MeasureFest take 2

Yesterday, a few of us from ONS’ User Insight and Engagement team went along to MeasureFest. (I talked highly of the last one, and as a result of that session in October we’re in the final throws of building a real time scatter graph in tableau which merges message tags appended to URLs we publish on social media with web analytics data – so we can see patterns in what works and what doesn’t).

Anyway, whilst I’m not sure this one was *quite* as great as the last (for me anyway), I thought I’d share the notes I made as a lot of good things were brought up.

Of all the references to web analytics, Google Analytics was the only provider mentioned, highlighting its grip on the market. GA’s speed suggestion report was cited by Neil Barnes as really useful to understand page load times. He said websites should set a KPI of getting page load time down to under 3 seconds (a cut off, research suggests, where a large proportion of users abandon if it takes any longer). In another presentation by Jono Alderson, there was also talk of using demographic data in GA to add value to user personas that other research methods form. Dara Fitzgerald’s talk covered 5 considerations when migrating to Universal Google Analytics from standard, if doing it now (it’s in beta and won’t roll out fully for a couple of years.)

Merging on and offline databases into one view was mentioned by Andrew Hood and perhaps is something more fitting for a commercial organisation or government department that deals in transactions. ONS isn’t either of those, but to overlay data we can scrape from social and that from our call centre would make for some very robust insight in to how we can better service our users.

Craig Sullivan (the Malcolm Tucker of the conversion rate optimisation world) gave a great presentation on 20 common ‘mistakes’ made in AB testing. Here are the slides, note the language is colourful at times and I used ‘mistakes’ here rather than Craig’s original title!

External data sources was talked about as well. I really like the idea of pulling in sources such as the weather (as Simo Ahava talked about), and seeing what effect that has on behaviour.


Again, not for ONS and it was also suggested (by Andrew Hood) not to get too hung up on feeds like this for risk of talking yourself into hypotheses. But for where there is a clear connection between an external data source and an organisation’s proposition, I can see the benefit.

Using social data as an insight tool was the final chunk of the day. Rebecca Carson talked through Brandwatch’s take on the evolution of social media analytics.

Evolution of social media

Rebecca talked through how thinking has moved from volume and sentiment, to understanding.

  • Why sentiment may fluctuate
  • More about users and how brands fit into their lives
  • Audience segment attitudes
  • How segments compare, contrast and can be better served by brands

(This is all good, though *a lot* needs to be done by the industry to inform users that this is one way their data are used – a year old but NetBase’s study on privacy is worth a read to remind us all how big brother this stuff could get).

Rebecca also talked about the challenges of understanding:

  • What users are ‘saying’ vs ‘doing’ online
  • How users act during a brand’s listening exercise vs be asked direct
  • How research data can be modeled against conversion data

…which are, of course, age old user research issues. In fact, it’s interesting to note that this number crunching-focused event didn’t have a session or two on the more established methods of user insight such as eye tracking and interviews. For me, that balance would make MeasureFest an even better event.