Internet Feast or Famine?


“The Internet is a banquet and some poor suckers are starving,” wrote local blogger Mark Stroup after Pittsburgh’s recent Web Analytics Wednesday. I laughed when I first read the comment but haven’t been laughing this weekend when I saw, on the Web Analytics Forum, how lavish the banquet is and realized how few are eating.

I read the forum very regularly so that I can learn, ask questions, answer questions and just satisfy my generally nosy personality. It is a wonderful resource, particularly because the people who write go out of their way to make everyone feel welcome. Sometimes people get on and ask really esoteric questions, but that’s usually because they are working with a very sophisticated company and need to know. However, I was very frustrated this weekend to read as analyst after analyst weighed in on the topic of non-linear conversion metrics, fancy statistical measurements, neural networks and self organizing maps, and every other form of “let me show you how much I know.”

I don’t want to write, “as if anyone cared.” Well, okay, I do want to write that, but I won’t — there truly are companies that are at the head of the Internet banquet table. But I feel like web analysts are already a privileged sort, when it comes to the Internet, because knowledge is power, and analysts have so much knowledge. Other questions, like the one I asked about Mint, and the questions a new CoreMetrics user asked about how his product worked, got lost completely. (I’m not an administrator of the Forum and I still find myself sending private email to posters, asking if their question ever got answered, particularly if I’m interested in the answer as well.)

It’s not that I’m crying so much about the analysts whose unanswered boring questions (like mine) don’t get answered in the rush to evaluate the next cool thing. No, they can ask them again, the way that I do if no one answers. I keep thinking about who has a seat at the Internet table. Some people do web analysis with non-linear equations while most owners of businesses with websites (and isn’t that every business now?), even owners of e-commerce sites, are still saying, “What are web analytics and why do I need them?” When I see this tiny group of privileged people working to conquer a very esoteric question, while the vast majority of businesses don’t even understand what web analytics do, I finally understand Mark’s point about the Internet feast vs. the Internet Famine.

I wrote a follow-on post to this one, where I focused less on “wherefore web analytics” and more on the topic of new web analysts and their questions.


ps Many thanks to Pat McCarthy at Conversion Rater for encouraging me to write about the difference between the Internet “haves” and “have nots.”

Our founder, Robbin Steif, started LunaMetrics in 2004. She is a graduate of Harvard College and the Harvard Business School, and has served on the Board of Directors for the Digital Analytics Association. Robbin is a winner of a BusinessWomen First award, as well as a Diamond Award for business leadership. In 2017, Robbin sold her company to HS2 Solutions and has since retired from LunaMetrics.

  • Aurélie Pols

    Hi Robin,

    I just came back from Venice, Italy, and logged on after 4 days of quiet Venician lifestyle.
    The washing machine is running and while I was replying to my mails, my husband René, was reading your post.
    Funny thing, I was explaining the same thing to René this afternoon while eating chocolate and hasenult icecream along a canal.
    It was getting colder in Venice. Time to head back to Brussels, where we just landed 2 hours ago.

    Yes, since I read Shane Atkinsons posts, I’ve been following from afar (sorry but busy before my 4 day holiday to Italy to get all the work done in time. Still have to write a newsletter) what was going on on the Yahoo users group.
    I saw with wonder the Visual Sciences screenshot posted by Eric Peterson and read a couple of articles on Neural Networks. I studied economics and statistics thus econometrics so it’s something I keep an eye on. For the last 3 years actually 😉
    I got pumped, feering strangely to be left behind. It’s maybe a good explanation for the reason why everyone is jumping on this wagon: the feer of being left behind maybe?

    Anyhow, we went for lunch (risotto di pomodoro fresco and cod with polenta) and after a few drinks and some conversation with my husband, the conclusion fell.
    Yes, neural networks but not now. Hopefully soon but not too soon because indeed, rare are the clients that today follow what we can bring to them 😉
    There is, I think, still a long road ahead in terms of education. It might seem as you’ve heard that before but it’s for me, more than education. It’s about thinking together with my clients about their strategy.
    They tell me what they want in terms of reporting. I think about it and tell them what I think they should need. We then find a way in the middle: what they call here a “compromis à la Belge”. It builds for the future. That’s the important thing.

    In terms of Web Analytics, the technical issue is not really my problem. Yes, I choose the best product for my clients: according to what they seek today and why I think they will need tomorrow. I’ve got a great technical team and a great relationship with my product provider – WebTrends – which, I think moves in the right way.
    I don’t know if you’ve already version 8. Tell me what you think, I’d be glad to share my knowledge.
    For me, it’s what I dreamed about for a couple of my clients last year 😉

    I also wondered if you read the whitepaper from HBX/WebSideStory from IDC I think. I read it this morning with my expresso.
    Funny how HBX acquired Atomz. I like their view: my company OX2 does something similar: we integrate WebTrends with our latest CMS, which includes a Newsletter module and is SEO friendly. It also has an ecouponing module.

    We’ve for example matched an online and an off line campaign at the end of last year. The coupons where delivered (42.000) by the CMS and exchange in 200 points of sales all over Belgium. The coupons where then manually encoded by a student into the CMS. Unfortunately, the POS didn’t have adequate scanning devices but that might be for the future 😉
    The entire campaign was tracked by WebTrends and our CMS integrates MDB files that can be extracted and manipulated.
    I still need a presentation about that one… will need some time and quiet for that one.

    Anyhow, just wanted to share some thoughts.
    I don’t have a lot of time lately but often enjoy your comments on the Yahoo user Group and feel conforted by your statements and geographical position, which is also as I happily noted on this side of the Atlantic 😉 Going to the emetrics summit in London by the way? We are, Siegert (my colleague) and me.
    Hope to meet you there.

    Bonne soirée de Bruxelles,

  • Jacques Warren

    Hi Robin,

    You’re right. Dicussions can often be arcane, but this is the price to pay for getting all the posts in one summary email.

    As for the unanswered questions you referred to, they are very often vendor/products specific, and should be asked directly to their respective tech support.

    I think the new forum members should assume that all the others have done some readings, such as Sterne, Peterson, Eisenberg, and Inan. With these few books, they would grasp way more from the discussions.


    Jacques Warren
    Senior Advisor, Web Intelligence
    BELL Business Solutions

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