Blog moved to book site

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As you may have noticed, there has been little activity on this blog for almost a year – essentially, I am now blogging in one place: www.advanced-web-metrics.com, to follow the content of the book.

I will maintain this blog content for reference, but plese be aware any coding is probably out of date. However I wrote this stuff, so most of it has been updated – either in the book or on my personal site.

The following pages may be of help:

Regards, Brian Clifton

Urchin 6 software released, Brian Clifton returns to his roots and Yahoo purchases IndexTools

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Its been a while since Google Analytics-Experts’ last blog post and with all the exciting news these past two weeks its given us the perfect opportunity to get back in the swing of things. Here’s a summary of events:

Urchin 6 software released

It’s been a long time coming but now after 5 years of waiting, Google have released the new version of Urchin. Urchin 6 has really excited GA Experts, back in 2003 we saw the huge potential for Urchin and was blown away with Urchin 5 which was what led to us becoming the first UK partner for Urchin Inc – the company that was acquired by Google and went on to develop Google Analytics.

A lot has happened in the world of analytics since Urchin 5 (back in 2003) and we are pleased to say the new version hasn’t failed to disappoint, offering much richer reporting, introducing the use of flash graphics in the reports and coming up with a very appealing pricing structure. No more add-on modules, just one flat-rate price of £1495 (2995 USD) for up to 1,000 websites, unlimited load balancing and campaign tracking included,

In fact it’s such a great value proposition that we actually encourage Google Analytics users to run Urchin along side Google Analytics. Why? Because it gives you the flexibility of reprocessing your data when you wish (Google Analytics cannot) and the assurance of a local backup of your web visitor data (Google Analytics cannot). The following post explains more: http://www.advanced-web-metrics.com/blog/2007/10/16/what-is-urchin/

Over the coming weeks we will start posting on Urchin 6, so watch this space!

Brian Clifton returns to his roots

GA Experts would like to welcome back Brian. After 2 and a half years at Google heading up Analytics for EMEA, Brian has returned to Omega Digital Media (the company he founded in 1997) to take up the role as Senior Strategist. This is a massive step for Omega as Brian brings with him a vast knowledge of Google, having built the internal team for Google Analytics in Europe and worked with an impressive client list of some of the world’s most prominent brands. Together with his strategic thinking I am sure this will take GA Experts to the next level.

We would also like to congratulate Brian on the recent launch of his book “Advanced web metrics with Google Analytics “, a must-read for all users of Google Analytics! I was lucky enough to review sections of the book and was excited to finally get my hands on a copy when it was released. After reading other books on analytics it was refreshing to read a book that not only gives you a great introduction to analytics but takes you on a journey to the advanced use of Google Analytics.

For those of you based in UK, Brian is having a launch party for the book on the evening of Thursday 24th April. If you would like to attend, please email :

Yahoo purchases IndexTools

It has been over two years since the Microsoft acquisition of DeepMetrix and still there has been no product launched. Not sure anything has gone wrong, all acquisitions have their difficulties when it comes to integration and Google-Urchin was no exception. It does appear Microsoft have lost interest in this product which is evident from the lack of new features becoming available.

Now Yahoo has followed suit with the purchase of IndexTools – a respected feature rich product. This really is big news for the search marketing/web analytics industries as Yahoo (YahooTools?) has already stated its commitment to release the product for free .

However, it will be interesting to see whether Yahoo take the acquisition as seriously as Google did with Urchin, or let it languish as Microsoft appear to be doing with their analytics offering.

27 Features That Make Google Analytics Best of Breed

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Looking for further information on what features the new version of Google Analytics has to offer? Adam Ostrow has posted a comprehensive list of features and tips.

http://mashable.com/2007/05/09/27-google-analytics-features/

New Training Material for New Version of GA

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Google Analytics yesterday unveiled the new version of its free web analytics service, introducing a fantastic new user interface with some impressive new features.

  • Customisable Dashboard
  • Site Overlay enhancements
  • Geo Targeting enhancements
  • Email Reporting
  • Pdf Extracts
  • Improved Advanced Visitor Segmentation
  • New Help Resource

Being a Google Partner, we had the privilege of being a beta tester, running the new version against our websites for several months and providing direct feedback.

After the initial discovery period, exploring the new interface and playing with the new features, you soon realise how effective the enhancements will be to both users and businesses.

The new User Interface has simplified navigation which means accessing your data couldn’t be easier, with data only a few mouse clicks away, it stops users having to dig deep. The ability to customise your dashboard means the user interface gives you added personalisation with the addition of great usability.

The feature list is great, we have picked out some of the key features we found when testing the beta version:

Site Overlay – This feature has been updated and vastly improved for dynamic web site.

Geo Targeting – This feature has been updated from the previous version and now offers a clear presentation of geographic data using new heat maps.

Email Reporting – Great new feature providing the ability to email reports ad-hoc or scheduled.

Pdf Extracts – A new addition to the extract formats, the pdf extracts are a great way of presenting data within any organisation and reduce time spent using other reporting tools.

Visitor Segmentation – For the larger sites that have huge volumes of data, the improved performance times will make reporting more time efficient.

Help Resource - Contextual help and the conversion university, offering tips and helpful information against every report.

Our comprehensive 2 day training package has been completely overhauled and we are now taking UK bookings for the course.

The new training content includes all of the above plus much more with the main emphasis focusing on using the new interface and features.

For further information, please visit the training page.

UK privacy authority uses Google Analytics

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We came across the following web site yesterday – ico.gov.uk

This ICO is the Information Commissioner’s Office – the UK’s independent authority set up to “promote access to official information and to protect personal information by promoting good practice, ruling on eligible complaints, providing information to individuals and organisations, and taking appropriate action when the law is broken.”

Essentially in the UK they enforce the Data Protection Act, the Freedom of Information Act, the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations and the Environmental Information Regulations.

It is great to see such an endoresement for the GA product. We have often had discussions with potential clients that have been wary of wanting to share their web site data with Google. Hopefully this will re-assure them.

Avinash Kaushik joins Google Analytics

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Quick post:

Avinash is to join the web analytics team: http://www.brianjclifton.com/blog/2007/03/07/avinash-kaushik-joins-google/

Most people in the industry know of Avinash – he is one of the industry’s major proponents of web analytics with his excellent vendor agnostic blog Occam’s Razor, and his humerous and inciteful presentations at places such as eMetrics – he is also writing a book!

Head of Google Analytics starts blog

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Just noticed that Brian Clifton, Head of Web Analytics for EMEA at Google, has started a new blog:
www.advanced-web-metrics.com/

Very interestingly it looks there is a GA book on its way and it appears the blog is setup to support that. Not much content on there yet, Brian?

Google Mini integrates Google Analytics

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On the 1st Feb, Google announced its latest release of the Google Mini now integrates directly with Google Analytics.

The Google Mini – and its big brother the Google Search Appliance (GSA), are the “Google in a box” tools that Google sells to businesses wishing to use Google technology to search their own web site or corporate intranet. Previously the Mini had a very basic stats reporting tool but you could customise the XSLT stylesheet and insert your own GA page tracking tag. However that was a manual coding exercise that put many off for fear of breaking the results page.

Now the process is much simpler without the need to manually edit XSLT code.

To set up Analytics reporting in Google Mini/Search Appliance:

When you enable Analytics reporting in your Google Search Appliance, the search appliance automatically adds the Analytics code block to the Front End.

  1. If you do not have an account with Google Analytics, go to:

    https://www.google.com/analytics/ to create a new account. Google Analytics provides you a code block to attach to your web page.

  2. Copy just the account number of the code block. For example, in the following code block, the account number is: UA-123456-1.
  3. Log in to the Admin Console and navigate to the Serving > Front Ends > Output Format page.
  4. Under Page Layout Helper, click the arrow next to Global Attributes .
  5. In the Google Analytics Account Number text box, paste the Analytics account number that you copied.
  6. Click the Save Page Layout Code button.

Thats it. All your generated search results pages will now be tracked within Google Analytics.

2006 Web Analytics in Review

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2006 was a busy time for the web analytics industry in terms of mergers and acquisitions – see vendor timeline (pdf). Probably the most significant event was the announcement by Microsoft in May that it had acquired Deepmetrix – a Canadian based web analytics tool. The similarities with Google’s purchase of Urchin a year before (April 2005) are striking – both in terms of strategy of the parent company and the features of the product they acquired…

Both companies (Microsoft and Google) are major Search Engine players and both have Pay-Per-Click advertising networks. This is a clear signal that online marketing and measurement/accountability are now going to be mainstream. Only a year or so ago, web analytics was considered an optional extra for online marketing campaigns. Now the two will become synonymous. Much of this has already happened with Google Analytics, but it is significant that Microsoft has come to the same conclusion.

Microsoft in October said publicly that they will start to role out their version of Deepmetrix in late Spring 2007. What will be interesting is whether it will be free – as is the case for Google Analytics. I would say almost certainly so, but may only be to adCentre advertisers in the initial phase, as opposed to all users – as was the case for Google Analytics. That would enable them to scale more efficiently than Google did when they had to introduce their throttled invitation system one week after launch (it lasted 9 months!).

Similarities of Urchin v Deepmetrix*

  • Both companies were of a similar size around 30-40 staff.
  • Both companies had a similar sized and loyal customer base.
  • Both companies have a hosted (ASP) service and software solution.
  • Both companies targeted the market at similar price points (mid and high tier clients).
  • Both companies use essentially the same page tagging technology (javascript) to collect data for their hosted service.
  • Both companies have a very close feature set – site overlay, geo-overlay, campaign breakdown, x-segmentation etc.

*Since the launch of Google Analytics its feature set has moved on significantly. Also ,since the notice of the Microsoft acquisition, Deepmetrix is no longer available to trial. So it will be interesting to see what additional features Microsoft have added in the past 12 months – or maybe that time is required for the integration with MS’s adCenter…


Our web analytics market predictions for 2007…

  • MS releases “DeepSoft” or whatever they rename Deepmetrix to. Likely to be free.
  • 100% advertiser adoption – continued rapid growth in adoption of web analytics tools to the point where whenever you setup an online advertising campaign, analytics will be a part of it by default.
  • The number of mergers and acquisitions will continue to increase. With both “DeepSoft” and Google Analytics, are there opportunities for other tools other than large well established vendors that provide heavy customisation i.e. WebSideStory, Omniture, Webtrends. Other tools, excellent though some are (e.g. Indextools, Moniforce, Nedstat, Xiti, Instadia, Redeye) I feel will have to merge or partner to survive – either with other vendors or with agencies that build their marketing services around such products (similar to Webtraffiq and Clicktracks in 2006).
  • As has already started to happen in 2006, web analytics terminology will simplify and become more business orientated and less technical. Expect to see buzz words such as “accessibility” and “discoverability” in the near future. At some point even web analytics as an industry term may disappear as the technique merges with business intelligence (that’s probably 2 years away, but it will happen!).

Happy new year to our subscribers!

Are Your Website Response Times Costing You Sales?

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It’s often thought, now that broadband internet access is widespread in the UK, that page loading times are no longer an issue. In fact, exactly the opposite is true. A recent report from Akamai and Jupiter Research highlighted that online users are now so accustomed to speed, that the maximum length of time an average online shopper will wait for a page to load has come down to 4 seconds. Just a few years ago this was 8 seconds.

The problem with widespread broadband internet access is that users no longer blame their internet connections if a page takes a long time to load and so a load time in excess of 4 seconds not only drives customers away, it damages your brand. The key findings from the report:

  • One-third of shoppers with a poor experience abandoned the site
  • 75% were unlikely to shop on that site again
  • 30% of dissatisfied customers will develop a negative perception of the company or tell their friends and family about the experience
  • 65% indicated they are likely to return to a site that is easy to navigate, particularly during the registration, log-in and checkout processes

So to make sure your server response times are fast enough and your buying process is streamlined, you need the right tools. Through our sister company Omega Digital Media we have a Remote Server Monitoring Solution that can test response times for any website, send out email alerts and notifications on server failure and provide weekly and monthly reports, viewable online. We can also provide a more detailed assessment of your server response times as part of a wider website audit.

Of course, Google Analytics has a role to play as well. There are several reports under Content Optimisation -> Web Design Parameters that can tell you what technologies and connection speeds your users have, thereby allowing your web designers to build the site that is best for your market. Configuring tracking on your transaction process and adding this to your reports as a funnel can also highlight any bottlenecks in your purchasing process (Content Optimisation -> Goals & Funnel Process) that are driving customers away.

Online customers are a fickle and impatient breed. Unless you give them the best possible shopping experience, not only will they not buy from your site, they’ll tell their friends not to as well.