Loathing in Web Analytics
Eric Peterson, who some of you may recall from interview questions and repeated WAW discussions, asked:
“What do you think? Is web analytics hard because the tools are hard to use?”
And this thread really got going. Check it out.
This is all fairly predictable, and it always ends in detente. You may recall a lot of annoyance within the web analytics community back in late 2009. There was one in 2007. I didn’t self-identify as a web analyst for the 2005 iteration, but I’ve seen fingerprints of it.
It’s recurring and predictable.
It’s akin to the periodic “Information Architecture is DEAD!” line that appears so frequently at their conference that it might as well become a lolcat meme.
So, here’s a thesis.
There’s a significant group of people who are still pouring into digital, and they don’t understand digital analytics because they don’t understand digital. The education burden tends to fall on web analysts because, to thrive as a web analyst, you have to understand digital. They do not need many degrees of freedom. Keep it simple. Keep them focused. Keep things on one theory. It’s a time sink. But an essential one.
There’s a significant group of people who are well along the maturity curve. They need many degrees of freedom, because they expect answers to very complex questions. And they’re asking questions that are effectively data mining questions. Worse, there’s confusion about the difference between marketing reporting and marketing analytics. They’re not the same people, though, misrepresentations are common and constant. The technology has not caught up with most of these people. And it will. Eventually.
I’m personally aware of a very small handful of firms that successfully compete on analytics and adequately balance the quant and qual aspects of marketing strategy. They’re exceedingly rare, and they all started up post-2002. Most companies were not born after 2002, nor, do most companies have quants at the helm. There’s a lot of creative destruction to go still.
In sum, the beatings will continue until morale improves.
In the meantime, enjoy the debate and make up your own mind.
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