October 27, 2006 Emetrics Summit Participation Report
- Boundless Web Analytics Horizon -

Toshihiro Nishikawa
Mitsue Web Consulting

What is the Emetrics Summit

If you are visiting Washington DC in October, you won't want to miss the beautiful autumn leaves. But if you are involved with Web analytics, the major highlight in Washington DC in October this year would be the Emetrics Summit, held from October 16 to 18.

The Emetrics Summit is the world largest Web analytics event, and is held by the Web Analytics Association (WAA), an organization that is actively committed to the development of Web analytics. While the term "Web analytics" may sound unfamiliar, the WAA defines it as the "measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of Internet data for understanding and optimizing Web us." It refers to overall analysis techniques using data about the Internet, including access analysis.

The Emetrics Summit is held as a traveling event around Europe and the United States. This was the first time the event was held on the East Coast of the United States, and brought together approx. 450 people, including Web analytics experts, consultants, marketing representatives from businesses and other organizations, and Web business managers. Participants had the chance to develop a greater understanding of Web analytics through more than 70 presentations, and swapped ideas and promoted friendship through lunch meetings and the reception party. I attended this event over four days, including the WAA Training Day on the day before the event officially opened. I will make here some comments on topics which I especially recognize as important through the overall conference.

Deepening Role of Web Analytics

What I realized strongly at the Emetrics Summit is the growing role of Web analytics, as the role of the Web grows in importance. In the presentation entitled "Web Analytics Business Process", Mr. Eric.T.Peterson, author of Web Measurement Hacks, noted "The result will be a gradual shift from web analytics as an ad hoc process to web analytics as a business process." This is an important point when we consider the role that Web analytics needs to play in the future. Web analytics needs to provide a continuation (in the sense of the ad-hoc process.) Moreover, they should be more rigorous and useful, and contribute to improving sites and business as a whole in the future. Efforts are underway to find ways to achieve these goals.

From a technical perspective, this growing role is evidenced in the forms of Web analytics tools and system integration such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Business Intelligence (BI). Presentations were held concerning future strategies to respond to this trend, accompanied by a case study. I felt that this trend would accelerate in the future.

Interest in A/B Test and Multiple Variable Analysis

In general, I got the impression that there was great interest in the A/B test and multiple variable analysis. These two techniques are used to verify the most effective pattern configuration by dynamically changing page constituent elements, such as images, text, and layout. The techniques are often introduced in Japan as Landing Page Optimization (LPO). In the United States, they are perceived as being widely used for site optimization, irrespective of whether or not the landing page is involved.

For multiple variable analysis in particular, the quality engineering method known as the Taguchi method is generally used to more efficiently find the optimized pattern. I felt that the United States took the initiative in studying useful techniques from different fields and adopting them more actively than Japan did.

Returning to My Workplace

I learned a great deal, and acquired a number of new techniques and frameworks. We will achieve results that are better than expected initially by using them to enhance and develop our services. We hope that you stay tuned as we develop new services in the future. We would like to share as many tips to as many people as possible through blogs and other means.

Frankly, I did not expect to gain a better understanding of the concepts of Web analytics like this by participating in this event. Although I did not notice it immediately after returning to Japan, I found myself looking at things from new perspectives when I returned to the workplace. The subtitle of this Emetrics Summit is "The Big Picture." And indeed, I seemed to obtain this bird's-eye view.

Ask really good questions

Finally, I would like to mention what Mr. Jim Sterne, a WAA organizer, requested participants to do during the event in his keynote speech: "Ask really good questions." To ask really good questions about Web analytics, we need to gain an insight into analyzing the subject thoroughly and identifying the essence. Although this is not a special thing, steady efforts should be made to acquire this capability. I will keep this in mind as something for myself to remember, so that I can contribute to the future of Web analytics.

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