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Google’s Digital Marketing Evangelist: This is how you boost your digital Ad’s

I love data. Lots of data. Data, data, data. Data is so great, because it allows us to make smarter decisions, says Avinash Kaushik, the Digital Marketing Evangelist at Google. MARKET has talked to Avinash Kaushik about his long-lasting love affair with data and Web analytics - version 2.0.

  • By: Karsten Bengtsson interviews
  • Published: 14-03-2014
The Indian-born Avinash Kaushik is a Web Markting Evangelist. He wasn’t given that title by God himself, but by Google - his employer - and in these digital times, what’s the difference?

Making sense of all the data in the world is a tough assignment. But God - eh, Google - couldn’t have picked a better person for the job than Avinash Kaushik.

- I just loooove data, says Avinash Kaushik while he excitedly jumps up and down in his office at Googleplex in Mountain View, California.

This love of data has resulted in a new book, which Kaushik has called “Web Analytics 2.0”.

- What is different in the Web analytics 2.0 era?

- In the beginning almost all Web analytics were centered on server-logs. And all these data belonged to the it-department within a company. But after a while we found that this approach did not actually add value to the business. So in the Web analytics 2.0 era, we have moved beyond just looking at click-stream and on to more user-behavior analytics. We have moved from what is happening - to why this is happening. And the move from “only-what” to “what-and-why” is very important.

Another big change is the way we now can look at our competitor’s data. If I run a publication and want to look at your competing magazine and see how many readers you have and where they come from - I can do this for free. That is a big shift - moving away from only looking at your own data to also be looking at your competitor’s data.


- The third big shift is concerning the ownership of data. While we are moving away from all this hits-reporting and optimization stuff, the ownership of the data is shifting from the it-department to the CMO and the Chief Experience Officer.

This shift in who owns the data is important, because I think the it-department and the business-sale department often have a too near-time focus. They are focused on profit in the next quarter and they make decisions accordingly. They are focused on dollar and cents, which is a good thing, because without profit none of us would exist. But looking at data requires a different kind of mindset. The CMO is more likely to look at the whole consumer experience and is not under pressure to make a quarterly profit. He or she is not only focusing on the short-term, but also on the longer-term strategy.

- But when that is said, it is also important to state that the ownership of the data inside a company should belong to people who has the power to make changes to your digital marketing strategy. If not - it doesn’t do any good. So if the person who is in charge of your company’s digital marketing strategy is the janitor - then you should give the janitor the responsibility of looking at your data. Because all Web analytics is about action. Long-term action and short-term action. But action!


- In general, marketing people have a more long-term view and also a love for the customer. That is why the CMO should have the ownership of the data. This is also why my own title at Google has changed from being the Web Analytics Evangelist to being the Digital Marketing Evangelist. And the reason for that is, I found, that going out and talk just about big data and all that … it is just a fucking waste of time, because like so many other people, I fell into the trap of going after data for the sake of data. So now I am the Digital Marketing Evangelist at Google, which is more accurate, because what I do is to help companies create a digital marketing strategy. So I kind of flipped my job. Now I first and foremost talk about marketing strategy and secondly about trying to find the data, that can underscore that in a company.

- And how do you go about that?

- The Web allows us to make such an incredible experience for the user. But also to destroy that experience. To get the customer to puke at our Web sites. Yesterday, I saw an online newspaper from Hungary where the articles - the content - made up just 18 % of the page - the rest was ads! I could shoot people who make that kind of design. It is so stupid. The one question we should ask is: Did the Web site deliver value for the customer and did we get money in exchange for that value?

Behind this question is data. Lots of data. Data, data, date. I love data. Because data allows us to make smarter decisions.


- I always tell people, that the best relationships are those where you give your partner an orgasm first. The same is true when the customer comes to your Web page. You have to think about the customers’ experience first. If you make him or her happy, then - maybe - we can have a long-term relationship. If you see who is doing a great job in Web-design around the world, you will see that these companies are always putting the customer first. So if you have hundreds of ads on your Web page and only 18 pct. content - then you are thinking about yourself first. On your own orgasm. So you have to figure out how to live with maybe only three ads on your Web page - so you can give the user more content. Or maybe just one great relevant ad, which a lot of people will click on. And if it is really relevant, maybe you will make more money from this one ad than you did with all the others. Maybe you will make dollars instead of pennies. Or should I say “kroner”? It is much better to show one highly relevant ad - instead of ten random ads, which nobody is interested in. That is how newspapers and other Web-sites should make money. This way the customer gets a great experience, the advertiser gets clicks - and everyone is happy.

But the CPM-model, where you get paid for every ad you show, is destroying this. If you pick the CPM model, you’ll end up with thousands of ads because the model encourages the wrong kind of behavior. Metrics incentivized behavior is so important. Create silly metrics and people chase them. Create great metrics and people chase them. So why not create great metrics?


- When someone clicks on a paid Google ad, a placement-ad at Facebook or a promotion-tweet on Twitter and they are taken to the company’s Web-page - that is the moment of truth. From that point, you have about 10 seconds to convince the customer that your Web page or your mobile app is worth visiting. If you can’t show them that in 10 seconds - they are gone.

And if they stay, it is important to deliver what you have promised. If not, it is like writing a check without having the money to back it up with. If I see an ad for sexy underwear and the page I am landing on is all about chairs and tables, then you have disappointed me. If I search for a ticket from San Francisco to New York I expect to land on a page where I can find the time and the price for that ticket. If I land on your homepage, you have the stupidest design in the world. When I am in Europe, I always use Skyscanner for airfares. They have the best design. It gives me everything right on its landing page. So … you have to keep what you promise.

- The biggest mistake I see companies doing is that they don’t have a plan when it comes to digital marketing. They do things in a sort of random way. And without a plan it is very difficult to know what good data and bad data looks like.


- Is the same true, when it comes to social media?

- Yes, indeed. Social media gives you a great opportunity to move from “shout marketing” to “conversational marketing”. But social media is not at place where you can drive revenue and conversion rates in the short term. This is one of the biggest mistakes companies are making. They place an ad or make a promotion-tweet on social media platforms and then they say: that didn’t drive any conversion rate. That is stupid because people don’t go to Facebook to buy anything. They go there to look at pictures and to connect with their friends. But brands have an opportunity to create relationships on these social media platforms. They can create, what I call “owned audience” - instead of always having to “rent” their audience. But very few brands in the world know how to do this. Very, very few. I will point to one company in the UK who are doing a great job when it comes to social media and that is Innocent Drinks. They have a really great marketing strategy on Facebook. I love it and always point to their Facebook page as a great example of how to create an online audience. But most companies are not doing that. 99.9 pct. of companies are not doing that. They fail. And that is not the failure of Facebook; it is the failure of these companies themselves.


- Which data do you look at?

- First of all, you have to measure the conversation rate, because if nobody is talking about your postings - then you are doing something wrong. The second thing is amplification rates. The biggest gift for any brand is when someone is taking something that you posted on Facebook and then sharing is with others. The third thing to measure on social media sites is applause rate. That is “likes”. But you can have half a million “likes” but only 50 people are talking about your stuff. When I was in Hungary I noticed that McDonalds over there had half a million likes, but only 44 people where talking about them. 44! That is nothing. I have more people talking about my content on my blog. 

- You give all the profit from your book to charity, why is that?

- All profits - to this day 300.000 dollars - from the book sales are given to charity-organizations like “Doctors Without Borders”. I never anticipated that the book would make any money, but when it did… I just thought, why not? That’s what I love about the Internet. You can do something you love, find an audience, measure it, grow it - and the money just comes purring in, says Avinash Kaushik with a smile.

Avinash Kaushik 
Avinash Kaushik is the co-founder of Market Motive, which is a startup that focuses on Internet marketing education and certification. He is also the author of “Web Analytics 2.0” and “Web Analytics: An Hour a Day”. He is writing the Occam’s Razor blog.

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