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Archive for 'Web Analytics Tools'

The Social Technology Spectrum

Social media technologies are massively confusing today. Not because they aren’t powerful or capable of substantially benefitting your organization, but because there are so many to choose from…

During my research while writing my book, Social Media Metrics Secrets (Wiley, 2011) and through countless interviews with social media practitioners and leading vendors in the industry, I developed a categorization schema for understanding social media technologies. I call this the Social Media Technology Spectrum. Across this spectrum, there are five primary functions that businesses can accomplish with social media technologies:

Discover > Analyze > Engage > Facilitate > Manage

While, I go into great detail about each category in the book, I’ll offer an overview here:

    The Discovery Tools (Social Search) Discovery tools are social media solutions that effectively act as search engines for social media channels and platforms. Typically, Social Search technologies are freely available, but they don’t allow you to save search queries, download data or export results. Example Discover vendors include: SocialMention, IceRocket, Backtweets, Topsy, and hundreds more. 

    The Analysis Technologies (Social Analytics) These tools are most commonly associated with listening platforms, but in my view, Social Analytics vendor requirements include: filters, segments, visualizations and ultimately analysis. Example Analyze vendors include: Alterian SM2, Omniture SocialAnalytics, Radian6, Sysomos, and many more.

    The Engagement Platforms (Engagement/Workflow) Vendors in this category extend their Social Analytics capabilities to include workflow delegation and engagement capabilities from directly within the interface, it places more controls at the fingertips of your internal business users. Example Engage vendors include: Crimson Hexagon, Hootsuite, Objective Marketer, Collective Intellect, and many more.

    The Hosting and Facilitation Tools (Social Platforms) If you need to offer your community a social media destination like a user group, a forum, or a designated social media website. That’s where the Social Facilitation technologies provide a platform that can facilitate the conversation, the dialogue and the learning experience. Example Facilitate vendors include: Mzinga, Pluck, Ning, Lithium, Jive, Telligent and many more.

    The Management Solutions (Social Management) This group of technology offerings includes social customer relationship management tools, internal collaboration solutions, and social media aggregation services that enable businesses to manage their social media efforts in an orchestrated way. Example Manage vendors include: BatchBook, Flowtown, Salesforce Chatter, Yammer and many more.

As you can see, each category has associated vendors. While there is certainly some cross-over here, there is also a lot more depth to each of the categories. For each category, you can delve deeper by specific social media channel (i.e., there’s a whole cast of Social Analytics tools specifically for Twitter). Yet, in a technology environment that is so cluttered with options and new entrants, I feel that some categorization is merited.

But what do you think? … Am I on the right track here? Do you use technologies from multiple categories? …What did I miss?

Published on September 13, 2011 under Social Media Measurement, Web Analytics Tools

Santa Puts Aprimo Under the Tree!

2011 is shaping up to be the year of big marketing. And luckily for us measurers, smart marketing is founded in data and measurement. With IBM’s recent acquisition rampage and now Teradata’s plans to buy Aprimo, there is unprecedented choice for integrated enterprise marketing solutions. Teradata announced today it’s intentions to buy the Enterprise Marketing Management leader for $525M with a closing date anticipated for sometime in Q1 2011. It’s a smart move in my opinion because the days of big data management and the ability to harness the consumer data firehose for elevated marketing are upon us.

On the executive briefing this morning, I pointed a question by asking if this acquisition was a response to IBM’s recent buying spree and the answer was a definitive no. Bill Godfrey, Aprimo’s Chief Executive Officer, quickly pointed out that Aprimo’s technology set covers 8 categories and that only one competes directly with the IBM/Unica offering. He iterated, “This is not a copy-cat move” with mild umbrage. Mr. Godfrey went on to eloquently explain that the merger pursues an independent strategy that brings a unified platform covering a very broad end-to-end spectrum of functionality. While the story sounded familiar, it’s a good one. It leverages the database storage and business analytics capabilities of Teradata and layers the marketing management and operations proficiency of Aprimo on top. This enterprise-ready integrated solution fuels a marketers’ paradise where insights are churned from data, which pumps intelligent life into automated marketing. All this happens within a closed-loop system that improves over time. Sounds rosy doesn’t it? To paraphrase Teradata’s CMO Darryl McDonald, “The combined solution will help accelerate revenue generating campaigns and leverage data for strategic insights and quick response.

Keep in mind that this isn’t entirely new territory for Teradata who has been offering marketing products to its customers for some time. With IWI (Integrated Web Intelligence) and TRM (Teradata Relationship Manager), it’s already servicing digital data integration and intelligent marketing to it’s customers. Yet, it will be interesting to see how many existing clients and new organizations adopt this complete functionality. My hunch is that this stack is not for the feint of heart nor the bootstrapped organization. It will work best with deeply integrated datasets, stored within big iron and activated using some complex Marketing Resource Management capabilities. All things that both Teradata and Aprimo excel at. But fair warning: Mom & Pop shops need not apply. However, if you’re a large enterprise looking to accelerate your marketing prowess, then this may be the solution you’ve had on your wish list all these years.

While integrating these technologies may take a while, and the promise of an end-to-end solution is no trivial pledge, I’m bullish on the deal. This is a step forward for marketers because it has the potential to deliver the ERP system they never had. It still doesn’t cover everything, but the combined solution sure does handle some critical moving parts.

Congrats to everyone at Aprimo for building an attractive offering and to Teradata for recognizing it. And Happy Holidays to all!

Published on December 22, 2010 under Web Analytics Tools

Acquisitions Aplenty! comScore Buys Nedstat

We’re certainly on an acquisition hot roll here in our cozy little measurement industry. This week marked yet another buy-up of a web analytics company, Netherlands based Nedstat, was acquired by comScore. The sale price was reported at $36.7 million USD, which brings the tally of measurement buy-outs including the $1.8 billion dollar Omniture acquisition last year to nearly $2.5 billion dollars by my count. Those are some good multiples on revenue since my Forrester Web Analytics Forecast didn’t peg market spending to hit even $1 billion until sometime in 2015. Granted Omniture, Unica and to some extent Coremetrics were offering more than just web analytics in their product portfolios. But regardless, measurement technologies are all the rage these days and finally, big businesses are taking note of the value of web analytics.

Foreshadowing

Some might say that comScore and Nedstat, while serving similar industries for different purposes, were running on parallel paths and that an acquisition was a plausible outcome. But before I dive into that hypothesis, first I’ll toot my own horn by mentioning that I went on record predicting this one. The good fellas at Beyond Web Analytics interviewed me on the topic of market consolidation just after the IBM acquisition of Unica and we had a good chat about it here on the podcast. The closing question asked me to look into my crystal ball and guess who would be the next acquirer in the analytics market. While I didn’t guess that it would be comScore, I did speculate that there are some very interesting and valuable technologies that exist in Europe. I mentioned both Webtrekk in Germany and Nedstat as companies that would make appealing acquisition targets. Clearly comScore must have been listening (c’mon, I jest). But one of my clients across the pond also mentioned a couple of weeks ago that Nedstat’s CEO was quoted in a German newspaper as saying that there is no longer a place for a dedicated web analytics company in this environment. I’ve been saying this since early 2009, but coming from a chief officer of a successful technology operation…Foreshadowing indeed.

The Red Herring

So, bright and early on morning of the acquisition my friend Jodi McDermott reached out to me on the news by pointing out the press release on the deal and I owe her a big thanks for that. When we spoke later that morning along with Magid Abraham, comScore founder and CEO the first question Jodi asked me was…”Were you surprised?”. Now, the dirty little secret is that analysts can never show surprise, but heck yeah I was surprised that comScore was the buyer!?! I didn’t anticipate comScore because of their Unified Digital Measurement (UDM) solution which currently handles over 500 billion transactions per month and is growing rapidly. So, they already had their own tag based measurement solution. Additionally, just under a year ago comScore announced a strategic partnership with Omniture to deliver a newly created Media Metrix 360 solution predicated on UDM that would leverage a hybrid combination of Omniture page tags and comScore’ panel based measurement.

It was brilliant actually, and demonstrated the first significant attempt to bring together advertising measurement with site-side data. Yet, just a month after this partnership was announced, Omniture was snatched up by Adobe, and I can only speculate that the momentum on the partnership was stymied. Don’t get me wrong, Media Metrix 360 still exists, and clients like Martha Stewart and the Wall Street Journal add marquee status to the initiative. Thus, I would expect that comScore will support Media Metrix 360 by continuing the partnership with Adobe’s Omniture Business Unit as well as continue development on their own proprietary solution. Whatever they choose to do, these efforts – their own hybrid UDM tags and the Omniture relationship – created a red herring for me that had me looking elsewhere. Now the real question is… Was Nielson surprised and how will they counter? Sorry friends, my crystal ball is not that good.

The Plot Twister

I saved the best for last because here’s where the plot starts to get really interesting. comScore has stated that its acquisition interests in Nedstat are to better serve the media and publishing industries. Web analytics and site-side measurement has long been focused on the transaction and sites that don’t have traditional online transactions are left to quantify success by custom fitting solutions to meet their needs. With most web analytics solutions you’re forced to follow the conversion funnel through to a transaction (or not) and attempt tie things together or launch remarketing efforts from there. But when there’s no transaction at the end of the visit, then many traditional web metrics have very little resonance to the business.

Nedstat has long been focused on key topics like engagement and rich media measurement – metrics that matter to publishers. Now with the acquisition by comScore who has a stronghold within many media companies (not to mention a reserved line item in their budgets) they can create a very different value proposition for media companies looking to quantify metrics for their advertisers as well as optimize the experience for their visitors. I tend to agree with Magid who stated that this new paradigm for publishers is likely to create a natural segmentation in the market. With stalwart web analytics firms (albeit in their current incarnations) Omniture, Coremetrics and Unica are working towards an analytical system that feeds marketing automation. Now we’ve got the potential for something entirely different.

For these reasons I’m bullish on the acquisition. We have a new opportunity for web analytics where site-side measurement meets audience (panel based) measurement. It’s the collision course that many have been talking about. And it sets the stage for propelling measurement into next generation devices, apps and mobile platforms that don’t have transactional elements. It’s still too soon to say how this will play out, but I applaud Magid, Gian and the comScore team on their vision for creating a new measurement paradigm. And a big congrats goes out to Michael, Michiel, Fred, Ulrike and the entire Nedstat team for building a globally attractive solution. Bravo.

But these are just my thoughts…I may be way off…I may be crazy. Readers, do you agree that this new duo can impact enterprise measurement on a new level? I’d love to know what others think.

Published on September 2, 2010 under Web Analytics Tools

IBM buys Unica in $480M Deal

So the beauty of one public company buying another is that they usually hold an analyst call to explain the rationale. Props to IBM for holding this call just two short hours after the news broke and for giving a few of us a chance to pepper them with tough questions. On this call, Craig Hayman, General Manager of IBM Business Solutions (within the IBM Software Solutions Group) and Yuchun Lee, Founder and CEO of Unica shared an insiders’ perspective on the deal. In fact, Craig even shared the code name “Amaru” which was his secret squirrel moniker for referring to the deal internally before it was done.

So here’s the scoop.

The IBM acquisition of Unica was largely driven by a recognized need for enterprises to get closer to their customers by understanding their experiences and interactions across a broad network of channels and customer touch points. They’ll accomplish this by using analytics technologies, building single view profiles of customers and delivering marketing process improvements.

Sounds a little like markety-speak doesn’t it? Well, regardless it’s still a pretty good story and one that I hope IBM is able to pull off. It’s actually similar to the one that Adobe told after the Omniture acquisition with perhaps more of an automation spin.

What does this mean for Web Analytics?

When Joe Stanhope of Forrester fame deftly asked how IBM planned to rationalize the overlap between NetInsight and the recent Coremetrics acquisition, the response was dominated by the word “synergies” which they see a lot of between these firms. Yuchun rightly went on to describe NetInsight as only one product in the Unica portfolio and that Coremetrics and Netinsight served different segments within the web analytics market. He explained that NetInsight has strength in the on premise solution market (which they do) and that their ability to leverage web analytics within an online datamart was also differentiated (while not entirely unique to the market at large, it’s true when compared to Coremetrics. NetInsight uses a relational database construct for storing and accessing clickstream data). Yuchun also pointed out that Coremetrics has strength when it comes to collecting high volume, high transaction data. This is a result of Coremetrics robust infrastructure that they’ve been building to collect and deliver this data at scale without incurring exorbitant expenses (and they were doing a damn good job of this).

All in all, the comments about the synergies concluded by stating that both tools would accelerate the benefits of deep customer insights for IBM’s clients. None the less, it will be very interesting to wait and see which features and functions emerge from a combined solution of two web analytics powerhouses.

What does this mean for IBM?

As much as I’d like to think that analytics is the epicenter of the business world, this deal is about multi-channel campaign management and marketing automation. IBM is without question on a buying spree. They snatched up SPSS, Coremetrics, DataCap, Sterling Commerce and now Unica in short order. Presumably this is all part of IBM’s strategic growth plan that earmarked a whopping $20 billion for acquisitions through 2015. But from a web analytics perspective, this acquisition didn’t occur because of the NetInsight product. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of the technology, but Unica’s campaign automation solutions and interactive marketing prowess within the marketplace surely made them a tasty morsel for IBM to gobble.

The newly acquired Unica technology will sit within the Software Group business – or more specifically – IBM Software Solutions Group. Yuchun will own the BU within the software solutions group. And this group also holds Websphere Commerce, Coremetrics, Cognos and about a bazillion other software solutions. But as we learned on the call today, Craig Hayman will work to build out frameworks and the connections between these multitude of solutions.

What does this mean for clients?

So, when I look at the big picture, my speculation is that IBM is furthering the bifurcation of the marketplace in yet another direction that separates the “haves” from the “have nots”. What I mean by this is slightly different from what Eric described in his bifurcation of analytics market as a separation of tools based on the level of experience for each user. He puts technologies like Adobe Omniture’s Discover and Coremetrics’ Explore into the exclusive camp of highly skilled analysts who are capable of performing true analysis on digital data sets. The rest of the population is left with simpler, yet still capable tools (not meant in a disparaging way) like Google Analytics that are intuitive and require little training to begin garnering insights. While I agree with Eric, a new twist in this divide can also be developing on a financial level.

As we know, Google Analytics is free and enterprise analytics can quickly run into six – even seven – digit figures in a hurry. My thoughts on this financial divide and IBM’s perpetuation of it stem from Sam Palmisano’s scoff at the notion of consumer technologies dominating the enterprise. Clearly the IBM acquisition moves dictate that a set of tools designed for the professional marketer will be vastly different from the solutions accessible to consumers on the street. Thus, I see this as yet another wedge in the bifurcated divide between large enterprises, the ones that typically purchase software from the likes of IBM, Oracle, and SAS, and small and mid-sized companies who are forced to use a different toolset primarily because of price.

So at first blush, if you’re a big enterprise this all sounds pretty good. IBM and Unica join forces, which isn’t too much of a stretch as there’s also some history here…IBM is a Unica customer using campaign management, marketing resource management and other services to bring about a “marketing transformation” within their own organization (at least that’s how Craig Hayman put it). And Unica has also been OEM’ing IBM solutions for some time. The acquisition extends the growth trajectory that Unica was already on and helps to bring together IBM’s end-to-end story that they call “Blue Washing” (Err…hope that code word was okay for public consumption).

But, the acquisition also acts as a good milestone for IBM who is assembling all the key ingredients for a leading enterprise solution – Sterling Commerce is connecting to the back end – Coremetrics offers deep insights into customer behavior and segments – and now Unica delivers a marketing management solution. It’s hard to argue that they’re not connecting a very compelling story for marketing professionals.

Yet, if you’re a mid-sized business or even a small organization…the IBM “Blueness” may have just distanced itself even further into the stratosphere.

Published on August 13, 2010 under Web Analytics Tools

Webtrends Acquires Transpond: Analytics, Meet Apps

The burning question on many a web analyst’s mind today is likely…Who is Transpond? That’s the question I asked when I first learned of Webtrends’ plan to acquire the San Francisco based application development platform vendor.

Today the acquisition closed and word is out. At first glance, this may sound like a left turn for web analytics and perhaps it is. But in my mind it’s an interesting acquisition that’s headed in a positive direction. It also demonstrates that Webtrends isn’t afraid to make bold moves and assert its innovative position in the social analytics realm.

Transpond_blog_copy

The History

Transpond was founded in 2007 as iWidgets, back when widgets were all the rage (here’s a view from the Wayback Machine). The company got off the ground with a $4M investment in early 2009, but found that they were limited by their chosen iWidgets moniker and went through a rebranding exercise in the Summer 2009 to become Transpond. All the while, they’ve been providing application development tools for companies to build and deliver apps on mobile devices like the iPhone or Android, web platforms like Facebook and even TV apps for connected televisions. Transpond offers do-it-yourself development of applications such as quizzes, polls, games and interactive commerce for distribution across multiple digital channels. They also provide development support if you’re looking for some expert dev resources to really make your apps sing. Under the new ownership of Webtrends all of these capabilities will be folded into the Webtrends Apps offering and presumably reporting will become available within the Webtrends Analytics 9 interface.

What’s in it for Webtrends?

So, you may be asking yourself, why is Webtrends interested in this company? Well, the way I see it, Webtrends is tuned into the fact that more and more organizations are developing content that will live and breathe off-site. That is, apps that are not contained within your primary web presence. Whether it’s on a mobile phone, Facebook or the next new platform, users are interacting with your content and each other off-site. That’s a domain that web analytics has traditionally not been able to capture without some fancy footwork because most web analytics solutions rely on tracking contained within the pages of your primary web sites. While tracking within apps is not new either, this acquisition opens up the possibility of integrating behavior with applications that exist off your site into the data soup that is digital analytics. It’s really a logical extension of the analytics technology.

Why is this Cool?

What’s also really appealing about this technology from a development perspective is that the platform allows company’s to build apps and deliver them across multiple platforms in a consistent manner. Thus the ability to build it once and delivery to many, in whatever format they choose to consumer the content. Plus, when you bake in measurement and analytics to the apps, then you really have a means to evaluate interaction and compare across channels.

While this is certainly a new direction for web analytics acquisitions, I for one like the purchase and look forward to seeing Webtrends execute on the delivery of this new solution. Webtrends has the distinction of being one of the first pioneers in web analytics out there and also as the last independent vendor left standing. I’m pleased to see that this old dog ain’t afraid to learn new tricks.

Congratulations go out to Alex, Casey, Justin and the Webtrends team on the innovative move and to Peter Yared and Charles Christolini of Transpond for closing the deal.

Published on August 10, 2010 under Web Analytics Tools

The Impending Acquisition of Adobe

This is purely speculation. I have no inside knowledge into the possibility I present here other than hypothetical conversations with peers. Sean Power brought up the topic over dinner recently, which caused me to start thinking seriously about the realities of Microsoft buying Adobe. He blogged about it way back when Adobe acquired Omniture. At that time, I was at Forrester and when we got wind of the deal, we had an all-hands meeting to make sense of the awkward acquisition. Upon arriving at consensus, I quickly penned a missive about why the acquisition of the leading web analytics and optimization firm made sense for a creative software firm like Adobe. Yet, like most others, we had to squint at the deal to see any logic in it at all. Now it’s starting to become clear why Adobe shelled $1.8B to add some attraction to its offering for a much larger suitor.

Adobe controls big chunks of the digital customer experience. Specifically, they play a major role in content creation through the CS5 suite of products. While web developers aren’t necessarily building their global digital offerings in Dreamweaver, surely they are using elements of Creative Suite to do just that. Further, any document where the author wants to control its integrity will lock it down by saving it in PDF format. And now through the acquisition of Omniture, they gained the ability to measure and optimize consumer utilization of those assets as well as the web sites and marketing efforts of leading brands across the globe. We’re just starting to see the fruits of this curious marriage between the two firms in the announcements of tracking capabilities within the CS5 release. Yet, these tracking methods are not meant for the traditional users of Omniture’s set of highly robust analysis capabilities; they are designed for content creators and developers to gain insights about the digital assets they’re producing. I like to think of this as tricking people into using web analytics by not actually telling them that they’re using data to make day-to-day business decisions. Brilliant actually. This introduction of tracking capabilities within CS5 falls precisely in line with what my partner Eric Peterson describes as the bifurcation of the web analytics marketplace. Analytics at the low-end are offering information that is helpful (dare I say critical) in making decisions about business activity. At the top end are trained web analysts who crunch the data to tease out the insights and offer recommendations based on a holistic representation of data from numerous disparate sources. With Omniture Insights providing the analysis horsepower at the top of this scenario and CS5 empowering the bottom, all of the sudden, Adobe becomes an invaluable resource for enterprises that deliver services in online, offline, B2C, B2B or B2B2C environments. Now, let’s introduce Microsoft into this mix.

MSFT has labored [successfully] to own the consumer desktop with its operating system, indispensable productivity tools (MS Office), and not-so-universally, rich media with Silverlight. Not to mention that they’re still working diligently to capture consumers with Bing, MSN and a slew of other services pointed at end users. All this traction across MSFT properties gives them a lofty vantage point from which to monitor consumer behavior across digital channels. Adding a stack of ubiquitous software for content creation and some world class measurement capabilities may be quite attractive to the Redmond rotund. They’d immediately challenge Apple on a new level of customer intelligence and empower their enterprise customers with a whopping new set of capabilities. Despite the new consumer view to be gained from this possible acquisition, the real benefits are a nicely wrapped enterprise solution complete with: MS servers, a .NET framework, SharePoint, Dynamics CRM, Dynamics ERP, and a kitchen sink of bells, whistles and anything else you might want. Given the opportunity to deliver, measure and manage the customer experience at a really deep and integrated level seems like an appealing bet to me.

I won’t droll on about how or when this impending acquisition will occur; mostly ‘cause I have no idea. But I will hedge by saying that others suitors may actually line up before MSFT comes calling. Google for instance could parlay a nice entrance to the packaged software market and gain the ability to create, deliver and measure that largest advertising network on the globe. For that matter Apple may be strategically sparring with Adobe’s crystal palace in a deliberate attempt to soften their value. Swooping in for an acquisition after some fierce battling on the street wouldn’t be completely unheard of…now would it?

Published on May 23, 2010 under Web Analytics Tools

Facebook Analytics: Part I – The Measurable Ecosystem

2010 is shaping up to be the year of social media measurement and March is the month for measuring Facebook. While most of the major analytics vendors have been working on their Facebook measurement capabilities for some time; Webtrends, Coremetrics and Omniture all released significant advancements in their respective abilities to measure and analyze activity within the social networking juggernaut recently. These announcements created a frenzy of curiosity and confusion around what’s possible and what each vendor can deliver, so we were compelled to investigate. However, our inquiries exposed a world of complexity in terms of what’s measurable according to the emerging Facebook rules and exactly how organizations would benefit from measuring behavior within the walled social networking ecosystem.

In this first part of our two part series on Facebook Analytics, we will dissect the Facebook ecosystem of pages, tabs, applications, advertisements, and Facebook Connect functionality to reveal the do’s and don’ts of tracking visitor activity. While it may seem straightforward, some areas of the ecosystem are off limits to traditional tracking, while other areas can be measured with a high degree of detail. But in all cases, 3rd party measurement solutions must play by the Facebook rules, which we’ll begin to describe here. In Part II of this series, we’ll lay out a framework for how businesses can derive value from measuring their efforts within Facebook and we’ll take a deep dive into the specific capabilities of vendors that offer solutions for measuring Facebook today.

The Facebook Ecosystem

The Facebook ecosystem is comprised of many parts, some of which can be customized while others may not. This section will offer a brief description of each component within the ecosystem.

Facebook Page & Tabs

Facebook Tabs
Facebook “Pages” form the skeleton of each company’s presence on Facebook. Within the pages are a series of “tabs” with default (i.e., mandatory) tabs as well as customization opportunities. Default tabs include: the Wall and Info tabs, but additional standard tabs may include Photos, Discussion, Videos, Events, Boxes, etc. In addition to the standard tabs, Custom tabs within Facebook are plentiful. Yet, none of the tabs within Facebook can be measured using traditional JavaScript web analytics tags. This presents huge measurement challenges despite the fact that tabs offer massive opportunity for businesses to create compelling user experiences within Facebook. Mashable did a nice write-up last summer of Killer Facebook Fan Pages, which will give you a good idea of some of the customization possibilities.

Facebook Applications

Applications on Facebook can be developed using a variety of coding languages including PHP, JavaScript, Ruby or Python and Facebook even provides Client Libraries for their API. Applications must be hosted outside of Facebook and they can be stand-alone apps or embedded within custom tabs. Because apps can be developed using standard code, tracking with traditional web analytics methods is possible. It’s important to note that all applications require permission to track data about users (more on this in the next section). More than 500,000 applications are available on Facebook today so clearly they’re popular. Developers can learn more about The Anatomy of an App here.

Facebook Advertisements

Facebook Advertisement
Facebook ads appear in the right hand column of your Facebook pages and can link to external web pages – or – within Facebook on tabs, applications, events or groups. Ads can be tracked using Facebook Insights or with traditional web analytics tags when the ad links out to external sites by using campaign ID codes. Ads follow a template format and offer some restrictions around size, text and images. Ads can be targeted according to nine filters including age, gender and keywords just to name a few. Ads can be purchased according to impressions or clicks providing options for businesses.

Facebook Share

Facebook share options are surfacing across the web at an astounding rate. Much in the same way that you can share content trough social bookmarking sites or microblog formats, Facebook Share will populate a link within a users Wall page. Adding the Share link requires only one line of code and can drive traffic back to your site. Facebook even makes it simple by offering multiple Share icons to choose from.

Facebook Share

Facebook Connect

Facebook Connect enables businesses and individuals to extend capabilities of Facebook including their identity and connections to the web at large (e,g., outside the Facebook ecosystem). In other words, Facebook Connect makes sharing content, conversations, images and social comments possible, both inside and outside the walls of Facebook. Some aspects of Facebook Connect are measurable when delivered outside the Facebook ecosystem, yet internal connections likely require custom solutions. Facebook Connect works through a set of APIs that quite frankly have the potential to make Facebook the epicenter of the digital universe. Below is an example of Facebook Connect in action and more examples are available here. I recommend checking out JCPenney’s “Beware the Doghouse” campaign that leverages Facebook Connect for a good laugh and a taste of how Connect can pull content, images and video from Facebook to create a rich multimedia experience.

Facebook Connect1

Why is measuring the Facebook ecosystem so difficult?

Regardless of whether you agree with Facebook’s ideology or not, the company has made a conscious decision to build it’s empire using standard web development practices within its own ecosystem. Unlike standard web pages that are rendered using HTML, Facebook requires that organizations use their markup language called FBML (Facebook Markup Language) to build custom tabs and enable personalized experiences. Further, Facebook does not allow JavaScript to run on any page or tab on load, but instead uses their own solution FBJS (Facebook JavaScript). There’s a developer wiki maintained by Facebook that provides great detail on the Facebook platform located here and the bloggers at PHP, Web and IT Stuff in the UK did a great write-up on the topic of custom tabs as well.

This ain’t your ordinary JavaScript

Because Facebook utilizes its own Markup Language to “empower developers with functionality” and “protect users privacy”, you need to use FBJS if you want to include JavaScript in your custom tabs or applications. This makes tracking using traditional web analytics JavaScript tags impossible. However, some web analytics vendors have developed methods to track visitor information within standard tabs, which we will reveal in Part II of this series. Facebook does offer its own analytics tool called Insights for tracking the default Wall page. It provides reports on exposure, fans, actions and behavior and offers demographic information about visitors to Wall pages and ads. Note that while Insights provides both click-through rates (CTRs) and engagement rate (ETRs), this is sampled data that offers estimates on actual behavior. Data can be exported from Insights to Excel (.xls) or CSV files. Facebook’s development roadmap indicates that more data will be made available through Insights in early 2010. The developer notes also indicate that an API will be available to gain access to data collected within the Insights tool (see here for more details).

The clock is ticking and tracking permission is opt in

To complicate matters, at this time Facebook does not permit the storage of user data acquired from Facebook for more than 24 hours. Although rumors are brewing that this may change. Exceptions to the 24 hour storage rule are documented in the Facebook developer site, but they are far from being crystal clear. Data stored in perpetuity may include User ID, Photo Album ID, email address, primary network ID and several other attributes noted here. This means that despite all the ways that you can get data out of Facebook Insights or through third party methods, their platform policies may prohibit long-term storage of that data. [If you choose to follow those rules]. However, Facebook has opened the floodgates to external measurement solutions for applications and advertisements…if… And this is a big IF… users grant permission to track and store data about them. This authorization is requested using a standard message shown in the screenshot below.

Coke_Facebook Permission

For users who are comfortable with tracking and aware that this happens on nearly every web site out there, it’s really no big deal. But I’m willing to guess that the abandon rate on most permission requests is astronomical. If you’ve got data on Facebook app abandon rates, I’d love to know.

Next steps…

Now that we’ve painted the big picture of the Facebook ecosystem and hinted at what’s possible in terms of measurement, it’s time to explore vendors that can actually measure all these moving parts. We’ll save the juicy details for Part II of this post, but leave you with some food for thought…

Measuring Facebook is no easy task. Despite the fact that over 400 million users access the site regularly, the visibility into the actions, behavior, and demographics is carefully guarded. Each of the vendors we interviewed interrogated was highly sensitive to Facebook rules and the privacy of its citizens.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the ecosystem and if you think I missed anything, which is entirely possible given the complexity of Facebook. I welcome your comments and I hope you’ll visit again soon to learn how a small handful of major web analytics vendors are cracking the Facebook measurement ecosystem.

Published on March 14, 2010 under Social Media Measurement, Web Analytics Tools

 


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Bulletproof Business Requirements
John Lovett, Senior Partner

As a digital analytics professional, you’ve probably been tasked with collecting business requirements for measuring a new website/app/feature/etc. This seems like a task that’s easy enough, but all too often people get wrapped around the axle and fail to capture what’s truly important from a business users’ perspective. The result is typically a great deal of wasted time, frustrated business users, and a deep-seated distrust for analytics data.

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Welcome to Team Demystified: Nancy Koons and Elizabeth Eckels!
Eric T. Peterson, Senior Partner

I am delighted to announce that our Team Demystified business unit is continuing to expand with the addition of Nancy Koons and Elizabeth “Smalls” Eckels. Our Team Demystified efforts are exceeding all expectation and are allowing Web Analytics Demystified to provide truly world-class services to our Enterprise-class clients at an entirely new scale.

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When to Use Variables vs SAINT in Adobe Analytics
Adam Greco, Senior Partner

In one of my recent Adobe SiteCatalyst (Analytics) "Top Gun" training classes, a student asked me the following question: When should you use a variable (i.e. eVar or sProp) vs. using SAINT Classifications? This is an interesting question that comes up often, so I thought I would share my thoughts on this and my rules of thumb on the topic.

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5 Tips for #ACCELERATE Exceptionalism
Tim Wilson, Partner

Next month’s ACCELERATE conference in Atlanta on September 18th will be the fifth — FIFTH!!! — one. I wish I could say I’d attended every one, but, sadly, I missed Boston due to a recent job change at the time. I was there in San Francisco in 2010, I made a day trip to Chicago in 2011, and I personally scheduled fantastic weather for Columbus in 2013.

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I’ve Become Aware that Awareness Is a #measure Bugaboo
Tim Wilson, Partner

A Big Question that social and digital media marketers grapple with constantly, whether they realize it or not: Is "awareness" a valid objective for marketing activity?

I’ve gotten into more than a few heated debates that, at their core, center around this question. Some of those debates have been with myself (those are the ones where I most need a skilled moderator!).

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Advanced Conversion Syntax Merchandising
Adam Greco, Senior Partner

As I have mentioned in the past, one of the Adobe SiteCatalyst (Analytics) topics I loathe talking about is Product Merchandising. Product Merchandising is complicated and often leaves people scratching their heads in my "Top Gun" training classes. However, many people have mentioned to me that my previous post on Product Merchandising eVars helped them a lot so I am going to continue sharing information on this topic.

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Team Demystified Update from Wendy Greco
Eric T. Peterson, Senior Partner

When Eric Peterson asked me to lead Team Demystified a year ago, I couldn’t say no! Having seen how hard all of the Web Analytics Demystified partners work and that they are still not able to keep up with the demand of clients for their services, it made sense for Web Analytics Demystified to find another way to scale their services. Since the Demystified team knows all of the best people in our industry and has tons of great clients, it is not surprising that our new Team Demystified venture has taken off as quickly as it has.

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SiteCatalyst Unannounced Features
Adam Greco, Senior Partner

Lately, Adobe has been sneaking in some cool new features into the SiteCatalyst product and doing it without much fanfare. While I am sure these are buried somewhere in release notes, I thought I’d call out two of them that I really like, so you know that they are there.

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Hello. I’m a Radical Analytics Pragmatist
Tim Wilson, Partner

I was reading a post last week by one of the Big Names in web analytics…and it royally pissed me off. I started to comment and then thought, “Why pick a fight?” We’ve had more than enough of those for our little industry over the past few years. So I let it go.

Except I didn’t let it go.

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Competitor Pricing Analysis
Adam Greco, Senior Partner

One of my newest clients is in a highly competitive business in which they sell similar products as other retailers. These days, many online retailers have a hunch that they are being “Amazon-ed,” which they define as visitors finding products on their website and then going to see if they can get it cheaper/faster on Amazon.com. This client was attempting to use time spent on page as a way to tell if/when visitors were leaving their site to go price shopping.

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How to Deliver Better Recommendations: Forecast the Impact!
Michele Kiss, Partner

One of the most valuable ways to be sure your recommendations are heard is to forecast the impact of your proposal. Consider what is more likely to be heard: "I think we should do X ..." vs "I think we should do X, and with a 2% increase in conversion, that would drive a $1MM increase in revenue ..."

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ACCELERATE 2014 “Advanced Analytics Education” Classes Posted
Eric T. Peterson, Senior Partner

I am delighted to share the news that our 2014 “Advanced Analytics Education” classes have been posted and are available for registration. We expanded our offering this year and will be offering four concurrent analytics and optimization training sessions from all of the Web Analytics Demystified Partners and Senior Partners on September 16th and 17th at the Cobb Galaria in Atlanta, Georgia.

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Product Cart Addition Sequence
Adam Greco, Senior Partner

In working with a client recently, an interesting question arose around cart additions. This client wanted to know the order in which visitors were adding products to the shopping cart. Which products tended to be added first, second third, etc.? They also wanted to know which products were added after a specific product was added to the cart (i.e. if a visitor adds product A, what is the next product they tend to add?). Finally, they wondered which cart add product combinations most often lead to orders.

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7 Tips For Delivering Better Analytics Recommendations
Michele Kiss, Partner

As an analyst, your value is not just in the data you deliver, but in the insight and recommendations you can provide. But what is an analyst to do when those recommendations seem to fall on deaf ears?

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Overcoming The Analyst Curse: DON’T Show Your Math!
Michele Kiss, Partner

If I could give one piece of advice to an aspiring analyst, it would be this: Stop showing your "math". A tendency towards "TMI deliverables" is common, especially in newer analysts. However, while analysts typically do this in an attempt to demonstrate credibility ("See? I used all the right data and methods!") they do so at the expense of actually being heard.

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Making Tables of Numbers Comprehensible
Tim Wilson, Partner

I'm always amazed (read: dismayed) when I see the results of an analysis presented with a key set of the results delivered as a raw table of numbers. It is impossible to instantly comprehend a data table that has more than 3 or 4 rows and 3 or 4 columns. And, "instant comprehension" should be the goal of any presentation of information — it's the hook that gets your audience's brain wrapped around the material and ready to ponder it more deeply.

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Automating the Cleanup of Facebook Insights Exports
Tim Wilson, Partner

This post (the download, really — it’s not much of a post) is about dealing with exports from Facebook Insights. If that's not something you do, skip it. Go back to Facebook and watch some cat videos. If you are in a situation where you get data about your Facebook page by exporting .csv or .xls files from the Facebook Insights web interface, then you probably sometimes think you need a 52" monitor to manage the horizontal scrolling.

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The Recent Forrester Wave on Web Analytics ... is Wrong
Eric T. Peterson, Senior Partner

Having worked as an industry analyst back in the day I still find myself interested in what the analyst community has to say about web analytics, especially when it comes to vendor evaluation. The evaluations are interesting because of the sheer amount of work that goes into them in an attempt to distill entire companies down into simple infographics, tables, and single paragraph summaries.

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Funnel Visualizations That Make Sense
Tim Wilson, Partner

Funnels, as a concept, make some sense (although someone once made a good argument that they make no sense, since, when the concept is applied by marketers, the funnel is really more a "very, very leaky funnel," which would be a worthless funnel — real-world funnels get all of a liquid from a wide opening through a smaller spout; but, let’s not quibble).

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Reenergizing Your Web Analytics Program & Implementation
Adam Greco, Senior Partner

Those of you who have read my blog posts (and book) over the years, know that I have lots of opinions when it comes to web analytics, web analytics implementations and especially those using Adobe Analytics. Whenever possible, I try to impart lessons I have learned during my web analytics career so you can improve things at your organization.

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Registration for ACCELERATE 2014 is now open
Eric T. Peterson, Senior Partner

I am excited to announce that registration for ACCELERATE 2014 on September 18th in Atlanta, Georgia is now open. You can learn more about the event and our unique "Ten Tips in Twenty Minutes" format on our ACCELERATE mini-site, and we plan to have registration open for our Advanced Analytics Education pre-ACCELERATE training sessions in the coming weeks.

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Current Order Value
Adam Greco, Senior Partner

I recently had a client pose an interesting question related to their shopping cart. They wanted to know the distribution of money its visitors were bringing with them to each step of the shopping cart funnel.

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A Guide to Segment Sharing in Adobe Analytics
Tim Wilson, Partner

Over the past year, I've run into situations multiple times where I wanted an Adobe Analytics segment to be available in multiple Adobe Analytics platforms. It turns out…that's not as easy as it sounds. I actually went multiple rounds with Client Care once trying to get it figured out. And, I’ve found "the answer" on more than one occasion, only to later realize that that answer was a bit misguided.

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Currencies & Exchange Rates
Adam Greco, Senior Partner

If your web analytics work covers websites or apps that span different countries, there are some important aspects of Adobe SiteCatalyst (Analytics) that you must know. In this post, I will share some of the things I have learned over the years related to currencies and exchange rates in SiteCatalyst.

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Linking Authenticated Visitors Across Devices
Adam Greco, Senior Partner

In the last few years, people have become accustomed to using multiple digital devices simultaneously. While watching the recent winter Olympics, consumers might be on the Olympics website, while also using native mobile or tablet apps. As a result, some of my clients have asked me whether it is possible to link visits and paths across these devices so they can see cross-device paths and other behaviors.

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The 80/20 Rule for Analytics Teams
Eric T. Peterson, Senior Partner

I had the pleasure last week of visiting with one of Web Analytics Demystified’s longest-standing and, at least from a digital analytical perspective, most successful clients. The team has grown tremendously over the years in terms of size and, more importantly, stature within the broader multi-channel business and has become one of the most productive and mature digital analytics groups that I personally am aware of across the industry.

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Ten Things You Should ALWAYS Do (or Not Do) in Excel
Tim Wilson, Partner

Last week I was surprised by the Twitter conversation a fairly innocuous vent-via-Twitter tweet started, with several people noting that they had no idea you could simple turn off the gridlines.

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Omni Man (and Team Demystified) Needs You!
Adam Greco, Senior Partner

As someone in the web analytics field, you probably hear how lucky you are due to the fact that there are always web analytics jobs available. When the rest of the country is looking for work and you get daily calls from recruiters, it isn’t a bad position to be in! At Web Analytics Demystified, we have more than doubled in the past year and still cannot keep up with the demand, so I am reaching out to you ...

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A Useful Framework for Social Media "Engagements"
Tim Wilson, Partner

Whether you have a single toe dipped in the waters of social media analytics or are fully submerged and drowning, you’ve almost certainly grappled with "engagement." This post isn’t going to answer the question "Is engagement ROI?" ...

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It’s not about "Big Data", it’s about the "RIGHT data"
Michele Kiss, Partner

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have heard (and perhaps grown tired) of the buzzword "big data." But in attempts to chase the "next shiny thing", companies may focus too much on "big data" rather than the "right data."

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You can contact Web Analytics Demystified day or night via email or by reaching out to one of our Partners directly.

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(503) 282-2601


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