Analysis Workspace Flow Reports Without Repeating Instances!
Yesterday, Adobe released a new update to the Analysis Workspace Flow visualization that [finally] has the long-awaiting “no repeat instances” feature. This has been something that has prevented many Adobe Analytics users from abandoning the [very] old pathing reports in the old interface. In the old interface pathing reports, if a visitor had a sProp that received the same value multiple times in a row, the path reports would ignore the repeat values and only create a new path branch when a new value was received. When the Analysis Workspace Flow visualization was introduced, it came with the ability to view paths for sProps and eVars, which was super exciting, but when people starting using the new Flow reports they would see the same value over and over again like this:
This was due to the fact that the Flow visualization was based upon persisting values instead of instances. As of yesterday, Flow reports are based upon actual instances of values being passed and the new checkbox gives you the ability to view or not view those repeat instances. Therefore, the initial Flow visualization report was like taking one step forward, but another step back. The duplicative values would appear for a number of reasons:
- eVar persistence;
- Page refreshes;
- Visitors getting an eVar value, then going to another page and then coming back to a page where the same eVar value was set (in the example above, the blog post title is set each time the blog post is viewed);
- Visitors having sessions time out and then restarting the session on a page that passes the same value.
This problem was exacerbated if you chose to have your flow based upon “Visitor” instead of “Visit” since the visitor could return the next day and receive the same values. The end result was that people like me would continue to use sProps for pathing to avoid the messiness shown above since it isn’t fun explaining the inner workings of Adobe Analytics “Instances” to business stakeholders!
However, with yesterday’s release, you now have the ability in the settings panel of the Flow visualization to toggle off repeat instances:
When you uncheck the repeat instances setting, the above report will look like this:
In this view, only different values will create new flow branches, like is the case in the old pathing reports. But since you can use the Flow visualization with eVars and sProps, you no longer need to reply on the pathing reports of the old Reports interface.
In case you are curious, I also tested what happens with a sProp. In this case, I store the blog post title in both a sProp and an eVar, so I can easily see the flow visualization for the sProp version. As you can see here, it is identical to the eVar:
The same is true for the version that hides repeat instances:
So how can you take advantage of this new Flow visualization feature? As I stated, the most obvious use case is to cut back on any sProps you were using simply for pathing purposes. As I have mentioned in the past, casual users of Adobe Analytics can easily get confused when there are multiple versions of the same variable since they don’t really understand the differences between an eVar and a sProp (nor should they!). For example, if you are tracking internal search terms in an eVar, but want to see the order in which search terms are used, you can now do both with the eVar instead of having to create a redundant Internal Search Term sProp.
Other use cases might include:
- Ability to view Marketing Channels used including and not including cases where the same marketing channel was used in succession
- Ability to see which top navigation links are used including and not including cases where the same nav link was clicked in succession
- Ability to view clicks on links on the home page including and not including cases where the same link was clicked in succession
There are a few cases called out in the documentation for which it is not possible to use this new “no repeat instances” functionality. Those cases involve variables that have multiple values such as list eVars, list sProps, the Products variable and merchandising eVars:
This makes sense since there is a lot going on with those special variables, but if you use them in the Flow visualization, the new “repeat instances” option will be grayed out indicating that it cannot be used:
BTW, if you try to beat the system and add a multi-valued dimension to an existing flow report, you will get the following warning (Ben, Jen & Trevor think of everything!):
Overall, this new Flow visualization feature will make a lot of people’s lives easier and I encourage you to check it out. If you want to learn more about it, you can check out Jen Lasser’s YouTube video about it. Enjoy!