An Interview With Google’s Avinash Kaushik

Avinash Kaushik, author of two best-selling marketing books, “Web Analytics 2.0” and “Web Analytics: An Hour a Day,” and the digital marketing evangelist of Google, is a true marketing guru who has inspired many audiences with his powerful speech and scientific approach of marketing analytics.

As the chair of the SES Shanghai conference, I am honored to have a chance to interview Avinash before he gives his keynote in Shanghai.

Eddie Choi: In China, we either have no metrics or confusing metrics. For example, it is very common that the result of marketing performance measured by the media and agencies is different from our own analytics. When we are facing two sets of numbers and findings, what is your approach on managing all these measurement discrepancies?

Avinash Kaushik: There are two ways data gets collected on the web. The first one is you add a JavaScript tag to your website, when you use a tool like Baidu Tongji or WebTrends, and it collects data directly from your website. And the second one is you use pools of data, say from ISPs or web monitoring companies, to collect data.

However, the first one is always better than the second one, because it is directly from your site. The first one is like standing at the door of the supermarket and counting how many people walk in. The second one is like standing on the moon with a telescope pointed to the supermarket and trying to count how many people walk in.

Agencies still like to use the second one because it is useful under some circumstances, but more importantly it is convenient. They are pleased to use it as it makes sense. But if you see different numbers between the first one and the second one, you know which one is better.
[Author note: To buy data from ISPs or web monitoring companies is still not feasible in China today.]

EC: Do you think measuring sentiment is possible? One of the biggest issues of sentiment analysis or social analytics is that the measurement requires huge amounts of data, or dealing with complex API integration to collect third-party data. Is it possible that we can measure or realize the “sentiment” through a simple analytics solution such as GA?

AK: [To analyze] language is a very hard thing. Nuance is harder still. I think the world is making good progress in understanding very simplistic things when it comes to analyzing text, but we all have some way to go before we have enough progress to make it even more useful.

EC: This question is from me. I am a big believer of combined metrics, which eventually all different measurement can be added up for a story, a continuance, or a “customer journey.” What are the basic steps to start developing combined metrics?

AK: Here we have something called combined/compound metrics, and I personally believe that it is not very useful! See: .
Compound metrics mask real performance and make it incredibly difficult for the management team to understand when to take action. In the post above I outline three ways to think differently.

EC: What do you think if the number of fans does not contribute to the traffic of the website? Does it mean a social marketing campaign is bad? In China, many advertisers are really excited about the astonishing number of followers that they’ve earned on Weibo, but totally neglect to see if these followers have followed through the journey and visited the website. What is your take on this situation?

AK: There is a profound and fundamental shift in how we find people and influence them. For the longest time we’ve practiced “shout marketing.” That is what I call TV, radio, magazines, etc. We know very little about who is at the other end, so we “shout” as loudly as we can and as frequently as we can hoping that someone will hear us and be influenced.

Social media is very different. It works on the model of “conversational marketing.” You have the ability to gather the audiences around you by participating in conversations and starting interesting conversations. These audiences, if they gather around you because you are adding value, will be influenced to do business with you – when they need your services/products.

Marketers who just gather a huge number of followers, but don’t practice conversational marketing, do not accomplish anything in terms of short- and long-term business value.

For that reason, I’ve invented four new metrics to measure social channels like Renren, Pengyou, Sina Weibo, etc. I’ll share these in my keynote in Shanghai.

Thanks so much for the opportunity to do the interview!

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