About Brian Clifton

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Recognised internationally as a Google Analytics expert, Brian’s best selling books have sold more than 100,000 copies 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 that work was the online learning centre and test known as the GAIQ, which for 10+ years has been the certification for analysts.

Brian has also been a guest lecturer at University College London (MSc, “Web Economics”), Copenhagen University, and the Stockholm School of Economics.

Currently Brian is Director of Data Insights at Search Integration – a company specialising in helping organisations gain in-house “metrics understanding” using Google Analytics in combination with other business intelligence tools. He is the founder of the cloud-based Google Analytics audit tool: Verified Data.

A quick poll to help me understand book sales…

If you have one of my books, where did you purchase it?

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Want to Hear Me Speak?

I love to talk about data – and more importantly the decisions you can make in confidence because of it. I think of it like gambling, except with good quality data the odds are stacked in my favour 😉

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, and two children.

My books have sold over 100,000 copies to date. The fourth, entitled “Successful Analytics” launched January 2015, and I plan a follow up in 2020…

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Comments (most recent first)

  1. Andrew Mann says:

    I am really interest in the anonymous tracking. Who is doing the anonymisation? If I visit other websites could my journey be put together? Surely it would be better to run tracking software as a 1st party and avoid exporting to the US, a country with privacy laws which are driven by business rather than culture?

  2. Napoleon Arhelo says:

    I’m currently starting an online Web Editing course from a UK-based training outfit to kick-start a career change. I stumbled over your book – Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics, 2nd Edition – while searching online for a complementary course or courses. I had earlier downloaded Web Analytics for Dummies by Pedro Sostre and Jennifer LeClaire, which I intend to read before delving into your advanced version

    I’m in my early 50’s, Nigeria-based with a Bachelor degree in chemical engineering. Moving from your non-business academic background to web metrics is one huge encouragement to me: If Brian could do it, I can.

    My goal is to build a world-class, scalable freelance cum consulting business. After reading ‘Who Should Read This Book’ section of your book, I’m tilted toward the Webmasters group. Please let me know if you conduct online training for beginners in web analytics and complementary courses that will enable me pursue this stated goal.

  3. Rob says:

    Hi Brian, thank you for the great books!

    When do you expect AWM4 to come out?


    • @Rob – Successful Analytics is where I am at now with book writing. The online docs are now so much better and the Analytics product so much broader in its capabilities (GTM and app tracking are books in themselves!), that AWM4 is no longer viable for me…

      Please do try Successful Analytics 😉

  4. I’m an academic at Queen’s University Belfast. I am about to start a project involving incorporating GA into a new web platform and other BI applications and providing relevant dashboards for identified teams in a local company here in Belfast. I am about to purchase your book – I am guessing some of the content will help me with my project? Also, would it be possible for you to provide me with or direct me to a ‘checklist’ that might be useful for keeping a project like mine on track (and delivered on time).

    Thank yo..

  5. sorry, tired: I meant to say change it to founded.

  6. Mitra says:

    ^^I Wish I knew there was a new version coming out in a month! I just bought the most recent edition yesterday from Indigo. Any discount on the new edition for morons like me that bought the last edition within two months of the newest release? 🙂

    • @Mitra – thanks for buying the book. The methods, techniques and principals are still very much valid – whether the feature list or screenshots are up to date or not… That said, I understand your disappointment of knowing another book is due soon…

      FYI – the next book is something quite different i.e. it is not a AWM-4. ETA is now likely to be mid-summer. I will post a lot more details soon. And of course I will bear you in mind when its out. BTW, can you email/tweet/G+ an “interesting photo” of the book you have purchase. For example, this one came in today: https://plus.google.com/+LouiseJonsson14/posts/SmEXnB4Tmki

  7. John Swanson says:

    Hi Brian,

    I enjoyed how thorough your book is. I am very impressed! Do you plan to publish an updated version? Please, could you send me an email when you publish an updated version.

    Thank you

  8. Hi Brian

    I’m an academic at Queen’s University Belfast. I am about to start a project involving incorporating GA into a new web platform and other BI applications and providing relevant dashboards for identified teams in a local company here in Belfast. I am about to purchase your book – I am guessing some of the content will help me with my project? Also, would it be possible for you to provide me with or direct me to a ‘checklist’ that might be useful for keeping a project like mine on track (and delivered on time).

    Thank you.

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Brian Clifton speaking at Conversion Jam.

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