My colleague Mel Carson e-mailed me today with tales of the debauchery that ensued at the London launch of Brian Clifton’s Google Analytics book (actually, it sounds like it was quite a sedate affair). Mel mentioned that some folk he’d been talking to had asked, “What’s happened to Ian Thomas? He’s disappeared!”
Well, of course, I haven’t disappeared. Here I am, still blogging away, speaking at trade shows, and generally fighting the good fight. But my role at Microsoft has changed over the last few weeks, and now seems like a good time to tell you about it.
You may know (because I delight in telling people an any opportunity, in a “you kids don’t know how easy you have it” kind of way) that I’ve been involved with web analytics since I helped to set up WebAbacus in 2000, building that business up for 6 years before coming to Microsoft and working on (amongst other responsibilities) the Gatineau Analytics project. Considering I originally got into web analytics by accident, it’s been a pretty smart career choice, and a steady companion these past 8 years. But time for something of a change.
One of the things that always attracted me about coming to Microsoft was the opportunity to engage with the online marketing industry in a broader way than through the (relatively) narrow lens of web analytics. I now have the opportunity to do that through my new role, which goes by the grand title of Director of Ad Platform Evangelism (those of you who were alive and watching telly in the UK in the 1980’s will now see the relevance of the image at the top of this post).
The “Evangelist” role is a well-established one at Microsoft, and provides a direct connection between our technical teams within the company and the technology folk at our key customers. It inhabits that huge grey area between traditional marketing and day-to-day technical support. Google has them, of course; so does Amazon. So I’m in good company.
Evangelism in our Ad Platform group is a pretty new concept; in fact, even the idea of an “Advertising Platform” (where “platform” means a technology environment that is created to allow others to add value and build services, in the sense that the “Windows Platform” does) is a pretty new one to Microsoft. It has a lot to do with our acquisition last year of aQuantive, and much fascinating work is going on behind the scenes here to make the most of that acquisition, as you’d imagine.
So my new job is to spend lots of time with our advertiser customers and agency and publisher partners to introduce them to the emerging platform concepts that we’re working on, and (most importantly) to get their feedback about the way we’re thinking and the stuff we’re building. You’ll see a difference here on the blog, as I post a broader range of articles, such as this one about the new things going on in publisher ad serving. I have to tell you that I am seriously excited about all the stuff that’s going on in the industry right now.
If you are currently wiping a tear from your eye at the loss of my brilliance to the web analytics industry, put your handkerchief away – one of my focus areas will continue to be data and analytics, particularly as it relates to online marketing measurement, conversion attribution and ad inventory yield optimization. Which means that I’ll still be coming to E-metrics in SFO next month, and will be there at the WAWoT if you want to come and congratulate me/mock me/buy me a drink/poke me in the eye/all of the above.