Brian Clifton (PhD) is a measurement strategist, advisor and renowned practitioner of performance optimisation using Google Analytics. Recognised internationally as a Google Analytics expert, his best selling books have been translated many times and are used by students and professionals worldwide.
As Google’s first Head of Web Analytics for Europe (2005-8), Brian built the pan-European team of product specialists. A legacy of his work is the online learning centre for the Google Analytics Individual Qualification (GAIQ).
Brian is a guest lecturer at University College London (MSc, “Web Economics”), Copenhagen University and at the Stockholm School of Economics. You can hear him speak at numerous conferences around the word – particularly in Europe where he presents on web measurement strategy, digital marketing, content optimisation – and how these can all interlink to create a successful online business strategy. His latest book, Successful Analytics – Gain Business Insights with Google Analytics launched Jan 2015.
Brian is Director of Data Insights at Search Integration – a company specialising in helping organisations implement “metrics understanding” using Google Analytics in combination with other business intelligence tools.
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Want to Hear Me Speak?
I have the privilege of speaking at a number of excellent industry events around the world, particularly in Europe. Essentially, I present on how to avoid the noise and focus on data insights. Other areas of interest include data privacy, digital marketing techniques, testing & optimisation, as well as the innovative effect of working at Google…
If you would like me to speak at your event, please forward your request and allow at least two month’s notice period! (brian [at] advanced-web-metrics dot com is my email address)
Some Deeper Background…
I discovered my passion for science when I was 18 – rather late for most would-be scientists – when I got my first job at ICI Pharmaceuticals as a trainee chemist. It was a great eye opener to see chemistry making a difference to real lives and I wanted to know more, much more. So after two years I headed to the south of England to the University of Bristol – graduating with a BSc in Chemistry (1991), followed by specialising in Physical & Theoretical Chemistry for my PhD (1995). Further work as a post-doctoral researcher cumulated in publishing several scientific papers, including the prestigious journals Molecular Physics and Languir. At that time I had grandiose ideas of becoming an academic!
Running in parallel with my studies was a passion for sport. During the eighties and nineties I competed as an Olympic weightlifter – winning 6 British Championships and representing Great Britain at World and European level. However, at that level in any sport, injury is always a threat. In the end my body succumbed to the constant gym tonnage. In 1996, having missed out on any prospect of going to the Atlanta Olympics, I shifted my energy to a professional career.
Starting A Business
Studying science at university during the early 90’s meant witnessing the incredible beginnings of the web. I was immediately hooked – the communication potential of the web was immediately clear to me, but it took a while for ideas to formulate around what I could do to be a part of it. In 1997 I left academia and founded Omega Digital Media Ltd – a UK company specialising in professional services for organisations wishing to utilise the new digital medium. It was a bold step and looking back I feel like a pioneer of the age – most people just didn’t know what to make of the web at that time. There was no broadband (only 33.6 kbps modems!) and e-commerce was virtually unheard of. Even Google was not founded until a year later.
I spent the next 5 years educating the market on the intricacies of “technical marketing” and myself on figuring out how to sell such services in a non-scientific, more simplified way i.e. grow my business. That was quite a journey for someone with no previous commercial experience…
Discovering Urchin & Google
I had been working with web metrics since the beginning (using WebTrends), but in 2003 I discovered Urchin Software – a breath of fresh air in terms of setup simplicity and usability for measuring website performance. Blown away by Urchin’s abilities, I wrote my first whitepaper on its usage, capabilities and potential. It was quite a success in terms of downloads – I had captured a burgeoning need for independent and practical assessment of web measurement tools. The whitepaper came to the attention of the Urchin Software Corporation and later that year my company became the first UK partner for them (number three in Europe). It was my big break and my business began to grow rapidly.
A year later and Urchin came to the attention of Google who were looking to provide web measurement tools to its advertisers. In 2005 Google officially acquired Urchin Software and soon after I was hired as the first Head of Web Analytics for Google EMEA. This period was both a fantastic and chaotic time for Google (I had 15 interviews for the job and they still wanted more!). When I joined, Google had just 3,000 people in total which then doubled in size (for revenue and headcount) year on year for the next three years. Literally a logistical nightmare for just about everyone concerned, though also fun to be with the fastest growing company ever. Heady days indeed.
I consider my period at Google as my MBA – a practical, hands-on, sort it out with the best brains in the world MBA. As the first hire for web analytics in Europe I built up a team of talented people who’s lasting legacy was the Google Analytics Individual Qualification (GAIQ) that has become a cornerstone for GA education and a model for other Google product trainings. I had the privilege to work with some very smart people and meet the likes of Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Eric Schmidt et al (all surprisingly very accessible in those early days) as well guest speakers a the Googleplex, such as Malcolm Gladwell and former US President Jimmy Carter.
Where I Am Now
I left Google in 2008 to focus on writing books and be an analytics practitioner and evangelist again – getting my hands dirty so to speak with data interpretation, insights, and telling stories using data in order to help businesses grow – its what I enjoy. I do that to this day at Search Integration where I am Director of Insights. I have now settled in Sweden with my wife, two small children and Figo the border collie.
My fourth book entitled “Successful Analytics” launched January 2015.
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Looking for Successful Analytics?
Launched January 2015, the latest book is Successful Analytics. Its a manager's guide to gettings things done right, understanding the process and getting results.
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Sketch by Per Axbom @axbom