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Convincing the Hippos November 12, 2007

Posted by David Gillespie in digital strategy, web 2.0.
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That title means more than I care to let on, suffice to say it is apt for me and what I do. It was just introduced to me as an acronym via an excellent talk on web analytics by Avinash Kaushik. The video is just under an hour and well worth your time.

In his video, Avinash used the word Hippo as an acronym; HIghest Paid Person’s Opinion. No matter what you did in the room argued Avinash, it would be the opinion of the Hippo that provided the action. Too bad if you fail to convince them!

This thinking of course is nothing new; most of us spent time at university figuring out what our lecturers liked reading in order to get the best marks from them; however artificially inflated that number might have been, the song remains the same; your proposal for a piece of work doesn’t need to make all the arguments, just the right ones.

Avinash is an absolute evangelist for analytics, consumed with the intelligent interpretation of data, which it turns out is all about context. Context informs the why in your visitor’s behaviour as opposed to simply the “what”, which is derived from clicks. He also espouses the virtues of having goals on your site, a line you’re running towards, and after hearing him talk I can’t help but feel some of the things he said should be (in hindsight) as plain as day. Sitting around watching numbers is one thing, setting a direction for them (at least something more informed than “up”) is another.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the HIPPOs I deal with, how I can make compelling cases for improving our product in the ways I believe it needs to. I’ve been spoiled in the past with CEOs who, bizarrely now it would seem, took me at my word when I said something was a good idea. As much as my current situation is a pain in the ass, it’s also a great lesson in justifying my arguments and making sure I have done my homework properly and am not just operating on a (possibly VERY incorrect) assumption.

I highly recommend anyone involved in working online to check out Avinash’s video. I’m beginning to work through his book, and while I’m not a stats person and ceased doing maths first chance I got, I’m strangely excited about what lies ahead and the information I can glean from the site to make our company stand out from the pack. Turns out HIPPOs like numbers, and that’s what analytics is all about.



1. Idetrorce - December 16, 2007

very interesting, but I don’t agree with you

2. David Gillespie - December 17, 2007

Hey there Idetrorce, care to expand a little? What is it you don’t agree with?

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