April, 2008

Marathon Thank You – “………and I may be some time!”

The phone and Facebook’s been buzzing today with friends wishing me luck for tomorrow.

It was a bit touch and go yesterday. Feeling crappy all week with a cold, and the added stress of thinking I may pull out came to a hiatus in the afternoon. I’d like to thank Jamie for gently telling me I should get out and get some fresh air…….so I did.

The quick 2.5 miles was quite emotional as I looked back at Richmond Park while running through Sheen Gate, thanking it for looking after me for the last 5 months through the sunshine, wind, rain and snow.

I’ve never thanked a park before but it felt good!

I then went to register at the Excel Centre out in the Docklands. Anyone that’s in the search world knows it’s in the middle of nowhere! I actually got on the wrong train and ended up at City Airport.

As I was registering, which was very quick and easy, I met a bloke who’d just done his 11th marathon in 11 days, that coupled with having the only Brit to have run a marathon in every US state pointed out to me made me feel a little unworthy.

I got over it in about 5 mins and went of to catch up with Tim Starkey from The Sweatshop Running Store.  Tim’s an old school mate and is going to run with me. He had a cold last week too and wants to “take it easy.” Well I’ve told him he will “take it easy” because I just want to get around. I think he may have something planned for me though so we’ll see! This’ll be his 8th marathon!

Anyhow after a good night’s sleep I’m feeling pretty good. If a 101 year old man can do it……I can.

I’d like to say thanks for all the support and the amazing generosity of my friends, colleagues and family – we’ve raise a whopping £3,293 which with Bill gates doubling it makes:

£6,586 or $13,000

Tomorrow morning at around 7am I’ll be going outside…………….and I may be some time! :-)

http://www.justgiving.com/melcarson

Yahoo! Have Bought IndexTools Web Analytics Co!

I’ve just had an email from Dennis Mortensen at IndexTools with the news!

Check out his post HERE!

I’ve only been doing this Analytics lark for 6 months, working on the blog for adCenter Analytics.

I thought it’s be some respite from fast-paced comings and goings in Search, but I was obviously wrong!

I’m not going to comment on the whole Y! & MS thing but you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work out it’ll be a fascinating ride if it does happen!

I…..LOVE……..THIS……….INDUSTRY!

London Marathon 2008 – Update

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Had a bit of a scare on Monday! Woke up with the beginnings of a cold so have spent the last couple of days at home getting better. I reckon I’m over the worst so should be in a good state on Sunday :-)

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Looks like it’ll be a bit wet on the day which’ll be better than the snow I had to trudge around Richmond Park in on Sunday!

A big thank you to everyone who has sponsored me – £3167 so far and with Microsoft matching that’s £6300 odd!

http://www.justgiving.com/melcarson

adCenter Analytics Interview – Ian Thomas

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There’s an interview I did recently with Ian over on the adCenter Analytics Blog!

UK Online Advertising Up 38% to £2.8B – IAB

New figures from the IAB show yet again that the online advertising model is no flash in the pan….

Banners, skyscrapers and rich media saw a staggering 45% growth last year, showing agencies and advertisers are obviously seeing the benefit from a branding and, in some cases, a direct response effect. 

The old stalwart “paid search” is apparently “maturing” but still growing, keeping its number-one-slot at 58% share or £1.6B – a colossal 39% growth.

Apologies for all the hyperbole, but as my US colleagues would say I’m super-invigorated by this news.

I don’t see mobile figures in the report, but that’s going to be big this year given the uptake of the iPhone, and the announcement last week that Microsoft will be updating its mobile browser so users can view fullscreen web pages and multi-media more easily.

The future’s bright……but is it mobile?

The Ultimate Steal – Microsoft Office 2007 for £38.95!

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Yes that’s right!

If you’re a student or work in a school or college and have a “.ac.uk” email address you can apply for The Ultimate Steal and get Office 2007 for just £38.95

Check it out here: www.theultimatesteal.co.uk

Hurry because the offer ends on 30th April 2008!!!!

Brian Clifton – 1st Interview Since Leaving Google Analytics

 

I’ve known Brian Clifton since we were asked to speak at the Reykjavik Internet Marketing Conference in Iceland in 2006.

 

Passionate, articulate and highly intelligent (well he has got  a PHD!) Brian has done much for the online advertising industry, preaching the importance of the sometimes misunderstood and underutilised discipline we call web analytics.

 

Today is Brian’s last day as Head of Google Analytics in EMEA, and he’s kindly agreed to this exclusive interview where he reflects on what he’s achieved, why he’s leaving and what he’s going to do!

 

You joined Google in 2005 to “define, develop and lead Google Analytics into EMEA” – How successful do you think your team has been in spreading the word?

 

Web Analytics is a completely different industry now compared to then. It really is amazing how fast things have moved on. What used to be a niche industry with just a few thousand active participants (bloggers, event speakers, consultants, analysts etc.) has now become almost mainstream. That is, an integral part of online marketing  with participants now in the millions world-wide. I think it is safe to say that Google has been the driver of this change with my team helping large European advertisers with their adoption.

 

I’m someone new to championing web analytics in the internet marketing community via the adCenter Analytics Blog – what’s the secret to capturing website owner’s imagination and persuading them that web analytics should be a critical part of their strategy?

 

Monetization. That is, the value that measurement can bring. I always use a couple of slides at the beginning of my presentations illustrating a theoretical before and after effect of increasing your conversion rate by 1 percent. It always gets the audiences attention and sets the scene for why website owners should invest in measurement.

 

Why does all that data make people’s eyes glaze over? How can we make it easier for people to understand?

That’s traditionally been a common complaint from a lot of web analytics users. Web visitor data can feel overwhelming simply because the volume is high after all it is so easy and inexpensive to collect.
 
The Google philosophy has always been one of “data democratisation”. That is, unlocking tools from the exclusive realm of small specialist departments, and instead empowering all uses with data that they can hopefully contribute to the improvement of. After all, we are all web users, so we can all suggest improvements. Often the collected knowledge of the many can exceed that of the few available experts

Can you give us 3 top tips or things to look out for when analysing website traffic?

The single most important thing is to have a complete best practice implementation of your web analytics tool. Otherwise its “garbage in, garbage out”. It never ceases to amaze how much money organisations are prepare to spend just on ‘having’ a tool and yet do not invest on installing it to its full potential – so that they can actually do something with the data.
 
With good, clean data coming in, start looking for engagement points on your website. Apart from goal conversion rates, time on site and bounce rates are excellent top level indicators of success, or not. These can be used as your benchmarks for improvement.
 
If you have a site search feature on your site (internal search engine), analyse the  keywords used by your visitors. This can provide invaluable insight as to what your visitors actually want from you, so that you can determine whether this aligns with your marketing message. What’s great about performing site search analysis is that visitors are using in their own terminology – it removes the guess work for marketers. It can also provide feedback for future product features – perhaps you were not aware that a significant proportion of visitors also want your specialist widget in metallic blue!

Today is your last day at Google – Why on earth are you leaving? It’s not the falling share price is it?

LOL, remember I joined Google in 2005, post IPO! In fact the beauty of working with a product that is free, is that its given me the freedom to build a team of product experts rather than sales managers. That’s a pretty unique position for anyone to be in and one that I feel immensely privileged to have been a part of.
 
Unfortunately that is also the caveat of being a manager – as your team grows you move further away from client interactions which is the part that most excites me. In fact, the vast majority of web content is made up of poorly optimised websites. By that I mean poorly optimised for visibility (visitors can’t find you via the search engines) and poorly optimised for the user experience (leading to low conversion rates). These two are closely related and web analytics is the key to unlock the potential of both.
 
Therefore from April 7th, I am happy to announce that I will be the Senior Strategist for Omega Digital Media
– the  company I founded back in 1997 that specialises in search integration and conversion marketing. They have been an official analytics partner for Google for many years (that’s how I got recruited by Google!), so the connection continues. I will be focusing my efforts on providing the service needed to help clients grow their business by making web analytics central to their strategy.

 

So your new book that you were plugging at Search Marketing World in Dublin yesterday, is it all about GA or can readers read the techniques and tips and apply them with other analytics solutions – like Microsoft adCenter Analytics for instance?

 

The book is entitled Advanced Web Metrics for Google Analytics, but is actually aimed at a broad audience – essentially anyone with an interest in making their web site successful. That includes website owners, marketers, web designers/developers, content creators, PR departments and all the various intermediaries. Its about measuring for success (the title of the first chapter) and applies best practice techniques on how to do so using Google Analytics.
 
There are of course some chapters specific to GA, but to be honest there is a great deal of feature parity out there among the various other vendors. So yes, it is possible to use the principals that I describe for any enterprise class analytics tool – including Microsoft’s adCenter Analytics which I even use on my own blog.

 

Thanks Brian and good luck with the book and the new venture!

adCenter Interview With Kieron Donoghue of Here.org

A few weeks back I commented on some comments about adCenter on Kieron’s Blog.

The adCenter Community Team do check out other people’s blogs & forums, as well as our own, so we can get a sense for the pulse in the advertising community, what people are saying, how they feel about our products and services and, most importantly, how we can improve.

Kieron emailed me back and asked for an interview - so here it is!

BBC April Fool – Flying Penguins?!

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrxmpihCjqw]

Who could have been taken in by this? Come Auntie don’t be so obvious!!!

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