Andrew Morris has been working in digital analytics for over 10 years. He is currently the Director of Web Analytics at Gaia Insight, a division of The Group.
Andrew is one of the organisers of this year’s Measurecamp. I spoke to him in late December about the conference and the industry more widely.
So Andrew, why Measurecamp?
Well initially I was cynical about how an unconference would work. Based on regular attendance at WAW (Web Analytics Wednesdays) I thought that people would be quiet, which wouldn’t work for a conference that is based on participation. But in fact the conference really flowed after the introduction.
Peter had kicked off with an explanation of what an unconference was and what role the presenters and the audience played in it. He explained how each session started with a short presentation which was to serve as an introduction to a group discussion around a particular theme.
What do you think really made it work?
The event was held on a Saturday so it attracted people who really wanted to participate. There wasn’t any self-promotion, but a real sharing of ideas. I’ve been doing this for over 10 years and it is only recently through events like this that I have felt a sense of community building amongst UK web analysts.
Could you share one particular highlight from the last event?
Well I work primarily on non-transactional corporate websites. There was a break out session of 7 – 8 people who were all focused on content analytics for non-commercial analytics and a sense of a common struggle.
What are you really passionate about?
CRM people are valued on what they can do with the data not how they can technically gather the data and I feel we need to move closer to that model.
I think this is due to the fact that web analytics really started within IT back in the log file days. Analysts had to develop technical competence in order to not have to rely on IT. Now, I would expect a base level of technical competence and strong excel skills but what we really look for in an analyst is someone who is comfortable analysing data and has an inquisitive nature
Futurology I: what are the big challenges for web analytics?
Google, Facebook, Twitter – an increasing number of web platforms are closing off their data in the name of privacy. Data is already growing more inaccurate with Google’s move to hide keywords when users are logged in, showing just “(not provided)”. This lock down means we face shrinking data sets.
Growing concerns around online privacy, to some extent as a result of bad practice within the industry, is leading to laws around cookies and tracking. Making users opt in to tracking will make it harder to gather data.
The big question is that as an industry how do we use data: fair and proper use or hacking for short term gain but to the long term detriment of our industry?
Futurology II: and on the bright side?
More analysts are finding themselves in senior positions. Analysts started reporting into finance, IT or marketing. There was no career progression. Now companies are taking it more seriously. For example, we now have 5 analysts working in a team of 70 staff where previously there might have been just one person.
What are the next steps for web analytics?
We need to figure out the online/ offline data link. Who will own this? Maybe web analysts or possibly a new group.