I've been senior web analysts in many industries, ranging from finance, to travel, media and telecommunications.

I've worked with all kinds of analytical packages and know what people do on our websites.

I know what's tracked and what's not tracked.

Proof will be sent to mods.

I'm still active guys, I'm just busy with a few meetings and reports. I promise to answer to all questions pending if I can. Keep them coming!

Comments: 990 • Responses: 34  • Date: 

Eternally65122 karma


webanalyst150 karma

First of all, not all cookies are bad. Some are simply helpful.

For example Gmail will remember who you are so you don't need to enter your details again.

In my opinion, you area already quite a bit. In terms of being more secure, deleting your cookies is a great start. TOR will make it even better. Changing your ISP will only mean that your IP address change to a different range for a small period of time.

However the industry recognises that the reliability of cookies is diminishing. This is due to people using multiple devices, deleting their cookies, browsers not accepting cookies, automated cookie flushing etc.

So as cookies becomes less reliable, what can the profession do? Develop 'finger-printing' techniques that will identify the user to good accuracy. A company called Experian is doing a lot of work in this front.

With the fingerprinting techniques, only using TOR will help.

Eternally6562 karma


webanalyst14 karma

So this is the type of finger printing that Experian are trying to develop but remember, they have a live database so you will need to change your browser details, ISP fairly regularly for them to loose track.

Or use TOR.

Eternally655 karma

I alternate browsers. TOR is a bit slower and kind of clunky in my experience. My object is to make it more difficult to create a complete picture of my web activity.

webanalyst17 karma

Remember, we can't, don't and never identify individuals.

Everything is aggregated, and more than likely sampled depending on the site you visit.

Eternally6512 karma


webanalyst19 karma

It has nothing to do with Facebook or Twitter, although I don't know what they do with the data but I they can't really sell off these individual information.

However the pregnant lady may search for prams or cots, in which there is an ad network that will serve targeted ads across websites using third party cookies. You can opt out of this fairly easily.

Patrikx101 karma

What was your best salary?

webanalyst156 karma

At around $150k USD.

AreIII57 karma

What's the most interesting part of your job?

webanalyst105 karma

Looking at how customers respond to different website changes, conversion rates and how the industry will move with the uptake of technology.

The industry is heavily trying to shift from a browser view to a user view so we will understand users that shift from an iPad to their browser or browser to a different browser on the computer. This part of innivation I'm very interest in.

I'm also very excited in linking up several databases. So for example, if we know that we've served you an ad and we also know your loyalty card details for Walmart, and a week later - you made a purchase for the product in Walmart, we will be able to do some amazing conversion analysis on that.

jetpacksforall56 karma

What ever happened to good web development?

By which I mean, at a certain point up until about five years ago, it seemed like the user experience was the focus of a lot of design development, and websites & mobile interaction were developing in a direction of greater, more intuitive ease of interaction. I'm talking about page design, content delivery, indexing & search services, etc.

That process seems to have largely stopped. Just my layman's opinion of course, but for example Facebook's "timeline" style seems extremely clunky to navigate, with a lot of counterintuitive features that make it hard to find anything specific you might be looking for. Facebook seems designed for a passive experience, channeling its users like cattle towards currently "trending" items of interest and cutting off user-directed search & exploration. Netflix refuses to simply index their list of titles, instead forcing everything into duplicative categories, so that you'll see the same title a dozen times if you're browsing (You'll see Aliens again and again under scifi, thriller, action-adventure, award-winning films, etc.). Obviously Netflix is trying to hide a lack of variety and make it appear their slate of titles is deeper than it really is. Youtube has become a virtual warzone of copyright infringement, so that thousands of videos disappear every day: 6-7 years ago it was an archive of everything in the universe, and now it's like a rotating news site where links die by the trainload overnight and you can't count on anything being there tomorrow. Google's search engine is infested with paid rankings, user profiling and other commercial & legal distortions that make it far less useful and all-encompassing than it once was.

In other words, utility no longer seems to be driving web development & user experience. Commerce, web marketing, legal challenges, new platform development (i.e. mobile phones & touchpads) and social engineering seem to have infested the entire system, seriously degrading the basic function of providing useful information to end users. Rather than increasing the end-user's access to information, it seems like today's web development seeks to limit and channel users into a far more passive experience.

I should add that this isn't a new style of web development: America Online was a Potemkin village from the beginning, designed to fool naive web users into thinking they were on the internet while herding them through transaction points like cattle. I guess I'm saying the entire web seems to be turning into America Online.

What's your view on this trend? Do you agree with me that things are deteriorating or do you see more positive developments?

webanalyst35 karma

I have to disagree with you there as a lot of what I do is to improve user experience.

In fact, I work very closely with the UI team and also product team to drive a better product experience.

It is very rarely (never) that an ad sales director would come to our team saying they want more clicks on certain ad sales and how we can optimise that. Not in the companies I've worked for anyway.

I know a few companies that would, Facebook for example is one of them and Dailymail (UK) also optimised their sites for an ad-driven revenue model.

daveime13 karma

I have to disagree with you there as a lot of what I do is to improve user experience.

This may be true, but do you actually ask the users what they want, or do you just roll out features after a board meeting and then ignore all negative criticism. A few case in point :-

Youtube fatal Google+ commenting system, that means there's no threading, you cannot follow a conversation as posts are ordered by god knows what criterion.

Mozillas refusal to actually fix their browser that's become bogged down with bling and UI redesign so that it looks like a copy of Chrome. I mean whose bright idea was it to move the menu bar into the title bar area? Try dragging a window partially offscreen and then try getting a handle to get it back ...

Change is not always good, and needs to be in response to the users requests ... not just change for changes sake, a new version every other day, and a loss of functionality all round just when people are getting used to it.

webanalyst14 karma

It all depends on the revenue model of the business.

If its core content and they don't make money off subscriptions, they need to drive the ads as much as possible. However if it's a ecommerce site, and the change to increase ad space screws up the conversion rate. It will never be approved.

A change in 0.5% of conversion rate for a multi million dollar company is a lot of loss revenue.

mygodyouaregreasy48 karma

How does one get started in the field of web analysis?

webanalyst159 karma

I got into it at a very early stage and I'm usually working for very large companies so we would usually get A LOT of CVs from people wanting to work in a field they don't really know about.

That's fine because no one really knows what they want to do whey they first finish uni but they way we go through CVs is literally quite cruel.

Any smallest mistake, we would disregard. Why? Because all the CVs look the same and most people have similar experiences.

You may want to learn about Google Analytics, as most smaller companies use that. Also look at Omniture, Webtrends or comScore.

Don't be afraid to test your own tagging by setting up your own small website and put Google Analytics on it, and use a plug-in in Firefox called Httpfox to track if your GA tags are firing through. You should be able to see the figures in GA.

Lastly become a ninja in Excel. I can't stress this enough. Learn vlookup, offset, match, pivot tables and know them well.

.... and one last point. Be lazy. Yes be lazy, always find better and faster ways of doing things. Find if you can automate reports so you leave more of your precious time of actual analysis.

Hope this helps, anything else please let me know.

lokikali15 karma

what about breaking into the field from another technical, programming intensive field, such as a physicist?

webanalyst28 karma

Programming for sure, but if you have the brains to do programming. You might as well as be a developer. (of analytics)

mygodyouaregreasy8 karma

Thanks for all the info. Appreciate it.

webanalyst7 karma

No worries. Let me know if you have any questions.

Frdl15 karma

I'm incredibly lazy, with no relevant skills. Would I be a top candidate or merely competitive?

webanalyst16 karma

Yes. Very much so. Find shortcuts in doing things and you will be on a winning path.

Burger_moon1 karma

Great information thank you!

Do most of the applicants have CS degrees or what are the basic education requirements going into this field?

Thank you

webanalyst1 karma

Do most of the applicants have CS degrees or what are the basic education requirements going into this field?

It really various, but CS degrees required. Just stand out. Numerical background preferred.

DonWisconsin26 karma

What's the best technology for logging what your customers are doing?(something better than google analytics)

webanalyst35 karma

Adobe's Omniture is a good start but if I had infinite budget, it would be Adobe Insight.

djfc22 karma

Assume for a moment you spent some time and created a brand new website, something along the lines of 9gag, reddit, or some content based site. You're not worried about content, instead you're worried about driving traffic.

What do you think is the best way for new websites to get traction and get visits to your site?

If you had an unlimited budget, what would you do?

If you had no budget, what would you do?

webanalyst19 karma

What do you think is the best way for new websites to get traction and get visits to your site?

Adwords in Google and Facebook but it depends on the site. You need to drive quality traffic and not just quantity.

Combined with some smart marketing campaign.

setmehigh20 karma

Wouldn't Google be the world's biggest media company cause of YouTube?

webanalyst29 karma

Google is pretty big, so is Netflix now.

The pure line between media company is also somewhat grey. If you work in Apple, on their iTunes team - do you work in media?

trowawayatwork14 karma

Hi, Whats your best life advice?

webanalyst72 karma

I wish I had more, but I always live by the rule:

If I get angry at something, or someone. I always think "In two days time will this matter...? Or ten day...? or two months?"

The answer is always "No"

zppa10 karma

WebTrends, Omniture, Tealeaf, Google Analytics, & OpinionLab. How are you using these tools to track visitors and build personas?

webanalyst8 karma

Omniture's Insight does this really well which integrates with Omniture.

For example, it can integrate your calls to banks for mortgages with any future mortgage applications but only on the same site/company/domain.

As far as I know. Insight (Now called Workbench) leads the pack.

Eternally657 karma


webanalyst10 karma

In some media companies, they want to drive a higher CPM (cost per thousand) via targeted ads so they would want to gather information.

In terms of gathering information, companies are not really allowed to scrap. They may limit the content you watch without logging in with your details (or via facebook etc)

*edited thousand, not million. - thanks to /u/Techwood111

golfmade7 karma

When I'm using sites such as Kayak, Hipmunk, etc. looking for flights: Does using incognito mode protect me from the flights I'm looking for going up in price?

webanalyst4 karma

Kayak scans the sites, the price is still driven by the airlines.

JoeUsr6 karma

What is currently the most effective means of getting someone to buy something online? What techniques are being used that we might find interesting?

As a follow on, how independent are deal/bargain sites? Clearly they are referrers, but is the collusion at some level with retailers?

webanalyst3 karma

Targeted product placement and suggestions.

This requires the website to know a bit more about the user.

Bargain sites make a cut , it's usually about 3-10% depending the the product. They are considered as affiliates.

snipdawg6 karma

Whats the biggest company you have worked for

webanalyst8 karma

I can't reveal the companies I've worked for but all the industries companies I've worked for have been the biggest in their fields.

Shambloroni5 karma

What amount of your analysis is performed at the per customer-level manually (you mentioned Excel) vs. examining trends and behavior at a large scale (terabytes and beyond). Do you employ any big data technologies like Hadoop, Spark, MongoDB etc.?

webanalyst3 karma

We don't analyse any data by the customer level (i.e. this person did this and that)

But rather this group did this and that.

We have had data scientists to work with huge databases to analyse the data in a more robust level.

FallenNgel4 karma

What is the ration of quantitative analysis to qualitative in your work? I’m sure you get deeper into statistical analysis than the tools offered in excel. How much deeper and what tools do you prefer?

webanalyst5 karma

We have special data scientists that will extract the raw data out of the database and do the analysis.

What we do is very basic.

mjftho3 karma

how do you make money off of us? what particular piece(s) of our data is most important in selling our trends/habits?

webanalyst3 karma

Unless you're shopping at an online retailer, 99% of online content publishers are monetizing their audiences via a variety of ads (mostly display ads). Some also use paywalls or other transaction-based access models, but ads (display, rich media, video pre-roll, native ads, sponsored content, etc.) are where the money is.

So the above is right, money can be made from various streams - either from targeted ads but if it's an commercial website, email addresses are pretty valuable.

selectorate_theory3 karma

Could you say a bit about the education / work experience that get you to where you are today? Any advice for a young person looking into web development as a career?

webanalyst8 karma

Answered in the question above. I have a Bachelors Degree in a non-computing field

AFDStudios3 karma

How relevant is Schema.org tagging? How do you see it being implemented (or not) in the future -- should we bother with it or do you think it's Doomed to Failure?

webanalyst3 karma

I don't know much about Scheme.org.

Howver, all the tags in analytics from different analytics companies or sites are not standardised unfortunately.

Using a tag bucket is a good way of switching and rolling out new packages.