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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Cost Per Action and Analytics

Wired has the scoop. Google's creative team has come up with a very smart new method of getting paid: Cost per "action" (CPA). From the article:

The new cost-per-action, or CPA, network will pay only if net users perform a specific action such as making a purchase or generating a sales lead

This is a decent attack on click fraud. Presumably Google doesn't get paid unless a specific goal or conversion happens in this scenario. Or maybe they just get paid more when an "action" does happen? The pricing model will be very interesting for this new approach. Is there a concept of an auction price? Are some goals weighted higher than others?

And how will one quantify the various "actions"? Well, I guess you need some sort of analytics to do that. Will it matter which analytics package you choose?

This one will be very fun to watch unfold.

Filed in: analytics, google

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A Non-Profit "Startup" - Schoolhouse Supplies Online

Hi everyone, I'd love to get your feedback on a new application a few of us have put together to benefit a local non-profit organization.  I had an idea last fall when buying school supplies for my children. I realized:
  1. I was spending a lot of time looking for exactly the right supplies requested by our teachers
  2. Other parents were also spending a lot of time looking around for the right supplies
  3. The money I was about to spend at the big box store I was in was essentially going to leave my community
  4. There had to be a better way
Why not build an online application, designed specifically for parents buying school supplies?  The application would list the exact supplies requested by the teachers, per grade, at the school.  It would make life so much easier for parents, and for the teachers.  And while we're at it, why not figure out a way to ultimately benefit the schools through this tool?

I ran this idea by a friend of mine, Nick Viele, who is the Executive Director a fabulous local non-profit organization called Schoolhouse Supplies.  Their mission is to serve "classrooms in need by operating a volunteer-run free store for teachers, which is stocked with supplies donated by the community."  They have provided over $6M worth of school supplies to Portland area students, and have been very creative and thoughtful about how to continue to be an important resource for our community.  We thought this idea might be a perfect fit.

I then chatted with a couple of very talented individuals at WebTrends (who also happen to be terrific developers) who agreed to volunteer their time to help build the application.

So we put together Schoolhouse Supplies Online (as of this post, it's still in beta, so there are a few known issues).  It's a relatively straight-forward application as you will see.  The basic idea is as follows:
  1. Teachers create a supplies list for next year which we enter into the application.
  2. Parents then shop online for the supplies they need for their child(ren).
  3. The supplies are delivered (through volunteers of course!) directly to the school.
Pretty easy, yes?  As a really fun bonus, we added a couple of tools into the mix.  As you may know, Salesforce.com provides their very slick service FREE to non-profit organizations.  This includes their API's.  So, since we've done a lot of fantastic work with Salesforce.com already, we decided to build this application with Salesforce.com as a back-end.  For credit card processing, we're leveraging the very flexible API of another great Portland-based technology company, AuctionPay.

So check it out and let me know what you think.  Any and all feedback is welcome.  We clearly have a few things to tighten up (at the moment, our final confirmation email is broken), but please let me know via comments or email (elbpdx at gmail) what you think.  We hope to go live at the end of this week!  Thanks!

Filed in: analytics, salesforce.com, nonprofit

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Friday, June 09, 2006

Google Is Making Analytics Easier

Google announced a new Firefox extension today.  It synchronizes your browser settings between computers, including saved passwords, history, bookmarks, and....wait for it...persistent cookies.

A common issue plaguing web analytics accuracy is tracking a unique visitor between different computers at home, and/or at work.  Unless you require a visitor to register and/or login to your web property, you generally cannot identify the same visitor who moves from computer to computer, nor can you accurately track those visitors who have recently rebuilt their computer, or have purchased a new system, or are borrowing a computer, etc.

This extension, which even "remembers which tabs and windows you had open", may provide new levels of accuracy previously only available to a small number of sites.  Granted, it's only available currently for Firefox customers (and only those who are savvy enough to add extensions from Google, and then use it properly).  But it's definitely an intriguing opportunity.

Plenty has been written about unique visitor tracking in the analytics world.  Leave it to Google to shake things up a bit.

Some threads (from Techmeme):
Filed in: analytics, google

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Feed Conversion: Geffen.com

Feedburner announced today that Geffen Records is using their services.  This is a nice feather in Feedburner's cap, and a good use of feeds for providing updated consumer content (in this case, artist specific content like news, tour dates, etc.).  They plan on using FeedFlare and the FeedBurner Ad Network (FAN).  Cool stuff.

In Feedburner's blog post on this subject, they note this interesting conversion data:
Geffen's early trials proved that feeds were the marketing tool that garnered the highest conversions. Feed subscribers were four times more likely to take action (e.g. download wallpaper, play audio/video clips, sign up for a message board, etc.) than those reached through more traditional methods. Recognizing the growing audience that will no doubt follow the launch of the next generation of browsers, Geffen wanted to lay the groundwork for a company-wide embrace of feeds to ensure they're able to leverage this new medium.
Four times more likely to take action.  Impressive.

Filed in: analytics, feedburner

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webtrends reinvigorate analytics