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Monday, July 31, 2006

Analyzing StumbleUpon

My friend and colleague Martin Waugh dropped by the other day to say that he had noticed a new Digg shadow effect. His fantastic photography site, LiquidSculpture gets dugg every now and then. This, of course, brings a lot of traffic to his site, but within a short time after, he is now seeing a lot of traffic from StumbleUpon. And it turns out, it is a lot of traffic!

StumbleUpon is a social networking service. You sign up for an account, install an extension in Firefox (and it's recently become available as a plugin for IE), select some preferences (what your interested in stumbling upon), and you're off stumbling.

It's actually very cool. You add to the social network by tagging sites or pages you come across. Like del.icio.us or other tagging tools, you can add your own tags to pages. But the real power is when you hit the "I like it!" button when you come across something you like, thus adding more substantial data to the network.

Now, when you want to just stumble upon something, you click the Stumble! button. Think of it as a feeling-lucky-reverse-search. You've already given your topic(s) of interest (say, Web Development), and StumbleUpon now takes you to a site you might be interested in seeing. The cool part is that you can Stumble upon a subset of a topic by also selecting a filter. So, I selected Web Development as a topic, then web-analytics as a filter (tag), and quickly stumbled upon Marshall's WebMetricsGuru, Pat's Conversion Rater, and others. I went to a few other WA blogs and hit "I like it!" so they would appear as well.

How do you know if someone has stumbled across your site? There are a few answers, but I'll just note the most frequent now. The primary use of the tool is through the Stumble! button. When someone visits your site using that button, you'll see one of the following referrers:
- http://www.stumbleupon.com/refer.php, or
- http://www.stumbleupon.com/refer.html

If an individual goes back to the StumbleUpon site to view the pages they've tagged (or those of another Stumbler), then select a site from list of tagged sites, they will show up as a referrer from their account name, like this:
- http://elbpdx.stumbleupon.com/

If an individual looks at a list of sites that all have the same tag, then selects a site, the referrer comes through with the tag name on it:
- http://www.stumbleupon.com/tag/web-analytics/

Note that there's a default setting that likely throws analytics off a bit as folks are using the Stumble! button. In the toolbar configuration, there's a setting to "Prefetch Stumbles". In my testing, the browser would actually prefetch a few sites at a time. Sites that I may not end up visiting. However, if I do visit them, they are downloaded again (except for objects that are cached), and a second view is recorded to the site. It would be nice if they would note the fact that this is a prefetch in the request (ala Firefox).

One final note. There is a commerce side to StumbleUpon via "advertising". It's not your typical advertising in that the customer will "stumble" directly to a landing page on your site. I've not spent much time with it, but you can setup "campaigns" with them. As they ask Stumbler's to note their location and age as part of the signup/networking process, they have do have the ability to target campaigns pretty well (given that folks are entering in accurate information of course). It currently costs $.05 per vistior.

Filed in: analytics, stumbleupon

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Quick Visit to OSCON

I made a quick visit over to OSCON today. We're lucky to have such a cool gathering just a short light-rail ride away from downtown. It was interesting to see who was there - Sun, Microsoft, HP, Intel, etc. You know, the usual open source crowd ;-)

I did get a chance to meet blogger Jeremy Zawodny, who was hanging out with a few Yahoo's at their booth. Nice folks.

I also got a chance to chat with the Amazon team. They have many cool projects in the works!

As it's an O'Reilly event, the Make folks were also there with some kits and magazines. I love their stuff.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Traffic "Patterns" from useit.com

A few good nuggets from the useit.com site this week.  Traffic patterns using statistical measurements.  The data on referring sites caught my attention:
.Zipf distribution of incoming referrals from other sites, sorted by traffic rank
The data follows a predictable pattern except for the #1 referrer: Google.  They note:
"The chart's one obvious exception to the theory is that the site that referred the most visitors accounted for many more visits than predicted. Google (depicted as an extra-large dot) referred 257,040 visitors; in theory, it should have referred only 52,479.

Google is five times as popular as the theory predicts, but this phenomenon could fade as other search engines catch up. Only time will tell."
I suppose something will come along eventually to change the dramatic influence of Google, but for now it sure seems like the pattern will continue for awhile.

The next comment is spot on as well:
"Also, while Google is disproportionally important, when taken together, the other 35,631 referring sites accounted for 35% more traffic. Clearly, it's not a good idea to focus only on #1. "
Filed in: analytics

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

In Boston

I'm attending the Microsoft World Wide Partner Conference in lovely Boston. WebTrends is a Gold Certified Microsoft partner, and we are very lucky to have them both as a customer and very strategic partner.

Off-topic: I went for a run early this morning along the river. Speed touring the local sites (BU, Harvard and MIT). Fantastic views....and such great history.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Spokes And No Hub

Pat McCarthy makes a good point about the current pain of having so many specialized service providers - who are also in the business of providing analytics. As he notes:
It’s not the fault of the companies, I commend Feedburner and Wufoo for providing specialized analytics, I just don’t like having to go so many places to get it and learn so many interfaces.
And I agree with his idea of someone coming up with a tool that serves as the hub between these services. Perhaps the very smart Juice Analytics team can come up with some creative ideas? Avinash clearly has some great presentation ideas to contribute (read his post if you haven't already - good stuff).

Now the fun begins.  Who's in?

Filed in: analytics

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