Real-Time Analytics in SiteCatalyst [SiteCatalyst]
While I have never been a huge fan of “real-time” web analytics, when Google started giving it away as part of GA, there was quite a buzz in the web analytics community. The reason I have not been such a fan of real-time analytics is not because I don’t see cases where it would be valuable, but rather, I have seen how difficult it has been for organizations to get their arms around regular web analytics data! If it is hard for a company to make good use of its day to day web analytics data, getting real-time data is like pouring gasoline on an already burning fire!
However, there are cases where I can see why having real-time data would be interesting. Specifically, cases where you are running a social media, radio or TV campaign that is driving people to your website and you want to see how many people are coming NOW! The main reason I see clients do this is not to act upon the data in real-time, but rather, so they can go back and attribute specific spikes in data to money being spent in social media, radio or television advertisements. For example, let’s say that you show a TV ad locally in New York City at 8:15 p.m. EST on Tuesday night. It would be cool to see how the website lights-up in the New York area around that time. In the past, companies like ChartBeat were available to see this, but now you can do it for free using Google Analytics.
Since this real-time capability launched in GA, some of my Omniture followers have asked me if it is possible to see real-time data in SiteCatalyst. Therefore, in this post, I will share what is and what is not possible today.
SiteCatalyst Real-Time Analytics (Sort Of…)
Unfortunately, the exact functionality that GA has just released does not yet exist in the traditional SiteCatalyst interface. Surprisingly, after a quick check, I didn’t see that anyone has ever requested this in the Ideas Exchange. However, what I can offer you is the next best thing. What I have worked with clients to do, is to pass minute-level data to SiteCatalyst variables so that you can at least look back in time and see the times at which traffic spiked. In my last blog post, I described a similar topic in which we passed a Date to an eVar and an sProp. In that scenario, we passed the date on each page of the visit. This is similar to using the Time Parting plug-in which passes in the time in 30 minute increments.
As you can see, this report is pretty granular, but if you know the date and time you are interested in, you can pull the data down to Excel and sort by date/time to see spikes in traffic by the minute. In the example below, we can see that a spike in Form Completions occurred at 8:15 P.M. precisely when the local television spot ran:
Since you have this data in an eVar, you can see any of your Success Events (like Internal Searches shown below) by minute in SiteCatalyst:
Again, it won’t help you at the minute these things are happening due to the lag in data appearing in SiteCatalyst, but it will allow you to look back an hour or two later to see the impact of an advertising campaign so you can adjust future ones.
One other note on this, As Kevin W from Adobe mentioned, you shouldn’t go lower than the minute when doing this. In a normal month, minute-level data should produce at most 45,000 unique values per month which is del below the 500,000 SiteCatalyst can accept. If you go beyond that (to the seconds level), you are looking at over 2.5 million unique values which is not ideal for SiteCatalyst. Technically, you could do it and just use the data in DataWarehouse, but I don’t recommend it.
So that is a quick tip that you can use if you need to do historical reporting down to the minute in SiteCatalyst. If you feel you need real-time reporting in SiteCatalyst, feel free to add it to the Ideas Exchange.