Q&A: Big Data, Mobile, and Weibo Analytics

Data seems to be the buzzword these days and with mobile and social here to stay, it’s no wonder that even the Web Analytics Association has renamed as the Digital Analytics Association.

In Hong Kong, Kenneth Kwok, a former IBM and Expedia exec, now running his own Beehive consultancy, founded the local arm of Web Analytics Association in June 2011.

Once a month on a Wednesday evening, analytics geeks meet at the MRM office in Causeway Bay to network and share experiences in the field.

Kwok, chairman of the Hong Kong Digital Analytics Association (DAA), said he started the organization because the market lacked understanding of the profession and the value of digital analysis.

“Data analytics is becoming more and more important as businesses no longer only compete against their products but also how smart they leverage the data and interpret it,” he said.

A pressing issue in digital analytics is the lack of resources. One DAA goal is to gather professionals in the sector to share knowledge and develop their skills, he added.

Companies want to understand how data translates into business insights to justify ROI but data analysis requires long-term commitment and having the right resource is very important, Kwok said.

The analytics evangelist shared his views on key trends in this digital discipline, including Weibo, China’s microblogging social network. Excerpts of the Q&A are below:

Kenneth Kwok

 Question: Big Data – is it hype or here to stay?

Kenneth Kwok: Big Data is definitely not hype. It is a consolidation of all the data collected separately and bringing them together in order to find new opportunities as well as to save costs. As more data are being collected everyday, it will only grow bigger and bigger. The difference is some mature industries no longer just compete by their products or services but on data analysis. Therefore, Big Data is not just about data collection but also to connect different data sources to tell a story about the business operation as well as their customers.

Q: The mobile ad market is now worth billions. Are marketers tracking mobile data?

Kenneth Kwok: A lot of marketers certainly are not tracking mobile data enough, especially not using mobile data to be the medium or bridge between online and offline customer behavior. Currently the travel, retail, and financial industries are certainly savvier in this area.

Q: What are the challenges in tracking mobile?

Kenneth Kwok: The major challenge is that there is still no standardized metrics. In addition, we cannot just apply web metrics for both mobile apps and mobile web site as the interaction is totally different than traditional website. And there are still many businesses that cannot differentiate between mobile apps and mobile websites. On the other hand, linking and mapping customer data from desktop and mobile pose a very challenging issue that needs to be resolved.

Q: How should marketers leverage mobile data and analytics smartly?

Kenneth Kwok: My advice to marketers – use the right tool to collect mobile data as many of the traditional web analytics tools are not designed for mobile. Linking mobile data with web data is very important as mobile is the only device that can bridge the data gap between online and offline. My tip to marketers is that you have to look at apps and site differently as the user interaction and behavior is totally different.

Q: Name a feature in Weibo Analytics that is useful for brand marketers.

Kenneth Kwok: Weibo Analytics has a feature that shows how followers are being linked and connected so marketers can look for different relationships within the follower’s networks. It allows a marketer to look for the key influencer of their company and leverage their power to the social communities. Weibo Analytics also allows users to look at an individual’s content and be able to find out where the tipping point is. This is important because based on the analysis, marketers can predict what type of content is more likely to reach the tipping point and become viral. Weibo is very unique in terms of the analytics platform as till now Twitter still haven’t publish its analytics platform to the public while Weibo continue to provide more data to its users, which is getting more like what Facebook Insights is currently offering.

Q: There are various Weibo tools and services in the market from CIC, Brandtology to AdMaster’s Weibo Master for instance. How should a marketer choose which one to use?

Kenneth Kwok: Marketers should first identify what they want to achieve, as most of the misunderstanding is that these tools are doing monitoring instead of measuring. Most of the tools in the market are monitoring the response of the market. And most of the time, it’s not about the difference in the tools itself but more about the interpretation of the data being collected. What we find in the market is not about the tool capability but more about the resource to translate the meaning behind it. While some tools can provide many data, but without understanding what problem you’re going to resolve, it’s quite easy that a marketer will spend more than they really need in the tool itself. Our best practice is to invest 10 percent in tools and 90 percent in resources.

Q: What’s a key trend marketers should look out for in 2012?

Kenneth Kwok: Mobile data. As this continues to change consumer behavior with the introduction of mobile wallet and redemption/loyalty cards, marketers need to continue to monitor this as it will affect investment and strategy.

Related reading

Big Data & Travel