Portland: The Capital Of Web Analytics

July 15, 2006

I spent 25 hours in Portland, Oregon. Not only is it a jewel of a city, but everywhere you go, you meet web analysts.

I finally got to meet Brent Hieggelke, my Web Analytics Association co-chair. Brent used to be CMO at WebTrends but is now CMO at a London-based start-up, TouchClarity. TouchClarity uses neural networks (and probably genetic algorithms) to look at each visitor’s click stream and dynamically change the layout of the screen. That way, for example, the individual who is always clicking on sports stories will get served up ads for Sports Illustrated, and the person who is clicking through on beauty stories will get fashion ads. Although this might sound vaguely like split path testing, whereby different people see different options, it’s not the same at all: the goal of split path testing is to determine which one design works the best for everyone, whereas the goal of TouchClarity is to always customize the website for every individual.

I finally got to meet Loren Hadley from L.Hadley & Associates. Loren also works with Brent and me on the WAA Marketing Committee. At lunch, the talk turned to Google Analytics and I pointed out that the new invitation wait time is down now to about three weeks. Loren then told everyone that he had purchased an invitation from China for $.99 on eBay and received it instantly.

After corresponding with him for over six months, I then finally got to meet fellow analytics blogger Eric Butler. We went out for dinner with two of his colleagues from WebTrends, Kevin and Clay. Kevin gets all the credit for the title of this post (although just about everyone I met in Portland is in love with it. Brent practically dragged me over to a window to see Mt. Hood.) And then Greg Drew, CEO of WebTrends, magically appeared in the restaurant so that he and I could finish our WAA business. (I use the word “magic” because he had no idea where I had gone to dinner or that I was going out with Eric. Or that I even knew Eric. Am still not quite sure how he figured it out.)

I even got to meet with my friend Andrea Hadley (no relation to Loren, but they both like meeting other Hadleys) of NetSetGo from Vancouver, who offered up the observation that the WAA is like Canada — multicultural. (I think Switzerland and “neutral” would have been a better analogy, but hey, she’s Canadian, let’s give it to her.)

Finally, if there are any WAA types out there who would like to be on the Marketing Committee – send me email, steif at lunametrics.

Robbin Steif