Lively Web Analytics Wednesday T.O.

Lively Web Analytics Wednesday T.O.

Cheers
Last night may have been the best attended (patrick?) Web Analytics Wednesday Toronto to-date, and as Christopher Berry (photo, left) of Critical Mass posted, it was indeed a “Good Time Had By All“.

And “all” was a broad representation from Bluenotes, Exact Target, HBC, Loblaw, Omniture, Petro-Canada, Sapient, SIP, Suzy Shier, TD Canada Trust, TorontoHispano and more…I know I’ve missed some.

Thank you Mike Spaeth of Coremetrics for sponsoring the evening and patrick glinski of Critical Mass for organizing (Yet again! This is the 8th WAW T.O patrick has organized).

I talked with Chris about the “vexing problem” he describes:

“Why are Canadians so reluctant to embrace data driven strategy? Is there something cultural about us? Is there something in our DNA that makes us inherently skeptical of a marketing science approach? Is there something in our school system that turns people off and away from statistics? What’s the deal there?”

I was part of the conversation with Chris. And I don’t know if it’s fair to blame the schools. Probably something more systemic and complex.

When data driven strategy is embraced in a sustainable manner, it’s because it’s a means to competitive advantage. It’s a competitive weapon. But it seems that squeezing insight from data, testing and optimizing fall into the “important but not urgent” category by opinion and “not urgent, not important” by action (or lack of action).

This might sound like sour grapes, but it’s not. We’re lamenting the lost opportunities that Canadians are missing on the global stage. And we can’t afford to lose more opportunities on the Web, a more level playing field than others, especially in Ontario with manufacturing in the dumps and about to suffer further with the ripple effect from the GM Oshawa plant closure (Parts Makers Brace for Spillover, Globe and Mail, June 19).

This lack of affinity for driving for optimization is not new. It’s not just in Website results optimization. You can also observe this in direct mail. How many direct marketers make it a common practice to hold back a part of their campaign audience as a control group for each campaign, or split test some aspect of their campaign?

As for whether it’s cultural, I would love to hear Joseph Carrabis’ thoughts on this.

What are your thoughts? Love to hear here or on Chris’ blog.

June Li
ClickInsight
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By |2019-05-17T11:57:20-04:00June 19th, 2008|4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Jacques Warren June 20, 2008 at 9:42 am - Reply

    Well, I don’t know if it’s because of the schools (doubt it). I think it’s the business culture here. I find Canadian business culture to be far more sheepish when it comes to trying new things. Whereas Americans will fill up the tank and stump the gas pedal to see how far they can go, Canadian business people will put a liter in the tank, and decide to add gas based on how far they will get with the first liter. The answer: not far…

    I think we need to wait until Americans have really proven something to work before we decide to fully engage it in. By that time, our friends south the border have already gotten a dominant position.

    It could also be a question a available capital. It’s by far easier to fund new ideas in the US.

  2. Eric June 20, 2008 at 12:24 pm - Reply

    I will leave the question of Canadians and data driven cultures to Joseph, Jacques, and you June … but I’m glad to see you had another great event!

    All the best!

    Eric T. Peterson
    Web Analytics Demystified
    http://www.webanalyticsdemystified.com

  3. Christopher Berry June 20, 2008 at 9:08 pm - Reply

    June Li of ClickInsight, matriarch of the Toronto Web Analytics community, is indulging in some pot stirring. 🙂 She made a really thoughtful reply, referenced here., and I’m going to quote from it. Liberally.

    Thank you Mike Spaeth of Coremetrics for sponsoring the evening and patrick glinski of Critical Mass for organizing (Yet again! This is the 8th WAW T.O patrick has organized).

    I’ll echo that. 🙂 Mike is so damn likable. Thanks to Patrick to continuing to host it, and continuing to put up with my constant badgering over it.

    I was part of the conversation with Chris. And I don’t know if it’s fair to blame the schools. Probably something more systemic and complex.

    I’m well known in Chicago for blaming their school system for everything 😛 However, I think at the core, it’s unfair to hang the blame solely on the education system. Grade 12 honors math got me into statistics, electoral behavior in university entranced me, and quantitative public policy really propelled me forward. At the same time, our Mathematics departments in Universities don’t have a very nice approach to statistics – it’s all ‘counting’ problems. It’s all very much LaPlace. The goal of Mathematics departments in this country isn’t about producing real commercial statisticians, and I don’t blame them for it. Their job is to produce mathematicians. Want a commercial statistician? Train one, right? (And fine, I’d much rather Universities teach people how to learn and how to think rather than churning out people without that baseline skill.)

    I think the schools are impacting both supply side and demand side web analytics on a much larger scale, but it’s not the sole causal variable. (It might actually be a small causal variable.)

    When data driven strategy is embraced in a sustainable manner, it’s because it’s a means to competitive advantage. It’s a competitive weapon. But it seems that squeezing insight from data, testing and optimizing fall into the “important but not urgent” category by opinion and “not urgent, not important” by action (or lack of action).

    You and Novo are very brilliant communicators of this principle. I struggled today expressing this issue and the corresponding solution. Thankfully, I’m getting a good amount of help from colleagues and the community. 🙂 And I might end up using your enunciation.

    I think that in some ways, it might be a failure to communicate the advantage. In other ways, I think there are credibility gaps.

    Shaina Boone posited yesterday that Canadian business is inherently ‘different’ from the United States, namely, that the United States is ‘capitalist’, and hence more likely to take advantage of such cold ‘advantages’. I’m inclined to give that some position some credibility. I pay attention to Shaina’s remarks about Canadian culture because she’s an outsider, and you always need an outsider to tell you what things are really like.

    This might sound like sour grapes, but it’s not. We’re lamenting the lost opportunities that Canadians are missing on the global stage. And we can’t afford to lose more opportunities on the Web, a more level playing field than others, especially in Ontario with manufacturing in the dumps and about to suffer further with the ripple effect from the GM Oshawa plant closure (Parts Makers Brace for Spillover, Globe and Mail, June 19).

    We’re on the same page here. Data, in particular personal data, is to the 21rst century as Coal was to the 20th. If we’re not able to burn through data like we burned through coal – well, we simply can’t “knowledge-ify” fully, now can we? To be sure, qualitative inputs will ALWAYS be required. Quantitative components play an important role too.

    This lack of affinity for driving for optimization is not new. It’s not just in Website results optimization. You can also observe this in direct mail. How many direct marketers make it a common practice to hold back a part of their campaign audience as a control group for each campaign, or split test some aspect of their campaign?

    I’m stunned by this. I thought you and I were the Johny-come-lately’s with all this web analytics stuff?

    As for whether it’s cultural, I would love to hear Joseph Carrabis’ thoughts on this.

    As would I. I really respect Joseph.

    I’m interested in hearing the blogosphere react, in particular, I’m calling out Shaina Boone, David Hamel (simplify, simplify, simplify), Patrick Glinski, and Mike Sukmanowsky.

  4. June Li June 24, 2008 at 12:40 pm - Reply

    @eric,
    As you can see, WAW has lasting effects 🙂

    @jacques,
    Valuable ‘on the street’ observations. Thanks! Did you see Joseph’s post in response?

    @chris,
    About our IT/Business pain. Two things (1) the friction is definitely not new and (2) the “blame” should not be on IT. Business has to share in this. (We had this conversation in one of recent CMA Marketing Tech & Database Intelligence Council Meeting… with primarily a datamining audience present)

    Keep the comments flowing!

    ~June

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