EMetrics Summit: Eric Peterson Vs. Matt Belkin

October 16, 2006
By Robbin Steif

Here’s what Omniture‘s Matt Belkin said about the presentation given today at the eMetrics Summit by Visual Science’s Eric Peterson.

Eric’s presentation, which I missed in large part but caught the end of and the Q&A, was centered on WA methodology. It was called, The Business Process in Web Analytics. Here, you can read much of the presentation yourself on Web Metrics Guru.

After the presentation, it was break time and I wandered into the vendor area. I started talking to Matt Belkin, VP of Omniture’s Best Practices group. As part of our conversation, he showed me his computer, where he had typed, “Lack of methodology is responsible for the failure of web analytics.”

“That’s what Eric thinks,” Matt said, referring to what he had typed on his computer. “Well, what do you think?” I asked. Matt started to speak, so I grabbed a piece of paper and scrawled down his answer while Bill Bruno from Stratigent stood and laughed at us (Bill was the source of a post I wrote at the Summit last April, so he knew exactly why I grabbed a notepad.)

Matt opined that for many companies, looking at web analytics is like drinking from a firehose – they are drowning in data and can’t figure out what is actionable. He thought that analysts should find quick wins (“I saved us $30K on Google Adwords with the use of our web analytics last quarter,”) and that with those quick wins, the rest of the organization would quickly get on board the web analytics train. He also pointed to the question that Megan Burns of Forrester Research had asked at Eric’s presentation. Her question went something like this, “If organizations codify their web analytics process, won’t it be a big book that no one looks at and quickly becomes shelfware?” Matt really agreed with that shelfware problem and told me I could quote him on this all. (I hope I have captured this well, despite my lack of a tape recorder.)

Since I hadn’t attended Eric’s entire seminar, I didn’t think it would be fair to quote his words out of Matt Belkin’s mouth. So I went back to Eric and read the sentence to him. Eric changed it to be, “Lack of methodology has contributed to the failure of web analytics.” And he strongly disagreed with Matt’s thesis. He pointed out that his seminar was in an enormous room and was filled – if “easy wins” were so easy, why was everyone in his eMetrics session instead of the other sessions? (It’s true, the room he spoke in was enormous and full.) “Well,” I countered, “You’re a fabulous speaker. [He really is.] And you’re Eric Peterson.” Or as one of my friends pointed out a little later in the day, “How can you go to the eMetrics Summit and not listen to Eric speak?”

Late tonight at dinner, Jim Sterne listened to me point out the two sides. “They are both right for different companies at different times,” he said. “There are huge quick wins to be had for instant ROI. But eventually they peter out, and then you need a good methodology so that you can maintain continuous improvement for your site.”

Robbin Steif
LunaMetrics