One week ago I interviewed Avinash Kaushik about some hot topics of the Web Analytics Industry. The result was a “must” read Interview, so get this party started 

Juan – What is the most important lesson you’ve learnt in your career?

Avinash – 80% of my efforts should be focussed on delivering towards the company’s bottomline.

Everything needs to pass that filter. It comes from the hardships I had to go through in my early jobs. In tough times (and good) any employee, any effort, any analysis, anything and anyone who delivers actual value will be fine. If its measurable you’ll be more than fine.

Juan – What would you suggest to an SMB company that is thinking about Web Analytics but think it will increase their current costs

Avinash – I would work with them to quantify the cost of ignorance. 99 times out of 10 (yes!) the cost of analytics + resource will be magnificently minor compared to the cost of ignorance. Whether you are a SMB or a LHB (Large Huge Business : )) don’t start with the cost of analytics + resource, start with identifying the economic value.

[I dare say that it is also incumbent on the Consultants, especially Consultants, to not deliver reports and data but rather deliver insights – even simple actionable ideas covered in this post: Aggregation of Marginal Gains]

Juan – What is the limit Web Analytics professionals should not cross in order to respect users privacy?

Avinash – A two part answer.

With my Author, Analytics Evangelist, Strategic hat on……

Most important item #1: Always be up front, transparent and direct with your Users about the data you are collecting.

Most important item #2: Always ensure that you are following the TOS that your vendor has. Google Analytics for example strictly prohibits you from collecting any PII (Personally Identifiable Information) data. Other vendors might have such limits.

Every Company and Analyst understands that User Trust is perhaps the most cherished commodity on the web. Remember it is a frictionless environment where your competitor is only a click away.

With that in mind the overriding theme of any website owner strategy should be ensure Users are aware and they have a choice (in case of PII or cross site data). A good example of the latter is the release by Google of a plugin to ensure if a User opts out of interest based ads then they remain opted out even if they blow away their cookies.

Commercial web has been around for twenty plus years. Yet until today every major Advertising platform relied on fragile third party cookies (including let me rush to add DoubleClick, now owned by Google).

We need more innovation like that from all players, and I am sure it will come.

Part two of my answer with my Analyst, tactical, hat on….

Attributes of a Customer (demographic etc) are a very TV / Magazine way of thinking of relevance and messaging value. In both those cases there was little to go by, except sampled or self reported or polled data (all with as much mathematical rigor as possible of course). So that is what we went by and now have come to have in our DNA.

On the web I humbly believe that actual customer behavior is a substantially better predictor of relevance (offers, content, images, things etc). When you have my behavior (non-PII) why do you need to know I am a woman who likes to wear red shoes? Because you can extrapolate from that to impose your own interpretations on top? Why not just use my behavior?

I am not saying there is no value in demographic or other touchy tracking things, there might be. There is just so much more value in behavior. Let’s not make it an excuse that the reason we as Analysts can’t deliver value is because we are messing demo data.

Juan – How do you imagine the Web Analytics industry in a near future?

Avinash – I wish I knew. I think of our humble little industry as my four year old boy. Growing fast. Transforming rapidly. Showing clues as to where it might be going (my little boy wants to be a train driver), but it is waaay too much evolution left to guess where all this going.

One thing I will say without hesitation: Train not to be a master at tools, train to be an Analysis Ninja. Your future will be secure regardless of where this journey takes us.

You can take a look to the previous interview here (Its awesome!), information about Avinash in Argentina here, and Avinash Blog here.

I would like to personally thanks Avinash for always finding time for me in his Agenda!

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