A few weeks back a gave about an hour talk at the annual Software Association of Oregon (SAO) annual retreat. It was frankly a last minute addition to the agenda, but seemed like a poignant time in our association's history to jostle the old guard about what it means to be a software company in 2007. Great examples of new web 2.0. software companies I discussed included SplashCast, Jive Software, Aboutus.org, and others. There are no doubt dozens of budding new software companies that have yet to be discovered. Unfortunately, the SAO is the last to learn of them, in fact I learned about SplashCast from TechCrunch (which most folks at the retreat wrote down as if they had never heard of it.) So, what about web analytics in a 2.0 World?
Thinking and talking about this paradigm shift at our annual retreat, combined with my job as CEO of Attensa (where we have our own analytics component for the enterprise), it got me thinking. I believe the web analytics space is one of the more interesting established software markets to be profoundly impacted by web 2.0 than any other. I firmly believe this for three reasons;
- RSS is a serious marketing tool for businesses of all sizes and industries and will become significant. More progressive emarketers are already seeing the benefits both for replacing/augmenting email programs and for distributing information to customers by broadcasting (rather than requiring a return to a marketers web site for information.) I believe companies will demand integrated measurement tools for RSS as through as those for email, advertising, and web site analytics.
- Delivering the analytics TO the customer just makes sense. Currently, essentially all of the major players in this space require going to a dashboard/portal user interface. This is so 2005. Users at all levels, consumer and business, are proving that push vs. pull is the preferred means of discovering information. Industry watchers are already wondering why RSS feeds aren't used yet by the major players in the web analytics space. Using RSS as a means to distribute Web analytics updates/reports is so obvious it is inevitable, and perhaps new standards such as Microsoft's SLE, will be the best way for companies to deliver this type of information easily. I for one would like to get my FeedBurner stats this way, and I'm not alone.
- Measuring the user is changing, and in the future its 'attention' not click residue. What is important for marketers, then and now, is getting the best read on their current or prospective customers habits. And, of course, to get them to buy. Clickstreams and clickthroughs are not the end-all, just a tiny part of the whole. Consider the phenomenon of end user tagging, which last month's PEW Internet & American Life Project report confirmed that already 28% of online Americans have used the Internet to tag content. This is pure "attention" and far more useful overtime than clickstreams or clicks.
Simon Wakeman, an industry consultant, discusses his experience using Google Analytics, StatCounter, and FeedBurner on his blog. And of course points out that he cant get RSS feeds from any of them. Steve Rubel has discovered a new service called Clicky that may be a peek at web 2.0 analytics. I have not tried it yet. Also worth noting, Google announced it will publish stats on its Google Reader and there is some chatter on the labs blog. I have a feeling all the major services will publish these stats over time and, accordingly, marketers will care.
As for Attensa, our Enterprise Server (AFS) has an analytics component, but it is focused primarily at behind the firewall use of RSS feeds for business users. We have no current plans to offer RSS for large companies that are adding RSS as a medium for communicating to customers. At least not yet.
In my opinion, the conventional web analytics software firm of the future will need to focus on the interactivity of customers across all media, not click residue. Thoughts?
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