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February 29, 2008

Goodbye Gatineau, hello...

So, today I have some things to tell you.

The first is that we've decided on the official product name for Gatineau, and it is (drum r0ll please) Microsoft adCenter Analytics. The name... well, it more or less does exactly what it says on the tin. It's from Microsoft, it's available through our adCenter online marketing portal (though see below for some exciting news in this regard), and it's an Analytics tool. So a pretty good name overall, I think. You will probably find me referring to it simply as "adCenter Analytics" or even just "Analytics" on this blog.

The second, more exciting, news is that we have just shipped a major upgrade to the adCenter Analytics beta. This beta refresh contains a bunch of interesting new stuff, some of which has been seen in demos around the world over the past few months, and some of which hasn't been seen before. So, what's new?


It's free!

It has been mentioned to us that the $5 fee to create an adCenter account in order to access the Analytics beta was a major barrier to adoption. We knew this all along, and as I've posted before, it was simply a question of the timing of the release of some enhancements to our user account system which prevented us from waiving this fee from the outset. But as of now, there's no fee requirement (no need, even, to part with your credit card details) to create an Analytics account, whether or not you already use adCenter. This only affects new account sign-ups, and I'm afraid we're not in a position to refund the $5 fee that anyone has previously paid.


All your PPC campaign data are belong to us

Ok, not belong; but I couldn't resist the pop culture reference. adCenter Analytics now allows you to import bid and click data from adCenter, Google Adwords and Yahoo! Search Marketing, so that you can view a report of the ROI of your entire search marketing campaign in one place. The adCenter integration is totally automatic and seamless; Google and Yahoo integration is achieved through a CSV file import (we're continuing to look at other ways of making this more automated in the future).


What's running?

I was talking to a media planner for an interactive agency in Seattle the other day who said to me, "you know the question I get asked most often by clients? 'What's running?'". adCenter Analytics' new Campaign Timeline Report will tell you, providing a visual breakdown of all the marketing campaigns that are running over a given period. It'll also show you which campaigns are performing well, and which ones aren't. This report makes it really easy to see how concurrently running campaigns are influencing one another, and if one campaign is 'cannibalizing' the conversions from another. Click the image below for a closer look.



One, two, tree

Another of the cool features in this refresh of the beta is the "Tree Map" view of site traffic:


This view is designed to give you an instant idea of which content is popular, and which isn't; but it also allows you to look at two measures (e.g., visits and bounces) on the same view at the same time. So the size of a box might relate to the number of visits to that page; whilst the color of the box relates to the bounce rate. This way, discrepancies between two measures (showing, for example, apparently popular pages that have high bounce rates) can be spotted quickly. There's also a version which breaks out inbound referral data in the same way, enabling you to understand if your super-clicky marketing campaign is actually not generating any sales.


Making it easy

When I previewed adCenter Analytics in Washington DC, I showed a tool we'd developed to help with instrumentation by inserting tags into pages automagically. I've previously blogged about this, but here's a little movie of the functionality again for your edification. Instrumentation (i.e. tagging) is the number 1 barrier to web analytics adoption, so this is our attempt to make things a little easier.


Compare & Contrast

In this beta, Gatineau gets the ability to perform period-on-period analysis, allowing to compare one period's numbers with another's easily. The functionality's found in the calendar control:


What's nice about this is that it's very easy to compare week-on-week performance (or month-on-month); you don't have to go and manually select the week start and stop dates. And it works with custom date ranges too. The results look like this (click on the image for a larger view):


The little arrows show whether things are going up or down (in the screenshot above, all the traffic seems to be going down, sadly).


A sense of history

This beta also contains some useful visitor history & loyalty reports - things like new/repeat visits, depth & length of visit, and visit recency:



Show me the money

And finally (for this post, at least - there's lots of other stuff in this beta that I've glossed over), adCenter Analytics now has a bunch of e-commerce reporting, allowing you to specify purchase events in your instrumentation, and automatically pass the conversion values from your e-commerce system so that they appear in the reports. It will look a lot like the image below, although with some actual non-zero numbers in it (our demo data set for this functionality is still a bit lame - sorry). Click the image for a bigger version.



That's it for now. if you're already up and running with adCenter Analytics, you will see this new functionality the next time you log in. If you've previously received an invite but hadn't activated, go and find the invite e-mail we sent you and click the link. If you would like an invite, fill out the form here (note, this URL has changed):


If you've previously requested access via the online form, but haven't received your invite e-mail, hang tight - we're planning to invite more folks during March, and you should be on that list.

My colleague Mel has also posted on the adCenter blog with a bunch of extra information about adCenter Analytics-related resources, so go check that out too.

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February 27, 2008

What's happening tomorrow?


Well, something cool, hopefully. Watch this space.

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February 22, 2008

Trust me, I work for Microsoft

I am on the plane back from London after a fun few days with the folks there. It's always a pleasure to return to my home town, though it's a little strange returning there now that I don't live there any more, and rather eye-wateringly expensive now that I'm paid in dollars ($100 cab fare, anyone? How about an $8 tube ticket?).

Highlight of the trip was my panel session at SES London with Jim Sterne, Bryan Eisenberg, Brian Clifton of Google and Steve Jackson, discussing the future of web analytics in search. Our host, Kevin Ryan, quizzed us about the "rise" of the free tools and what tensions that would create with site owners (and their visitors) having to get used to sharing their data with companies like Google and Microsoft. Can we be trusted not to misuse the data entrusted to us for nefarious ends?

Brian was a little coy about this, insisting that for Google to misuse the data it gets from Google Analytics (for example, to manipulate bid pricing) would be tantamount to fraud, and so of course would be out of the question. I believe him, and believe the same of Microsoft too - it would be suicidal (not to mention morally reprehensible and howlingly naive) of Microsoft to take anything other than the greatest care with the data we collect from Gatineau. But - and let's not beat about the bush here - this data is of value to us, and the benefit we get from it subsidizes the development of free tools like GA and Gatineau. And we need to be open and honest about that.

Where Brian and I differed on the panel was that I can all too easily believe that the general public will not be totally reassured by any insistence we make that we will look after their data and only use it responsibly. Maybe this is because I work for a company that - how can I put it? - doesn't enjoy the highest levels of trust in the industry. For me, building trust in our stewardship of data is something that we have had to do day by day, brick by brick, but more importantly something that we will always need to continue to do - a garden that we will always need to tend, if you like.

It's certainly not enough simply to stay inside the law and expect to maintain user trust simply because nothing bad (like a data leak) has happened on our watch. Even if we feel we are doing everything right, if we stop trying to build trust, it will wither away.

The rest of the panel discussion passed without much incident, and afterwards I had a chance to have a good chat with Bryan (with a Y) about the plans that FutureNow are putting together to create a new class of offering in the site/campaign optimization/analytics space. I look forward to further announcements from Bryan on this soon.

The formalities (such as they were) of SES done, we retired to Spanish restaurant Moro (the name of which generated an impromptu "Who's on first base?" gag - "Where are we going?" "To Moro" "I thought we were going tonight" "We are, we're going to Moro" "We're going twice?" "No, just once - to Moro", "I thought you said we were going tonight", etc), where we were joined by my UK colleague and adCenter stalwart Mel Carson (whom you should sponsor), Rob Stevens of UK usability firm Bunnyfoot, and the inimitable Dennis Mortensen. A fine time was had by all, with Bryan E taking a number of deeply unflattering photos of us and uploading them via his mobile to Facebook.

And then, after dinner, for me, the highlight of the evening - finally meeting Dave Naylor (the man who leaked the screenshots of Gatineau back in August last year) in the flesh for the first time. And what a nice man he is.

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February 20, 2008

Web Analytics is dead. Long live Web Analytics...

As if I don't have enough trouble keeping up a flow of posts on my own blog, I've now started to post on other peoples' blogs. Following my comment on Rene Dechamps Otamendi's post on Eric Peterson's new "The Future of Web Analytics, Demystified" blog, Eric invited me to write a post which further explained my thinking about the future of the Web Analytics industry - which is that "pureplay" Web Analytics vendors will disappear as Web Analytics is absorbed into allied services such as marketing automation, media planning/buying, and CRM. You can read the full post here. Don't agree with my thesis? Leave a comment.

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February 18, 2008

Come to SES London, hear me roar

london_buzzi Well, maybe not roar, exactly. Answer questions in a polite but engaging fashion about the use of Web Analytics to help with search engine marketing would perhaps be more accurate. Tomorrow (the 19th) at 1.30pm I'll be joining a very distinguished panel at SES London (at the Business Design Centre) to do just this, featuring the peripatetic Jim Sterne, the avuncular Bryan Eisenberg, the cheeky Brian Clifton, and the enigmatic (at least to me, since I've not met him) Steve Jackson. If you can muster the courage to approach us afterwards (be sure to kow-tow as you do so), we may just autograph your programme. Think of the resale value!

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