Monday, September 29, 2008

Multichannel Marketing: Book Review

We live in a multi-channel world today. Customers are everywhere Online, Print, Mobile, Email, TV etc. Marketing efforts in one channel have an impact on the other channels. Customers interact with various channels before they take the final action i.e. to buy from you.

Mutli-channel customer behavior poses a problem for marketers who need to analyze impact of various marketing efforts and decide how to allocate their budget. It is one of the biggest challenges that face the marketers today. Akin Arikan provides a very practical approach to Multi-channel marketing measurement and optimization in his book Multichannel Marketing: Metrics and for On and Offline Success.

This book shows how to effectively measure and optimize the multi-channel marketing efforts using web analytics. Akin looks at multichannel measurement methods from web analysts, brand marketer and direct marketers point of view. He then takes these various methods to create cross channel analytics.

I highly recommend this book to all the marketers and web analysts. Great Job Akin!

Have you read this book? What do you think? Chime-in.

Here is a list of other books that web analysts recommend.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Behavioral Targeting Resources: Ask Anil Batra

A friend of mine and a regular reader of my blog asked me about the resources that are available for someone to learn about Behavioral Targeting. Since I get a lot of questions via emails, I thought that I should answer it via a blog post so that others, who might be interested in the same topic, can benefit from it as well.

With this post I am also officially starting a column called “Ask Anil Batra”. Please send me your question on Web Analytics and Behavioral Targeting and I will try to answer them in my blog posts.

Now back to answering the question. Here is a list of Behavioral Targeting Resources that I know of:

Behavioral Targeting vendors have a lot of information and whitepapers on their own sites. I will do repost in future with a list of vendors and any whitepapers that might be of value. If you are a Behavioral Targeting vendor and would like to be included in this list then please contact me.

If you know of a resource on Behavioral Targeting then please leave me a comment or email it to me and I will add it in my future post.

Got a question on Web Analytics, Optimization or Behavioral Targeting? Send it to me at batraonline (at)

Looking to fill your Web Analytics or Online Marketing position? Try WebAnalytics Job Board

New Position
(Web Sales) Conversion Marketing Manager at Hewlett Packard (American Fork, UT)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Online Data Tracking and Privacy

Online privacy is a hot button these days. Privacy advocates and lawmakers are putting a lot of pressure on several large internet companies such as Google, Microsoft and Yahoo to be transparent about how they intend to use users web surfing data (behavior). Mainly they are concerned with the companies that collect a huge amount of user data and then engage in Behavioral Targeting.

However online data tracking is not limited to companies who engage in Behavioral Targeting. Any companies which collects users’ web surfing data or user provided data needs to make sure do not compromise user privacy (actual or perceived). They need to clearly state how they are collecting data and how that data will be used.
Enterprise web analytics tools like Omniture, WebTrends, Coremetrics etc and free tools like Google Analytics and Yahoo IndexTools have made it very easy for website owners of any size to track users’ online behaviors. Most of the web analytics tools use a first party anonymous cookie to track users and their behaviors on any given site.

Side Note: The data is called anonymous because it mainly uses a cookie value to indentify a user (there are other ways which I am not covering in this post) without knowing who the actual user is. Say John Doe arrives on, a web analytics tool will drop a cookie with a random id say 123ASXBA12. This cookie id is not tied to any personally identifiable information (see below) of John Doe. So Web Analytics tools (in most cases) do not know who the person is, they just know that cookie id 123ASXBA12 came to the site. They use this id to track current and future site visits.

Even if the data is anonymous the potential of it being tied to personally identifiable information is there and that can cause privacy concerns. It is critical that every company that collects any sort of consumer data, anonymous or personal, needs to clearly state its data collection and usage policy in its site’s privacy policy.

Usually Web Analysts do not tackle this issue and it is left to the legal department. However, a lot of times the web analytics tracking and any kind of targeting is implemented without getting legal involved. As a result companies sometimes do not have proper privacy policy in place. This is a huge blunder, companies need to take privacy issues seriously and pay due attention to their privacy policy.

Do we need Privacy policy even though we use Third Party Web Analytics Tool and they collect the data.

It does not matter who is collecting the data. The data is collected on your site and is collected on your behalf so you are responsible for clearly stating how you are collecting and using the data.
Those who use Google Analytics, need to be aware that Google Analytics requires such disclosures. Here is what Google Analytics states in its Terms of Service
You will have and abide by an appropriate privacy policy and will comply with all applicable laws relating to the collection of information from visitors to Your websites. You must post a privacy policy and that policy must provide notice of your use of a cookie that collects anonymous traffic data.

Tracking Personally Identifiable Data

In simple terms Personally Identifiable Information (PII) can identify a particular user, example last name, first name, email address etc. Most of the commercial Web Analytics Tools have the capability to track Personally Identifiable Information. In other tools such as Omniture, Webtrends etc. you can pass the personally identifiable information either via JavaScript variables or via importing an outside file which ties the anonymous cookie with identifiable information.
If you collect or track PII data then it becomes even more important that you disclose what information you are collecting or tracking and how you intend to use that information. Before you start collecting PII information, think hard what information you need and why you need it. Once you have figure out the information then make sure to fully disclose it on your site’s privacy policy.
I am a big supporter of giving users an opt-in option before using PII data for tracking and targeting. If you do decide that opt-in is not the right for your business model then at least provide an easy way for users to opt-out from being tracked and targeted using PII information.

Note: Google Analytics does not allow any Personally Identifiable information to be tracked via Google Analytics, period. Here is what Google Analytics Terms of Service says:
You will not (and will not allow any third party to) use the Service to track or collect personally identifiable information of Internet users, nor will You (or will You allow any third party to) associate any data gathered from Your website(s) (or such third parties' website(s)) with any personally identifying information from any source as part of Your use (or such third parties' use) of the Service.

Google Analytics even considers IP address as PII. It uses IP address to populate Geo Report but will not show IP address in any report. Other tools such as Omniture, WebTrends etc. can display IP and other PII data.

Optimization and Privacy

Most of the Optimization (A/B and Multivariate Testing) tools allow you to segment users based on IP, cookie or user provided data. For examples if you want to test a page on Males, age 35-45 from Redmond, WA, then you need to collect data from users so that you can create the right segment to test. However this type of data crosses the line of PII data, even though there could be thousands of users in that segment it can be used to identify a particular user. So make sure you are clear in your privacy policy that you might be (or are) using the data to test the optimal layout of the page and provide a better experience etc.

Examples of good privacy policies
Smart Money

As marketers and web analysts lets do our part, let’s make sure to be clear and forthcoming in our privacy policies.

Also see Jim Stern’s view on giving users the control on privacy.

Questions? Comments?



Looking to fill your Web Analytics or Online Marketing position? Try WebAnalytics Job Board

New Position

(Web Sales) Conversion Marketing Manager at Hewlett Packard (American Fork, UT)

Friday, September 12, 2008


In early days of ZeroDash1, I started a tradition of sending out an email titled “Whereabouts” to let everybody else in the company know where we are going to be. With small size and flexibility to work from home, client site etc. made it difficult for people to know where others were and this email was a way for us to notify other team member about their whereabouts (it was our version of Twitter).

Well anyway, I have not written a blog post in pat 2 weeks so I think I owe you all an explanation of what happened and my whereabouts.

New addition to the family

We had a baby boy on September 3rd, his name is Neel. We were mostly busy with shopping for him before birth and then getting used his eating, sleeping and pooping patterns. Life has been hectic. At times it feel painful to get up in 2-4 times in the night when he starts crying, but as soon as we look at his innocent face all the pain goes away and he becomes our top priority. Finally I think (and people warn me that I am wrong) we have figured out his pattern and I will be back to my normal working schedule.

Internet Marketing Conference

Yesterday I made a day trip to Vancouver, Canada to speak at Internet Marketing Conference. The topic of my session was “Monitoring Website Performance”. In this session, I discussed what Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are, how they’re defined, what the difference between a KPI and a metric is (web analytics tool provide you lot of metrics, not all of them are KPIs), and how to effectively present KPIs.

You can read the recap of the presentation at