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The WAA Standardizes Web Analytics Terms

Analytics software can be confusing, and it is often difficult to decipher what you really need to pay attention to. Comparing data from multiple sources can be even more complex because of inconsistencies in reporting techniques. Yesterday at SES, the Web Analytics Association (WAA) offered a potential solution to these issues.

The WAA announced the availability of their new report that will provide standardized definitions for 26 of the most widely used terms in analytics tools and software. WAA members, agencies, vendors, practitioners, and thought-leaders have collaborated for the past 11 months to create these definitions.

The Association’s previous release of web analytics definitions in 2006 focused on three of the most important metrics across all analytics tools and software—unique visitors, page views, and visits/sessions. These terms were defined by the industry and agreed upon and now the WAA has expanded their attention to the other metrics that rely on the original three definitions.

67 Percent of Searchers Driven by Offline Channels

And 39 percent of offline-influenced searchers will go on to make a purchase.

Both of these fascinating figures have been uncovered by an Online Search Behaviour Study commissioned and released by Search Marketing firm, iProspect.

Conducted by JupiterResearch in June 2007, an online consumer panel of 2,322 randomly selected individuals were quized over 25 questions about their behaviours, attitudes and preferences as they relate to games, digital imaging, portable devices, and service bundles.

iProspect President, Robert Murray, was amongst the first to express surprise over the results:

We figured we’d see an even split between those influenced to search by offline and those not

In the firm’s press release, Murray goes on to discuss the implications of the findings and elaborates on the current incoherence of online / offline messaging, saying:

Widgets for Tracking Internet Trends

Hitwise, a company that offers their clients from around the world insight on how customers interact with competitive websites, has just launched a new widget called Hitwise To Go. This new widget is the first in a series of widgets to be launched by Hitwise, and its RSS-based service will provide information about user behavior for the US, UK, and Asia Pacific markets.

“Releasing our data via desktop widgets makes it easy for digital enthusiasts to stay informed about key online trends as they happen. They also serve as a gateway to access a full archive of online statistics and other publicly available Hitwise data sources such as the Hitwise Analyst Blogs and our Data Center.” said Tessa Court, chief marketing officer for Hitwise.

How Are You Spending Your Time Online?

If you had to add up all the time you spend online for your boss, how would you allocate it? The findings of a new study released from the Online Publishers Association might (or might not) surprise you. The study, conducted over the last four years by Nielson/NetRatings, found that Internet users are spending nearly half their time on content rich sites such as entertainment and news websites, with more time spent on this activity than shopping online, emailing, or searching on various search engines.

The abundance of content and faster online speeds accounted for the spike, the study said. A proliferation of social networks such as News Corps’ MySpace and Facebook have helped boost content viewing as well.

Listen-Up! Not Everyone is a Facebook Friend

200708141009Just a few days ago, I cautioned that social networking is not a popularity contest. Just because someone asks to be your “friend” doesn’t mean that you should automatically agree. Apparently we need to share that message again as a new study by IT security firm Sophos reveals 41% if Facebook users gave up full access to their personal information to a fake user.

Sophos created a fake Facebook profile, under the name ‘Freddi Staur’ (‘ID Fraudster’ with the letters rearranged), and randomly requested 200 members to be friends with ‘Freddi.’ Out of those 200, 87 accepted the friend request and 82 of those gave ‘Freddi’ access to “personal information” such as e-mail addresses, dates of birth, addresses and phone numbers, and school or work data. Presumably, the other five had restricted ‘Freddi’ to limited profile access, which many users select for bosses, parents, or people they don’t know in real life.

Yahoo’s Portals Help it Beat Google for Customer Satisfaction

It seems that Yahoo’s status as a web portal–as opposed to Google’s search only moniker–might actually help the company gain a foothold on its larger competitor.

According to the University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index, Yahoo’s score was higher than Google’s–growing 3.9%, while Google’s fell 3.7%.

The survey included two different categories: search engines and portals, according to CNET. That might have skewed the results in Yahoo’s favor and it also gives them hope for the future. Being labeled as a “portal” was once considered a big setback for Yahoo, but it could now be the one thing that helps it succeed. After all, have you noticed how Google continued to provide “portal” like services?

How did the other search engines fair? Microsoft’s score rose 1.4%, Ask was up 5.6%, while AOL tanked by 9.5%.

CNET Rates Search Engine on Privacy

Google got an F on privacy from Privacy International earlier this summer. Their DoubleClick deal got scrutiny from the FTC for privacy issues. But are they really doing worse than other search engines in the privacy area?

CNET interviewed search engine reps to ensure that they compared apples to apples when looking at privacy policies at search engines. It’s good to see a more objective comparison of search engines’ privacy efforts than we’ve seen recently. Their conclusion: Ask.com is far ahead of the four other major engines in the privacy arena.

For the other engines, CNET offers backhanded praise for Google’s anonymization of user data, but applauded their avoidance of behavioral targeting. MSN, Yahoo and AOL all have mixed results: better anonymization than Google, but worse in using behavioral targeting.