Category Archives: Analytics

NYTimes A/B Testing New Google Site Search?

I’d noticed something different about the NY Times search over the last few weeks, but just realized today that it’s because they’re split testing a new interface. I have to say I really like it.

Google launched a new hosted site search solution on June 11. Though aimed mostly at SMBs, it wouldn’t surprise me if a lot of large enterprises give Google’s Site Search a serious look. is splitting traffic, so to see the beta search you’re going to need to click the links below. In addition to the differences mentioned below, the algorithm is tuned differently in the new search. There is a different result set returned, possibly with less emphasis on AP stories, and I notice a lot more photos in the new results.

Old Search:

  1. No multimedia included in results. Toggle result to match on “Closest Match”, “Newest First” or “Oldest first”
  2. Date range radio buttons are difficult to discern and include a “custom date range” function
  3. Complicated search filters and link to advanced search
  4. Numbered results set
  5. Separate blog results included in a right hand box
  6. Refine results by NY Times section (Arts, Books, Business, etc). Pagination suggests an overwhelming results set.

(Click to Enlarge)

(Click to Enlarge)

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Facebook’s Silent Revolution with Sponsored Ads

Amid all the outcry over Beacon’s privacy concerns, (like having Facebook tell your wife what she’s getting for Christmas) the simple brilliance of Facebook’s on-site advertising is going unnoticed. Here’s a personal account of how Facebook’s relatively straightforward “sponsored messages” are finally making personalized word-of-mouth a reality.

In addition to banner ads, Facebook now features sponsored advertiser messages in their homepage feed. I rarely look at them, but like all ads you unconsciously take them in with a glance. I decided to click on one that was a new Apple video ad lampooning Vista. Funny and so true. As an XP user who purposely avoided Vista, the message was relevant. It wasn’t going to make me rush out to a Mac store, but I did click the integrated link to post it to my Facebook profile because surely someone else would think it was funny. What followed was a debate with three Facebook friends who were silent Mac advocates. My conversations with them also spurred 2 offline conversations (which I alluded to in a comment posting on that Facebook thread.)

Word-of-mouth on product review sites and bulletin boards is nothing new. Likewise, I could always get a word of mouth reco on any product when I ask someone in my offline (or online network). But this was different because I didn’t intend to start a conversation. I wasn’t seeking an opinion. In this case, the advertiser (Apple) planted the seed and what ensued was an awakening of mac advocates who were people in my closed personal/professional network; these are people I trust far more than any expert on CNET and more than the aggregated opinions of hundreds of reviewers on Amazon. I could also have received this video by email, but it wouldn’t have spurred the same interaction that a small Facebook Thread captured (and preserved) for all of my network to see. Not to mention the analytics that Facebook or Apple could get from this episode.

Here are some guesses at what an advertiser might be allowed to see in the analytics, in order of increasing value.

  • Impressions: number of people who might have seen the ad blurb because it was on their feed page
  • Video Views: Number of started/completed views of the mac commercial
  • Number of forwards to friends
  • Number of adds to profiles
  • Number of viral views (forwarded link views plus views after posting to profile)
  • Number of discussion comments
  • View actual discussion comments (tone/subject of the discussion)

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Getting ready for eMetrics

Washington D.C.’s web community has an amazing breadth and depth of talent. The eMetrics Online Marketing Summit rolls into town next Monday, and I’ll have the honor of moderating one of the speaker panels alongside some very remarkable members of the D.C. community, including Phil Kemelor, Julie Perlmutter, and Ann Poritzky. Should be an exciting week…

In the near future, I’ll also be working with both the public sector and social media sections of the Web Analytics Association.