in analytics:
- Needs, which I view as the business problems we're trying to address
- Visitor segmentation
- Dimensional reporting (look at one variable in terms of another)
- Management reporting
- Online and offline data integration
- Search Engine Marketing measurement
Angel's wish list for analysis left me (a) dreaming and (b) frustrated at
how hard it is to accomplish. Be able to segment based on any data. Use
neural nets to evaluate. Use time and event sequences. Pay as much
attention to distributions as averages. Identify combined search terms --
people who searched on x also searched on y (in different searches).
He also hit hard on the point I made in my previous conference report --
search engine marketers spend "hard" money, which makes the value of
analytics much more clear. Use analytics to improve SEM and the results can
be unambiguous and preceded by a dollar sign. Or Euro sign, whatever.
I gave the panel a question about time on site and engagement. Panelists
pointed out that on some sites, it's better if the user spends as little
time on a page as possible. Google is the prime example. The less time
people spend searching, the happier they are. Echoing what many say about
engagement, the panelists agreed that its meaning differs from site to site
and there will never be a single meaningful engagement metric. Find a
metric that measures what the site is supposed to accomplish and then focus
on making that number go up.
As a final observation, I'll note that the analytics roundtable was quite
well attended, which bodes well for those of us who are, ah, engaged in this
field. As Jim Sterne pointed out, they're spending hard money. When people
do that, the value of measuring the results goes up, every time.
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