Google's 'Analytics Evangelist' Explains Why Websites 'Suck'

Kaushik: Despite Mounds of Data, Marketers Don't Understand Consumers

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AdAge.com) -- Avinash Kaushik thinks one of the reasons why so many websites "suck" today is because of the hippo -- as in the "highest paid person's opinion."

And, yes, you're likely a hippo -- a successful advertising executive, CMO or brand manager, pulling in a six-figure income, often found pontificating about what does and doesn't work online. You use tried-and-true metrics such as unique visitors and click-through rates to decide on the best design for your landing page or what content is best suited on your product site.

'Least closest'
Yet, despite your mounds of data, Mr. Kaushik thinks you are the "least closest to the customer."

It was a blunt indictment, considering Mr. Kaushik offered it during a talk before roughly 200, well, hippos -- marketing executives from Procter & Gamble, Victoria's Secret, Coca-Cola and Timberland -- at an invite-only client conference held by Resource Interactive, a Columbus-based digital agency.

Mr. Kaushik is the "analytics evangelist" at Google, a new post created after his one-year consulting gig with the search giant expired. (Mr. Kaushik was previously director of research and analytics at Intuit, the personal-finance software company, and he is also the author of "Web Analytics: An Hour a Day" and web analytics blog Occam's Razor.)

Mr. Kaushik employed the word "sucks" frequently when he talked about the traditional metrics used for measuring online marketing. And as far as online marketing goes, it sucks too. He likened it to a "faith-based initiative."

Getting the 'why'
The point of Mr. Kaushik's candor is that he wants marketers to start thinking more about the "why." To get at that, he espoused the use of more online surveys of site visitors to find "segments of discontent."

He advised marketers to create conversations with consumers using a simple, short and free online survey created by Iperceptions.com, an online research firm. The survey asks: Who is coming to your website? Why are they there? How are you doing? What do you need to fix?

The surveys "get customers involved in fixing things," he said.

What analytics means
After his talk, Mr. Kaushik described the day-to-day duties of his job at Google as "giving a lot of talks" to teach people how to make better websites and spreading the word about Google's seven "analytic tools," mainly Google Analytics and Ad Optimizer. He noted that anyone from a mom-and-pop business to a Fortune 500 brand can use these tools.

"Google is giving the same tools that, only prior to Google, you had to get at a big advertising agency or digital firm for free."

When asked to explain in more depth what Google Analytics -- and his role as an analytics evangelist -- means for digital and traditional advertising agencies, Mr. Kaushik said: "We want to be the company that really lives the spirit of accountable advertising."
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