In a time of hit counters, he invented web analytics as we know it. His last company, WebSideStory, transformed online marketing for over 500,000 users in more than 1,000 companies worldwide.
Our exclusive interview reveals why he’s now pioneering digital analytics at his new company, Anametrix:
1. Why do you believe digital analytics is the next chapter after web analytics?
I think web analytics data is just one piece of the puzzle. With web analytics, marketers saw for the first time, business data collected, processed, and visualized in real-time. Always on, always up-to-date, always available; that’s addictive. I swear, it made them say, “Wow!”
All kinds of new marketing tools and channels have emerged since: Google Adwords, email campaigns, Pongr, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, mobile apps, you name it. There are more and more of them every day, and their use produces new and important data. These streams of marketing data are much more valuable together than alone. Marketers need them all in one place to make some sense out of what they may mean. That’s digital analytics.
2. What is your vision for Anametrix?
I want this company to be the wheelhouse of all data, the one place where people can see, analyze, and act on the data they have – whatever the data is and wherever it comes from. Look at what Mint does for personal finances; it grabs balances and transaction data from all your accounts. Through one window, you see everything, and you can get reports and even recommendations in that one window. That’s how it should be. A dollar in your bank account is a lot like a dollar in your IRA; so Mint puts them in the same interface. Well, if you’re a marketer, isn’t a dollar spent on radio ads a lot like a dollar spent on keywords? Instead of plugging your checking account into us, you plug your Omniture, your Google Adwords, your email campaigns into us. I want Anametrix to be the Mint of marketing.
Thinking long-term, Anametrix will provide similar solutions for other departments as well: procurement, sales, HR, manufacturing, everything.
3. What do you think the new business challenges are for marketers?
The biggest problem companies have in marketing is that everything lives in separate silos; businesses have ‘the SEO guy’, ‘the social media department’, ‘the email campaign group’, etc. You don’t invest all your marketing dollars in just one channel; therefore, you need digital analytics that brings all the silos together. That’s how you improve your ROI. If you spend a dollar on TV, it impacts your website, your Facebook, etc. It’s all connected to your business. Your data should be connected too.
Until very recently, the group running an email campaign just wanted to see how many people clicked on the links, but there’s so much more impact. The guy you email goes on Facebook and asks his friends what they think of this new product you’re promoting. Then he forwards the link. Maybe he tweets it. You need to be able to see the 360-degree view of his engagement. The explosion of data started out as a problem and a burden. When you figure out how to simplify your processes and use digital analytics to make sense out of it all, this data becomes a resource and an asset.
4. What is unique about how Anametrix addresses these challenges?
I see three things that really make us unique. One, we can connect to everything. That’s unique. You have some products that connect just to databases, others that just connect to XML files, etc. We connect to every kind of thing that brings data to a business. Our connectors can stream the live data in.
The second thing is our technology. It’s not a bunch of dumb storage boxes in the cloud that you have to query; it’s a different kind of cloud. It’s NOT designed to merely store data; it’s designed to PRE-PROCESS, PROCESS, QUERY, VISUALIZE and REPORT in real-time.
And finally, we make data available in the desired flavors. Here’s what that means: all users are different; programmers want to have an API. We have it. CEOs want an email report. We have it. Analysts want to play with Excel. We have it. Other users want it on mobile. We have it. We have all these different access points to the data to support the different users.
5. How do you see the future of analytics evolving?
Right now, we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg. As analytics gets easier and more flexible – and as the marketers get past the initial adoption curve, we will show businesses stuff they’ve never seen before. It’s not all intuitive. Buried in the data are surprising and valuable truths. It will upend a lot of assumptions.
We will transform basic raw data into something that’s going to make the marketers’ life a lot easier. Faster decision-making. More efficient allocation of resources. Better customer acquisition practices. And it will become nearly universal, because the companies that don’t use real-time analytics won’t survive.