Friday, August 31, 2007

Behavioral Targeting now playing on your TV

Well, don’t get alarmed yet but that’s the way future is going to look like. TV will (in near future) start showing Behaviorally Targeted ads. The idea is not new, it has been talked about for quite some time but Time Warners’ purchase of Tacoda has moved this idea a step closer to reality.

Here is an excerpt from iMedia Connection interview with Dave Morgan of Tacoda.

Recently on an analysts call, Time Warner COO Jeff Bewkes expressed enthusiasm for the targeting capabilities of the company's cable network. Can Tacoda's technology be applied to the cable platform or does it only function on a web platform?
We do believe that BT will be applied to cable networks and we have built our business and our technology with that future in mind. What we do on the PC we certainly intend to do for the TV.

How about mobile?
The same. What we do for the PC, we intend to do for the mobile device. Of course, since those systems are much less open and also may involve more personal data, this area may develop much slower.

The same concepts that are used today online to show Behaviorally Targeted ads will translate into TV (and other media e.g. mobile) as well. Based on what time of the day a user watches TV, what program she watches, how often she watches, weather she TiVo’s the programs and what programs, does she watches commercials or skips them everything will help segment users and better target the ads. Yes, there will be issues in exactly identifying what ad will make sense but with smart segmentation providers will be able to deliver the right ads to right viewers. For example, there are certain programs that I watch which my wife does not like, there are certain programs that my wife watches which I don’t watch and then there are others that we both watch. By putting both me and my wife (household) in one segment 1/3 of the time the advertiser will be wrong, still better than being 50% (or more) wrong. Now if they overlay other household information and find affinities between the programs watched and the time of the day and flipping of the channels (time a person stops on a particular channel before flipping again) etc, providers will be able to better segment the viewers and hence better target the Ads.
This is just the beginning, you will hear more and more about TV ad targeting in next 2 years.

So watch out for the Behavioral Targeted Ads coming to your TV.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

X Change Web Analytics Conference

I am excited to be a part of the X Change conference organized by Semphonic. X Change is a highly focused web analytics conference for and by real-world practitioners and web analytics managers, today announced that it has attracted another group of top industry experts.

The Conference consists of many small discussion groups ("Huddles") hosted by facilitator experts in specific topic areas. During the intimate setting, conference participants will be able to share experiences, exchange ideas and brainstorm new approaches with experts, as well as with each other in a structured environment. Eric T. Peterson of Web Analytics Demystified will be the Keynote Speaker, and also serve as one of the expert facilitators.

I will be one of the expert facilitators joining Eric Peterson of WebAnalyticsDemystified, Duff Anderson of iPerceptions, Gary Angel, June Dershewitz and Paul Legutko of Semphonic, Matt Belkin of Omniture, Paul Bruemmer of RedDoor Interactive, Joseph Carrabis of NextStage Evolution, Terry Cohen and Matt Jacobs of Digitas, Aaron Gray of WebTrends, Manoj Jasra of Enquiro, Phil Kemelor of CMS Watch and Semphonic, John Quarto-vonTivadar of FutureNow, Marshall Sponder of IBM and Webmetricsguru, Jaques Warren of WAO Marketing, Client Ivy of Visual Science and Judah Philips of Reed Business Information (Reed).

I will be leading the huddles on Behavioral Targeting and Online Campaign Measurement.

To learn more about the X Change Conference and to reserve your spot, please visit

Read the press release.

Note: If you are in Seattle area on 30th Aug, I would like to invite you to the launch party of ZeroDash1, a new web analytics consulting firm in Seattle area.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

WAA Base Camp on Online Marketing Campaign Measurement.

Next Monday (8/20) I will be in Boston giving the WAA Base Camp workshop on Online Marketing Campaign Measurement.

This workshop will cover the following topics:

The Wide Variety of Metrics
Impressions, clickthroughs and pageviews are just the beginning. True campaign success requires delving into depth, duration and engagement.

Campaign Optimization Terminology
After this workshop, you’ll be able to speak knowledgeably about Pay Per Click vs. Pay Per Action, Single Page Defection, and Keyword Cost Per Click Analysis. A deep understanding of the language will give you the ability to better manage your team and your advertising partners.

Click Fraud Detection
Money spent on deceit is wasteful and aggravating, but when erroneous results are fed back into the optimization process, advertising optimization is reversed. This workshop will prepare you for the click fraud arms race.

How To Manage Email Marketing
Sendability metrics, open ratios and pass-along metrics are the tools of the trade. The more you know, the more effective your campaigns can be.

Measuring Rich Media
Animated gifs started it all. Now, we live in a world of social networking, dynamic data and streaming promotions. Got metrics? You will.

Learn more about this workshop at

If you are in Boston and would like to meet for drinks on Saturday (8/18), email me at batraonline at

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

It's a Targeted Targeted Targeted Targeted World

In a recent survey CNET asked AOL,, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo about their privacy policies and behavioral targeting. In some cases they asked follow-up questions for clarification.

Here are the results


So what did the Search engines say about Behavioral Targeting?

AOL was very open about using Behavioral Targeting. They have been using Revenue Science and recently purchased Revenue Science’s competitor Tacoda.

ASK said they do not use behavioral targeting. I have not paid much attention to ASK so I cannot comment if that is true or not.

ASK said they do not use behavioral targeting. I have not paid attention to ask so cannot comment if that is true or not.
Google said they do not use behavioral targeting. However as I showed you last month, they use same session targeting, I call it behavioral targeting. Their following answers were not clear to me

"CNET: Do you do behavioral targeting, meaning showing ads to users based on their behavior across multiple queries?
Grand: We are committed to protecting user privacy. We also want to provide users with a more rewarding online experience by making the advertising and content users see relevant to them. We believe the targeting capabilities, reporting and analytics we offer today provide advertisers with an excellent ROI and provide a high-quality user experience. Currently, our system incorporates a large number of signals (such as the user's query, the user's location, type of site, content, and the advertiser's landing page) when targeting and ranking ads. We have not focused on demographic targeting to date for targeting ads on search result pages."

Isn’t that what is called behavioral targeting? Demographic is one element and is not the main ingredient for Behavioral Targeting, Behavioral Targeting is based on behavior, demographic provides another criteria to segment the behavior by but is not required. Once again, do not confuse Behavioral Targeting with targeting based on Demographic information. Seems like Google is saying since we do not use Demograohic information we are not doing Behavioral Targeting.

"CNET: We weren't able to figure out your answer to our question asking whether you do behavioral targeting. In other words, if I search for "New York City vacation" in one query and "vacation hotels" in a second query a moment later, does evaluate the two responses, figure out that I'm probably looking for New York City hotels, and display ads appropriately?
Grand (Google): No.
Well, I showed some examples of it last month, check out my article titled "Ad Targeting on Google Search Engine".

MSN: Representative of MSN said that they offer Behavioral Targeting through AdCenter. He indicated that they will begin offering behavioral ad targeting on third-party sites. He also said that MSN uses some demographic data from services such as Hotmail and Windows Live for targeting but uses in non-identifiable fashion."

Yahoo, was very open about using behavioral targeting. According to yahoo
"Per our privacy policy, when a user is logged into a Yahoo product or service, they are not anonymous to us. Logged-in users may receive customized ads based on general demographic categories such as geo-location, gender, and/or age range."

What does this all mean?

Well, Behavioral Targeting has arrived, you will be targeted (and already are weather you know it or not). Yahoo, MSN and AOL are doing it. Google, even if they are denying it, is already targeting you. ASK will follow suite soon. "It's a Targeted Targeted Targeted Targeted World".

Friday, August 10, 2007

FTC to Host Town Hall meeting to discuss Behavioral Targeting and Online Privacy

Federal Trade Commission is conducting a Town Hall meeting to discuss several topics on Behavioral Targeting and Online Privacy.
This is your chance to participate in the panel and have your voice heard.
This two-day Town Hall will bring together consumer advocates, industry representatives, technology experts, and academics to address the consumer protection issues raised by the practice of tracking consumers’ activities online to target advertising – or “behavioral advertising.” It will be held November 1-2, 2007 at the FTC Conference Center at 601 New Jersey Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC. It is free and open to the public.
The Commission invites interested parties to submit requests to be panelists and to recommend other topics for discussion. The requests should be submitted electronically to by September 14, 2007. The Commission will select panelists based on expertise and the need to represent a range of views about the issues. Panelists selected to participate will be notified by October 5, 2007.
Topics at the Town Hall will include:

  • How does online behavioral advertising work? What types of companies play a role in this market?

  • What types of data are collected? Is the data personally identifiable or anonymous? Even when the data is anonymous, is it, or could it be, combined with personally identifiable data from other sources??

  • How is the data used, and by whom? Is it shared or sold? Is the data used for any purposes other than to target advertising??

  • How has the online advertising market, and specifically behavioral advertising, changed since 2000??

  • What security protections are companies providing for the consumer data that they collect, use, transfer, or store??

  • What do consumers understand about the collection of their information online for use in advertising??

  • Are companies disclosing their online data-collection practices to consumers? Are these disclosures an appropriate and effective way to inform the public about these practices? Are companies offering consumers choices about how data is collected and used??

  • What standards do, or should, govern practices related to online behavioral advertising? Are companies following the Network Advertising Initiative Principles, originally issued in 2000 for online network advertising companies? Are these principles still relevant, in light of changes in the marketplace? What other legal or self-regulatory standards are applicable to these practices? Are certain practices generally regarded as appropriate or inappropriate in this area?

  • What changes are anticipated in the online behavioral advertising market over the next five years? Will information be collected through technological means other than cookies? Is behavioral advertising moving beyond the Internet into other technologies?

Do you have an opinion on any of the above topics? Tell me what you think, maybe I will compile all responses and provide on this blog for future. And if I get selected on the panel I will take your voice to this town hall meeting.
Here is my previous post on FTC

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Relying too much on SEO? Think Again.

I usually don’t write about SEO (since I am not an SEO, here are the posts labeled SEO) but this issue has been bugging me for quite a few days so I thought I will write about my views on this topic and open it for comments and suggestions.
Search Engine optimization has become an important part of the marketing strategy. However, I feel, a lot marketers are getting too obsessed with traffic driven to their sites from Google, Yahoo, Live (MSN), ASK etc without thinking about the consequences of dropping off from search engines rankings. I understand that it is relatively cheaper (notice I did not say Free) than paid inclusions, banner ads, affiliates etc. And ranking high on search engine is something to be happy about and proud of, ranking high on search engines provides you competitive advantage. But Free comes with risks.
Relying too much on search engine driven traffic can also mean trouble soon or later. SEO is a powerful and relatively cheaper way to acquire new customers. The problem is when marketers rely too much on it and take it for granted. A lot of markets I have come across do SEO as one time thing, achieve a position on top page and get a false sense of security. Let me remind you that organic traffic from Search Engines is not guaranteed all the time. Yes you are number 1 or on the number one page today but that does not mean you will be there tomorrow. If 60% of your traffic is driven from search engines and 40% of that is driven from one Search Engine (say Google) what will happen if one day you drop out of 1st ranking or 1st page on that search engine? Below I have highlighted some of the factors that can cause you to lose your top position and hence traffic and revenue.
  1. Competitive SEO - You are ranked number 1 today does not mean you will be ranked number 1 tomorrow. As competitors are catching up and working with SEO’s you can very easily be displaced from your top position. Number 1 position on the search engines is not guaranteed. No one can guarantee it. If you think you have a good SEO team so does you competitor. Remember only 10 organic results can show up on the first page and 70% of the search users don’t even look beyond the first search result page.

  2. Universal Search – As Google and others try to integrate regular web page search, images and other searches on one search result page, a site could be pushed further down the search results. So if you were number 10 even higher before universal search, possibility is that you could be pushed to the next page after universal search is available on your keywords.

  3. New Formats of the search results page – Search engines are experimenting with new formats all the time. Example is’s new three column search result page, with so much information on one page it will be hard for users to go beyond first page. If you are on page number two and beyond you will see even lower traffic than you originally saw.

  4. Personalized Search – As personalized search becomes more common, a site could rank number 1 on search results of one user but not for the other. There won’t be a universal number 1 position for a keyword in personalized search results page

  5. Co-op search engines – Co-op search engines are new form of search engines from Google that allows anybody to form a vertical search engine. The proliferation of these kinds of search engines could cause your sites to completely disappear from the search results.

  6. Changes in Algorithm and technology – Search engines are innovating all the time. As search engines experiment with new algorithm you could lose your coveted 1st position over night.

  7. New Search Engines – Google did not invent search engine. Today Google is number one who knows who and in what shape will be the number one Search engine tomorrow.

  8. Negative SEO – There was an article in Forbes on “Negative SEO”. If your competitor uses such a practice they can temporarily throw you out of the SEO rankings hence causing decline in your traffic.

I hope this gives you an idea on why relying too much on organic search engine traffic could mean trouble. Here are some of things that you can do to ensure you stay on top of the game and do not suffer a lot even if Google (or other search engines) decides to drop you from organic rankings
  1. Paid Inclusion (Pay Per Click also known as PPC) - Put PPC in place to counter a sudden drop in search engine ranking – This is your backup plane, have set budget set aside for PPC just in case SEO fails. You get up one day, your web analytics and SEO monitoring shows that you have a drop in traffic because you have lost your top position on a keyword. That’s the time to kick in your PPC at full speed while you try to get back on organic rankings. Note you don’t have much control on organic rankings.

  2. Diversifying – Just like your financial adviser will say, do not put all your eggs in one basket, diversify. Diversify your sources of traffic. Having 60% of your traffic driven from one source is like investing 60% of your portfolio in on stock. I am sure a lot of you know how that goes. So make sure you are not too dependent on Google, Yahoo, MSN and ASK. You should have a strategy to generate traffic from varying sources such as Banners, Affiliates, Link partners, Search engines, direct traffic, newsletters, emails, offline etc.

  3. Branding - This is an important part and often forgotten by the SEO. There have been studies which say it takes a visitor 4-5 visits from search engine before they buy anything, so marketers assume that as a norm. Great!!! But what happens if after two or three visits, by a user to search engine, you competitor shows up as number 1 result on the search engine result page for the keyword that initially drove users to your site? It is very important for your brand to make an impact when the visitors first lands on your site. Even if the visitors go back to search engine next time, they should search for your brand and not a generic term to get to your site. Branded keywords are sort of (not completely though) guaranteed to bring your site at the top of search results. In a future post I will show how I used Google Analytics to track if the site was doing a good job branding to search engines driven traffic or not.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Web Analytics Jobs Trend: Aug 2007

Here is the latest update on “Web Analytics” jobs.
This snapshot was taken on Aug 1st from and Both of these sites are job aggregators that collect open job positions from individual company sites and from job boards such as also provides job boards called job-a-matic, like the Job Board I have on my blog. These job boards allow individual bloggers or site owners to quickly create a job board specific to their site’s content. Not much has changed from the last month, the jobs remain at the same level as the last month.

Note: Month in the above graph represents the month when the data was gathered.A lot of job positions never are listed on any job board or company sites. These jobs are filled by networking and referrals. So if you are looking for a job and none of the listed jobs meet your passions float your name, let people in your networks and recruiters know what you are looking for and chances are you will find your dream job.

Which tool experience is in demand?
Again, not a big change from last month.

Open Job Positions on and for various web analytics tools.

3 month comparison of open job positions for various web analytics tools based on data.

If you want to start a career in web analytics and don't know where to start, check out my article starting a career in Web Analytics and my Web Analyst interview series to see how others got started in web analytics.

Thank you to all of you who promoted and participated in the web analyst job surevy that I conducted last month. I will be publishing the results soon.

This will be the last monthly update on Job trends unless I see a big change. I might switch to quarterly update instead so stay tuned.