Creating Time-Lapse Data via Analysis Workspace
Sometimes, seeing how data changes over time can inform you about trends in your data. One way to do this is to use time-lapse. Who hasn’t been mesmerized by a cool video like this:
Credit: RankingTheWorld – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WVoJ6JNLO8
Wouldn’t it be cool if you could do something similar with Adobe Analytics data? Imagine seeing something like the above time-lapse for your products, product categories, campaign channels! That would be amazing! Unfortunately, I doubt this functionality is on the Adobe Analytics roadmap, but in this post, I am going to show you how you can partially create this using Analysis Workspace and add time-lapse to your analytics presentations.
Step 1 – Isolate Data
To illustrate this concept, let’s start with a simple example. Imagine that you have a site that uses some advanced browser features of Google Chrome. It is important for you to understand which version of Chrome your website visitors are using and how quickly they move from one version to the next. You can easily build a freeform table in Analysis Workspace that isolates visits from a bunch of Google Chrome versions like this:
Here you can see that the table goes back a few years and views Visits by various Chrome versions using a cross-tab with values from the Browser dimension.
Step 2 – Add a Chart Visualization
The next step is to add a chart visualization. I have found that there are only three types of visualizations that work for time-lapse: horizontal bar, treemap and donut. I will illustrate all of these, but to start, simply add a horizontal bar visualization and link it to the table created above:
When you first add this chart visualization, it may look a bit strange since it has so much data, but don’t worry, we will fix it in a minute. Once you add it, be sure to use the gear icon to customize it so it has enough rows to encompass the number of items you have added to your table (I normally choose the maximum of 25):
Step 3 – Create Time-Lapse
The final step is to create the time-lapse. To do this, you have to have some sort of software that will allow you to record. I use a Mac product called GIF Brewery 3, but you can use Snagit, Goto Meeting, Zoom, etc… Once you have selected how you want to record the time-lapse, you have to learn the trick in Analysis Workspace that allows you to cycle through your data by week. The trick is to click on the cell directly to the right of the first time period (week of July 2, 2017 in my example) and then use your left arrow to move one cell to the left. This will allow you to select the entire first row as illustrated here:
Once you have the entire row selected, you can use the down arrow to scroll down one row at a time. Therefore, if you start recording, select the cell to the right of the first time period, select the row and then continue pressing the down arrow, you can stop the recording when you get to the end. Then you just have to clean it up (I cut off a bit at the beginning and end) and save it as a video file. Using GIF Brewery 3, I can turn these recordings into animated GIFs which are easy to embed into Powerpoint, Keynote or Google Slides.
Here is what the time-lapse for the Chrome browser scenario looks like when it is completed:
Another visualization type I mentioned was the treemap. The process is exactly the same, you simply link the treemap to your table and record the same way to produce something like this:
As mentioned above, I have found that time-lapse works best with horizontal bar, treemap and donut visualizations. One other one that is cool is the Venn visualization, but this one has to be handled a bit differently than the previous examples. The following are the steps to do a time-lapse with the Venn visualization.
First, choose the segments and metric you want to add to the Venn visualization. as an example, I am going to look at what portion of all Demystified visits view one of my blog posts and also how many people have viewed the page about the Adobe Analytics Expert Council (AAEC). I start this by adding segments to the Venn visualization:
Next, I am going to expose the data table that is populating the Venn visualization:
Then I use a time dimension to breakdown the table. In this case, I will use Week:
From here, you can follow the same steps to record weekly time-lapse to produce this:
Sample Use Cases
This concept can be applied to many other data points found in Adobe Analytics. For example, I recently conducted a webinar with the Decibel, an experience analytics provider, in which we integrated Decibel experience data into Adobe Analytics to view how many visitors were having good and bad website experiences. We were then able to view experience over time using time-lapse. In the following clip, I have highlighted in the time-lapse when key events took place on the website:
If you want to memorialize the time when your customers officially started ordering more products from their mobile phone than the desktop, you can run this device type time-lapse:
Another use case might be blog readership if you are a B2B company. Often times, blogs are used to educate prospects and drive lead generation. Here is an example in which a company wanted to view how a series of blogs were performing over time. Once again, you simply create a table of the various blogs (in this case I used segments since each blog type had several contributors):
In this case, I will use the donut chart I mentioned earlier (though it is dangerously close to a pie chart, which I have been told is officially uncool!):
Here is the same data in the typical horizontal bar chart:
As a bonus tip, if you want to see a cumulative view of your data in a time-lapse, all you need to do is follow the same process, but with a different metric. You can use the Cumulative formula in the calculated metric builder to sum all previous weeks as you go and then do a time-lapse of the sum. In this blog example, here is the new calculated metric that you would build:
Once you add this to your table, it will look like this:
Then you just follow the same steps to record your time-lapse:
These are just a few examples of how this concept can be applied. In your case, you might want to view a time-lapse of your top ten pages, campaign codes, etc. It is really up to you to decide how you want to use it. I have heard rumors that Analysis Workspace will soon allow you to add images to projects, so it would be cool if you could add animated GIFs or videos like this right into your project!
Other things to note. When you use the treemap and donut visualizations, Analysis Workspace may switch the placements and colors when one number increases over the other, so watch out for that. Another general “gotcha” I have found with this approach is that you have to pre-select the items you want in your time-lapse. It would be cool if there were a way to have the Adobe Analytics time-lapses be like the first market cap one shown in which new values can appear and disappear based upon data changes, but I have not yet found a way to do that. If you can find a way, let me know!