Digital marketing news

Florence: digital training for political activists and protesters

digital-activism
A former prison a centre will be the base of a learning centre for human-right activists coming from critical countries, the BBC announced on 22 May.
Students will learn how to run successful digital campaigns, looking at examples taken from the Arab Spring (mainly Facebook and Twitter).
No many doubts that Western soft power leads such operations. Westernisation is the at the core of strategies born to cascade policies and views of the world in areas considered highly critical and not easily accessible by some branches of Western capitalism.

It’s still questionable how influent can be a twitter-revolution in countries with a very high digital divide…

New screen for GA Goals set up

New Conversion Goal setup interface on Google Analytics

Many people do not set up Goals on their Analytics account. That’s a shame, because despite not having an website, Goals help them to 1) deep dive into the most challenging side of the analytics world (where the magic rule is learning by doing) and 2) learn more about a website, in a consistent way.

To track Goal , some users limit their efforts to placing the tracking coming from their ads platform. Not bad, but not even comprehensive as it could be setting up GA Goals.

Google Analytics has just refreshed its Conversion Goals setup screen adding some standardised categories that are self-explanatory about what Goals are: good move for newbies.

New screen for GA Goals set up

GA brings more clarity around Goals

After choosing the type of Goal in Step 1 (e.g. create an account or make a payment or whatever you like, see figure 1 above) you might be surprised to find the following four standard categories in Step 2. Nothing magic then, the new interface has just been designed to assist users in creating new Goals.

Describe your Goal...

Describe your Goal…

Finally, on Step 3, you setup your Goal details. For example, if you have chosen Play a video in Step 1, you will end up in events (you need to configure your media player properly in order to send events data to GA).

Set up a Goal corresponding to an event

Set up a Goal corresponding to an event

Look carefully at the last row before the buttons: Verify this Goal. That is a very useful tool to check if something is worth (or is wrong). If your Goal bring 0 despite you expect something you might go back and check something – usually you need to adjust URL’s or Event variables. Pay attention when using RegEx and always test before being sure that everything is ok.

Now, I’d like to express a critique to this new approach. As you all know, GA allows 5 Goals for each of the 4 Goal Sets that make up to 20 Goals in the free GA (well, the premium version doesn’t have any limit but that’s another story).Unfortunately it is not possible anymore to assign Goals to particular Goal Sets as it used to be before the change. Goals are assigned sequentially, making very difficult – or impossible in some cases – to group them in Sets depending on their nature.

If you are tracking transactions (completed), remember to opt for E-commerce tracking – if possible. To setup Ecommerce tracking you need to add some variables just on the page where the transaction is confirmed (usually a thank-you page). It’s fundamental to have a unique ID for each transaction, that might contain one or more products. Some values are optional, others are compulsory. If you are managing Google Analytics Tracking Conversion (GATC) through Google Tag Manager, then you need to use data-layers instead (and the code slightly changes).

Finally, if for some reasons you cannot setup you can still add just Goal value to the transaction page. Just avoid to add both Goal values and Ecommerce revenue or you might end up in doubling your revenues… unfortunately only on GA!

Flickr reloaded: new look for the (former) most popular photo sharing platform

Flickr in 2004

The first UI of Flickr when launched in 2004 by Ludicorp, before the acquisition by Yahoo!

On 21st May 2013 one of the most – if not the most – photo sharing site has been completely revolutionised on its appearance and few more aspects. After almost 10 years keeping more or less the same style, something new has just been revealed: think that until few hours ago Flickr seemed an extract of web archive!

Flickr was founded by Ludicorp, a Canadian software house, in 2004. It was just a small web tool aimed at putting in touch players of a Ludicorp online multiplayer game (GNE) that eventually failed. It basically had a chatroom and a real time image exchange service.

Ludicorp, founder and former owner of Flickr announced Flickr launches on 20 February 2004After the game was dismantled, the service was kept alive and, later, sold to Yahoo! that focused on its photosharing capabilities, adding a strong link with cameras and their producers. Ludicorp website has not been updated since, it’s still visible the last post dated 25th March 2005 where it’s announced Flickr acquisition by Yahoo!.

Flickr kept the fashionable “beta” mention close to its logo for years (it’s been cool for many earlier 2.0 websites) and moved to gamma only in 2007.

Here’s a screenshot of Flickr in 2004, you can see that it was owned by Ludicorp at that time… (find more about Flickr history)

Recently it has been suffered of being invaded by mobile shots published through Instagram. Twitter kept away Instagram, but Flickr found on that service a way to repopulate its store rooms that recently, with growth of mobile devices, suffered from having less traffic than usual. Few months ago, Flickr launched and strongly pushed a powerful mobile app to fight Instagram rising market share.

It’s important to notice that on the same day that the new Flickr appeared, its owner Yahoo! confirmed recent rumors about Tumblr acquisition. Well Tumblr is not just about images, but is a bit overlapping Flickr on some points, like Instagram, acquired by Facebook, was overlapping the most popular social medium. Here’s how they present the new release on the official blog:

In the beginning, Flickr innovated the way people share and discover photos. Today, we are shifting the photo-sharing landscape again. We’re releasing a Flickr that’s more spectacular, much bigger, and one you can take anywhere.

Biggr. A free terabyte of space

At Flickr, we believe you should share all your images in full resolution, so life’s moments can be relived in their original quality. No limited pixels, no cramped formats, no memories that fall flat. We’re giving your photos room to breathe, and you the space to upload a dizzying number of photos and videos, for free. Just how big is a terabyte? Well, you could take a photo every hour for forty years without filling one.

And yep, you heard us. It’s free.

Spectaculr. A new, beautiful experience for your photos

We want Flickr to be the most amazing community and place for you to share your photos. So, we’re also revealing a beautiful new design that puts photos at the heart of your Flickr experience, where they should always be. Whether it’s a sweeping landscape or a family portrait, we want every photo to be at its most spectacular.

Your homepage is now a gateway to everything you care about, and all the photos Flickr has to offer. Our new Activity Feed combines your friends’ recent uploads with activity on your own photos, and all in a beautiful design that lets you share and interact right on the page.

(…) posted on 20th May on blog.flickr.net

OK it’s mostly about graphic appearance. The only relavant news for non-pro users is the free TB of space which is enough to store a lot of photos. Before the change, the limit used to be maximum 200 photos for non-pro user. Some parts still remain as they were before though (e.g. personal profiles). Prehistoric tools like badges are not linked anymore but still indexed by Google.

Finally, what is going to happen with the magic interestingness thing, a kind of Flickr-Pagerank that used to determine ranking on the Explore page, giving a lot of visits and visibility to photographers? No news about such algorithm for years, but there’s still a way to determine the two criteria for classifying photos that are “relevance” and “interestingness” (the former closer to real meaning of the image and the latter closer to its name, title, tags, imaginative value).

I’m on Flickr since December 2005 and it gave me a lot in terms of great friends, photo techniques, inspiration, unexpectable achievements (about 2 million photos seen, not including stolen ones…) and, not least, a few business opportunity in the world of digital photography. Here’s my Flickr profile where very nice memories are stored: flickr.com/paolomargari

Google Analytics custom filters to tidy up your metrics: how to split up social media from referrals

Note: The Google URL Builder has been updated therefore I advice to have a look to this interesting guide written by Prateek Agarwal.


This post is about adding a custom filter to refine your Medium report on Google Analytics.

I am not going to talk about the “direct / none” aggregate that unfortunately include also visits that are not direct accesses like a user typing your URL or a bookmark, but any other session missing server data information. There is a wide literature about, but the problem remains unsolved.

Let’s talk about another medium category, referrals, that includes also visits coming from social media. Why not taking social media visits away from referrals?

Custom filters are a very useful tool for aggregating or adjusting some metrics before they appear on reports. In this post I’ll show you how to use custom filters to assign all visits coming from social media sources to a Medium category called “social“. Just follow this step:

Filter to separate social sources from referral on GA

Filter to separate social sources from referral on GA

The source for visits from FB mobile is “m.facebook.com” whilst Twitter is “t.co”. You can add all social media together by using Regular Expressions (RegEx). In this case you might need to do some testing. A RegEx for social filter can be this one:

(facebook.com|m.facebook.com|facebook|vk|vk.com|t.co|twitter|hootsuite|tweetdeck|plus.url.google.com|youtube|linkedin|reddit|digg|delicious|stumbleupon|myspace|flickr|popurls|friendfeed)

Remember to add also “field b = referral” because you don’t want to tas as social whatever is tagged not referral, for example a CPC campaign run through Facebook or LinkedIn.

After applying the filter don’t be impatient with Real-Time stats as custom filters might take a short while to apply properly.

A suggestion to speed up your RegEx learning process is to create a test profile (never play with the main profile!) and apply different filters there, assigning categories called social1, social2, etc. for different RegEx’s so you will reckon which is working and which is not by looking at the variable appearing on reports few hours after applying the filters.

Let’s go back to my proposals. Here’re the filters applied taken:

  1. visits from social media whose source is “facebook”, “twitter” or “google plus” have been all automatically categorised as “referrals” and will now be categorised as “social”
  2. using another custom filter, all medium assigned to “rss” will be renamed “feed” in order to join another existing category:  there is no need to have two different categories of the same type (distinction will be still available under Sources)

Here is what I had before (15/05/2013)

Before the filter...

Before the filter: no social!

and this is what I had after applying the filter (19/05/2013)

...after the filter

…after the filter, social appears!

Observations:

  • visits from social media are taken off from “referral” and placed into a new category called “social” that will also include all future social media activity tagged through the URL builder to be taken away from the “(none)”
  • RSS disappear and joins “feed” for more clarity
  • the site does not have benefit of any paid advertising source
  • direct/none stable (14% / 15%)
  • organic stable (11%)

Filters above apply only to Campaign Medium, but what about organising also Sources by aggregating at least the most relevant URL’s under just few categories? For example you can join www.facebook.com and m.facebook.com under just “facebook”.

Again, to be precise, you can use RegEx but mind that if you select all domains that contain the word “facebook” or “twitter” you might end up in adding sites that are not facebook and still link to you. For example think of the service “twitterfeed” which is not Twitter. My suggestion here is to narrow aggregation just to the most relevant categories: if you’re embracing let’s say 95% of your visits that could be enough, isn’t it?

A further action: tag your incoming links with the URL builder whenever possible

If you want to reduce the amount of “(none)” among your media, start tagging all your social media posting that links to your website using the URL builder. In this case, I suggest to keep “social” as Campaign Medium for non paid (e.g. a Tweet or a Facebook post on wall or tab) and “cpc” or “paid” for paid (e.g. Facebook advertising) aligning it to other paid sources if any (e.g. AdWords).

You can use URL shorteners, but be sure that they keep tags or your link end up in the meaningless “direct/none” category. To manage non-paid incoming links from your own social sources Lunametrics has built a simple but still useful Google spreadsheet, using the shortener bit.ly

Be consistent with tags

If many people have access to your social media stream and run digital campaigns you should do some efforts to align tagging policies otherwise you might end up in a mess on GA reports. I’ve seen reports including many similar tags all together such as CPC, cpc, PPC, paid, ads, advertising, social, socialmedia, facebook, fb, etc.

Why separating social from referrals?

Ok they are all referrals, but usually visits coming from social media come from piece of content that links to your website (e.g. a post on Facebook wall). I say ‘usually’ because such links might be also placed on social media areas such as notes, tabs, twitter profile description, about sections, etc. together with other links, but such places are less relevant than the mainstream. Other referrals (traditional, let’s say), most of the times are link placed on websites (e.g. blogs), either because they like you/find your content relevant/worth mentioning or because of your link building activity. I’m not engaging in a debate if it’s better to have “social signals” or referrals from a pure SEO perspective during the Penguin era. Let’s say that it’s important to be noticed both by search engines and (yes, apparently we’re still humans) real people, but this post helps you to distinguish among digital type of  place where you’ve been spotted on: making a parallel with geography, if the source is the name of the place, the medium is the type of place.

A filter also for email

Usually newsletters/DEM are tagged with “email” medium. Why not doing the same with a custom filter that attributes “email” medium to all sources that contain the word “mail”? It can be mail.yahoo.com, gmail.com, etc. You might also add other relevant email providers like outlook, hotmail, etc. with a RegEx like (mail|outlook|hotmail|etc….). Again, if you want to preserve other medium like cpc, add a field b=referral – this way you will be pretty sure that all links to your site placed on email content will be tagged with “email” medium instead of referral.

Remember: it’s never too late to tidy your reports and to adopt a consistent and constant “tagging policy”.

 

How to track each Google country search engine on Universal Analytics

Google Universal Analytics

Have you tested the Universal Analytics by Google? If you haven’t (yet) just create a new free GA profile and you will now have the option to choose between the old and the new route – which not surprisingly is still in beta.

You will not see big differences on the User Interface, but some changes are in the Admin section and are related to the wider flexibility in terms of customisation that such new system allows, including multi-platform tracking. I am not going to list the new features, you can find them here and you can even watch a brief showcasing video at the end of this post.

I just want to focus on an interesting finding that happened by chance (let’s say so…) Among the other things that differentiate it from “traditional” GA, you can set up as much search engines as you want. There’s already  a list with the main search engine available – it obviously includes also all Google search engines and they will appear, as usual, under one single voice “google”.

Let’s say that your friend has just launched the new Google enemy (!) and you want to treat it as organic rather than a classic referral: you just have to add it using the following simple form located on:

Admin – Account – Tracking Info – Organic Search sources – Add Search Engine

How to add a search engine on Universal Analytics

How to add a search engine on Universal Analytics

Now, despite Google is already in the predefined UA list, why not configuring a few single country search engines, just to test? Of course, your site should be indexed there and you should run some test (and wait a bit for statistics to show up in reports). Don’t be impatient: just sow your seeds as follows and wait…

 

Track each single Google search engine on UA

Tracking each single Google search engine on UA

Now that you have set up all accounts and waited for data on the Sources reports, have a look at this!

Metrics divided by country
What you find on Universal Analytics: not just one single “google” anymore

Interesting, isn’t it?

Now, why don’t you get a bit deeper trying to track also visits from single Google bits like Images or Maps? I haven’t tested it fully yet, but you can try either using a domain like images.google.com or just google.com and another word on the optional path field, just like this:

How to set up Google country engines on Universal Analytics

How to set up Google maps and images engines on Universal Analytics

This system is still far from tracking local searches as it should, but if you will be able to distinguish between pure organic and maps, you can certainly enrich your reports with meaningful metrics. And what about finding out data only for images? Such data are highly relevant for photobloggers, but also for news/magazines/blogzines/etc.

Unfortunately you cannot upload all Google “search products” in bulk so if your plan is to add them all… good luck! Differently, why not adding just a few relevant for your business? All the others will still appear under the same old “google” category so you are not going to miss anything.

A solution for Not-Provided keywords …or at least a little cure?

A final consideration to add concerns the sadly famous “not provided” keywords affair: I’ve added two different GA tracking codes onto the same site – ok it’s not the best practice suggested but this way it still works and allows checking differences between two different ways of measuring things.

Starting from October 2011, Google has increased encrypting search queries so you end up by not knowing anymore about 30% (or more) of search queries that brought visits to your site. Official reason is privacy, such as protecting users logged in with their Google account – it might be for privacy but also for a future possible strategy to sell relevant, precious information for SEO and marketing people.
There are some solutions to understand what’s hidden behind the “not provided” variable, here’s a popular hack proposed by Dan Baker on eConsultancy. I’ve tested it, it’s very helpful but unfortunately not resolutive.

In my recent test, the “old” GA shows about 30% of not-provided keywords (it’s more or less the recent standard that wiped the smile off SEO-people’s faces), whilst (apparently good news) UA shows just 5% of not-provided on average. On a website, for a local search engine set up on the admin panel as shown above, I still haven’t seen any “not-provided” kw! Is that just my (wrong) impression or a subtle Google strategy to move people from the “old” GA to UA?

Update: that was my wrong impression: few data don’t bring good assumptions. In fact the problem of not-provided kw’s remains unsolved (it would have been too easy/revolutionary)

Now, if you (still) haven’t heard of UA, this video gives an idea of its capabilities.

Or if you fancy caffeine…