By reading Web Analytics 2.0 by Avinash Kaushik, I've become a lot smarter about nailing the essence of websites and how to successfully measure that. I'm only halfway through, but already found a lot of gems. Like these examples. Both use the search data that are available in tools like Google Insights for Search. it allows you to optimise both offline and online campaigns!
Marketers used geographic interest analysis to determine the optimal marketing strategy for a Brad Pitt movie, first for the offline ads by city and state and then how to geographically best target online users across the world. It was a simple matter of recognizing where interest was highest and promoting the new movie more heavily in those areas.
Another nice illustration:
It may worry me as the brand manager of Pampers that the top related search for my category is cloth diapers, a product that I do not sell. Combine that with the fact that five of the ten fastest-rising searches are all related to price (cheapest, coupons), and it is enough to give me an ulcer. But now I am more informed, and I can adjust my marketing strategies to emphasize affordability or offer strategic couponing without cannibalizing my bottom line. Consumer interest is clear; now I have to react.
When I'm completely through I'll probably have a lot more ideas about it. But for now, more info on the book can be found here.