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Monday, June 07, 2010

Advertising and Analytics Caught in the Cross-hairs

AT&T's move to metered data plans is going to have an interesting long-lasting effect on the Apple ecosystem. Apps that leverage services like advertisers and analytics companies who rely on transferring data to and from devices now have a new ingredient in the mix: reducing bytes transferred.

Those who have been paying attention to this already know what it's all about, but for different reasons. When we were putting together our analytics mobile SDKs at Webtrends, we were hyper-sensitive to many issues: privacy, flexibility, powerful reporting, efficiency, device battery life. It's those last two issues that forced us to be very efficient with the data we're transferring, and to take measures to only send data when it didn't interfere with the user experience in the app, or when the device battery was low.

But now the challenge is different. Mobile device users may not want to have extra services running in the background, eating up their precious bytes. And how do users keep track of this?

App developers will have new requirements of third party services, as they themselves are now having to factor in how much bandwidth their own apps are consuming. From this NYTimes article:
One of the biggest problems, app developers say, is that people are not sure how much bandwidth they are consuming with an app. AT&T customers will be able to track their data use on the company’s Web site and receive alerts when they near their quotas, but many customers are in the dark about how much data a particular app or video uses.

“They’re going to be reluctant now because they’re going to be thinking in the back of their mind that there’s a clock ticking about how long they can play this game,” said Brad Foxhoven, chief marketing officer and a founder of Ogmento, which makes augmented-reality games for the iPhone.

Developers will likely look to Apple to add new functionality to help them clearly articulate how much data is transferred, and how to be as efficient as possible with that data transfer.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

State Farm's Impressive Mobile Apps

State Farm has done a great job of leveraging mobile technology recently. They have put together a couple of great iPhone apps that go beyond traditional marketing, and offer an interesting glimpse into how businesses can leverage mobile devices.

Their first app, the Pocket Agent is full of good useful info. The feature I think is the most useful is the one you don't want to ever have to use. If you're in an accident, you need to capture as much information as possible to assist with (among other things) any claims you might need to make. It's good to gather this info right away, and their iPhone app allows you to do this easily. They've even updated the app a couple of weeks ago to add enhancements to their “Submit a Claim” functionality, including:
o Draw the Scene
o Other claimants and vehicles
o Describe the Scene
o Offline access to documenting an accident

Their second app, Steer Clear, is more targeted toward educating young drivers - and verifying that they are doing the right things. As they say,
The Steer Clear® Mobile app is part of a comprehensive program that helps young drivers reinforce positive driving behavior and stay aware of hazards on the road.
I find this app to be a very smart move for State Farm. First of all, they are targeting young drivers who are more likely to be mobile-savvy, and therefore might appreciate that they can lower their insurance costs by following the app.

Second, they've built in some great verification tools that allow State Farm to validate whether the driver is actually following through with the trip logs, training and education. Of course, it's not a perfect solution - you can probably figure out how to say you're doing something and not actually do so - but it's a great attempt.

Here's a video showing what they're up to.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

HTML5 Storage and Analytics

One of the more powerful features in HTML5 is the ability to store data locally via the browser. Of course, browsers have had this functionality for a long time via cookies, but the HTML5 spec extends this concept even further, solving some additional web site use cases, and opening the door for the rapidly emerging mobile world.

There are two mechanisms defined in the web storage spec: sessionstorage and localstorage. Sessionstorage allows for session-specific data to be stored, which can be helpful for maintaining state information that you may not want to extend into another visit. This even applies to sessions from the same visitor, within different tabs of the same browser. This is a better solution than cookies for scenarios where you want to keep transactions separate from one another. The spec notes this use case:
"For example, a user could be buying plane tickets in two different windows, using the same site. If the site used cookies to keep track of which ticket the user was buying, then as the user clicked from page to page in both windows, the ticket currently being purchased would "leak" from one window to the other, potentially causing the user to buy two tickets for the same flight without really noticing."
The localstorage mechanism, on the other hand, persists across sessions and visits.

How much storage?
The spec currently suggests a limit of 5MB per origin (domain) for this new storage. This may change as the spec continues to be revised. At 5MB, it's certainly much larger than the limit on cookies today.

There's a decent sized section of the spec that speaks to "user tracking". There's clearly a strong concern about how this storage mechanism could be used to build user profiles and potentially track personal information. It looks like the working group developing this spec is taking privacy concerns very seriously, and are building in good safeguards.

Some thoughts
This storage would have been a great mechanism to have many years ago, but I'm not sure we were really ready for it. I think we've learned a lot over the years about privacy, and protecting personally identifiable information, and the time is much better now for such power.

The possibilities with this storage mechanism are fantastic. Google has already been making use of this functionality to help improve its apps. Apple has been a strong supporter of advancing the HTML5 spec in general.

But the rise of mobile computing has really made this mechanism important. Some very smart folks are already figuring out how to leverage localstorage to build apps that behave like a native app (eg, an iPhone or Android app), but are actually running in a browser. Check out Nextstop on your mobile device to see an example of what I mean. By pre-fetching and storing content, the experience becomes extremely rich when moving from view to view. It's quite amazing to experience it.

The Analytics connection
Analytics providers like Webtrends can obviously make use of the localstorage mechanism in creative ways. But the real thought-leadership will come with providing new analysis of usage of the storage functionality so website owners can better optimize their sites. More good opportunities for analytics providers and practitioners!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Jive acquires Filtrbox

Jive Software, who makes fabulous collaboration tools for both internal Enterprise use, and external communities announced today that they are acquiring Filtrbox.

TechCrunch notes:
Jive says that Filtrbox’s social media real-time monitoring technologies will be absorbed into Jive’s platform to help businesses and brands harness the power of the real-time web from within Jive’s collaborative software.
Jive is wise to boost its offerings as it is going to be competing with Salesforce’s Chatter and other social offerings. But the company is ready for the fight.
RWW notes:

How companies leverage the cloud will determine how they fare in the market. The ability to crunch large amounts of data is vital for understanding the real-time nature of how conversations flow. Jive seems to understand this and appears to be moving more toward a cloud-based strategy.

Initially, Jive will market Filtrbox through its Jive Market Engagement solution along side Radian6. Jive and Radian6 formed a partnership back in September. Here's what Jeremiah Owyang and his colleague, R "Ray" Wang had to say about the partnership.

Radian6 and Filrtrbox are essentially in the same space. it is unclear how the relationship between Jive and Radian6 will be affected by the Filtrbox purchase.

This definitely muddies the waters with Radian6. It'll be interesting to see what happens there.

Not only is this a social monitoring play, but there are analytics implications here as well. An interesting move, and one we'll watch closely! Congrats to my friends over at Jive!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Flurry Makes Another Move - Mobile App Analytics Revenue with comScore

Flurry has just announced a smart deal with comScore... Gagan Biyani over at MobileCrunch has the scoop:
Flurry wins because comScore’s sales force will sell Flurry’s data analytics software, generating an initial revenue stream for Flurry. According to Director of Community Peter Farago, clients will pay comScore to have Flurry’s SDK installed on their applications, and Flurry will make a revenue-share for each client. ComScore is adding reporting and charting software on top of Flurry’s analytics. Flurry is traditionally free for developers, but comScore is going to charge clients to use Flurry because of the additional reporting and charting they add.
This news is getting a lot of attention. As it should. This is a good deal for Flurry who, as a young company trying to make a living in the already crowded Analytics space, have figured out two revenue models already.

I agree with though:
The way I see it, it’s only a matter of time before someone like comScore or The Nielsen Co. buys out Flurry and its rivals. It’s becoming increasingly evident that the mobile web and mobile apps are part of new usage behavior that goes beyond today’s plain-vanilla web.
There are plenty of smart folks in the Analytics and #measure space that know full well what is required to make their holistic, powerful solutions work for brands around the world. This is a wise move by both companies to make a big play in this rapidly expanding space. 2010 will be a great year for Analytics in mobile measurement. Bring it on!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

HTML5 rel=noreferrer and Analytics

Phillip Lenssen over at Blogoscoped notes this interesting HTML5 nugget from Mark Pilgrim's DiveIntoHTML5 site that suggests that there will be a new relation attribute (rel="noreferrer") for links that will force browsers to drop the referrer from the header when selecting links.

This is how Mark describes it in the semantics section of his site:
rel="noreferrer" “indicates that no referrer information is to be leaked when following the link.” No shipping browser currently supports this, but support was recently added to WebKit nightlies, so it will eventually be showing up in Safari, Google Chrome, and other WebKit-based browsers. [rel="noreferrer" test case]
This is an interesting use of rel in HTML, changing the behavior of the browser. Especially a default behavior like this that has been around since the stone age (early stone tablets had a referrer of course...).

The impact to the Analytics community could be quite far-reaching. Referrer information is obviously quite important to a lot of base reporting dimensions. We'll all be interested to see if this specification will actually make it into HTML5.


webtrends reinvigorate analytics