Adobe SiteCatalyst V15 – New Metrics (3/15)
Returning to our roots as web analytics experts can occasionally be difficult; often times we’re so wrapped up in fancy segmentation and site optimization that we forget to pay homage to the foundation of web analytics itself:
- pageview - generally speaking, a view of any page that loads where the analytics script sends data back to its servers
- visit - a session initiated by a visitor who must generate at least one page view
- unique visitor - a way to describe the uniqueness of a visit across time to a web site
Why does it all matter and what does it all mean? Well, we don’t live in a clean world where every visit is unique and everyone converts during their first visit so the notion of a unique or repeat visitor is easily omitted. People return to the site repeatedly, mulling over whether your merchandise is a better value than your competition’s. People may discover you months prior to ever contacting your firm or purchasing anything at all (“top of the funnel”) and to further complicate matters, now we have a complex web of mobile devices mixing with traditional PCs and tablets, further blurrying the attribution question…but I digress.
But while I have this cool graphic ($10 via paypal if you spot the logical impossibility of a step here) we’ll walk through it. Note my earlier definition of a unique visitor with regards to his uniqueness across time. At some point he was a new visit, he then returns as a repeat visitor responsible for 2 visits, at least 2 page views yet only 1 unique visit. But just as not ever visit is unique, not enough visits are regarded as unique due to the plethora of devices we use in browsing the Internet. From mobile devices to traditional PCs and Macs and how tablets…quite often the same person is 3 unique visits. It’s not difficult to understand why people are getting excited about ‘mobile analytics’ when the above scenario or a similar one plays out. Some sites we work with have seen mobile (driven mostly by iPad and iPhone) become 20% of traffic with conversion rates between 25% and 50% of what you’d expect from a non-mobile device (re-read that carefully if you feel surprised).
Circling back to the action and the original point of this post – Adobe SiteCatalyst (powered by Omniture!) for a long time never told you how many visits, unique visitors or even pageviews were generated by various traffic sources such as:
- direct visits
- organic search engines (they have ‘searches’)
- paid search engines (‘searches’)
- referring domains
The metric de la jour was ‘instances’, which no one really claimed to understand beyond it, ‘being like a pageview’. In all fairness you could set 2 custom events (s.events=”event1, event2″) on every page, sessionize (call client care) one so it fired once per visit and let the other run wild and effectively get visits and pageviews…but the question of uniqueness was still evasive.
Luckily for SiteCatalyst Consultants, Clients and the gentlemen in charge of onboarding new clients at Adobe – all will now be able to see the 3 most basic elements in all of web analytics in most SiteCatalyst reports…visits, unique visitors and pageviews. Crazy times we’re living in folks!
Please visit again! (all devices welcome!)