Country Manager Germany, Digital Analytics Association

After having spent several years working as a web analyst for pharmaceutical firms, Matthias Bettag opened the German office of the consulting company Semphonic. 15 months later the company was bought by Ernst & Young and since then Matthias has been working as an independent consultant dividing his time between different activities such as being a speaker, a university professor and business consultant.

What are your current tasks?

Today I give conferences for Xchange and Emetrics in Germany. I also give online classes at the University of British Columbia (UBC) as part of the “Web Analytics” course, whilst remaining country manager of the DAA. Within the DAA I am trying to push German communities in the sector. We created the DAALA (Digital Analytics Association Late Afternoons), a name found by the AT Internet team, might I add, and I try to host one a month in Berlin and increase them in Hamburg, Munich etc. I also hold Web Analytics certification sessions.

In addition to all of that I am also Country Manager for Mind your Privacy, a subdivision of Mind Your Group in Spain. It is the only agency in Europe, which I know of, that provides consulting services for data protection queries from an analytics point of view and I am their representative in Germany.

I still manage to continue my activities in consulting and digital analytics at the same time.

What are the current challenges affecting the market, in your opinion?

I believe that there is a real challenge for companies to focus on their strategy. My role has led me to be very attentive to the market, to keep on top of the latest trends, to understand recurring problems and other subjects that are becoming important… I believe that there is a real challenge for companies to focus on their strategy. A lot of companies come to us with very clear requests such as “I want to do SEO”, “I want to do mobile analytics”, “I want to optimise my PPC” etc. Often, these isolated requests do not come from the need for a coherent company strategy. I see little effort in favour of a general company strategy, but rather requests from several different teams who express different needs. If there is a clear strategy then it is much more efficient to work each channel and measure its performance. It is also an aspect which will bring coherence to the actions of the different teams.

New technology brings with it new challenges, big data, CRMs, data banks. What we need to be able to do is make the connection between user behaviour and the different data systems in place.

However, for a lot of companies, integrating online into their overall process is not that obvious. Online and offline work together but we don’t rely on online to really push business. Companies have several online and offline touch points with their clients and it would seem absurd not to integrate these touch points into a general overall plan. I realise that this is a very difficult goal to be reached and the most complicated in all of that often involves convincing the top level of the company.

How did you become a web analyst?

I started working as a Webmaster at Schering, a laboratory, back in 2004. It was at that point when I started to really become interested in measuring data. I was working in a small IT department and had a lot of contact with the marketing department for needs associated with website deployment. It was the first time that I found myself between the IT and marketing departments! J

Schering was then purchased by Bayer, and a “Global e-Marketing” department was created as a support for all of the Bayer Pharma branches: in Asia, Europe and the Americas. Our goal was to implement processes and standards as well as a unique CMS and a new global technical architecture. We migrated hundreds of websites to this large architecture and my role was to co-ordinate the migration. I was interested in the traffic, performance and goals of each site. This allowed us to make decisions on the sites to be maintained and those to be suspended.

My second main area of work involved a global update of the Webtrends platform which had become obsolete. I also created a report template so that people could have easy access to information. This new web analytics structure was much more helpful to the marketing team than the previous one as it allowed the team to become much more autonomous and provided many opportunities for personalisation.

After 4 years at Bayer I wanted to change job and focus more on analysing. At this point I was already country manager for the DAA in Germany and I had a lot of contacts in both the USA and Europe. I knew Gary Angel from Semphonic and whenever he found out that I was leaving Bayer, he suggested that I open the European office in Berlin. I was also in charge of European accounts as well as large American key accounts with big strategic projects and problems that went beyond the website, for example: how to place the analysis at the core of the company’s decision-making system, how to integrate all of the systems which gravitate around the web whilst trying to avoid data silos. How to implement one central system where each person can access what they need for an holistic view. These different needs sometimes meant an overall organisational change.

After 15 months Semphonic was bought by Ernst & Young but this acquisition was only applicable to the United States. I chose not to follow them to the US and preferred to remain independent ever since.

What has been your greatest success as a Web analyst?

At Bayer, it was implementing the new web analytics platform with all of the report templates and processes, and then training the different international agencies. At the end, the marketing team had real tools which they could use to manage and measure their websites whilst taking into consideration the business goals of each.

At Semphonic my goal was to make the Berlin office grow, which I was successful in doing by leading several projects and setting up different partnerships. We also held the Xchange conference for the first time in Europe which was a great success. Unfortunately, sales cycles are very long, and especially so for complex projects, and in the space of one year I was not able to completely succeed. Nevertheless, I was still successful in developing my brand awareness despite the competition from agencies and solutions with a strong presence in Germany.

Which pitfalls have you encountered throughout your career as a web analyst?

The validity of data and its context are two essential concepts!The validity of data and its context are two essential concepts! How can all of the data be used efficiently? Which analyses can be used for efficient and effective optimisation? It is possible to do many things in analytics but is it really worth it? This always brings us back to the big question of the priority of business goals and measuring them on the different digital channels. Even if we have a model which works, it might change after a few months. We therefore need to find a new model which the context is crucial to. For example, if I know that my car can drive at a speed of 120km an hour that in itself is not a bad thing, it’s actually quite good. However, if all of the other cars drive at a speed of 160km an hour, then in comparison my car is not as good…

We need to reassure ourselves that the data is used in the right context, that the figures are valid and that what I am measuring is worth it from the point of view of the company’s success. It is still the same story, except that it gets increasingly complicated and the tools are becoming increasingly powerful!

What do you think the future holds for web analysts?

Web analysts do not have much of a future, digital analysts do! The web is just a platform like others. Mobile, social, predictive, and all other types of platforms, which are not yet considered as digital systems, should be considered as a single package. This even makes me think of Google glass! The way in which web sites will be measured will also change and we need to find how we can measure multi-channel, multi-devices and multi-business. This has existed in traditional marketing for many years.

I think that we are also moving towards increased automation: PPC, SEO etc. To interpret this information we need people working behind machines, but the tools available are becoming increasingly intelligent and are even starting to consider context.

We have more and more personalised systems such as mobile telephones which raises questions about data privacy, but this also opens-up numerous possibilities in terms of analyses.

 Today, web analysts must not limit themselves to web support only.How can all of this be put in perspective to describe a user’s journey as a whole? This is the same type of cultural revolution as the one which took place in the 1990s when people working in HTML witnessed the arrival of CMS and dynamic sites. We no longer needed people to integrate web sites but rather to configure templates. Today, web analysts must not limit themselves to web support only. Their added value is the ability to analyse, segment, and understand a company’s goal, and from there optimise and personalise.

Many things are going to change in the near future! The augmented reality which exists today is going to increase further, machines are going to communicate with one another, leading to a future of communication which will go beyond anything that we can imagine today.

With hindsight, what piece(s) of advice would you give to anyone starting out as a web analyst?

Software is important but it is also necessary to understand the larger picture.Make sure that they understand the business and not just a piece of software. Software is important but it is also necessary to understand the larger picture. You need to be open and not remain restricted to just one channel or one platform.

Take part in workshops and conventions to understand how people, who do the same job in other companies and other countries, work. It is also a great way to see the different levels of maturity of the people working in the same field as you. You learn lots from exchanging with others. Our market is currently booming meaning that the competition is, relatively speaking, quite open to exchange and participation is possible. The community is small which means that it is quite easy to get to know the different people and exchange with them.



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