facebook sdk

google tag manager

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Apache and SSL

This is an odd piece of data. Netcraft reported yesterday that:
Apache has overtaken Microsoft as the leading developer of secure web servers. Apache now runs on 44.0% of secure web sites, compared to 43.8% for Microsoft.
I don't doubt that there are many more sites using Apache web servers vs. Microsoft's IIS. But the preferred architecture of so many medium-large sites is to host SSL certificates on more efficient load balancers, that it seems incomplete to only discuss the web server side of things.

When discussing architecture options with customers and colleagues, I always recommend using load balancers to offload SSL traffic. The maintenance of the certificates is much easier as there are fewer systems to update. Load balancers are generally more efficient, especially with hardware accelerators. Plus the entire environment is easier to scale as needed.

Filed in: operations

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

PageRank Visualization

Neat idea from the folks over at iWEBTOOL. An overlay showing your site along with PageRank data. They don't give a lot of information about how they are calculating the PageRank information, but it's a clever implementation of an overlay.

Check out EricP's site with the overlay. Pretty cool, eh?

Filed in: visualization

UI Extremes

Dion Hinchcliffe has an interesting piece on the extremes of UI interfaces. His observations center around the extremes of the current visualization slickness of AJAX-enabled applications with the no-nonsense command line interface of your favorite search engine.

I like this line in particular:
Do you use Google's Search more than any other software application? I do, and probably most others too. So what happened to the GUI?

Filed in: visualization

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Microsoft and Niall Kennedy: Feeds Platform

Niall Kennedy, a veteran of the RSS and search community announced he is going to work for Microsoft. This is a great move for Microsoft, as they pick up someone who is a true "feeds as a platform" industry influencer.

In his announcement, Niall casually mentions that Live.com will be the new homepage for IE7 and Vista. That's very big news, and demonstrates a fundamental shift in priorities for Microsoft. Richard McManus does a nice job of articulating the importance of this move, noting:

1) It'll be the biggest mass market use of RSS technologies since Yahoo put feeds into MyYahoo back in September 2004. This will be a huge boost for RSS.

2) It will mean Live.com replaces MSN as the IE homepage - which as LiveSide pointed out
will mean "pushing Windows Live Search at the expense of MSN ad
revenue." If this isn't confirmation that Microsoft sees Google as its
number 1 competitor/threat now, I don't know what is…

It will mean the world of gadgets (aka widgets or modules) and web
services will go mainstream. Forget the current lot of boring clock and
weather gadgets, the real power of these mini-apps is in their ability
to integrate devices and media — think of the upcoming tv recommendations gadget, which talks to your Media Center box in order to program tv shows.

Sweet. Content provided by the default behavior of IE and Vista will be extensible by design. This is not MSN with some preferences...it's dramatically more customizable to include content (microcontent) from any and all feed sources.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Feed Analytics: Case Study #1

I'd like to explore the current state of feed analytics in MSM, looking at it from the outside in. I do not have access to the analytics for any of these media sites - I'm only taking a best guess here based on the data collected as a consumer of these feeds. If anyone reading this has any further information, or clarifications, I'd love to hear from you.

First up is Newsweek, which is a MSNBC property, hosted on MSN. One of the reasons I've chosen Newsweek first is that they are one of the MSM sites with feeds hosted by FeedBurner, and is one of the first media sites to leverage FeedBurner's FeedFlare tools. FeedFlare gives you the ability to add footers to each feed, providing a little extra functionality to each article. It's a brilliant tool. So, what is Newsweek using FeedFlare for? Take a look at one of their feeds (they have 40 of them!)...and you'll see they are including:
  • Email this (essentially a "mailto" link)
  • Technorati (if there are technorati links to the article, this flare appears - and links to a technorati search for the article)
  • Add to del.icio.us (posts this article to your del.icio.us bookmarks)
How does FeedBurner do all of this dynamically for each article within each feed? Each of the FeedFlare items is an image of the text with a dynamic URL that gives FeedBurner the ability to track which FeedFlare link was clicked (to give clickthrough statistics). They've expanded this service recently - and when they allow for dynamic flares, then things will really get interesting!

Another thing you'll note when you visit a feed is the Newsweek logo in the upper right. This is a standard feed image for RSS. Every time the feed is read (given that the RSS reader reads images), the image is called from:
  • http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/msnbc/Sections/Newsweek/NWProjects/NW_RSS/rss_logo.gif
Newsweek could obviously analyze the traffic to that image request. That would give them information about how often the feed is viewed (feed impression). Of course, FeedBurner will give them that stat as well.

Many of the articles have images. Each image in the feed is pulled from MSN too, so you could analyze those images to see when articles are viewed (article impression). Again...FeedBurner will provide that stat too.

If you do decide to click on an article, here's what happens:
  1. The actual link is to feeds.newsweek.com, which is a CNAME to feedburner.com
  2. Which redirects to a specific article ID in FeedBurner (example: http://feeds.feedburner.com/newsweek/TechnologyScience?m=55)
  3. This redirects to the Newsweek site for the article with "/from/RSS/" tacked on the end of the URL which can be picked up in their analytics package
It's a great implementation of feeds and of FeedBurner. They have branded the feeds (the URL is to feeds.newsweek.com), and embellished the feeds (via FeedFlare) to best take advantage of this maturing technology.

To summarize the analytics, I believe they have the following impressive set of analytics data available:
  • Feed impressions (via FeedBurner)
  • Article impressions (via FeedBurner)
  • Article clickthroughs (via FeedBurner and via the URL modification)
  • Various other feed stats that FeedBurner provide, including:
    • Types of feed readers used
    • Number of subscribers to the feed
    • How often a feed article is emailed, searched for on Technorati and bookmarked into Del.icio.us
Additional information that requires some work to tie together:
  • Returning visitors to the feed - they would need to analyze the traffic to the Newsweek feed image, and tie the visitors back into their analytics package
  • Returning visitors to individual articles - where there are images in the article, they can analyze the traffic to those images. Where they don't have an image in the article, there is no reference back to Newsweek for that visitor.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Analytics Challenges with Emerging Technologies

Great info from Marketing Sherpa posted in this article from eMarketer last week. Their results show where Marketers would like to experiment with advertising...the top 3: Mobile devices, Video and RSS. Each of which presents interesting challenges in the analytics world.

Also note that a whopping 40% of those who responded to the survey said they would be adding RSS feeds this year and 35% would be adding in-house blogs. This is the year of transition to microcontent.

As with any emerging technology, new analytics methods are constantly being defined and refined to meet these changing needs. Your success in building the right analytics for your site requires time for proper planning and testing. I encourage you to leverage the professional services team or consulting team of your analytics vendor to help ensure your results meet your expectations. And don't forget to have fun with it!

Technorati Tags: , ,

Monday, April 03, 2006

I Knew It Was Rigged

I never realized how much Amazon was in control of things...even the final four...I just received this email from Amazon:

NYTimes Site Update

The NYTimes updated their web presence last night. I like the wider page structure they've moved to in this redesign, as well as the great use of whitespace. They've updated some features, and added a few. The "most popular" areas within the sections (for example, check out the Technology section, lower-right) include email and blog references. There's a new section for "most blogged" stories from the site, which is updated hourly. This is pretty slick...I wonder how what technology (or service) they are using to determine which articles bloggers are linking to?

Khoi Vinh, the Design Director for the site has a post describing the launch. Anil Dash has a good overview as well, with some helpful extra reference.

As a techie/privacy side-note, they have an odd mix of P3P statements on the site that they may want to address. They set a cookie when you first visit the site, but they don't send a P3P with the cookie (which means that IE users with their privacy setting to "low" and above are not setting their cookie). And there are two CNAME'd "first party" domains referenced, each setting their own cookies, and both contain different P3P statements.

Filed in: , ,


webtrends reinvigorate analytics