Last week, the Web Analytics Association (WAA), released its most recent round of Web analytics definitions.
Together with Angie Brown, I co-chair the WAA's Standards Committee. Over a year ago, we began looking at the definitions common among people using Web analytics. We quickly discovered there really wasn't a common language. Depending on the analytics tool, people have different names for the same thing, or the same name for very different things. Obviously, this can lead to problems.
The committee's mission is to help define Web analytics measures to develop a common vocabulary, definitions, and standards for measuring and reporting Web metrics. Using the same data metrics and methodologies results in:
Meaningful Industry Benchmarks
Currently, it's difficult to compare your own metrics to industry benchmarks other than at the highest level of traffic. Yes, you can use some of the different competitive data providers, such as Compete, comScore, and Hitwise. Outside a few specific industries, though, it may be difficult to compare your conversions with others'.
And when industry reports poll different companies on performance, the results must be taken with a grain of salt. You must determine how they define the action, cross your fingers that everyone followed the same methodology, and hope to measure yours the same way. Again, this can be done a lot more easily when looking at higher-level metrics, but it becomes difficult when you look at the more granular ones.
Standards help define industry benchmarks and allow people to more easily compare themselves to others, to establish best practices, and to improve site performance.
Companies often switch metrics tools and subsequently change the terms they use to discuss analytics. One tool will call something one name, while another tool calls it by a different name or applies different meanings to a very similar name. When people switch tools and bring data with them, they don't get an apples-to-apples comparisons. As a result, companies lose the important year-over-year view.
Though the new standards won't instantly take care of that issue, they provide a step in the right direction.
Better Understanding of Terms
This is the big one. Over the past few years, Web analytics has left the hands of the über-technical folks and into the hands of marketers who can act on this data. These aren't Web analytics experts, they're Web strategy experts -- merchandisers and marketers -- who may run a specific portion of the Web site. They must understand site performance is key, but they won't spend all day using an analytics tool. These are the people who can act on data. They must understand analytics basics so they can act on data and change the site accordingly. Yet if they can't even understand the basic terms, they'll have a tough time leveraging the data.
While the WAA's new standards can be used by even the most technically advanced Web analytics expert, they're also be easily understood by that marketing person. And that's the point.
To view the WAA's standards, download the PDF at http://www.Webanalyticsassociation.org/index.asp.
As the Chief Performance Marketing Officer for POSSIBLE, Jason supports the agency's global Marketing Sciences and Media Services programs.
His primary role is to help POSSIBLE teams and clients use data to craft digital strategies that attract, convert, and retain customers - maximizing ongoing ROI across paid, earned, and owned channels. He believes that brands can better serve their customers by understanding audience behavior, and that messaging should be targeted to individual customers through the use of testing, behavioral targeting, and CRM initiatives.
Jason has written extensively about digital analytics, optimization and digital strategy, including an ongoing column at ClickZ.com. He is the co-author of "Actionable Web Analytics: Using Data to Make Smart Business Decisions," which is one of the leading texts in the field of digital analytics. His client roster includes Microsoft, Nike, Nokia, Dell, Ford, Sony, PayPal/eBay, P&G, Alcoa, Expedia, Mazda, Intel, and Motorola, and more. Jason is a frequent speaker at conferences and seminars around the world ranging from the Cannes Lions, Adobe Omniture Summits, eMetrics, SES, ad:tech, BazaarVoice, and many other WPP events.
Follow him on Twitter @JasonBurby.
June 5, 2013
1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT