MeasureCamp London 2022: our best bits

In May 2022, it was the 10th anniversary of MeasureCamp London and a few of us Measurelabbers headed out for a Saturday of analytics discussions, debates and fun!

It was the first time Measurelab sponsored the event too, which meant we had a room named after us (thus the customary awkward picture). And it was also the first time I volunteered and helped out on the day (thus the very loud red t-shirt):

Below are a few of each of our favourite bits from the anniversary event.

Dara Fitzgerald

The session I enjoyed the most at MeasureCamp was “A Post GA World?” by Jordan Peck from Snowplow. I always like sessions that make me think outside my normal day to day. As an analytics consultancy we have always specialised in Google Analytics and these days we’re very busy migrating clients over to GA4 and training their teams on how to get the most out of the latest, greatest version of GA. So I sat in Jordan’s session to get a totally different perspective. It’s vital we keep on top of alternatives so we can best advise our clients with well-rounded knowledge and integrity.

The background here is that some companies may be considering if GA is still right for them. There are a number of reasons for this, including:

  • Concerns around the legality of GA in certain EU countries.
  • The fact UA is being sunsetted and GA4 is still buggy and lacking in a few feature areas.
  • The number of privacy centric analytics tools popping up in the market, like Fathom and Plausible.

Jordan talked through a couple of options he wouldn’t really recommend like self-hosting GA or forwarding hits collected for GA in the browser and sending them to BigQuery (using customTask in GTM, a Google Cloud Function or server-side GTM). The main drawbacks of these methods are that they still rely on Google Analytics code and are likely to still send data to the US.

The third option he covered was building your own analytics solution but this is not even going to be considered by the vast majority of companies. And for those that do consider it, the effort involved will often outweigh the value delivered.

So option four is using one of the start-up, privacy friendly analytics solutions. Many of these are EU based, allow you to track most of what you are likely to need and some also offer data warehousing solutions. Some also share the same drawbacks though, including lacking features you might be used to, struggling with high volume and potentially going too extreme on the privacy front.

Understandably Jordan saved Snowplow as his last suggestion. Although he’s naturally biassed as he works there, we have a lot of respect for Snowplow too. It’s fully open source, you can host it in your own cloud and you get unlimited custom data structures and properties.

Katie Kaczmarek

This was my very first MeasureCamp, let’s talk all things swag, knowledge sharing and great company.

Firstly swag, whatever bag you think is big enough, bring a bigger one. This could potentially just be me, I’m awfully partial to a freebie! But a bag is definitely a good idea, preferably one that’s easy to carry. I came away with t-shirts, jumpers, pens, socks and a massive jar of M&Ms. But that last one was definitely just me, what can I say, I’m very good at counting grey M&Ms!

Moving on to more important stuff, the event was great, anybody could put themselves forward for a session and talk about whatever they are passionate about. Being surrounded by people who have come to a data event, means a data based (see what I did there) subject would be preferable. Saying that though, one of the best talks I went to was by Bhavik Patel, who took us through his journey in analytics and searching for happiness within your chosen career. Sometimes it will be the subject that has you listening, sometimes speakers were so engaging you could listen to them talk about soup for 30 minutes and still be engaged. Bhavik held the room and everyone was captivated by his story.

Bhavik Patel at MeasureCamp London 15 presenting fining your passion

There are different types of talks you can go to, there were demos, workshops, discussions and presentations. Some came prepared, some winged it, all were fabulous. I think the next time I go I will probably head for the discussions. It can be a lonely business working in data, there’s something appealing about coming into a discussion group to talk about issues you’ve faced, problems you’ve tackled and being amongst like minded people to hear about their experiences and solutions. Lets face it, sharing good practices in all jobs would make the world a better place. 

There are a multitude of rooms hosting a variety of speakers. It can be quite tricky to choose just one. Initially I started picking talks that might benefit my career, but I had very little knowledge on them. This seemed like a good plan but I sometimes felt I was getting a little lost! Then I started going to some talks which were more within my field of expertise. It felt nice to contribute to a discussion and feel like I understood what was going on. On reflection I think a mix of all aspects might be good, learn something new, and boost your confidence with talks from your more knowledgeable areas.

The thing about MeasureCamp is you almost instantly feel like you are surrounded by your people, and it’s that comfortable feeling that makes participation feel encouraged and supported. Personally, 30 minutes feels a little too daunting for me. Maybe a 15 min problem solving discussion would be great, state your problem, others can come who have experienced a similar thing and you can hash it out together, maybe find a solution, maybe not, but at least you won’t feel alone. Opportunities to be surrounded by this many like minded people don’t happen very often so we should all take advantage of it. Thanks MeasureCamp for a great event, if I’m lucky enough to get tickets in the future I’ll be back in a heartbeat… Closing thought, you can never have enough pens, stock up!

Jacob Birch

I was so excited to go to MeasureCamp London 2022 having not attended an in-person analytics event since pre-Covid. Overall, I took away loads of actions to investigate in GA/GTM further and spoke to some great people – it’s a great way to learn and think about areas or processes you didn’t think could fit together (but where someone has created a tool and it’s a great idea!), or make some connections so you have some analysts to bounce ideas off in the future.

I attended some great talks throughout my day, and I want to write about the three that stood out to me:

My morning started off with our very own Liam Grant talking about his journey into the cloud, where he ran through the different Google Cloud Platform (GCP) services; where to start and where to go next. For someone who only uses BigQuery and doesn’t delve into the other tools within the GCP, this was great to see how the tools tie in together and what they can be used for.

Liam split the tools into different stages based on his experience of which tools he utilises the most, and this portrayed a sense of what you could be exploring based on what level of knowledge you have with the GCP.

My main takeaway from Liam’s talk was that you should approach exploring the GCP one piece at a time. This was a key message for me because I’ve always thought of the GCP as a product where you should be using every tool from the get-go. However, knowing which are relevant and which tie in together (like Data Transfer Service for Google Ads) helps know where to look next as part of my GCP learning journey and what you should start experimenting with!

The next speaker was Tariq Syed who gave a talk called “How To Create Your Own Data Monitoring System for your GA4 Data” where they had produced a tool to monitor changes in your GTM setup, so you could report on how fresh or recently modified parts of your measurement plan were. This is also a great idea for companies who have restricted access to GTM but want some parts to be visible to other members of the team. All you need to do is:

  • Setup a unique ‘Tag ID’ for each tag in your measurement plan and in GTM
  • Setup your measurement plan in BigQuery
  • Setup the GTM API
  • Lookup GTM API changes based on your measurement plan Tag ID

The result that was showcased is essentially a dashboard where you can select a tag (or category of tags) and show when it was last updated in GTM (this is because the Tag ID is searched from the measurement plan and looked up in the GTM change log). You could also include a summary of how many times it has triggered in the past day to ensure it’s firing.

The tool itself is still in development but I’m excited to see what Tariq’s final product is!

I always look forward to a Phil Pearce presentation, because I always come away with some great tips (which you can vote for the best tips after his session, which is a fun idea!). Phil’s talk “Top 10 GA4 migration mistakes to avoid” made me aware of some GA4 setup options that you could easily miss when setting up a GA4 account. I’ve listed my top 4 here:

  • Engagement metric: part of the new ‘bounce rate’ is that once a user has been idle on your site for 10 seconds they count as an engagement. You can change this up to 60 seconds, where Phil mentioned that a lot of clients review this as the stage of the setup, so that the data is consistent from the get-go.
  • Link Google Ads! Even if your UA property is linked, you will need to set up a new link to Google Ads. However, ensure that both your UA and GA4 are not creating the same conversions in your Google Ads account as this will double count conversions.
  • If you have a reason for it, change your data retention to 14 months – this only affects the exploration part of the UI, where the aggregated reports will retain aggregated data longer than this.
  • Consider having a dev and live property. GA4 doesn’t have the option for views, so building out a separate property for your dev site will avoid test transactions polluting your live site data.

Daniel Perry-Reed

I’ve been looking forward for MeasureCamp to come back IRL for years now. The online versions were fine, but nothing beats meeting in person and chatting about analytics with a coffee and/or a beer!

This was my third in-person MeasureCamp (fifth if you count the two virtual ones), but my first time volunteering. I can’t claim to have done any of the actual legwork in terms of running such a massive event, but I did help out handing out name tags on the way in. Important work nonetheless, and also meant I got a coveted red t-shirt!

Helping out did mean that I missed the opening talk as well as the first sessions of the day, but I managed to see a number of really interesting sessions from the likes of Edward Upton from Littledata and Bhavik Patel from Hopin and CRAP Talks to name a few.

I know they’ve been mentioned many times before (including on our podcast with Peter O’Neill on how he started MeasureCamp), but the two things I love the most about MeasureCamp are the fact that it’s held on a Saturday, and that who gets tickets is very strict.

Running any event outside of work hours generally means the audience all actually want to be there, and not just using it as an excuse to get some time off of work. Being on a Saturday means it is attended by that much more dedicated and passionate analytics people. My people!

If you work in analytics, you will know that it’s very rare that you actually get to talk to people about what you do. My friends and family still don’t understand what it is I do, or even what digital analytics is to be honest. A common analogy that is made to me is that I have Chandler’s job from Friends… That is, no one knows, or thinks that I am (hilariously) a ‘transponster’!

chandler's job in Friends tv show

The rules on getting a ticket are:

  1. Only three tickets per company.
  2. No business development, sales (tech vendor representatives) or roles that are pretty much sales but disguised as something else!
  3. No recruitment staff.

Points 2 and 3 are great and a no-brainer, it means more people attending that do the work to be able to chat, discuss, debate, etc. with. It also means MeasureCamp can sell sponsorships to these sorts of companies to keep the event free to attend for people like us.

Point 1 is also a good thing, don’t get me wrong. However, tickets go quickly and you can only get one for yourself. If your colleagues and/or friends want to go, they will have to roll the dice and hope they are online when tickets are released to get their own one! It would be nice to claim two or three for the company on behalf of my colleagues, but I understand why – so they don’t get no-shows on the day.

Overall, it’s the best analytics event in the calendar, and I highly recommend anyone working in or with analytics to go. I’ll be back next year, likely handing out your name tag on the door. See you then!

Liam Grant

I hadn’t heard of MeasureCamp until I started working at Measurelab, where in which I discovered the cult following of the “un-conference”, with slack channels often pinging back notification on who had managed to receive coveted tickets. After listening to the The Measure Pod episode #28 with Peter O’Neill, as well as hearing other industry leads mention it, I decided not only to attend the 15th MeasureCamp in London, but also to risk embarrassment and host a session.

MeasureCamp was my first ever industry presentation so I was undoubtedly a little nervous. But fortunately enough, my colleagues from Measurelab came to cheer me on – so a tip for anyone that is nervous about speaking in front of crowds is to stack the crowd with people you know, if you can!

My topic of choice was “My Journey into Cloud” which hopes to solve the ‘Now what?’ question that I often came up against during my last year and a half of technical skills learning on the Google Cloud Platform. Often Google is really great at showing off their tools but I found that there was no great way of working out which one of the tools or services made the most sense to learn next. (If you’re curious about it in more detail there’s a recording of a slightly longer version of the talk from the Brighton Cloud meetup event).

Personally, I found the experience of doing a talk slightly nerve wracking, but the wonderful thing about MeasureCamp is that everyone present is eager to learn, and putting in on the weekend means there’s no one who’s just for a free day away from the office. The small collection of people that attended were attentive and engaged and that really helped to calm the nerves.

Finally, the rest of MeasureCamp was amazing too. I think it gives a real understanding of the cultural direction of the data industry, and allows for honest conversations to develop between conference participants about the industry as a whole.

I’ll hopefully be back next year!

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Daniel is an Analytics Innovation Lead at Measurelab - he is a trainer, podcaster and overall fanatic. He loves getting stuck into all things GA4 and anything new and exciting.

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