Presentations, People and Precipitation: The Measurefest 2014 round-up

Written by Intern - 14 Oct 2014

Measurefest 2014 introduction

On Wednesday 8th October 2014 at 07:00 I travelled from sunny (lol!) Worthing town to an even sunnier (double lol!) London town, for the digital marketing conference known as Measurefest.

Measurefest is hosted by Rough Agenda and is in its third year. I have attended all three conferences since it was launched. I enjoy being at this particular conference because I normally come away with some real gems of insight from the presentations, and get to mingle with the other like-minded, digital marketing, CRO testing individuals in attendance.

Arriving at the Institute of Education on this particularly gloomy morning I grabbed a coffee and wandered around the lobby area to see what was going on, but no one seemed in the mood to mingle, or engage in conversation with anyone they hadn’t arrived with.

I put the gloomy atmosphere down to the rain, the early morning, and the fact that most people hadn’t had their full caffeine hit yet, hoping that things might get a bit brighter as the day progressed.

Measurefest 2014 presentations

09:50 arrived and the doors to the lecture hall opened. First on the agenda was Beth Granter from Brilliant Noise to deliver a talk entitled A Social media toolkit for research, engagement, and measurement.

I was a little disappointed that Beth’s presentation was aimed at less experienced audience, but in fairness she did give away a few nuggets of information, one of which I found particularly useful:

When trying to find a tool or toolset to cater for your needs, follow these steps to make the task a bit easier:

  • Create a wish list of the functionality you want your tool(s) to have e.g. ‘Export basic workflow data’ or ‘Assign tags/categories to keywords automatically’ etc.
  • Prioritise the functionality wish-list
  • Create a spreadsheet with the functionality wish-list in the left-most column, and all available tools listed in the header row. Use “yes” or “no” markers and conditional formatting to see which tool or toolset you will need to get your tasks done

Beth Granter at Measurefest 2014

The toolset functionality spreadsheet

I looked forward to the next presentation, hoping for even more insight and engagement.

I wasn’t disappointed.

Enter Phil Wright, Head of Analytics at Mediacom to deliver his talk, 42 - Combining analytics with client data to uncover the Ultimate Question (the geekiest among us instantly knew the reference to Douglas Adams’ ‘Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’ – for those of you who think Hitchhikers Guide is a film from 2005 starring the girl from Elf and guy who plays Bilbo Baggins – I shake my head).

Phil managed to engage the entire lecture hall on the subject of data analysis and spoke about how we must work with clients and consider all available datasets in order to uncover the truth.

He began by stressing the importance of finding out what the client’s proposition is and setting out clear business objectives from the outset – in other words, asking the client: “what is your website for?”, “what are you trying to achieve?”, and “what does success look like?”

Phil Wright at Measurefest 2014

Phil Wright delivering an excellent presentation on data analysis

Phil then delivered some really useful information:

  • Set KPI’s – know that these are not goals (goals are a subset of KPI’s), and know how to use the KPI’s to find patterns in, and predict user behaviour. Phil gave an example of an ecommerce site which sells samples of their products in a try-before-you-buy capacity – the KPI being a spike in sales of samples; this will eventually lead to a spike in sales of products a few weeks down the line
  • Sky is falling mentality is a no-no – the danger of using metrics delivered by a tool or a platform (such as Google Analytics) is that it can lead to clients (and sometimes agencies) wrongly adopting a “sky is falling” mentality, but digging deeper into your data will usually prove that everything is actually ok and performing normally. Phil gave an example of a panicked client who they thought they had been de-indexed from Google. Phil dug deeper and found out that a 3rd party developer had added a filter to the analytics account but had forgotten to inform anyone
  • Be more Indy – as in, be more like Indiana Jones and be a data archaeologist – always dig deeper to find the truth in what data is telling you
  • Collaborate to understand – have conversations and develop relationships with everyone who has involvement with a project (developers, data analysts, account managers, the client etc.). This way you not only get a more rounded view of what’s happening on the account, but people are more likely to go out of their way to help you get things done when you need it
  • Avoid spinning – don’t be tempted to make a bad situation look good – follow the truth and report it. Don’t work backwards by looking for the data that shows what you want it to. “Looking for success won’t lead to the truth, looking for truth is the key to success.”

Third on the agenda was Matthew Jackson, Chief search strategist at Branded 3, delivering another really engaging presentation entitled Finding, understanding and using demographic data to boost website performance.

Matthew spoke about using audience data from Google Analytics to find out who your audience is, and what their likes and dislikes are. This insight can be applied to get people talking about your brand, generate links back to your site, and potentially generate leads and sales.

Along the way Matthew showed an example of how utilises demographic data to personalise its site, improve UX and sell more products. Matthew also explained how the world’s largest porn site is using its data to generate newsworthy content and obtain links from places such as Buzzfeed and Gizmodo. Even The Guardian has written about the site and its data (proof indeed that the strategy works).

Matthew gave another example of how Ladbrokes uses knowledge of its audience and site data to improve website performance. We were shown the interactive “How well do you know your team?” game on This simple game has massive appeal among the loyal supporters of Premier League football teams, with over 47,000 plays in the 2014/15 season so far. The 2013/14 season saw Crystal Palace fans come out on top which generated a news story and a link from

Ladbrokes knows its customers

Ladbrokes know what its audience wants

Finally Matthew spoke about a cosmetic surgery company called Transform who used its demographic data to build an interactive map showing users which cosmetic surgeries are most popular in the UK. This map has led to coverage in the national news, and generated 53 conversions on the Transform website.

The main point I took away from Matthew’s presentation was that site data is not just something for agencies and clients to keep to themselves – we should be using this data in creative ways to make something interesting for a much wider audience.

At this point it was time for a break, so I ventured back out into the lobby where I ordered my second coffee, and grabbed a cheeky packet of ginger snap biscuits.

I decided at this point that I needed to try to engage with my fellow attendees, who again seemed to be sticking to small pockets of their own kind. Upon overhearing a lad quoting “The IT Crowd” to his two female friends, I piped up by saying “I love the IT Crowd – it’s a great show isn’t it?” The lad smiled, nodded, and went straight back to talking with his lady friends. Oh dear!

Perplexed, I headed back into the lecture hall to await the next presentation. Phil Haslehurst from Decibel Insight, and Mark Fassbender from Lexus Nexus, delivered a two-part presentation on behavioural insights, and the CRO life cycle respectively.

Both presenters did a ten minute slot on their chosen subject, and I was fully expecting to gain some absolute gems of insight which I could use in my future CRO ventures. The presentations were more run-of-the mill than the enlightening experience I had hoped for, but there were some useful points worth noting:

Phil Haslehurst, Decibel Insight – key points

  • As a species we are hard-wired to process visual data more easily and up to 60,000 times quicker than we process mathematical data –therefore we should use tools that help us to visualise data sets
  • Most CRO cycles consist of: Web analytics > Ideas > Tests > Rinse and repeat –Phil believes there is an element of behavioural insight missing before the ideas stage
  • It’s important that we use tools such as eye-tracking, click-tracking, heatmaps, visitor replays, and user testing to generate easy-to-read visual datasets –these will help inform a more robust CRO to-do list grounded in actual user behaviour

Mark Fassbender, Lexus Nexus – key points

  • Your website is not for you, nor is it for your company; it is for  your visitors – make sure they can get done what they need to, by designing and building it with them at the forefront of your mind

“You can use an eraser on the drafting table or a sledgehammer on the construction site” – Frank Lloyd Wright get your designs right and prove them to have value by testing them before building the final version

Phil Haslehurst at Measurefest 2014

Phil from Decibel Insight delivers behavioural insights

Mark Fassbender at Measurefest 2014

Mark from Lexus Nexus shares the user experience design process

The next presentation, Attention testing to improve conversions, was delivered by Adam Lee, Managing director of Brighton-based CRO company, No Pork Pies.

Adam started by saying that we all, as digital marketers, want to understand what makes people buy – but the research can be scary. He went on to talk about how first impressions are hugely important, not only in face-to-face scenarios but also in the design of a website and what it is that users are taking notice of vs. what it is we as marketers want them to see.

Adam then delivered some frankly staggering facts about advertising in the UK:

  • The average consumer is exposed to 2,000 to 5,000 advertisements per day
  • £8.3 billion is spent on advertising in the UK every year
  • 99% of adverts are ignored – meaning roughly £7.2 billion of advertising spend is wasted each year

Adam showed examples of simple CRO tests which have successfully increased conversions on client sites, one of which involved a photo model looking at the main CTA on the site. This helped direct user attention to the CTA and increased conversions – simple but effective.

The final presentation I attended was given by Manuel da Costa, CRO consultant at Digital Tonic in Manchester. Thankfully Manuel realised that he needed to pep-up the audience, so introduced audience interaction by asking those of us actively involved in CRO testing to make a “whoop” sound. This resulted in about five of us (myself included) whooping, while the other attendees embarrassedly raised their hands.

I felt for Manuel, as he was trying really hard to engage with the audience, but unfortunately most people just weren’t in the mood; regardless he carried on as best he could by saying that largely there is a problem with the way that A/B tests are run.

He elaborated by saying there are people who inform their A/B testing by reading a couple of blog posts with titles like Top Conversion Optimisation Tips and then think they know enough to start their own experiments replicating what they have read. He said that this was akin to “throwing shit at the wall and hoping it sticks”.

Manuel then delivered the following key points:

  • We (marketers running CRO tests) need a plan before we start
  • We must observe our customers using free and paid for tools - Manuel mentioned Google Analytics, Kissmetrics, Decibel Insight,, and Fomisimo
  • It is crucial that we use customer behaviour data to identify leaks in the conversion funnel of our sites
  • Next we must brainstorm ideas to come up with solutions –  Manuel mentioned the formula “we believe that changing X (onsite element) for Y (your customers/users) will result in Z (result)
  • It is a mistake to stop testing too early – At this point Manuel said it is important to run tests for two to four weeks – I agree with this but would add that the minimum test duration must, at least, correlate with the time it takes for the majority (95%) of conversions to occur on your site. Otherwise you risk ending up with false positive results for most of your users. This is something which we at Fresh Egg ensure occurs for each CRO test we run for our clients.

Manuel da Costa at Measurefest 2014

Manuel da Costa in full swing

Measurefest 2014 summary

I learned much iof value at the event... and here's my three tips to make it even better:

  • Better engagement and interaction between the delegates at the conference

For me this is the primary reason why I attend these conferences – to network, make some friends, share knowledge, and learn. So much can be gained through discussion with industry peers 

  • Improved pitching of presentations

90% of the information in the presentations seemed to be pitched at a beginner level, with content aimed at people who have a limited understanding of digital marketing. As one in a great number of digital marketing professionals in attendance, I’d like to have seen presenters delve deeper than the top line.

  • Honesty:  sharing the highs and the lows.

There were plenty of examples of success stories, but very little about what people have learned from their mistakes. Let me be clear and say that this is not unique to Measurefest. It seems that as an industry we are unwilling to share our mistakes and the lessons learnt because we think either someone else might think of us as foolish, or that what we learn from our mistakes is some state secret.

In some cases there will be non-disclosure agreements between agencies and their clients, but the fact is that we all make mistakes and we all learn by making them, so why don’t we start sharing these lessons as much as we show off our successes?