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Interview with Google Analytics’ Senior Manager

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On Thursday, September 21st I had the pleasure of interviewing Google Analytics’ Senior Manager Brett Crosby. So here’s how the conversation went:

[Manoj]: Can you start by talking a little bit about your professional background.

[Brett]: When we were acquired by Google I was VP of marketing at Urchin, I was also one of the co-founders of Urchin Software. We had been developing the software for about 10 years prior to that, both software and web based version. Once we were acquired I became the senior manager of Google Analytics.

[Manoj]: Are you guys continuing the support for Urchin or are you pushing for everyone to change over to Google Analytics?

[Brett]: We are still supporting Urchin Software and are planning to release another software version (the version that runs on your own server vs. on demand). Currently there has been a lag on the software version of Urchin but we are trying hard to push out a new release. However, I am a huge believer in the ASP/On Demand model because of the vast amounts of features and updates we’re able to build into it. With Software versions there are problems with legacy and relying on customers to manually update.

[Manoj]: I like the ASP model too because of the simplicity of the implementation.

[Brett]: Exactly, this is a big reason why the market took off as it did and now people are starting to switch over to this version. There are often times where the Marketing and IT departments have different objectives and with the ASP model Marketers are easily able to install the code and implement goals/conversion funnels.

[Manoj]: Will you guys be coming out with a guide/book for helping with custom implementations? This is something I have been asked before by other people.

[Brett]: Hopefully we don’t need a book on how to implement (chuckles…) because we’re trying to make it as easy as possible. We could potentially write a book and their have been conversations about that, however, the book would be more based on what you can do with data rather than how to set it up. We do have the conversion university resource where people can go and learn more about the analytics data. There is a whole world with what you can do with the data which we are constantly updating but I am not sure if we’ll come out with a book at this time. That being said other people have written books on Google Analytics.

[Manoj]: How many users do you currently have on Google Analytics, do you know an approximate number?

[Brett]: I do know the number, however I don’t think it’s a number we’re disclosing at this time even though it may have been leaked at a couple places.

[Manoj]: Alright…you must have noticed a huge increase when you made the sign up instantaneous?

[Brett]: Good Questions, to both of those questions…when we first launched we noticed a lot of people interested in the product, specifically because it provided more than just the number of page views, rather it also showed marketing numbers and goals. As you know, the demand was so much greater than we realized because we increased the size of the market several times over in a matter of a couple days. Therefore we had to turn off the system for new accounts and put an invitation model in place. Since then we have completely re-opened and yes we have seen a big surge in the accounts and we have added further scalability to handle them.

[Manoj]: What is your goal with Google Analytics, perhaps a target you want to reach?

[Brett]: Funny, I was just thinking about this myself, how I would be satisfied with my career. I haven’t really come up with anything concrete yet, but one of my general goals is to get more and more people to use this data in order to make actionable decisions. More specifically one of my goals (and my entire team’s) is the opportunity to bring the market up to speed by using analytics to make decisions for their website. This was not the case a little while back where only a small percentage of users had access to this type of data. It’s an industry wide challenge to get the right information to the right people at the right time so this is something we’re taking serious considerations into.

[Manoj]: I think what you’ve essentially done is made it so that there is no reason for someone with a website not to have analytics in place because it’s so easy.

[Brett]: This is what some of our intentions were when we released the product. One of the goals even at the executive level at Google is to improve the web one website at a time through the creation of better user experiences.

[Manoj]: Can you talk a little bit about the Future of the Web Analytics Industry or any Trends you foresee.

[Brett]:Sure, some of the trends we are seeing are pretty interesting. One of the things we noticed is companies such as Career Builder using Web Analytics to help experiment with various promotions in order to determine how well their offline marketing is working. This is not a brand new concept but we’re seeing a lot more of this.

The second big thing I noticed is companies using the Internet to promote what would have been TV advertisements and then using web analytics to understand the level of visitor interactions on their websites. (Brett gives an example of Carls Junior Restaurant Ads being run only once on TV. Carls Junior later allows users the ability to see the same ad on their website). The brand interaction users were getting online were much greater than what they would ever see from TV.

One other Trend worth mentioning is online agencies who are responsible for driving traffic being paid based on the success of their conversions and driving traffic and through to the websites.

[Manoj]: Do you have any new features or reports that you expect to release in the future?

[Brett]: We are always try to come out with new updates, things we recently added include paid placement position and adgroups in the adword reports. This allows users to see their most profitable paid position and with this knowledge they can bid for a given position.

[Manoj]: How do you guys intend on handling the implementation of AJAX on websites?

[Brett]: Great Question, although my thoughts are proprietary to Google, we did purchase a company called MeasureMap a little while back and one of the founders of Measure Map: Jeff Veen has written a book on AJAX/Web design. Jeff and his team are highly versed in AJAX so therefore we definitely have some thoughts on how to handle it.

[Manoj]: Going to end it with something fun: Please tell us the top 5 things you enjoy most working at Google.

[Brett]:

- The Food (easiest one), it’s outstanding and chefs are magicians

- The people are tremendous at Google. So many smart and bright people make it very humbling. This makes you more inclined to get things done rather than dictating.

- How seriously people take the user experience/user trust issue and how hard they work not to jeopordize any of those things.

- Lack of rigorous hierarchy, the freedom to work on project you want to work on. Access to Larry, Sergei and Eric whenever we want (and we do meet with them monthly/quarterly)

- 20% time is another great thing which really helps promote imagination and creativity.

Well that was it, Thank you to Brett for doing this, he was a very down to earth guy and this made for a very smooth experience.

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Manoj has been working in the search engine marketing industry since 2002. He started out as a software developer but now provides in-depth web site analysis using web analytics.

http://www.enquiro.com

Manoj is also the author of Web Analytics World. Web Analytics is an essential component in developing a successful
online campaign. Help convert visitors into customers by understanding
them.

Interview with Google Analytics’ Senior Manager
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About Manoj Jasra
Manoj Jasra is an online marketing veteran of almost 10 years who specializes in analytics, social/search strategy and mobile marketing. Manoj is currently a Sr. Strategist at one of Canada's largest Telecommunications Companies, Shaw Communications Inc., where he leads Social Media, SEO, PPC and Web Analytics strategies. Manoj first started in the search marketing industry with Enquiro Search Solutions, where he spearheaded web analytics, SEO Training and the development of cutting edge search marketing solutions for clients.

Manoj is a Professional Speaker having participated at events such as Emetrics, Web Analytics Xchange, WebTrends' Engage, Internet Marketing Conference, Social Media Innovation Summit and Search Engine Strategies. He authors Web Analytics World (a top 100 Online Marketing Blog) and consults through his firm Jasra Inc. WebProNews Writer
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