CXO

The #1 mistake you make when measuring user engagement

In order to accurately measure real-time user engagement, find out which analytics you need to review and which metrics can be misleading.

Image: iStock/Nesterov Vasily

A motion picture vs. a snapshot. That's the gist of what SimilarWeb's Ariel Rosenstein says about knowing how your mobile app or company website is performing relative to the competition.

"What web measurement tools... bring to the industry," said Rosenstein in an email Q&A, "is an entirely new level of visibility and transparency — instead of acting like a mirror." On your site, these tools can serve "...as the spotlight which illuminates the entire market."

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Ariel Rosenstein
Image courtesy of SimilarWeb
Static, historical metrics such as app downloads don't provide real-time insights into user engagement and competitive intelligence, he added. "These numbers don't accurately depict what is going on in the ecosystem because they are not showing an app's forward trajectory in gaining buzz; they show historical data that can oftentimes be misleading."

Founded in 2009 in Tel Aviv, Israel, by Nir Cohen and Or Offer, SimilarWeb provides big data and web measurement tools to give insights to marketers, analysts, and enterprise decision makers. Rosenstein has served as Senior Manager of Corporate Marketing since 2014.

What are the trends in web measurement that tech enterprises should be aware of?

Ariel Rosenstein: Web measurement is a field that is developing daily. We do so much on the web, yet until recently, we weren't able to understand what was going across the entire web. Until now most of the tools have focused on giving analytics into your own site, acting as a mirror to understand your own business. What web measurement tools such as SimilarWeb bring to the industry is an entirely new level of visibility and transparency — instead of acting like a mirror, we serve as the spotlight which illuminates the entire market.

With the boom in the apps industry, one particularly effective and useful measurement which we are seeing grow is our App User Engagement metrics. We have shifted the conversation beyond simple downloads to give understanding into true app and user engagement across the entire ecosystem. This feature tracks the installations of apps, the number of active users, user retention, and so much more. SimilarWeb's user engagement metric is essential to competitive intelligence and market analysis in any field, including for tech firms.

What issues and challenges in your competitive space do you feel most passionately about?

Ariel Rosenstein: One of the key issues challenging measurement of mobile apps is that it is focused on static app store rankings and/or the number of downloads. These numbers don't accurately depict what is going on in the ecosystem because they are not showing an app's forward trajectory in gaining buzz; they show historical data that can oftentimes be misleading.

With our attention focused on this issue, we created the SimilarWeb App Usage Index. The index measures current active users of an app alongside engagement metrics and sessions per user.

What does SimilarWeb do, and what do you want potential clients to know about it?

Ariel Rosenstein: SimilarWeb is a leading digital measurement company with the ability to track traffic and engagement for any website or mobile app. We strive to bring a new level of digital visibility to the entire online ecosystem. Our data is updated daily and acts as an agnostic third party, offering a new level of accuracy of information on websites and apps based on their actual data, not media hype. Companies of all sorts can use our metrics for market analysis, competitive intelligence, and to see what the emerging trends in their industries are.

How was your firm's data collection platform built, SimilarWeb's international online panel, and what insights can it produce, say for a B2B tech firm?

Ariel Rosenstein: SimilarWeb actually came about because our cofounder, Or Offer, was running a jewelry store and wanted a way to search the internet for similar web pages — there was nothing that did that, so he developed it. This product actually ended up providing really interesting web insights that companies wanted to buy, and so Or began expanding the web analytics.

Today we have a portfolio of over 5,000 data sources that run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We pull data from desktops, tablets, and mobile devices using mixed methodologies like purchasing ISP data, tracking click-stream data, and pixel-based tracking to assure both reach and accuracy. Our data is by far the most global reaching and detailed at the same time.

The insights from SimilarWeb for a B2B tech firm can be used to create a clear picture of the digital landscape the firm is working in, including competitive intelligence. Tech enterprises can see in real time what works and what doesn't, and benchmark their performance against competitors. Not only because of our advanced analytic and tracking methods, but also because we offer analytics for both mobile and web, we are able to go beyond what has previously been offered.

What opportunity did you see when you joined SimilarWeb last year?

Ariel Rosenstein: This is the biggest opportunity that I have ever been presented with. Unlike my previous companies where we had a very defined target market, SimilarWeb's market is only limited by the number of people who use the internet. We offer loads of free data for everyone -students, researchers and SMBs all benefit from the free data that we provide. For businesses that operate online we have built a scalable offering to deliver our data perfectly to fit each company's needs from small 10-person media agencies to Fortune 1000 companies.

What are your goals in building the corporate and brand marketing team at SimilarWeb?

Ariel Rosenstein: Our goals for corporate marketing are to ensure that SimilarWeb grows and maintains its reputation as the world standard in website and app data analysis. Our team is growing by leaps and bounds (we are Tel Aviv's fastest growing startup) and that is because our user base is growing. As long as we continue to provide our users with the best possible data, then we are doing our job.

Looking back on your career, what experiences do you value the most?

Ariel Rosenstein: I have had the fortune to work for three consecutive fast growing and successful startups. The number one lesson that I have learned is to be open to change. Resistance to change can be crippling to any business. Even if something is working well it doesn't mean that it can't work better.

At SimilarWeb we've grown from 60 to 250 employees in a little over a year. Being able to adjust to change like that has helped me thrive, and I hope set a good tone for my team to follow.

I've also learned that opportunities can be fleeting, so when you have the good fortune to recognize an opportunity, you can't hesitate.

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About Brian Taylor

Brian Taylor is a contributing writer for TechRepublic. He covers the tech trends, solutions, risks, and research that IT leaders need to know about, from startups to the enterprise. Technology is creating a new world, and he loves to report on it.

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