Media’s Take on IS 2011 / Search, Display and Analytics

by Morgan Siem on November 28, 2011

in Social Media

As a veteran of dozens of “digital” conferences, it always intrigues me to see how different groups approach what’s happening in the industry today.  So how does IS 2011 stack up?  In my book, it’s okay… sometimes a little too broad or entry-level for the full-time digital marketer.  But then again, it was impossible to attend every speaker and every session over the two day summit.  So in order to get a better feel for bright spots and dark corners, we had the “Media Team” attend various speaking engagements and break down their thoughts on helpful hints, tips, and topics from the summit.


Web & Mobile Analytics (Seth Hargrave)

To be truthful, it was a little disappointing to see the topic on the agenda and then not hear any content on mobile analytics.  That said there were a few bright spots in the discussion.  Most notably, Ted McDonald from Verisign covered the subject of how to identify traffic issues and skewed data within site analytics.

In the broadest sense, his most helpful point was to approach reporting from the standpoint of inclusion rather than exclusion.  Instead of looking at everything first and then whittling down to the important data, his recommendation was to take the opposite angle of attack – beginning with what needs to be reviewed the most and building up.

  • A couple of other points to note include the following:
  • When identifying potential issues with reporting or irrelevant traffic, look for…
  • Site-wide spikes (common in B2B)
  • Erratic conversions
  • Check for “impossibly low” conversion rates
  • ip/domain spikes
  • ip/domain flat-lines
  • Hot keywords
  • Hot locations

If found, the cause of these could be a number of issues including…

  • Bots and scripts
  • Monitoring services
  • Search spiders
  • Hijacking
  • Fraud

Finally, as a way to create a detection strategy, there are a few handy reports to pull on a regular basis to identify these issues…

  • Hourly traffic over a two day period
  • Daily form views
  • Data warehouse reports
  • And of course, setting up daily alerts

As a final thought, my belief is that there was significant content missing from the analytics discussion as a whole.  With Google’s release of their new analytics platform, Omniture’s Genesis, the availability of funnel visualization, multi-channel funnels, and other bells and whistles I’ve yet to have time to play around with, my thoughts are that some time should have been spent on the topic of GA’s new platform along with some of the newer analytics services being offered such as attribution modeling or path-to-conversion.  To their credit, Tony Haile from Chartbeat did discuss real-time analytics, and the implications to media buyers could be huge as a monitoring tool for high volume real-time-bidding campaigns.


Reaching Niche Communities (Megan Simpson)

Much of the content in this particular break-out focused heavily on the use of social media.  Broken down by specific niches, a quick synopsis follows:


Much of the session was spent discussing how women use social as a way to bypass gatekeepers.  By engaging in social media, they have an opportunity to grow – they are adopting social for a new and better life.  As a woman and a user of social media, I can’t say that I entirely agree.  I don’t post status updates on Facebook or read my friend’s blog posts as a way to better myself.  It’s simply another hobby.


This truly is a life-stage targeting opportunity.  Millenials are just getting into the workplace, starting families, and are getting to a point with their lives where they are beginning to make major purchasing decisions.  Milestones are often gateways to big purchases.  For example, a new job often means a new wardrobe or even a new car.  Many of these decisions are made through seeking advice from someone with first-hand experience.  Even though information directly from an advertiser is not as relevant to this niche as the social touch-point, they are an easily-swayed demographic if targeted and approached correctly.

Multi-Cultural Marketing through Social

  1. Six different points were discussed on how to market successfully to multi-cultural audiences using social media:
  2. Say No to the Silo – Don’t assume someone will act or think a certain way based on one quality.
  3. Connect With Groups of Individuals – You will have a better chance of hitting your intended target if you market based on groups of individuals who can relate to each other.
  4. Celebrate the Culture – Highlight the “fun stuff” in a given culture and embrace it with your marketing message.
  5. Start Big and Finish Small – Optimize your targeting from large pools to find your sweet spot.
  6. Test – Don’t rely on historical performance – especially in social.  Constantly test.
  7. Don’t Forget the Little Things – Things like humor, abbreviations, color, and partnership go a long way with audiences to personalize their experience.

Targeting users over the age of 50

Finally, the fourth niche discussed how to target older users.  Even though this demographic contains people who are retiring and becoming grandparents, we as marketers cannot discount the fact that they are actually embracing the medium more as a result, and are becoming easier to reach.  Case in point, 50% of iPad 2 sales are to people over the age of 50.  Keep in mind too that with the growth of social, targeting the children of this demographic will be a powerful strategy too considering their spheres of influence.


Ecommerce Trends (Megan Simpson)

The most intriguing aspect of this breakout was by far the discussion on shopping cart abandonment.  Most people have the common perception that abandonment is a bad thing when in reality it is simply a part of the conversion process.  Statistics point to the fact that only 1% of the population purchases in their first visit.  The rest are taken down a path of consideration that eventually leads to purchase or abandonment altogether.

Staying in step during this process is important to ensure you are hitting that audience that already may have intent to buy. Emailing in real time (not batch emails), will remind them of exactly what captured their interest to begin with (for example, an email sent in real time when the user abandons their shopping cart and refers to the order the person was about to fill will have a stronger impact than a batch email that goes out to everyone on the mailing list and doesn’t specify any certain product).



Pre-Conference Deep-Dives – The State of Search (Nicholas DiPietro)

Considering the breadth and scope of the pre-conference presentations, here are some high level thoughts and points covered which we felt were worth noting:

Analytics in Practice

Perhaps the most intriguing session, this presentation posed a different way of approaching reporting through analytics. Instead of relying solely on data to do the talking, the discussion focused on extracting the meaning behind the data and communicating that meaning through story – pointing out that Analytics are only half the solution when it comes to reporting.

The other half consists of managing communication around the data.  In other words, taking the data and explaining it in a simple and useful manner.  Often times when it comes to reporting, sometimes data is just regurgitated rather than explained.  Furthermore, the need for data results in data overload.  This session helped reinforce that reporting through analytics isn’t just a task, it’s a communication tool.

Some other points to note from this session include:

  • Capture data at the level you need – make sure it’s the right data and right specificity
  • Small optimizations can equal big results
  • Use the data to tell a story – beginning, middle and end
    • You can’t run a business off of a dashboard alone, include commentary (use ppt to tell a story)
  • Analytics tools only half the solution
    • Manage communication around data
  • Analysts should think about delivering results no just reports
    • Understand what the business leads are trying to report
    • Tie site activities to success events biz owner can act on
    • Key challenges with Analytics optimizations are people and communication

SEO Ranking Factors

  • Several very good points were covered here as well:
  • SEO is a site level metric, not pages
  • Low quality or “lazy pages” hurt your site
  • Social – personalizing search results, changes who influences the web
  • Video SEO – self host video, create video site map  powerful for SEO
  • Link Building – diversity, tactics/links/anchor text
  • Tools to check out – Quora,, Zemanta


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