metrics [ME-triks] -noun

metrics [ME-triks] -noun

  • the application of statistics and mathematical analysis to a field of study.
  • a combining form with the meaning “the science of measuring,” that specified by the initial element: biometrics; econometrics.

It sounds like a science, but it is really an art.

Often times, when we are discussing metrics (or web analytics) we are talking about more than just numbers, raw measurement or statistics. Metrics involve the interpretation of of data.

Look at google analytics and you will see the type of data that most people think of when you say [web] “metrics:” Visits, Unique Visitors, Pageviews, Pages/Visit, Avg. Time on Site, Bounce Rate, New Visits, Location, Language, Network, Traffic Sources, Site Speed, Searches, Sales, etc.

This type of information can be helpful on its own, but it is largely one-dimensional. Raw statistics loose significance without context. Good metrics are defined in terms of strategy. What is our goal and what kind of specific statistics indicate success? A statistic like unique visits may be less important than net sales for a business like that is a totally online operation. The opposite may be true if you are Coca-Cola and your website is more for branding purposes, not sales.

To add dimension to the numbers, metrics can also be constructed in the form of an equation or an aggregation of data. These analytics express valuable but subjective concepts such as loyalty, engagement, and virality. Take Facebook Insights relatively recent introduction of two new metrics: Weekly Total Reach and People Talking About This Total reach refers to the number of unique individuals who saw any content related to your page. People Talking About This combines all likes, posts, check-ins, mentions, etc.

These simplified metrics reflect data that Facebook considers important. However, it is always important to dig deeper in order avoid “measurement inversion.” This is when metrics seem to emphasize what organizations find immediately measurable — even if those are low value — and tend to ignore high value measurements simply because they seem harder to measure (whether they are or not). For example, while Facebook is more interested in measuing the overall “conversation” surrounding a given page, an individual business may be more interested in investigating a particular element, such as check-ins, if that metrics relates to an ongoing promotion.

Today, metrics are evolving quickly. Batch metrics (collected daily, hourly, etc.) were once the standard. Now, many companies demand real-time metrics, especially when it comes to social media. Advertising metrics that drive much of the value online are constantly being tweaked in an attempt to more accurately reflect the true worth of a given ad. Code metrics that calculate how efficient a program or script is running can get very complicated but are essential for optimizing web performance.

For our purposes, we will most likely be dealing with metrics in the social graph. You can think of it as metrics 2.0 [or, even 3.0] . The key distinction between basic web analytics and metics in the social graph are relationships. How are things (both “individuals” and “objects”) related to one another ? These types of interrelationships can be conceptualized by sociograms and emphasize choices and preferences.

Social network analysis software (SNA software) facilitates both quantitative and qualitative analysis of social networks by describing features of a network, either through numerical or visual representation. We now have much more data than we know what to do with. Creatively identifying how to interpret the information is the tricky part. This is why we often see larger, more established internet companies buying up analytics start-ups who have an interesting twist on interpreting different types of data.

The first step for each of our companies is to identify a goal. Next, we must find out what data is available and investigate what types of relationships can indicate success.

And always remember, if you don’t measure it, you cannot optimize it.

Google Search Plus Your World

To ‘Google’ something is now common lexicon.  Some of us remember the time there was no such thing as Google searching – I’m not one of those people.  And I’m usually not on the cutting edge of information technology, or else I’d own or even But that’s about to change, Google Search Plus Your World (SPYW)  is the next step beyond your traditional search, and I’m fully cognizant of it. Google SPYW determines what is relevant in search queries influenced by a person’s groups, friends, and past searches. The company aims to personalize your results by including more Google+ Profiles, business pages, posts and Google+ and Picasa Photos. You must be signed in with Google Plus to use SPYW.  Therefore, if you’re not fond of Google+, tough luck, your search results will not be personalized.

So basically, as of now, Google has worked rather methodically in its algorithms of crawling the web during web searches. With Google SPYW, there is no longer a wide net.  There is a proxy of YOU crawling and grabbing and dodging trillions of words and photos and videos that are and aren’t relevant.  It does this by surfacing content that has been shared with you on Google+, as well as public information from its social networking site, and integrates this data into typical Web search results.

With SPYW, your friends’ online experiences are more relevant to your personal search results than links and domain authority. However, if your search results end up not being relevant, you may have your friends to unthank, unlike, or un+.  Google+ has a new feature that not only helps you make new friends with similar tastes and ideas, but also ones that will help you search the web. Yep, a twofer.  The feature allows searchers to start a conversation directly from search results, with their friends, and contribute to the conversation through Google+ stream.

There are three types of Google+ data that will show up in your SPYW results:

  • -Personal results: includes data from your own photos and posts, as well as Google+ data that has been shared with you.
  • -Profiles in search: more Google+ profiles appearing in your search results.
  • -Profiles and Pages: results from Google+ business pages and notable Google+users.

I hear the libertarians marching!  Put those torches and pitchforks down – no one will know what your searching for and what phrase you used (well except for you and Google, at least for now – they donʼt wanna creep us out too quickly). I guess after writing that, you can keep only the torches lit, and use them only for nonviolent castle wandering.  With SPYW your results are hidden behind http:// and no keywords will be linked to your search in any analytics program. If you are super creeped by this, or feel your personal liberties are being violated, there is a new opt-out feature that is available to all users searching Google in English. And you if want to go ahead and adjust your search settings you can here.

Although this may seem like a great idea to some, there has been serious criticism saying they are making its search relevancy worse and favoring their Google Plus social network too much. To some, itʼs frowned upon that the company is using their popularity as a search engine provider to promote its social network by prioritizing Google+ data. Even though the site is expected to have more than 400 million users  by the end of 2012 and 625,000 members are signing up everyday (which may be in part of the 700,000 Android devices sold everyday, which makes signing up for Google Plus easier). Makes me wonder if we’re being manufactured to Google’s will, just as their leading product is labeled, like an android.  Iʼm interested in seeing how this personalized search engine will work out, both the benefits of this new frontier in internet searches, as well as the controversy that is sure to surface.

The Tipping Point – Privacy Issues

As I was browsing my Facebook, I saw one of my “friends” posted this status update last week. I thought this was a perfect blog intro, purely for the creep factor.  Now that I have some readers wondering if they’re mobile service provider is tracking them, too, it presents the question – when do people feel their privacy is no longer private?

The fact is, as the information highway continues to expand, more people are blindly hitching a ride at the cost of their own privacy. The web in its social form is about people-to-people communication, sharing and consensual building of online spaces. As the communication and sharing continues, more and more data will be collected.  Data that like recyclable materials, can be reused in many ways – such as, demographic marketing.  Cue spooky music.

Everyone knows social media sites such as Facebook, Google+, Linkedin use your personal data for themselves – and not only for themselves but enable others to use your data as well, which allows for subliminal features of communication.  Hey LinkedIn, how did you know I might want to connect with my landlord that I wrote to one time via email?  Oh well – ‘connect’, yeah 89 connections and counting!  Yes they are watching you closely. Actually many people are unaware of how much information Facebook is actually collecting about them, and it’s not as subversive as you might think – users voluntarily put the info out there.  The thing is, if you don’t regularly check your Facebook privacy settings- you are probably sharing more information than you thought.  If you’ve never checked your privacy settings, then you are definitely sharing more information than you thought.

Just last November, Facebook was held to the fire by the U.S. Trade Commission over a very public privacy issue that settled out of court. Charges included deceiving users and shared information that it had promised to keep private.

Now that Facebook has created the Timeline feature- even more privacy concerns have arose. There have been numerous complaints about private messages posted to a user which are now posted publicly on their timeline. Facebook has disputed these claims and said that they are older wall posts that were always public by individuals.

By offering up data, people may receive advertising they may genuinely be interested in, but this requires giving up some degrees of privacy. And I’m not sure everyone is ready to give out that information yet.  Like many, I’m not sure if I want the advertising world to know that I’m Gucci loving mother of 5 Jersey girl who works at a tanning salon (nice red herring to throw them off my trail)!  With Facebook having over 800 million active users, the 20-something age range and the ever expanding older demographics are no longer okay with social site dictating privacy in any form.

CEO of Google famously said, “ Google policy is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it.”

I think many people are beginning to feel that their private information is at risk not just by social sites, but also by hackers. Google reported just today that it is introducing a campaign to ease privacy concerns.  The Good to Know campaign will be featured in dozens of newspapers and magazines.  The campaign is said to offer practical advice and tips on how to manage what kind of data people share with Google and other sites.

Since so much information is being collected about each of us, and privacy concerns are becoming more of a hot topic – companies are starting to establish a trust between us and them. However, it’s not likely you are going to be able to keep all your information private. And the bottom line: if you don’t want someone to potentially see something- don’t share it…unfortunately with anyone, not even grandma, that’s why this blog is going to sit comfortably on my desktop where no one can read it….