Web analytics group seeks industry standards

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Figuring out how your Web site stacks up to the competition is about to get a little easier. In February, more than a dozen Web analytics companies came together to launch the Web Analytics Association (WAA), a nonprofit group charged with promoting Web analytics through advocacy and education.

The founding members, which include Bryan Eisenberg, co-founder, Future Now; Jim Sterne, president, Target Marketing; and Seth Romanow, director, Worldwide Customer Knowledge, are making standards one of the organization's first priorities.

"I was just at a Web analytics conference and the one complaint I heard over and over was from people who tried reconciling their Google and Overture analytics with their own site Web analytics," said Eisenberg, WAA's chairman. "They never can because everyone uses different pieces of information. This makes their jobs as marketers more difficult. Even from vendor to vendor, people use different metrics. There's no apples to apples."

Once the WAA creates standards for terms such as page views and unique visitors, they will push adoption industrywide, Eisenberg said. They'll also create benchmarks so that members have something to measure their own progress by.

This type of education is a priority, he said, and for good reason. A recent query on job search board returned nearly 1,700 open Web analytics positions. Simply put, there aren't enough knowledgeable people out there to fill these slots, Eisenberg said. The WAA hopes to remedy that by creating certificate programs at colleges and universities, he said. The first certificate program, through University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, Canada, is already in the works.

Local education is next on the list. Eisenberg said WAA founding members will don professor hats when local face-to-face networking events launch, possibly as early as this year. One topic on tap: letting people know that analytics aren't just for e-commerce sites. The effort is expected to move overseas as well, through a nascent international committee.

Finally, the WAA said it expects to be involved heavily in any legislation that directly affects marketers. The association is looking for help on bills that focus on privacy, such as H.R. 29, Eisenberg said. "We're looking for people to get involved in committees and contribute to newsletters. We've got an advocacy committee working on getting the cookie statement removed from H.R. 29," he said. "We need support from other members."

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