Making web analytics relevant: another take

We’ve seen web analytics firms merge with SEO/SEM firms, we’ve seen them team up with e-commerce, content management, and even campaign management solutions.

So, here’s another take. WebAbacus (in an announcement with one of the strangest URLs ever) merges with the Usability Company.

Clearly, vendors think there’s value in offering one-stop collection of services. Do clients want their analytics combined with usability? We’ll see.

(Thanks, Jonathan!)

Making web analytics relevant: another take

The Return of Hummer Winblad

Nostalgia time. Here’s a true story.

Back before the bubble hit — way back in the late summer of 1996, in fact — Accrue (which wasn’t called Accrue yet) was doing its A round of financing. Many top-tier VC firms passed, but many also wanted in, and a number made an offer. Some made two. Hummer Winblad was one of them. One day Ann Winblad visited us in the garage. We do a demo, show her some bad PowerPoint, and sit in our office/conference room and discuss strategy. I was very impressed by how sharp she was. Which is to say, I agreed with her. At the time, the three of us “in management” hadn’t agreed if we were going to go really small (e.g. PC desktop software) or really large (UNIX-based enterprise-class stuff). This wasn’t just about technology, it was about business models. My experience was in enterprise-class software, so that’s what I wanted. Another thought the PC was the right way to go, and the third didn’t have enough data. Ann was able to articulate the reasons why small was a bad idea, and I think she was responsible for the speed at which we decided to aim for the high end. A company turning point from a single visit from Ann.

She also said something else we needed to hear then. One of the team had the idea that we’d build the enterprise app, but to get some operating capital in the door, we’d release a “lite” version first that ran on a PC. Ann cautioned us that a company is often known by its first product, and the cost to erase that image is huge. How true, how true. I knew it from my days at Sun, where Scott hated being called a workstation company. Later I’d hate being referred to as “the company with the web sniffer” when we had half a guy on that and 25 engineers working on real analytics. But I digress.

Around that time, Ann herself was getting a lot of PR as a wizard. I read the articles and thought it was strange that every article mentioned a famous individual she used to date. Whatever.

We wanted her on our board, and we told her so. We already had an offer that was more than we needed for round A, but the investor was willing to take the offer to a level where Hummer Winblad would come in. The only sticking point was the valuation, which was already set. They made an offer. We pointed out (again) what our number was, and convinced our existing investors to bring down the valuation a bit by way of compromise — we used to say “all money is green, but it’s not all the same” — so we could get Ann on the board. They came back with a higher offer, but it was still too low. They were adamant that they had their models and spreadsheets, and would not invest outside of their comfort zone. To them, the whole VC community was jumping off a bridge, but you wouldn’t find them following suit.

Years later, I remember reading some magazine’s Top Something list (investors? movers & shakers?) and in a sidebar was the question – “What happened to Hummer Winblad?” to which the answer was something like they’re sitting out, not making investments, because things are too overheated. The implication was that they were old school investors, and had missed the boat, because other firms were seeing huge returns.

So imagine my surprise when they invested in (the original)

What’s the point of this story? Only to point you to an article with John Hummer in Private Equity Week, Hummer: We Are Far From Blowing Up. He admits they made some bad investments, but they are looking forward to some exit events like an Omniture IPO. First I’ve heard of this, but hey, it seems plausible. Josh & co. have been on a roll.

All that backstory just to mention an Omniture IPO? OK, one last thing to bring it full circle. This past weekend, I was reading the newspaper and in it was a “women who are movers and shakers” kind of article. There’s Ann Winblad’s smiling face and accompanying profile, complete with mention of the famous ex-boyfriend.

The Return of Hummer Winblad

WebSideStory Lands K-R

Normally I wouldn’t mention a press release citing a company landing a customer, but yesterday WebSideStory announced it signed up Knight-Ridder.

I know the Knight-Ridder Digital sites well – they were a long time Accrue customer, first through the “renegade” San Jose Mercury News, then all the K-R properties, and then on to Classified Ventures. These days, it seems like AccrueDatanautics has taken its eye off the web analytics ball. The only customer-related press release they’ve had since inception of the company is a nearly year-old announcement that a customer renewed their support agreement. It’s no wonder that other vendors are stepping in.

Anyway — kudos to WebSideStory.

WebSideStory Lands K-R

A pile of numbers

Not sure what to make of some of the numbers in Media Life’s article Long slow win over illegal downloads. Numbers from ComScore show about 19.5 million visits to the top five P2P sites (a huge drop), versus 26.44 million visits to the top 10 retail music sites (a modest increase).

That’s big news. But to conclude that the RIAA lawsuits and easy access to legal music has stemmed the tide in music piracy is a bit premature. What you can conclude is this:

ComScore shows about 19.5 million visits to the top five P2P sites (a huge drop), versus 26.44 million visits to the top 10 retail music sites (a modest increase).

ComScore measured more visits to the top 10 retail music sites than to the top five P2P sites, and I’m sure to the RIAA, that’s better than the alternative. But that’s all you can conclude. P2P is happening outside the top five sites. There are web sites – often outside the US – devoted to illegal music sharing. There’s Usenet’s alt.binaries heirarchy. And of course, there’s BitTorrent, which by many estimates is consuming huge amounts of bandwidth. (There are more than 10 music retailers, too.)

Some of the numbers are odd though. It lists Barnes & Noble as the #1 destination for retail music, and doesn’t have Amazon in the top 10. That sounds strange.

In the same article, Nielsen//NetRatings is quoted with lots of numbers about the top 25 web sites, top 25 advertisers, top 25 advertising sites, etc — I won’t go into details here, but check it out. For many readers of this blog, those tables will be more interesting.

A pile of numbers

New top-level domain names

I see that ICANN has approved new top-level domains .travel and .jobs. A quote from the registrar who will operate the .travel TLD :

I would say there is a great deal of pent up demand for this domain name now.

Really? Where is the demand coming from? Aside from the registrar’s pent up demand to make money, of course. Copyright law pretty much ensures that Orbitz, Travelocity, Expedia et al are still going to exist, no matter what their top-level domain names are (or how many they have). Is any easier to remember than ?

I’m not suggesting we do away with topic-specific TLDs. We should create zillions of ’em – why not? These days, when search engines are actually useful, I wonder if top-level domain names have a future. I mean, as an important branding instrument.

(obligatory analytics comment: update your list of TLDs!)

New top-level domain names

An Industry on the Move

Some happenings in the web analytics industry that caught my eye today:

Omniture announced a new line of executive chairs that have built-in LCDs. This could be just the thing for busy folks to keep tabs on their site stats. The new division, Omni Furniture, has promised additional pieces in the future.

Urchin Software announced a special vertical release for banking and financial services firms. The software, Street Urchin, looks a little rough around the edges by design – apparently that “grimy feel” is playing well with the pinstripe set.

I just heard Apple has been grumbling about Coremetrics. Apparently Apple doesn’t like the use of the term “core”. The Beatles record company, Apple Corps, is not amused by Apple’s attitude. Can’t we all just get along?

Speaking of music, Visual Sciences are rumored to be changing their name to AV Sciences as they add what they call “symphonic analytics” to their lineup. Sounds interesting – ha ha!

Finally, I’m pleased to announce that Omniture CTO Brett Error and I are joining forces on a new part-time consultancy, Error Page Analytics.

An Industry on the Move