Interview: Aparna Pujar, eBay on Evolution of Behavior Analytics for User Engagement

We discuss Behavior Analytics vs. Web Analytics, important metrics for user engagement, challenges of behavior insights domain, future of multi-screen analytics, key soft skill and more.

Aparna PujarAparna Pujar is the Lead Strategist for Data at eBay. She was also the Lead for Behavior Insights and Science at eBay, responsible for Behavior Data Platform and Behavior Analytics. Prior to eBay, she was the Director of Media and Front Doors at Yahoo!' - and launched Yahoo! Cricket and Entertainment media properties for Yahoo!’ in emerging markets. Prior to Yahoo!, Aparna was a Director of e-Commerce, at Omnicell, where built a B2B e-Commerce Platform for Healthcare.

Aparna is an accomplished technology and product expert, with a diversified Technology, Product and Business Management experience across several domains in the Internet space. With her strong background in customer experience, in her current role at eBay she is focused on creating Analytical products that leverage eBay’s rich and multivariate data.

Here is my interview with her:

Anmol Rajpurohit: Q1. How do you define "Behavior Analytics"? How do you contrast it with Web Analytics?

Aparna Pujar: This is a matter of Analyticsterminology. Web Analytics laid the foundation for analyzing user behavior through a user’s interaction on a website.

As social and mobile usage grows and continues to pervade all aspects of a user’s life, there is need to view behavior with a more powerful, all-encompassing lens.

Per Comscore, smartphone subscribers are about 66% of mobile subscribers. The fine line between online and offline will eventually dissolve. Therefore, at eBay, we recognized the need for a more all-inclusive, comprehensive term to define this field of analytics.

AR: Q2. Which metrics do you consider as the most important to track user engagement?

AP: The metrics depend on the business domain and use-case. The most commonly used are: Repeat visits or visitors and time spent.

AR: Q3. What has been the most interesting consumer experience insight that you got from A/B testing?

AP: The most interesting one – that image size for an item does matter.

AR: Q4. What is the most challenging part of working in Behavior Insights & Science domain?

Data QualityAP: Data Quality and Data Governance. As the demand for data and analytics increases – ensuring the availability and high quality of data is crucial. Data stewardship needs to become a collaborative effort, a joint ownership of data creators, curators, and consumers. Governance should be strategic, in that it is best achieved when it is interwoven into the end-to-end flow of data creation to consumption.

AR: Q5. What do you personally think about the future of Digital Analytics (tracking online user experience over multiple devices - a multi-perspective approach including web, mobile, and social aspects)? Where do you see it headed in the next few years?

Multi Screen AnalyticsAP:
In the commerce world, multi-screen analytics will become a reckoning factor. A large part of analytics will therefore be focused on understanding the activity affinity to devices.

For ex., what devices will users use predominantly for search, what device for posting Facebook comments, or to post or upload pictures? Ability to mine these behavior data points and leverage them to develop and hone customer acquisition, activity, and retention is key. The combination of versatility and variability of data presents an interesting challenge and describes a complex problem domain. The next 2 years will probably see more theories and developments in this space. Internet of Things is an emerging area that should see some interesting developments.

AR: Q6. What soft skill do you think is the most important for practitioners in the field of Online Marketing Analytics?

AP: The most important skill for practitioners of analytics in general, not just Online Marketing Analytics, is the ability to ask the right questions to explore with data.

AR: Q7. If you ran out of your to-do list on a week day, what will you do?

AP: I spend time exploring data. eBay has a such a rich and interesting portfolio of data, it is a goldmine for data enthusiasts and can be addictive. I also spend time browsing and shopping on eBay for Collectibles. I love eBay Deals.

AR: Q8. What keeps you busy when you are away from your work?

AP: My family. My husband, two daughters and Polo, our Maltese.