- Tracking Offline Marketing with Google Analytics – PDF
The title says it all, though the 3rd edition of the Advanced Web Metrics book has more up to date content.
- Understanding Web Analytics Accuracy – PDF (view the blog post)
This vendor agnostic document details every possible accuracy consideration for on-site web analytics tools such as Google Analytics, and how to mitigate these to get comfortable with your data. It formed the basis of Chapter 2 for Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics.
Interested in what I have read?
These are all books that I have either influenced my thinking or solidified my own personal vision. I would love to hear other recommendations – please add yours via the comments section. Links open a new window to Amazon.
|Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver|
amazon.comThis is a similar book to Fooled by Randomness (from Nassim Taleb), that is, a very readable book about chance and risk and how humans are poor predictors of the future. I revisited the subject some 5 years after Nassim’s book based on the reputation of the author – Nate shot to fame by predicting (very accurately), the state by state results of two US elections by applying Bayesian reasoning to polling data. This is a “punchy” book in the same way Freakonomics was. Bayesian reasoning is at the heart of of it. I particularly enjoyed the oft-repeated references to the dangers of big data being the cure for all i.e. just because there is lots of data, it doesn’t mean we can make good predictions. In my experience, most big data is actually poor quality or irrelevant data i.e. noise. Hence, the false sense of security big data provides is actually dangerous.
|Web Analytics 2.0 by Avinash Kaushik|
amazon.comI have known Avinash since 2006 and he has honoured me by writing the forward to two of my books – the second edition of Advanced Web Metrics and Successful Analytics. The guy is an inspiration to hear speak and never ceases to keep me thinking… A great author, genuine thought leader, and friend!
|Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Taleb|
amazon.comSimilar to Nate Silver’s book, Nassim discusses how easy it is for people (even professionals) to associate data (i.e. correlate it), when the chances are we are just observing luck. And that correlation does not necessarily mean causality – a mistake so often made in life. It is a good and worthy read, and certainly makes you think. Be aware that this is very much a personal memoir – with the author’s personality writ large throughout.
|A Cartoon Guide to Statistics by Larry Gonick|
amazon.comI am a big fan of Larry Gonick’s work – he inspired the illustrations that I use at the start of each chapter for Successful Analytics. Larry has a great pedagogical skill at taking dry subjects (his other books include physics, chemistry, history of the world, etc…) and make them both interesting and directly applicable to the reader in a light hearted way. For example, you can work through the statistics examples yourself and apply them immediately to every day calculations. I studied A-level statistics at school (up to 18 years old) and although not a statistician, I have relied on an appreciation of statistical reasoning to underpin my work ever since. I found this book a great revision on Normal/Gaussian distributions.This is a book to refer to if you occasionally need to dip into standard statistical methods for your day job. Don’t be misled by the cartoon style – his books are aimed at adults looking for a light read/revision of complex subjects, not children. Larry’s background (he studied mathematics at Harvard University) means his books are so, so much better than the “Dummies Guide To…” series!
|Googled: The End of the World As We Know It by Ken Auletta|
amazon.comThis is quite a different book about Google than you might expect – and refreshing for being so. As an alternative to the plethora of books about the Googleplex, practices, processes, structure, tools and so forth, this book is a history lesson about the men at the top, the ground breaking decisions they were making and their impact (disruption) on so many industries. I am of course bias from working at Google around this period (2005-8), but I found the story fascinating. The emphasis being on the “story” Auletta tells. This is not an encyclopaedia of facts (though there are many), rather a good read about the people being fortunate enough to be part of such a phenomenon.
|Don’t Make Me Think! by Steve Krug|
amazon.comThis was a seminal book for me when I read the first edition circa 2003. Apart form hitting a chord of mine in terms of thinking about what makes a website successful (or not), Steve writes eloquently about complex web design issues in such clear and simple terms. The book is humorous and very easy to read (less than 200 pages). Unknowingly to him, Steve Krug (pronounced Kroog) inspired me to start writing. The principals described in “Don’t make me think” still influence my thinking to this day.
|Information is Beautiful by David McCandless|
amazon.comA beautiful coffee table book for the data enthusiast, this is an excellent book for inspiration. Its full of example images and charts though little text in terms of background or methodology. That is both a plus and a minus, but for this type of book a definite plus. The topics are varied with some very relevant and thought provoking charts (cancer survival rates, Iraqi war budget) and some trivial (six degrees of Kevin Bacon, the evolution of pop). However all are imaginative and stimulate the data visualisation debate – that is, how best to show complex data in an at-a-glance way so the important points are remembered.
|Facts are Sacred by Simon Rogers|
amazon.comThis is another excellent coffee table book (beware if you come to my house!) that I bought to compliment Information is Beautiful. However, this one is different – more of a study of the modern day use of data in journalism, rather than how data itself is used. And there lies a slight problem. Simon Roger’s views and his natural bias (political viewpoint) does show through. I felt I was reading the Guardian newspaper (he launched and edited guardian.co.uk/data), when my expectation was a treatise. That said, this book does make you stop and think about how to convey complex data to an audience – and how the same data can be told in difference ways to show a positive or negative perspective. That makes it a welcome addition to my bookshelf!
|Purple Cow by Seth Godin|
amazon.comA very easy to read and engaging book (you can literally read it on a plane trip!). However, that doesn’t detract from the skill that Seth has at illustrating, with great case studies and in very simple terms, how the world has changed since the web came along. An inspiring read even for people who have seen it all…
|Not a book, but I am a big fan of Econsultancy. The quality of their industry research reports, and the people that produce them, is excellent. A great resource for anyone working in digital. I regularly refer to their reports and surveys in my books and presentations.|
If you have read any of these books please let me know your thoughts on them by adding a comment below. Similarly, I would love to hear about other recommendations.
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