My Wishlist of improvements to Omniture (Vol 1)

Due to my recent blogging exile, I left a lot of things in queue. Hopefully over the next few weeks, I’ll whittle the queue down. Here is one I started in October…

With all the recent updates made to Google Analytics, it leads me to ponder what is Omniture going to do next to remain the dominant player in the web analytics space? I would say based on what I see from Google, the gap between the tools is actually getting a lot smaller, more so than the guys in Orem probably care to admit.

Google has a vested interest to make Google Analytics as robust as possible and give it away. Why you ask? Well, if you can prove the internet marketing you do such as Paid Search (via Google), banner ads (via DoubleClick/Google), or even things like GoogleTV are measurable than the likelihood of you as a marketer investing more money in these activities grows exponentially. Its genius. I used to think they wouldn’t devote a ton of money on developing it, but I see the light now, they are going to keep moving this thing along and really don’t have any limitation with regards to funding (obviously that is not entirely true, but they do have some cash) or analytics expertise (the company is run on analytics). So, in order for Omniture to keep its dominant position it needs to get better as well. What should they be working on? Here is one man’s opinion…

1) Campaign Interactions

I’ve ranted before about this but it bears repeating. The web analytics world is about to move away from the linear view of how campaigns work from an ROI perspective. So far no mass accepted vendor has cracked this code to show true influence of campaigns and the interaction effects of them on other campaigns. We are still stuck in the v1.0 world of evaluating campaigns based on the last click mentality. By doing so you potentially shut down upper funnel things that actually feed your ROI stars like Paid Search and Affiliate. To me this can be done reasonably simply by allowing the visitorID in the backend to actually keep a history of all tracking codes, pages, etc that a visitor id encounters, instead of client-side ways like Campaign Stacking.

2) Campaign Optimization

To do this piece you actually need item #1 to work. But the idea is if you understand all the interactive effects of campaigns on one another, you could then figure out the optimal mix to meet objectives based on spend and the lag effects. Say you have $5M to spend in a quarter, throw that into the planner and it would give suggestions for optimal spend.

My gut is Omniture would like to be the ‘hub’ of all your web marketing campaigns and reporting, and to do so you need to also have a way to optimize it based on results. To actually optimize smartly, you have to know how these tactics work together to create a conversion.

3) Genesis data integrations need more data

One thing that is severely lacking in order to make #2 work is the lack of the spend data coming from some of the Genesis integrations. Example, why doesn’t spend data from DoubleClick DART come thru the integration? How would you judge E/R or ROI without it? Seems like those kinds of things are non-brainers, but they are missing.

Another DART integration problem is the lack of things like ‘Creative Name’ aren’t passed. How in the world would you know which creatives drove the best results without it? The answer is you won’t. So why isn’t it part of the integration?

4) Easier way to back out bad data/Easier way to bring in data

The scariest thing about Omniture occurs when you all of a sudden get bad data (such as fraud, bad coding, etc). It is an ordeal trying to remove data from your report suites as it involves getting Engineering involved which means $. Omniture should absolutely have a way to filter out records like purchaseID’s, visitorIDs, etc to take the offending records out of the database so that your average admin can do this on their own. It would make the tool infinitely more useful to clean the data. Otherwise if you don’t feel like paying for the cleanup everytime, you’re stuck with the bad data which erodes the credibility and usability of the product. This to me is a no-brainer.

The same goes for bringing in data via Data Sources. It is friggin scary to do as it and a real pain to take the data back out if you make a mistake. Not sure why its so tough to architect a table that you can refresh if you need to instead of making the data permanent, but that’s the way it is set up today.

5) Allow for multi-suite Genesis integrations

So Lenovo is a worldwide company, doing a Genesis integration for something like DoubleClick at a country report suite level is cost prohibitive. At around $15k an integration, you’d blow out a serious amount of cash trying to do this in a bunch of countries. Why not do it at a global report suite, and also create a way to trickle down the reporting to the country report suites?

As a side note, I am actually experimenting with this idea. I have the DoubleClick integration set up on our WW report suite, and am thinking of dumping that data out and reimporting as a Data Source into the country report suites. Probably a way to do this with Omniture’s new developer toolkit (another post for another time).

6) Give each customer 5 to 10 hours a month of free consulting

Why would I advocate the free consulting? When budgets, etc get cut within a company, people take a look at the tools they pay for. Omniture can better help their customers understand the value the tool can give them by continuously helping them use the tool to solve their analytic questions. Prove the value to the customer, and they’ll use you for life. Make it difficult to use or charge them for auditing code, providing best practices, etc you  might lose the customer as they don’t see the true value because they can’t make it work right.

7) Greater access to Visitor ID level reporting

Omniture could open up the VisitorID level data so that clients can create better integrations with databases, etc to create profile information and understand things like Campaign Stacking, multi-session behaviors, and merchandising. I understand its a lot of data, and I am not advocating putting it in SiteCatalyst, but should be available in DataWarehouse or somewhere else. And free.

7) Use classifications across multiple variables via a master table

The biggest waste of time for me is the classification of data. It is maddening classifying all the tracking codes. Add on that a lot of times we capture the same tracking code 3 or 4 different ways for different expirations/attributions and the classification work needed to make the report suite run is painfully manual. Why not create a master table and have the user choose what elements to drag over for a classification?

Example: We capture tracking codes for campaign reporting, and also use that tracking code in Campaign Stacking. Why do I have to create another classification for Stacking if I’ve already defined it in Campaigns? Why not allow me to use elements of that loadsheet in a drop and drag model to classify it?

Same goes for things like Product Classification and Pages, why not have a master list of elements and drag over the ones you need for certain things?

8) Allow time segmentation across all reporting

Its odd to me that I can’t look at campaigns or product sales, etc by hours in the day. So we run a 4 hour sale on a particular SKU and I have no way to actually see what the lift is during that time in SiteCatalyst.

9) Extend the character limitation beyond 100.

I am sure there is a great database architecture reason that a lot of fields in the database are limited to 100 characters, but to me its crazy. A lot of times page names, urls, etc are going to be longer than 100 characters. As a result a lot of page names are truncated making the data unusable. Please extend to at least 255.

10) Make SearchCenter data rollup

We have a problem where the SearchCenter data is at a country report suite level to match the Google accounts in those countries. At the same I also want a Worldwide and Geo view of Search. But can’t do it.

11) Time-Stamping Segmentation

Discover has some great segmentation capabilities but one glaring hole is the inability to segment users using a timestamp. Example, say I wanted to create a segment of visitors that came from Campaign A, added something to a cart, on a particular date and watch their behavior over time. You couldn’t do it because ‘time’ doesn’t exist. I want a way to bucket visitors not only based on things they do, but when they do it.

and finally one of the most important to me…

12) Allow for more than 2 drilldowns in SiteCatalyst

Again because we are a global company, having global report suites isn’t the best option right now because of the limitation of only being able to drill down 2 levels. So say I am running a global campaign and I drill down by country, I am stuck to only one more level and won’t be able to drill completely down to the  media type or vendor generating the traffic or revenue. I want to go deeper. And yes, I know you can sort of do that in Discover, but Discover is also expensive and has limited accessibility depending on your licenses. I need to give the data to the masses.

and lastly, but probably most important for 99% of the universe…

13) Make the tool easier to use and understand for the uninitiated

Google’s new interface is basic and to the point. Things are labeled intuitively and laid out in a logic manner. People off the street can use it get the gist of it in 5 minutes. A lot of times I show people SiteCatalyst and they immediately freak out and get intimidated. I don’t have an easy answer what to do to solve for it, but its been obvious to me in looking at the 2 tools side by side.

So there you have it. My first volume of wishlist items to make the tool more usable. Anyone else out there have other ones?


Best of 2008: Music

Such is the time of the year for Best of lists…here is my music mix of 2008.

1 – Vampire Weekend  – Vampire Weekend (it took the whole year to grow on me, now I love it)

2 – The Black Keys – Attack & Release

3 – TV on the Radio – Dear Science

4 – Shearwater – Rook

5 – Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes

6 – Deerhunter – Microcastle

7 – Decemberists – Always the Bridesmaid Singles

8 – Bob Dylan – The Bootleg Series, Vol. 8

9 – Kanye West – 808s and Heartbreak

10 – Beck – Modern Guilt

11 – My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges

12 – Ryan Adams – Cardinology

13 – The Rosebuds – Life Like

14 – The Raconteurs – Consolers of the Lonely

15 – Kings of Leon – Only by the Night

16 – Helio Sequence – Keep Your Eyes Ahead

17 – Frightened Rabbit – The Midnight Organ Fight

18 – The Dodos – Visiter

19 – T.I. – Paper Trail

20 – Okkervil River – The Stand Ins

The exile

Hola amigos…been a while.

Just so you know… the exile/hiatus has ended.  The semester has mercifully come to a close and I can once again regain my cognitive senses (and blog). I ain’t going to lie – getting an MBA, working full-time, and trying to keep a semblance of sanity has been a major challenge the past 5 months. I spend most of my weekends and nights reading and writing or worrying about what I need to read or write about to the point that its maddening. My performance academically and professionally haven’t up to the level I expect as my mind is constantly swirling with too much stuff. The good news though is I’m almost done. Graduation May ’09 is not far away. That day will kick off a party that will make Billy Madison’s look like a church bingo night.

Theoretically, I have less demanding courses this coming semester, but I might change my mind and put myself back into the cauldron for another few months with the lithium-ion battery company. Just not sure yet. I can’t think all that clearly at the moment to know what I’m going to do tomorrow, let alone next semester.

But either way, in May I’m done.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be working less and writing more. Some exciting things going on in the world of web analytics that I need to dive into here. So stay tuned.