Category Archives: Google Analytics

Piwik: Alternative Analytics Presentation in Chicago

Yours truly will be presenting, “Piwik: An Analytics Alternative,” a short presentation at this year’s Open Analytics Summit at the City Winery in Chicago on March 27th.

OAS is for Developers, Engineers, Data Scientists, CMOs, Data Analysts, CTOs, Architects, Brand Managers, and anyone passionate about open source technologies, big data, or data analytics. My presentation will be particularly interesting to digital marketers, enterprise technologists, Web analytics practitioners and others that are interested in a viable way to provide solid measurement while removing Google from their Web analytics stack.

Full Schedule and Register

If there is interest, I’ll post the presentation here as well.


TagMan Finds Google Analytics Discrepancies

Quick thoughts on the recent findings from TagMan

Perhaps advertisers and agencies will start thinking more about the rampant data collection and measurement conflicts-of-interest rampant in the Googleplex…or maybe just more shrugs.

    How to convert hh:mm:ss to decimal minutes in Excel

    Let’s say you are using Google Analytics and want to run some statistics against the Average Time Spent (why you may want to do this will be the subject of a forthcoming blog post). First, you’re naturally going to export the data into Excel since GA offers only the basics. Next, you are going to find yourself stuck and staring at one or more columns of hh:mm:ss time.

    Why? Unless you convert this time format data into to integers with decimals you will not be able to analyze the data for any revealing statistics. Seems simple enough to do in Excel, just convert the time into a decimal format…but no.

    Alas, I was shocked that there is no formula-level function that does essentially the opposite of the CONCATENATE function in Excel. Curiously, it is much easier to covert the decimal back to hh:mm:ss format. Thanks to the many folks that pointed me in the right direction.

    • Many folks suggested the Data>>Text-to-Columns function in Excel but this would have blasted away many other columns of data and there were several of these time columns that needed this.
    • Others suggested converting the time figure using the format feature; that also didn’t work.

    The solution was using the HOUR, MINUTE and SECOND commands in Excel. It worked like this:

    01:32:56 (1 Hour , 32 Minutes and 56 Seconds) = 92.93 Minutes
    [Yes, you can cut and paste the above formula!]

    Pretty neat, eh? However, still haven’t found a way to do this with some kind of delimiter like a “SPLIT” in Perl.

    Advanced Segments in Google Analytics…Advanced turns out to be a Relative Term

    Some caveats if you are contemplating using the free Google Analytics tool (and free advice to the product manager). Before bringing you down, there are some positives of this tool and feature:


    • It’s FREE.
    • Better than filters which are not retroactive.

    Minuses (in no particular order):

    • Buried deep in the tool, several tedious clicks to get to them
    • No way to suppress GA’s canned segments
    • No way to export or import segments or filters (get a piece of paper and pen out)
    • Cumbersome drag and drop interface; it feels like a toy
    • Limit of 20 criteria per segment (are you kidding?)
    • Inability to join or combine segments themselves using Boolean operators
    • Segments are tied to you, the user and your GA account; in practice this means that all of your segments follow you across site profiles (no way to manage them) but not across GA accounts.
    • No way to categorize the segments you have
    • Cannot be used with Absolute Unique Visitors (why is this?)
    • Of course it is subject to the limitations that all JS-based site metrics tools have, i.e. ignores all of these accesses. See my other post on the subject.

    This post is subject to update…afterall Google Analytics is still in Beta!

    RSS Advertising Part II – The Wild West meets the Measurement Crater

    Measurement…The Wild West

    As prefaced in Part I, identifying and reaching an online audience can be a challenge – especially if you are after the evasive Techfluentials.
    The reality is that right now, measurement is The Wild West of the online advertising industry. As marketers (gold-seekers) demand more and more accountability for their spend, software and media vendors continue the cycle of launch, failure and/or consolidation in a made scramble to sell the pick-axes to those after online gold.

    By choosing to measure in-feed RSS advertising with oversold site metrics tools…it just make things even wilder. The reality is that there are serious technical limitations to consider when planning how to measure success at advertising to this target audience. Without proper planning however, marketers are left with a measurement gap of epic proportions.

    First a quick primer to frame this classic situation. As a trained marketer, there are basically two different objectives of advertising and your ad creative typically can do one of the following well:

    1. Branding. In other words, making an impression and/or changing perceptions. Often very important but very difficult to accurately measure. For this reason, measuring branding is more complex and almost always requires either a custom-study or syndicated (shared, usually generic) sample-based research. Right now, ad effectiveness services like Dynamic Logic, InsightExpress, Nielsen and ComScore are not yet working with RSS feed networks. This means that qualitative audience research requires a custom study that is considerate of the RSS user’s environment – this may incur additional costs.
    2. Response. In the other corner is the quantitative measurement of tangible results such as sales, leads, impressions, clicks, time spent and the like. While it is much easier to technically measure the entire universe of such activities, in-feed RSS advertising success is a double-edge sword. Clicks (response) may be huge and the Clickthrough Rates great (relative to banners); with so much industry hand-wringing over declining CTR, clearly having a bounty of clicks is a good problem to have these days!

    The Measurement Crater

    For the purposes of this series, let’s say that you just want to measure response as the primary success metric for an RSS ad campaign. Unfortunately, if you or your client are depending on a JavaScript-tag based landing page tool to measure consumer response, you will likely experience something akin to this:

    What happened? Wondering where did the clicks go? How many visits from’s RSS feed? Did they buy? Did they come back? Curious as to why you can’t determine what they did after they landed? As am I.

    Newsflash: JavaScript tag-based Site Metrics have Limitations

    Online marketers that are primarily interested in measuring response from an RSS campaign just found one. While many enterprise site metrics vendors brag about their simple, “just add our tag to your footer” implementation (Omniture, Google Analytics, Coremetrics)…if only it was that easy to get usable information.

    The harsh technical reality is that JS tag-based systems require the browser to execute their special tag when the landing page is rendered. That is very different than server-side site metrics tools that track every access by definition. The main problem with relying exclusively on these tag-based approaches is that they cannot count accesses that originate from JS-disabled borwsers or altogether JS-incompatible applications. In other words, these popular site metrics tools essentially are blind to and ignore browsers and any traffic (including robots and spiders) that do not execute JS; I’m not going to get into the cookie deletion argument either.

    Suffice to say with RSS advertising to Technfluentials, tracking non-JS accesses becomes your problem. To put it in marketing terms, here’s why:

    1. Techfluentials use standalone desktop RSS Feed Readers/Aggregators (non-browser applications).
    2. Techfluentials access the Web via mobile deivices in a browser environment that is even less likely to execute JS tags (my Treo 755p uses Palm Blazer 4.5, which offers the disable option).
    3. Techfluentials ALSO deliberately/religiously disable JS in their browsers (not to mention deleting cookies).

    In other words, your most valuable segment is missing from the numbers. What to do about it?

    To Be Continued…

    RSS Advertising Part III – Solutions to this Mess