The Evolution of Web Analytics Wednesday
I’ve been thinking a lot about some of the community events that my partners and I have had the opportunity to create over the years lately. While a lot of the focus recently has been on ACCELERATE — the web analytics industry’s first free conference series — our efforts more will turn back to Analysis Exchange and Web Analytics Wednesday as we roll into 2012.
I wanted to discuss the latter event.
Since co-founding the event with June Dershewitz in 2005, Web Analytics Wednesday has impacted web analytics practitioners, consultants, and vendors around the globe. Since January 1, 2009, over nearly 12,800 individuals around the globe have attended 524 different events … all free, almost all sponsored, and all designed to create local community value for web analytics professionals.
The best thing about Web Analytics Wednesday, at least in my opinion, is that nobody owns the event series! I get calls all the time from vendors asking about having an event in a city or on a date, and I have to admit I cannot really help them because we are only the brand steward for Web Analytics Wednesday, not the owners, and Web Analytics Wednesday ONLY HAPPENS because of the generosity and commitment of the broader web analytics community.
I think this is amazing.
Dozens of sponsors, hundreds of hosts, and thousands of participants, all coming together to make something happen. The list of hosts is too long to write out, but 99% of them are generous, selfless, and incredibly hard-working individuals who spent their free time organizing these events without any thought of compensation or recognition. When they could be with their families, they are working on behalf of the community. When they could be relaxing, they are organizing.
I think this is humbling.
Web Analytics Wednesday has become a nearly frictionless system, one that anyone, anywhere can help to make happen, and one that has helped people find jobs, find employees, find connections, and find new friends.
I think this is freaking awesome.
Sure, we have guidelines … we ask that hosts use our system for registration, we ask that events not charge money, and we ask that sponsors be treated fairly and appropriately at events, and we ask that when Global Funds are used that hosts take pictures for our Flickr Photo Group so that everyone can share in the fun. We expect Web Analytics Wednesday hosts to be cool, to be honest, and to do what they do for “the community.”
So few people have trouble with this model, the exceptions just become noise in the background.
What’s more, we have big plans for Web Analytics Wednesday in the coming year! Where markets have started to languish, Adam, John, and I have started stepping in and offering willing hosts help to reinvigorate their events. Where smaller events have started to grow, the Global Fund has been providing more and more money for reimbursement, and where we see synergies between our other efforts and those of associations and brands we respect and trust, we have been working to organize larger and more diverse events.
And we are just getting started.
If you’re new to Web Analytics Wednesday, here are the five most important things you should know about getting an event started in your town or community:
- Web Analytics Wednesday is FREE and OPEN. By design, Web Analytics Wednesday events are open to all practitioners of web analytics and related disciplines and, thanks to the generous support of IQ Workforce and dozens of other companies, always free!
- Web Analytics Wednesday belongs to everyone. We do not own Web Analytics Wednesday events, we are only shepherds of the brand, working to ensure consistency across a diverse global analytics community. Anyone willing to follow our very simple guidelines can establish a WAW chapter in their town.
- Web Analytics Wednesday is what you make it. Because everyone owns Web Analytics Wednesday, the event is whatever the local community wants it to be. In some cities, WAW happens over lunch. In others, in nightclubs. Sometimes there are presentations, sometimes not.
- Web Analytics Wednesday is a state of mind. These events are about local practitioners gathering together, not about a day of the week. Any day can be “Web Analytics Wednesday” … if you’re willing to put in the effort.
- Web Analytics Wednesday is a profitless system. Again by design, and with specific intent, nobody makes money off of Web Analytics Wednesday. Regardless of who buys the drinks, nobody — including Analytics Demystified — makes a single, solitary penny off of these events.
This last point is important — if only because some people simply don’t seem to understand.
Every year generous sponsors like IQ Workforce, Coremetrics/IBM, SiteSpect, and dozens more agree to help pay for Web Analytics Wednesday events around the world. And every year my firm (Analytics Demystified) contributes hundreds of hours to ensure that these events go off smoothly. Tens of thousands of dollars are spent to entertain web analysts in great cities like Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Hong Kong, Sydney, London, and hundreds more. But nobody working on these events — from the mightiest sponsor to the most humble host — gets any compensation in return.
Why do we do this? Why give our money and time to something that won’t make us money? Why did we bother to help create an event series that wouldn’t line out pockets and pay our hourly consulting rate? Simple …
Because we truly care about the web analytics community.
We created Web Analytics Wednesday with June Dershewitz because there was a need back in 2005. We created Web Analytics Wednesday because our community was growing in a strangely fragmented way. We created Web Analytics Wednesday because we could.
I sincerely hope that all of you who have sponsored, hosted, and participated in a Web Analytics Wednesday over the last seven years will continue to do so for years to come. At Analytics Demystified, our commitment is to what is right and just when it comes to this event series and, more importantly, to continue to help evolve and improve Web Analytics Wednesday to ensure that analysts everywhere are able to enjoy and appreciate the same community spirit that we enjoy every time we attend one of these events.
I welcome your comments.