Next week, I head to the Emetrics Marketing Optimization summit in San Francisco to take the pulse on the developments in the online marketing analytics world. The event provides a great opportunity to take stock of industry developments and catch up with colleagues and friends I’ve made at these events over the years.
The summit will also give me a chance to compare the industry developments in the U.S. market to those I the U.K. and the rest of Europe. There’s some debate at the moment about whether the European market is now sufficiently large and distinct to require its own professional body in the establishment of a European Web analytics association. My trip to San Francisco will help me in forming my own views for that discussion.
Looking at the Emetrics program in San Francisco gives some clues as to how the market is developing. The conference size has increased since last time with more tracks covering more areas. This shows how the industry is broadening and, to some extent, fragmenting into a number of sub-disciplines such as campaign optimization, search analytics, and so on. Also there is an increased depth to the conference with more sessions in some of the tracks. Last October in Washington I gave one of three presentations in the “Advanced Analytics Track.”In San Francisco, I’ll be giving one of nine sessions in the same track.
Certainly when comparing the conferences in the U.S. with the ones in Europe they are poles apart when it comes to scale. The summit in London this year (which I’m involved in) is shorter and has fewer tracks. But is this a reflection of the “sophistication” of the U.K. and European markets or is it just a reflection of scale? I suspect it has more to do with scale than sophistication. There are some really interesting things being done in Europe by some really interesting people. There just aren’t as many of them over here, particularly when you look at it on a market-by-market basis.
However, scale can be a driver of progress. For example, I observed this when the market for multi-variate testing and experimentation really began to take off in the U.S. two to three years ago. It was easy for U.S. companies to justify the investment in these services and technologies because they could see the returns. It’s taken the U.K. market until now to show the same growth in adoption. I think the main reason for that is the potential returns on investments weren’t there for many organizations because their online businesses weren’t big enough, not because they didn’t “get it.”
So it will be interesting to see whether what’s talked about at Emetrics in San Francisco in the presentations and the lobby bar conversations is radically different to the conversations that I’ll be having in London two weeks later. And if they are different why is that? Is it because the market development is at different levels or is because the markets are just different? I think this will help inform the debate as to whether we need a radically different approach to developing and growing the industry over here.
It would be great to catch up with as many of you as possible if you’re travelling to San Francisco as well next week. Next time I’ll be writing this column on my way home and be giving my perspective on the conference. Till then…
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