Offtopic

Utilizing Investment Forecasting Technology For Predicting Traffic Patterns

After a recent business trip to California I stranded in the airport bookstore trying to find a book for my 6 hrs flight back to NYC. I usually avoid the bestseller shelf (how cool!) and head straight to the "business" section (quite boring heh!). Usually I just look at the cover and try to figure out if the Guy Kawasaki's, Seth Godin's or Malcolm Gladwell's released another one of these marketing books. I usually know the books from past reads or am just not interested in the topics, then turn around grab a water and head back to the gate. However, this time I actually didn't leave, but rather walked over  to the finance books section.

The finance section is usually stuffed with "how to become rich" or MLM type books. However, this time I saw Debunkery from Ken ( CEO of Ken Fisher Investments // Nasdaq) and ended up buying it, b/c it covered topics that I am interested.

Debunkery is a book that explains why investors failed when they believe in common industry "wisdoms".

The book covers pretty much the same problem that webmaster and web analysts have: A red checkout button is supposed to be worse than a green one. The link navigation should be on the left. The landing page shouldn't have distracting banners. Seasonality has a huge influence on profit margins. On-page optimization is key to rank higher...

If you really look at these statements closer...they are often mythology as well. This is why reading a book from experts in a different industry is just a nice way of getting the mile high view again.

Often our industry comes up with predictions based on data that's pulled from different silos such as SEM tracking software, web analytics software, internal business data, enterprise organic search engine optimization software, SMO tracking software and not really anyone has connected all these silos.

Also "our" industry is swamped with people, who didn't study or grew with this industry (which is not surprising since the industry is just 15+ years old and  advanced university classes for web analytics are rare).

This leads too often to complete wrong assumptions, predictions and false reporting. Predicting outcome is extremely difficult and the dollars made in "our" industry just doesn't allow companies to invest enough money to come even close to advanced forecasting technology that the finance industry utilizes for predicting the stock market.

Overall the financial markets like the "web traffic markets" are less predictable than we often think.

Long story short.....I'd really love to see one of the top web analysts to turn into mythbusters for our industry. I'd also like to see a company to take forecasting and traffic analysis to a different level. Products from SAS, Adobe or IBM are on a good way, but far from being  mainstream and not as good enough to change our industry. Let's blame the free solutions such as Google Analytics for that :)

Web Analytics Industry US vs. Europe

After a 2 week and 3 conferences marathon I was quite surprised how our industry develops different internationally. SEOCampixx, a medium-sized conference in Berlin,  was a fun event, despite the fact that I was totally sick and could not even prepare a minute for my presentation.

I've spend some time talking to different people in the industry and it's quite interesting to see how different they approach work than in the US: Web analytics in Germany still only has a few niche local players, but there is (unfortunately) no real innovation. A lot of companies still clone features from Google Analytics and other vendors. Even worse, government institutions threaten to use outdated privacy issues laws against webanalytics vendors and ad networks, which use re-targeting based on Cookies or user behaviour. A true innovation killer, especially when you consider that in the US companies such as AppNexus are investing heavily to improve ad network and re-targeting technology.

However, the search space is quite different: Companies like Searchmetrics, Seolytics, Sistrix and SEOdiver are pretty innovative and I am sure that they would do pretty well if they decide to cross the pond and adapt to the cultural and local requirements of the US market.

Emetrics / SMX Munich was also an event that was quite inspiring.  The show used to be small, but this time a good crowd showed up. Not very international, but smart people, that are willing to share ideas, stay on top of the game and are willing to make business. Maybe it had to do with the powerful industry in the Munich area (Laptop and Lederhosen), but the conference was much closer to what a US conference is like.

Long story short: The web analytics market in Europe still seems to be very local and only a few players really make some noise and were able to establish themselves in the market. It's probably still pretty tough to sell an Omniture solution for a $100k a year if the market is just not as big.

However, the search industry is pulling off some advanced technology and the German obsession with being precise really helped to come up with advanced tools, which can help sites to understand the ROI of their organic search engine efforts.

Over the next years it'll be interesting to see whether the web analytics and online marketing industry is able to move closer to the US or if  the markets still keep apart.

America's Chief Technology Officer

Usually I don't much write much about politics here, but assigning Aneesh Chopra as the Chief Technology Officer is kind of a bold move of Obama. He'll work closely with Federal CIO Vivek Kundra and Jeffrey Zients, the Chief Performance Officer.

Not sure what it is, but I really like the idea of having some technologist sitting in Washington and taking care of how the government should be run on the technology side.

Wished the country of my origin (Germany) would make moves like this, instead of bolstering the dieing car industry.

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Paypal is usually a great system and the minds who built it, are extremely smart. However,  the way they currently treat clients is pretty depressing.

Not only mine, but apparently a few hundred thousand accounts are frozen and Paypal doesn't have the guts to even tell people that something is wrong.

Just imagine going to your bank a week before the holidays and someone posted this note at the window:

"If you were making a purchase or sending money, we recommend that you check both your PayPal account and your email for a transaction confirmation after 30 minutes.

If you came to this page from another website, please return to that site (don't use your browser's Back button) and restart your activity.

If you came from PayPal's website, click the PayPal logo in the upper-left corner to return to our home page and restart your activity. You might have to log in again"

Sometimes the web is just a bizarre place. There is are a billion dollar company, which freezes the money of thousands of clients for months and literally nobody cares :)

Oh forgot....Google has a new holiday logo on their homepage. Let's post about that

WebAnalyticsbook.com goes German

I finally put it together and I will start posting once in a while on Webanalysebuch.de - my German counterpart blog.

The main reason is my ability to post about the European web analytics market and get more SEO, SEM and the Mobile stuff over the pond. I could have mixed the two languages here, but it just doesn't make sense to dilute the blog with another language.

Also it will be a great way for me to keep my Germanand connect with the European scene. So..if you read German,  please check out www.webanalysebuch.de (german for webanalyticsbook.com).

I gradually will update the new blog...so please be patient.

Mashup Art

While I am presenting at Emetrics in Washington D.C. about Mobile Analytics, my wife, a high-school teacher in a tough NYC neighborhood, is presenting in Albany, NY about something completely different, but really fascinating: Rural Memorials and the effect in local communities.

Even that her "kids" took great R.I.P. pictures in Brooklyn, she did some research on the web and found one of the best uses of a Google Map Mashup:

One of the pictures:


Photo: Martha Cooper

"Just off Fulton Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant is a massive wall intendedto honor Yusuf Hawkins, the 16-year-old who was surrounded by a gang of 30 white youths in Bensonhurst on the evening of Aug. 23, 1989, then shot twice in the chest."

Bus Blogging

I believe in 2006 I posted once on this blog while flying over the Atlantic from NYC to Frankfurt. It was quite an experience since it was one of the first flights that offered internet on board.
Today I am on the way to Emetrics in Washington D.C. for my speech about "Mobile Analytics".
I could have taken the plane or the train or drive myself. However I opted-in for the Chinatown bus for the  convenience and the incredible amount of $17.50. And what's even better...the bus offers wireless, so I can blog work on the road without wasting any time sitting in the train or waiting at JFK for take-off.

Guest Blogger Wanted

Since I am really busy lately and don't have time to post every single day, I'd like to give guest blogger the opportunity to post here.

The topic in this blog is pretty wide, so it doesn't have to be solely web analytics related. I usually also cover SEO, Affiliate Marketing,  Mobile and other technology, but am also open to all kinds of postings.

Last I don't really care about your blogging experience and/or if you went to college.

So...if you have some great content and don't want to hold back, please use the contact form in the navigation bar.

Stock Up on Domains

Funny email which I got from Sedo today:

"Dear Sebastian,
As the financial state of economies around the world continue to look bleak, domain investors may find themselves sitting on a gold mine of online real estate. Although domains aren’t tangible assets, their current value can be attributed to the fact that they’re among the easiest assets to measure and account for. With their consistent performance indicators and trackable advertising opportunities, your domain names may be the security blanket that keeps you covered during these unpredictable financial times."

I still haven't received an email from the gold vendors yet :). The return  on gold sucks over the long run, but right now is probably the time when gold traders make a killing with new clients.

Copycatism

I was really astonished to see that two German "entrepreneurs & clone experts"
are speaking at the Web 2.0 conference. One is Oliver Jung, the other Lukas Gadowski, founder of Spreadshirt, which is the number two T-shirt print shop next to Cafepress. Their session will show how Copycatism works in Europe.

So far so good and I am not really questioning a session like that, but it's sad to see that out of all international speakers two Germans have to talk about Copycatism rather than about innovation. Where have all the German engineers gone?

Especially the Web 2.0 expo, which in my eyes is the most innovative tech conference out there, really deserves more (from Germany) than two guys who make their money by investing in cloned products.

I also just wondered what would happen if a Chinese car manufacturer & copycat, would speak at the Frankfurt auto show about his car cloning strategy. Is there really anything he could say, rather than "File an international trademark, roll out the patents and open outposts as fast as possible"? We'll see.

Web 2.0 New York

Just want to give heads up that I'll be at a few sessions at Web 2.0 next week. I won't be able to attend much, but shoot me an email if you want to meet up (maybe later at night):

My schedule:

Wednesday

2:45 - 3:10PM New York's Web Industry

From 1995 to 2008: From Nascent to Ascendent

Fred Wilson -- Special Events Hall

[7-8pm Higher Education and
the Web 2.0 World

-- Boardroom C-Hudson Hotel]

9:00 - 10:00PM Anatomy of a Highly

Scalable Facebook Application ]

Thursday

5:15 - 6:05PM User Analytics:
Building Flickr Stats

Paul Hammond -- 1A08 & 10

Friday

Maybe, but probably not: 10:25am Friday, 09/19/2008 Keynote

The Real Future of
Technology

Web Analytics An Hour A Day- $31000 Raised For Charity!

I have to admit that I am blown away that Avinash Kaushik, the author of Web Analytics An Hour A Day, made $31000 with his book in a year and entirely donated the money to two charities.

It's just a beautiful story of what a blogger/author can accomplish and it just shows how Avinash is different from many others.
He is one of the few A bloggers, who understood that it is not about riding the A blogger wave of fame and making as much money as they can; it's about having the guts to pull off something like this!

It makes my small efforts of supporting an all boys class at my wife's school look like a joke. However...since I had another amazing year and hearing a story like this I'll have to do more. Stay tuned!

Tracking and Crowdsourcing Tropical Storms And Hurricanes

A little bit offtopic, but tracking a storm is kind of fun nowadays.
Stormpulse.com has an excellent UI and tells me exactly at what time the tropical storm Hanna will arrive at my weather station apartment in NYC.

If Stormpulse would add some Geotagging, SMS and some social web applications,allowing users to submit storm pictures, the whole
service could be a great help for people who are uncertain about how the storm will turn out.

Anyways...great service. Really enjoy following tropical storm Hanna, which will hit us here in about 3 hours. Thanks Stormpulse!

Edit: Just saw that they have a tip box for users. How great is that?

Google Trends: Hockey mom and Moose hunter

Lately I was pretty untouched by the elections in November since I believed Obama is of over the hill (against Hillary) already and McCain and him will fight it out within the last 2-3 weeks before the elections. However...after the recent speech from hockey mom, moose hunter and Republican candidate Palin, I am not sure what will happen. But way more interesting than who will be the official puppet president of the US, some campaign manager should have jumped on the bandwagon and bid on the word "hockey mom" or "moose hunter".

Would have dragged the story probably in the blogosphere and could have had a nice impact (pro or contra the candidate). But SMO probably hasn't really arrived in politics yet :)

Search volume for "hockey mom"

Is The Search Industry Still Innovative?

Yesterday I was walking with my wife to a local restaurant and she was telling me how her school (she's a teacher) installed a Smart Board 600i The Smart Board 600i can be hooked up to a laptop, supports drag and drop via a touch screen and allows teachers to use markers on it.

Here the Smartboard Video.

Since my wife told me how great the smart board is and what it can do, I was kind of stunned that her inner city high-need school, which is located not in the best neighborhood and certainly doesn't float in money, uses this advanced technology to teach kids.

It's 2008 and I am still using the same search engine interface that I used 5 years ago. Search Engine Conferences became more of an industry gathering (=parties) with the same speakers year after year rather than an innovative playground for new technology (like Web 2.0 conferences/Barcamps...).

Big coorporations like Microsoft and Yahoo still copy Google  too often instead of fixing their core technology  (just visit the SERPs on live.com for  the keyword "apartment". Until the results look "normal" I refuse to use Live.com).

I could go on and on with this for a while, but it wouldn't help. I guess it is time that someone says something.  Search gurus could push the industry to another level and conference planners should move forward and let innovators speak and interact. Old and new media should try to be  more open to new technology rather than writing polarizing articles, which generate more traffic/income, but are not helping anybody.

Overall everybody in the search industry should try to move the industry forward. It's a fun industry and it will be fun unless we keep talking about how Google changed their logo from 6 to 5 colors.

Time Warner Cable Moved Me To Canada

Sometimes it's tough to be dependant on all these monopoly companies: Last Tuesday I finally got a new Inet access, a boring Cable TV box and some phone modem, that I don't need.

Anyways...it seems like Time Warner's triple play is not only a total waste of my time, but also the Inet seems to hooked up with an Canadian IP. Google, Ebay and Amazon kick me to their Canadian site, instead leaving me in New York (where I belong).

Quite funny to see who has Geo recognition setup and I haven't checked it yet, but I believe this blogs web analytics data has an increase in Canadian traffic (I currently don't block my IPs for private sites)

Anyways...I certainly can work around this, but did anybody experienced the same issue?