Widget Analytics – Measuring the widgets in the wild

Helping web analysts navigate the measurement and tracking of widgets.

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Posts Tagged ‘e-metrics’

E-Metrics Toronto Recap

Posted by widgetgirl on April 1, 2008


I am sitting in the Toronto airport this morning after what feels like a whirlwind trip to Toronto. I don’t think I have even been here 24 hours and it is time to go home. What a great city – although a bit of sun shine would have been nice.

Last night’s panel at the inaugural E-Metrics Summit in Toronto was a success. Andrea Hadley, a WAA founder and the point-person for WAA Canada did a great job of setting up the conference kick-off. The panel was moderated by Chris Williams and my co-panelists included Brent Bernie, President of comScore Canada, Paula Gignac, President of IAB Canada and Judah Phillips, Director of Analytics at Reed Publishing.

The topic focused on how web analysts should use audience measurement reports, data from ad-servers and web analytics tools to perform their job. The conflicts that arise from combining these tools to answer business questions were the focal-point for our discussion. Knowing that the three data resources will never foot to each other, when and why do you use each tool? And how do you explain to your internal constituents (usually your manager, other data consumers or the CMO) the variances that exist – and WILL NEVER be resolved?

Here is what we learned:

· Web Analytics tools give you that granular data of what is going on within your own site. If you know that your site is tagged correctly and that you are filtering your data appropriately, there is a ton of valuable information that can be gleaned from your web analytics tool. This is your tactical weapon for understanding how visitors are traversing your site and the only way to compare your SEM, SEO, display advertising and affiliate programs side by side.

· Ad server data provided by your agency or direct relationship with a publisher dictates how transactions are made between an advertiser and a publisher. Impression and click data is going to vary from what your web analytics tool is telling you (whether your tag sits side by side with the ad tag or you are measuring clickthroughs from a campaign code). This is due to three primary issues:

o Latency – the ad tag will fire long before your web analytics or widget analytics impressions or views are captured. This is due to the simple fact that there is an order of operation for how these requests are made – milliseconds can make a huge difference in the order of operation when we know that many visitors leave pages before they ever fully load. There is nothing we can do about this except to educate and understand that it exists.

o Filtering – variances between how tools filter are never well documented or understood by the marketers or management that rely on their output. At a high level, you have robots and spider lists, IPs (internal, external or extraterrestrial), HTTP status codes, odd-behavioral rules, page names and content types to filter by. No two vendors do it exactly the same and good luck in asking them to clearly define what those rules are.

o Environment hazards – there are a ton of what I like to call “Environmental Hazards” that contribute to the variances between data sources. Some tags are blocked by internal or corporate firewalls and spyware software these days can target ad servers as well as web analytics tools. Keeping up with the existing and emerging hazards is like keeping up with the Kardashians. One would like to be fully in the know – but it just is not going to happen.

· Audience measurement tools like comScore allow you to evaluate your site against your competitors. Because they are based on panel data, they won’t provide you with the in-depth analysis that your web analytics tool will provide, but it WILL let you know how you stack up against the competition. Audience measurement tools also provide deep insights into demographics like age, gender, household income and geography.

So where does that leave the analyst? Bottom line – understand what each data source offers. These are all tools in your tool chest to perform your job. They each serve a specific purpose and can answer discrete business questions. One thing that panelists were all in agreement on is that you have to keep it simple. You can confuse your executive management and the managers that you support very quickly if you take them into the weeds – so don’t. If they question the numbers, and they will, educate them at a high level on the merits of each source. Keep it at the bullet level – and make sure you know your stuff and can deliver the message with confidence. Because if you don’t understand it yourself, they won’t understand it either.

Off to catch my flight!

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E-Metrics Summit – Marketing Optimization Notes

Posted by widgetgirl on October 16, 2007

It is day two at the E-Metrics Summit in Washington, DC. During my presentation yesterday there were a lot of great questions around how to wrap your widget and get it launched into the wild. Thank you everyone who came to listen. This is such a new area and the thought of releasing your content outside of your domain (and then trying to measure it) can be a little mind boggling.

Wrapping your widget and the foundation for how to widgetize your content was a harder concept for folks to grasp than how to measure your widget. Understanding how the technology works is a pre-requisite for learning how to analyze it. So how does this “wrapping your widget” thing work? Disclaimer – this is the laywomen’s definition, not a technical one 😉

A widget creator can take any piece of content and drop it into the Clearspring flash container through a multi-step process in our UI. The output of “wrapping your widget” is some embed code that you can place on your seed placement (see definitions below). The container allows for tracking of the widget (widget analytics) and the ability for visitors who view the widget to share or grab it for their own site. When a visitor clicks on “Grab It” or “Share It”, or whatever link or name you want to use as as widget creator, a service menu is invoked. The menu provides the capability to push or grab the content in the following ways:

  1. Push the widget to your favorite social network such as MySpace, Facebook and others
  2. Grab the embed code.
  3. Email a link to the widget
  4. Send a text message with a link to the a WAP hosted version of the widget

Warning – new definitions needed here for you web analysts.

Placement: A unique ID assigned to an instance of a widget on a particular page.

Seed Placement: A placement where a widget creator places their widget for others to view and grab.

Non-Seed Placement: A placement that has been generated from someone “grabbing” the widget.

More on Placements in my next post. Off to lunch here at E-Metrics!

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Hello World – Widget Analytics Have Arrived

Posted by widgetgirl on October 11, 2007

Hello current future and contemplative web and widget analysts! Welcome to “Widget Analytics”. This is my very first post on widget analytics – an intro to widgets. I have been pondering the thought of writing a blog for a long time, but haven’t been ready to commit. Well, the time has come!

So what are widgets? There are web widgets and desktop widgets. Most of my blogging is going to be focused on the web widget. Widgipedia’s definition of a web widget is as follows:

A web widget is a portable chunk of code that can be installed and executed within any separate HTML-based web page by an end user without requiring additional compilation. They are derived from the idea of reusable code that has existed for years. Nowadays other terms are used to describe a web widget including: gadget, badge, module, capsule, snippet, mini and flake. Web widgets often but not always use DHTML, Adobe Flash or JavaScript programming languages.

Ok, so what does that mean to me as a web analyst? Up until recently, it really didn’t mean much because widgets weren’t a part of the marketing channels that I was analyzing. Email newsletters, display advertising, paid search and organic search were the primary ways that we lured new visitors to our web sites. Social networks and the open sharing of content is changing that model. Now we can take content on our site, widgetize it, and allow the user to share the content across the web.

What does this looks like in laywoman’s terms:

  1. Liza comes to my web site and sees a piece of content wrapped as a widget.

  2. She clicks on the “grab it” or “share it” button on the widget.

  3. A menu appears to allow Liza to grab the widget and do one of the following:

    1. Push it to her favorite social network (like MySpace, Facebook, iGoogle or Netvibes)

    2. Grab the embed code and put it on any web site she chooses

    3. Email it to a friend

    4. Send a text message to her friend Jeff containing a link to the widget

  4. Tony goes to Liza’s MySpace page (where she published it because she chose door number 1 above) and sees Liza’s widget.

  5. Tony decides that he wants this widget too and once again begins the process of grabbing the widget.

So from my site to Liza, Liza to Tony, my widget spreads across the internet from site to site. Tony does not have to come back to my site to get the widget, yet I still have control over the content. If you think about the path here, there are some very interesting things to analyze!

  • How many unique visitors saw my widget? On my site? Liza’s MySpace page? On Tony’s site?

  • How many times has my widget been viewed?

  • How many times has my widget been “grabbed” or “shared”?

  • Were did Tony “grab” my widget from?

  • Where has Liza “spread” my widget to?

  • Is my widget continuing to spread or is it (gulp) starting to die?

There is a lot to analyze and there aren’t standards around how to measure this just yet. The IAB has standards around rich media and the WAA has standards for web analytics, but no one has formally nailed down the widget analytics standards. As this evolves over the next few months and years, I hope to be able to provide the widget analyst audience (aka web analysts with their widget hat on) a place to keep up to date on widget analytics awareness. Your email, comments and questions are desired – so please reach out!

Ending note – for anyone attending the E-Metrics conference in DC, please come check out my presentation on Monday October 15 from 5-6pm. I am speaking on “Optimizing creative and landing pages for advertising campaigns”. However, you’ll also get a sneak preview of widget analytics 😉

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