Random Post: Looking At The Long Term
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    Flash cookies leave a bitter taste

    November 9th, 2010

    Privacy is, and always has been, something that needs to be taken very seriously. People will only return to or do business with sites they trust. This means that while a website can track everything, it does not mean that it should. In fact, several large media sites have recently been sued over the use of “flash cookies”, which can be used to identify returning site visitors even after the user has deleted their standard cookies.

    From a measurement perspective resetting cookies is excellent, as it creates a full view of the customer and their activity with your site. The allure of that level of information is obvious (lifecycle marketing, retargeting, etc.), but the user cleared their cookies for a reason and resetting it via a non-standard method can easily break trust. If you are thinking of trying out the use of “flash cookies” to reset browser cookies, you are in a very gray area and run a real risk of breaking the trust of your users–not to mention possible legal action.

    In fact, because the speed of change in the web analytics industry, you should review your privacy policy to make sure that it is up to date and that the appropriate information is available to your users. To take it a step further, keep an eye out for the recently published Web Analytics Association Code of Ethics; it provides a starting point for discussion around best practices within the web analytics industry.

    Use these best practices to preserve the trust of your users. Always keep privacy top of mind – even when it means reduced tracking capabilities. If data collection and privacy are not handled properly they can become a lightning rod for criticism and an unnecessary distraction from the real value that web analytics can provide.

    Originally written for Catalyst, reposted here with permission.

    This has been a Thought From The Cake Scraps.

    The Economics of Hot Food

    September 24th, 2010

    Cook a steak to 130 degrees and it will be a perfect medium rare.  Mhmm, that’s the good stuff.  On the side is a nice helping of mashed potatoes with a nice dose of cheese and garlic.  Perhaps some mixed vegetables on the side or a few asparagus spears laid across the top of the steak.  Unfortunately, that is not the meal that this post is about.  This post is about the economics of hot food, or rather it is about me wondering about the economics of hot food.  Let’s get to it.

    I read that if you put something on your tongue that is 150 degrees and leave it there for 2 seconds you will burn yourself.  If the temperature is 155 degrees or more it is one second or less.  So now we know that it is unwise to attempt to consume something that is at or around 150 degrees.  That means I can dive right into my medium rare steak, but a well done steak will come it at 160 degrees so watch out.  So a steak may or may not be fine to eat right off the grill but a fresh brewed cup of coffee typically clocks in at 200 degrees!  It takes more than a second or two for that to cool down to a drinkable temp, doesn’t it.  And that brings me to the point of this post.  Does a company figure out what is the ideal temperature to serve food at that maximizes customer satisfaction while minimizing additional food and/or beverage they will need to serve?

    Take, for example, the Red Lobster special of Endless Shrimp.  While not excessively expensive themselves, the shrimp do cost more than, say, beans.  Additionally, it takes prep time to prepare them (no matter how fast your people are it takes time).  It is also true that a person will feel full after they stop eating because it takes the body a while to realize that it is full.  Surprisingly, it may be as long as 20 minutes after you stop eating!  Therefore, if Red Lobster keeps the shrimp coming as fast as they can, not only will you overeat but they will erode their profit margin (and make it back on that beer you had).

    Interestingly then, it makes the most sense for everybody to have you consume the shrimp  at a slower pace.  One way to do this is to serve you slowly.  While that is effective, you might tell your friends about how you felt ripped off at Endless Shrimp at Red Lobster due to their slow service.  But if Red Lobster just serves you food that is simply too hot for you to eat you don’t really have a story (so long as it is not excessively hot).  This same concept can be applied to many places.  I remember first having this thought years ago in college when I ate at a Red Robin because of the “endless steak fries” but the things came out so hot that I only got one serving.  I didn’t want to have to wait around for the next serving to cool off so I didn’t get one.  Not only did they not spend money on the food, but the server can serve more tables because they are not dealing with refills.

    On a one-off basis the concept may seem silly, but when multiplied by thousands or millions of people being served, there could be a huge cost savings here.  And then of course there is the flip side.  If you serve something, like a coffee at a coffee shop, and it is a cool enough temperature that the individual can consume it quickly (but not so cool as to make it cold), perhaps people would finish their drink more quickly and it would increase coffee sales.  Again, on a large scale this could be big money.

    I wonder if food companies take any of this into consideration when making and serving food.

    What do you think?

    This has been a Thought From The Cake Scraps.

    Don’t Lose Sight Of Your Benchmarks

    January 20th, 2009

    In any field it is easy to look at day over day comparisons, week over week, month over month, and even year over year.  If you are diligent you might even go so far as to trend your data over time.  Perhaps you will include a trend for the current time period as well as a trend for the historical time period.  The graph will be very pretty I’m sure.  That is all great stuff.

    The problem with all of this is that it is far too easy to get caught looking at the micro picture without ever taking the time to step back to look at the macro picture.  Where were you at the pinnacle of your stats?  Where were you at the depths?  And not just in the time period you are comparing.  I am talking about ever.

    These are the things that you need to be aware of.  Not with every project you do, but just in general.  This gives you perspective.  Have your sales been increasing each year?  Great, maybe they have even been increasing for the last 4 years.  Even better.  But what if you are still at half of your sales from your peak 15 years ago?  The company was capable of doing it then.  Ask yourself “why are we not at that now?” and then try and figure out how to get there.

    Don’t be satisfied with being close to the industry average.  While it is great to know where and how you tack up against others, it should only be a component of your overall picture.  Who cares if you are far above average on conversion?  Someone has to shoot for the stars.  Somebody has to be the new benchmark.  It can be you.

    The point is that as an analyst, and we are all analysts to greater and lesser extents – in your job or not, you need to be aware of the overall picture.  Don’t just be a reporting monkey.  Know your stuff.  Know what potential there is.

    And if you are setting a new benchmark, then pat yourself on the back.  You deserve it.  But then ask, how can I (or we) push that even further.

    How have you pushed a benchmark in your life?

    This has been a Thought From The Cake Scraps.