IBM Fires Shot at Google & Adobe, Acquires Coremetrics

IBM, long considered a behemoth of the technology industry, has often also been considered on the "outside looking in" for many of the last decades' web technology developments. As the company moves to solidify it's position as a vendor that can provide data computing power, their acquisition of web analytics firm Coremetrics adds a specialized product line that helps close the gap.

This move could be a shot right into the heart of online powerhouse Google and Adobe (which acquired Omniture). Coremetrics focuses their offerings on product analytics for the online commerce market, tracking data to a granular level, such as comparing the average sale for a specific company versus sales for other companies in the same or different sectors. The company also heavily relies on cloud computing strategies to enable more flexibility for it's customers' needs. All interesting fields for IBM.

Coremetrics' prowess in web marketing analytics may allow IBM to gain a foothold in the market where Google and Adobe remain market forces. While the company was considering an IPO, an enticing offer from IBM and last minute deal making solidified the acquisition.

Coremetrics was a dot-com company in the days where venture capital flowed to internet startups in obscene amounts. The startup was able to secure an initial $113 million in support of it's core business model.

After the dot-bomb years the company was again able to secure a capital infusion of approximately $111 million from new partners.

Much of the appeal of Coremetrics for IBM was not only it's staying power, but the quality of the company's existing clients, which include such heavyweights as Office Depot, Bank of America, Holiday Inn and Virgin Atlantic Airways. In addition to larger clients, scores of smaller online sites and retail outlets rely on Coremetrics analytics and metrics to improve their bottom line.

What's really interesting about this deal is that specific monetary details have not as yet been disclosed. IBM does not see this as the buyout and elimination of a competitor, but an add-on to their own line of product offerings. The core product line of Coremetrics is expected to continue to be developed and enhanced over time.

One of the attractive services that IBM hopes to integrate and offer to it's existing customers is the ability of Coremetrics to enable companies to collaborate across business silos. Often, within an existing organization, data is segmented and walled off from shared sources, and offering a way to break those barriers is an attractive option for Big Blue.

The company and it's employees will be integrated with IBM's existing corporate structure, bringing Coremetrics 2,100 existing customers along for the ride. It's hoped that by creating a lasting partnership with existing customers, IBM will be able to offer a wider array of services to those same clients.

Overall after the Adobe-Omniture deal another interesting deal in the web analytics market.

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Visual Website Optimizer - Multivariate Testing On The Fly

If you have an online business or are in the process of developing one, you probably are aware that getting traffic to your site is not an easy task. The best approach to turn visitors into customers is testing multiple options. Two popular tests for your website are A/B testing and multivariate testing. For those of you not familiar with these terms, A/B testing is simply the process used to test one element of your site at a time. These include headings, a unique URL, your call to action and even button sizes and colors. Multivariate testing is the process of choosing several elements of your site and then creating variations of them. You will then test the effectiveness of each variant to determine which will offer the best results.

This type of testing is a monumental task and most site owners don’t know where to begin. That is where Visual Website Optimizer comes in. They have developed an assortment of tools that anyone can use to help turn their site visitors into customers. These tools will help you:

Develop Versions of Your Website Visually: You can quickly create multiple versions of your buttons, headlines, forms, and images with a simple point and click process. You are able to preview these variations right away and there is no need to create separate pages for your test.

Editing HTML: The editor used is a very robust word processor; HTML knowledge is not needed. It is very simple to use and allows you to preview all the variations you create, immediately. This editor allows you to test different elements of your page like buttons, headlines, tables, forms and even images.

Spliting Traffic: Visual Website Optimizer allows you to split web traffic between unique URLs to determine which works best. The great part about this process is it allows you to test as many versions as you wish.

Setting up different conversion goals: You will be able to test the impact that your variations will have on the overall site. You can measure the number of visits to a particular page, the number of times a link is clicked, and even submissions of forms on your site.

Reporting: Visual Website Optimizer offers your results in real time reports and easy to understand charts. You receive performance charts daily, including the number of visitors and total conversions, and the impact that variations have on the overall conversion rate.

Segmenting customers: VWO will test customer types, keyword searches, whether they are returning or new, and even the referring URL. Segmentation will also allow you to modify your test based on the customer’s selections in their shopping cart.

Tagging: VWO avoids the need for tagging. It allows you to add a line of code once to perform any number of tests.

Analyzing: Google Analytics and Omniture Site Catalyst can be integrated quickly.

HTML testing: HTML as well as CSS based testing, JQuery based API and syntax highlighted HTML.

Summary:

VWO is one of the best solutions to build a robust Multi-variation testing environment. It’s super easy to use, dirt cheap and still robust. Ideal for pretty much any small webmaster, who doesn’t have the resources to setup a high-end testing ground. .

Reputationobserver - Social Media Analytics Workflow Management

Managing business and personal reputation, once the province of public relations, has increasingly moved online, and this has led a number of firms to specialize in managing reputation in the online universe. In the early days of online reputation management, companies focused on monitoring search results and trying to move positive results up in search rankings. As the social web has grown, firms have begun to pay more attention to blogs, review sites and services like MySpace and Facebook. Reputation Observer offers services designed to track and manage online business and personal reputations. But not only that. The highly complex way of sentiment analysis is managed in a different way than most other tools (which heavily rely on 2-3 different Sentiment API vendors).

FEATURES

Reputation Observer, despite the somewhat passive implication of its name, positions itself as “a revolutionary way of tracking, measuring and repairing your brand or name online.” It breaks its services down into a variety of features, including:

Monitoring. Reputation Observer promises to provide constant monitoring of search, social media and other online media outlets.

Protection. With what it terms “intelligent online media protection,” Reputation Observer offers to analyze, control and protect your brand or your personal reputation.

Reputation building. This feature promises to enhance your reputation and to counteract negative information online.

Social web integration. Earlier tools that were applied to reputation were often specialized variants of the strategies used for search engine optimization. As a result, they focused on enhancing the content of search results. Reputation Observer covers this as well, but it also monitors blogs, review sites and forums, and adds tracking of specific sites that it considers critical to online reputation, including Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube and Orkut.

Social Media Worflow management.  Social Media  Analytics enterprise workflow-management for small and large organizations.

Alerts. Customers are notified by email, text or phone of events considered critical.

COSTS

Reputation Observer does not disclose the cost of its services on its web site. Links on both the US and international sites  seem to point to sources of additional information point instead either to blog posts about online reputation tracking and management, or to a contact form whereby a prospective client may request further information.

The services are offered in a tiered system that segments online media into those considered more or less difficult to manage. A similar hierarchy separates those media according to the identity of the client, assigning different levels of importance to different media for businesses and individuals.

EFFECTIVENESS

Reputation Observer lays out a reasonably complete menu of services and it's effectiveness is well-known in the web industry. Especially for corporations operating in international markets Reputationobserver's  unique approach of high-end technology paired with an objective human social-media rating system is highly effective.

Lifestream Mouse movement with Mouseflow Analytics

Mouseflow Analytics is a fairly new in depth website visitor tracking software available. The amount of information that you receive through a Mouseflow report far exceeds the basic numbers reporting that you get through similiar tracking software. You will be able to see exactly how visitors behave when they visit your site, down to the movement of their mouse and the amount of scrolling they were willing to do. Here some of the functionalities: Replay a Visitor Session

When someone visits your site, Mouseflow Analytics will record every second of their viewing session (similar to Robotreplay and others). Once they have navigated away from the site, you can access the record and watch exactly what the visitor did while they had your site open. The live stream option will even allow you to keep track of a visitor while they are currently on your site. This feature gives you immediate information about how users are viewing your site and how they behave while they are visiting.

Heatmaps Provide a Visual Report

The visitor heatmaps are excellent tools for a quick overview of your site's most popular features. What a heatmap does is create a color coded image that shows you where people are clicking on your site. You may discover that visitors are clicking images that don't contain links, which may lead you to create a link on those images to keep customers engaged. You can also view heatmaps that have color guides of where a visitor's mouse moved and hovered on your page the most often. The heatmaps collect information from several different visitors and combine that information to give you a complete overview of the site's effectiveness. You can compare heatmaps from different time periods to see if changes to the site have drawn attention toward the site areas that you most want visitors to notice.

heatmap

Viewport Feature Gives Visitor Scrolling Information

It can be difficult to gauge the impact of scrolling on your website. Most web tracking tools don't have any way to measure scrolling activity, so developers and designers have had to create sites based on their hopes and expectations rather than factual research. Mouseflow Analytics includes a feature that will give you solid information about how visitors treat the pages of your site that scroll. It will tell you how far down visitors scroll on average, and whether they bother to scroll at all.

See Your Site the Way Visitors Do

Mouseflow Analytics provides you with information from a visitor's perspective. You can look at load times on different types of connections and computer browsers. You will see how often visitors receive bounces instead of loading your site. You will also discover whether visitors spend time reading and scrolling on your site and the amount of interactivity that occurs in a general visit. The page analysis tools give you an authentic way to analyze your site's appearance and reliability from the perspective of someone visiting from a remote location. Once you know how the site is being perceived by others, you will have the power to adjust the site to meet the needs of more visitors.

Summary: Mouseflow is a unique product in the web analytics space: It not only records, but also lets you live stream user behavior on your website. A must-have for any data driven organization and a great feature set for most webmasters.

Ipad 16 GB Review

Oh boy....I am a PC, but somehow ended up with an IPad today and here is my review of the Ipad 16 GB version. Written on an Ipad: I am not getting into the unboxing nonsense. It is pretty much like the Iphone. 2 small pages and 2 cables, which includes the charger. That's it.

First installation is quite annoying since I need to have the latest Itunes version installed. Also my PC with Windows 7 showed me the classic bluescreen, once I plugged the 16 Gb Ipad in. First time I have seen the bluescreen for years.

Well..turned on the Ipad after it synched all my Itouch Apps. Fine...did not know that all apps work on the big iPod...ahem...iPad as well.

Ok...so far so good. First test with the keyboard. One thing I was always unhappy with. It actually works, but if I type with my 10 fat fingers it looks like this: I am trying to write wih 10 fingers, but it is not that easy bc i have fat fin gets.

So a little downer..but not bad at all. I then went on Facebook an noticed that Flash is still not supported. Darn Apple....drive the 10 min to the Adobe office and get this fixed or I will switch to the next Pad producing company. I just want to stream Athde live soccer without hazzle and once in a while watch Youtube within FB.

Anyways I kept instaling and removing apps and watched a few TED videos,which was pure fun.

To summarize it: The Ipad 16 GB is a great toy, but tough to use for work. Multi-tasking, no flash and the walled Apple garden are some issues that a lot of people don't accept. However, the iPad is a Kindle killer and just great to watch movies. Overall I am sure it will sell like hotcakes. It is just too cheap for not being the No. 1 new Holiday gadget in 2010.

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.

Thoughts About The Omniture - Adobe deal

I know that I am late to the game, but today I stumbled across an article at Venturebeat, which might explain a little further why Adobe bought Omniture for a stunning amount of $ 1.8 billion. Here a few reasons: 1. Omniture's incredible client roster (Walmart...) 2. Capabilities of track trends across the globe (and across the US) 3. Extended tracking capabilities for mobile, esp. mobile video and Iphone apps 4. Business intelligence for online shops, e.g. which products sell together, internal search...

Even that all these are great reasons, I am still puzzled about the price. Unless there was a bidding war I am sure the high-price has a few other reasons. I assume it has to do something with tracking flash or the overall "information" that Omniture collects.

Flash (owned by Adobe) is currently installed on more than 90% of the computers, but unlike in the online video world, it has never really moved to the mobile world. Mostly due to restrictions from Apple and Co.

However, I am sure that the next generation of smart phones will fully integrate Flash, which will result also in a new era for mobile apps, a market which is currently mostly monopolized by Apple.

So long story short: There is a huge potential for Adobe to offer full-blown flash apps including high-end tracking to marketers across the globe. On top Omniture's API's are open to a lot industry specific reporting system.

Userfly Demo Video

I haven't really followed Userfly lately. However, it is still  one of the most interesting analytics companies out there.  Sometimes I wonder why G Analytics or any other vendor never looked into a great service like that.  The video analysis is very useful for usability issues or in order to get a basic understanding of user behavior. Here a good video describing their service:

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Financial Analytics

My obsession with analytics software is probably obvious (if you've read here a little bit). Since I always try to come up with new ways of doing things and getting new ideas,  I had a look at a wide variety of products, including more than 200+ web analytics solutions. However...sometimes it makes sense to look beyond e.g. at other industries. Recently I've checked out a few financial analytics software products. Most of them are high-end business intelligent software and I really liked what they are offering and I am sure some web analytics vendors can learn from them:

Oracle Financial Analytics:
Among a lot of great features, the software monitors cash cycles in order to manage working capital, collections and allows to control risk. It's dashboard also identifies channels of profitable drivers across  profit centers.  What I especiallly liked is the regional analysis, which in so many web analytics solutions often not integrated right (e.g. visitors, who visit a site with a Blackberry are usually identified as Canadian  visitors, since RIM is based out of Canada).

SAP ERP Financial Analytics:
Probably the biggest competitor to Oracle's software, but with some nice features:
Key performance indicator module, which supports popular scorecard methodologies, such as Economic Value-Added, activity-based costing methos and balanced scorecards (BSC).

SAS Business Analytics:
Predictive SAS Analytics claims to allow to make proactive decisions based on high-impact questions "What will happen next?". Since I haven't really looked into the software for too long, I am sure that the flexible framework is something that could be very valuable. Apparently their framework grows over time and is not a monolithic platform (such as the ERP solutions). I wonder if web analytics provider could make an impact by offering a solution like that. Some of the solutions offer APIs, but none really offers some kind of flexibility. The high-end products more or less integrate with email marketing programs or other 3rd party software, which is not really they way it should be. Again the growing mobile analyticsm market is something that nobody really was prepared of and solutions still have issues integration these different data sets.

IBM Cognos Finance:

Cognos Finance from IBM falls in the same category above. However, IBM-like there are always a few features that are unique:
The currency conversion feature allows to manage international exchange rates beginning and end of the month, average, historical and so on. Web analytics solutions especially are pretty unflexible when it comes to currency. Some of them are able to track the different accounts in different currencies (Omniture does). The different results of different country exchange rates usually cause quite a chaos within the roll-up account. Something that almost drove me crazy about 3 years back, when I tried to combine UK Pounds, Euros and USD within one analytics account.
Another feature, that I always missed in good analytics solutions is an advanced reporting functionality. Most solutions allow to create and schedule reports, but don't give the user the power to format and layout the entire report. Full formating and layout is something that Cognos Finance integrated. Especially with different KPI reports for several management levels it is important to be as flexible as possible.

Music Analytics

While everybody goes crazy with Twitter Analytics it's interesting to look at other stuff: Nextbigsound.com is a music analytics system aka actionable intelligence for the music industry. Nextbigsounds measures plays, fans on Facebook, Myspace or Last FM and even shows comments. Pretty nice idea...especially since the music industry trends are more and more happening on the web and numbers such as fans or comments can barely be faked (unlike fake CD buys :))

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Google Analytics Vs. Yahoo Analytics

A comparison of analytics systems has been done a bunch of times. A head to head collision comparison of Yahoo Analytics vs. Google Analytics is something so far not many have presented. However Insightr made a great presentation ......and the winner is .......Yahooooo.

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Attention Analytics - Bridging Brain And Business

The question about which  parts of your website draw the most attention is as old as web analytics. The industry has done mouse tracking, visitor tracking, eyetracking...but never really looked at attention prediction studies done by neuro scientists.EyeQuant is one of these new solutions right out of the laboratories of the University of Osnabrueck, Germany. EyeQant ist based on a neuroscientific attention models. These models calculate within a few seconds which parts of the Design draw the most attention. The results are stunning and are close to what Eye tracking studies can achieve, but at a fraction of the costs.

Here one of the interesting results"

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Webtrends 9 - Back to the roots

When a company seems to be called out for underdelivering...it's even more surprising when it's back up on its feet and finally goes back to it's roots. Webtrends, one of the first players in the market,  just relaunched in one of the most interesting ways it's brand new analytics solution. It's the first time, that a large vendor simplifies it's interface and makes it usable to pretty muche everybody (instead of adding layer and layer of complexity). I think a big part of this effort comes from Alex Yoder, who took over the CEO position last year and clearly made a great impact.

Here a few highlights about the new functionalities:

RSS Overlays: The graph overlays data from any RSS Feeds on top of trending metrics.

Story View: Data that will automatically be transferred into Narratives Webtrends on Demand: Ulimited dimensions and measures based on any attribute.

Simplyhired widget re-directs to Malware

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Apparently this has been fixed.

Usually I don't care much about blog plugins since they are free, but what Job-a-matic,which belongs to Simplyhired is doing with Job-o-matic, their "related job widget", is not ok.

I installed the widget about 1.5 years ago since it was recommended by Techcrunch, Gigaom and a few other high-profile bloggers. The installation worked great and I started earning a few hundred USD, which was great and unexpected, but after not getting paid (you have to claim your money, no automation!), Job-o-matic looked a little suspicious to me. However...it's the internet :)

A few months back,  I suddenly noticed that the job widget displayed 3 related jobs in my blog sidebar. These links all linked to the subdomain as I agreed on when I signed up for the widget. In my case:  http://jobs.webanalyticsbook.com.

So far so good. But that's not all. Simplyhired got a little greedy and started to show their logo with a clean backlink to their own site (giving them the power of a few thousand blogs). Fair enough! Building backlinks is essential to survive in today's market.

But it gets better....the latest attempt to pull traffic away from my blog is re-directing the job links to third party sites such as Jobfox.com, a cheaply made job board, and to third party Simplyhired (Job-o-matic) boards...such as the one from Eric Perterson.

I certainly don't have a problem sending traffic to Eric's webanalytics demystified job board, but it's a cheap attempt from Job-o-matic to cross-sell traffic within their network (without disclosure). In Eric's case I really don't care since I am not really competing with Eric (and I am 100% sure that he's unaware of Simply Hired's tricks), but what leaves a sour taste in my mouth is that the re-directed link will be called out as malware by the Antivir antivirus software (see below).

That said...not sure if simplyhired will answer to this, but re-directing traffic to competitive job boards or re-directing to malware sites is something nobody should accept.

Media Management Analytics

I was just wondering how offline Media management can be transferred in a Web 2.0 and Analytics world. Media management is just something that has going through the roof since the media power moved away from a few selected, educated folks (journalists...) to pretty much every single person with a keyboard and internet access. But that's nothing new. What's way more interesting to me is Media Management Analytics. How do we measure influence, engagement, sentiment and reach in a Web 2.0 world? It has been tried by several industry legends, but even with great approaches and  tools, we just got a small grasp, but are far from getting the full picture. An Alexa number, the Google Pagerank, Google trends, Comscore, Hitwise... and tons of social media measuring tools such as Twitterfeel, Repdefense, Social mention....are so far just not good enough.

The entire Media economics field and the interrelationship between media, law and ethics are something that's just fascinating since it's so powerful and barely measurable.

Well..enough philosophy........it's really an amazing time we are living in. How boring must the communications experts industry be 20 years ago...at a time when they had nothing to fear, but a few journalists.

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Interview with Heiner Hemken

Thanks for stopping by and giving us an interview for the Webanalyticsbook readers.For people, who don’t know him, Gretus runs SEO-united.de, one of the top search engine optimization blogs in Germany. Heiner is currently also working on a secret SEO Tool, which he will roll out within a few months.

Webanalyticsbook: Since we already spoke a few times, let’s start the interesting stuff right away. Why another SEO Tool?

Gretus: In Germany there are only a few tools, which offer all the relevant information for webmasters. There are a bunch of great tools, but most are quite expensive. We want to offer simple tools, which can be used by everyone and most probably will be free.

Webanalyticsbook: What functionalities do you want to include in your tool?

Gretus: As already said, our tool will only deliver the basic information, e.g. keyword positions, number and quality of backlinks, PageRank, TrafficRank and so on.

Webanalyticsbook: How does this differ from tools such as Sistrix, Searchmetrics or SEOlytics, which are the three big one’s in Germany?

Gretus: You can´t compare our tool to them. The named tools are more or less huge instruments, specially made for companies and SEOs. If you´re a webmaster who only earns a few dollars with a site, you can´t affort a tool which costs hundreds of dollars a month.

Webanalyticsbook: The tool will be completely free?

Gretus: It will be completely free!

Webanalyticsbook: Do you plan to offer an API for more advanced clients or will you offer a closed system like the most vendors?

Gretus: First we will start out with a closed system, too. We are planning a kind of networking component, by which all the users can change the tool and build it out.

Webanalyticsbook: How much further do you want to develop the tool? Will it be a fully-equipped tool like Searchmetrics or rather stand in the middle?

Gretus: As you know from our SEO-united.de project, everything is possible. If the users like our tool, we’ll build it out

Webanalyticsbook: Thanks for the interview! I’ll follow you on Twitter and good luck with your soon-to-be launched SEO tool.