Virtual Report Suites and Data Sources
Lately, I have been seeing more and more Adobe Analytics clients moving to Virtual Report Suites. Virtual Report Suites are data sets that you create from a base Adobe Analytics report suite that differ from the original by either limiting data by a segment or making other changes to it, such as changing the visit length. Virtual Report Suites are handy because they are free, whereas sending data to multiple report suites in Adobe Analytics costs more due to increased server calls. The Virtual Report Suite feature of Adobe Analytics has matured since I originally wrote about it back in 2016. If you are not using them, you probably should be by now.
However, when some of my clients have used Virtual Report Suites, I have noticed that there are some data elements that tend to not transition from the main report suite to the Virtual Report Suite. One of those items is data imported via Data Sources. In last week’s post, I shared an example of how you can import external metrics to your Adobe Analytics implementation via Data Sources, but there are many data points that can be imported, including metrics from 3rd party apps. One of the more common 3rd party apps that my clients integrate into Adobe Analytics are e-mail applications. For example, if your organization uses Responsys to send and report on e-mails sent to customers, you may want to use the established Data Connector that allows you to import your e-mail metrics into Adobe Analytics, such as:
- Email Total Bounces
- Email Sent
- Email Delivered
- Email Clicked
- Email Opened
- Email Unsubscribed
Once you import these metrics into Adobe Analytics, you can see them like any other metrics…
…and combine them with other metrics:
In this case, I am viewing the offline e-mail metrics alongside with the online metric of Orders and also created a new Calculated Metric that combines both offline and online metrics (last column). So far so good!
But watch what happens if I now view the same report in a “UK Only” Virtual Report Suite that is based off of this main report suite:
Uh oh…I just lost all of my data! I see this happen all of the time and usually my clients don’t even realize that they have told their internal users to use a Virtual Report Suite that is missing all Data Source metrics.
So why is the data missing? In this case the Virtual Report Suite is based upon a geographic region segment:
This means that any hits with eVar16 value of “UK” will make it into the Virtual Report Suite. Since all online data has an eVar16 value, it is successfully carried over to the Virtual Report Suite. However, when the Data Sources metrics were imported (in this case Responsys E-mail Metrics), they did not have an eVar16 value so they are not included. That is why these metrics zeroed out when I ran the report for the Virtual Report Suite. In the next section, I will explain how to fix this so you make sure all of your Data Source metrics are included in the Virtual Report Suite
Long-Term Approach (Data Sources File)
The best long-term way to fix this problem is to change your Data Sources import files to make sure that you add data that will match your Virtual Report Suite segment. In this case, that means making sure each row of data imported has an eVar16 value. If you add a column for eVar16 to the import, any rows that contain “UK” will be included in the Virtual Report Suite. For this e-mail data, it means that your e-mail team would have to know which region each e-mail is associated with, but that shouldn’t be a problem. Unfortunately, it does require a change to your daily import process, but this is the cleanest way to make sure your Data Sources data flows correctly to your Virtual Report Suite.
Short-Term Approach (Segmentation)
If, however, making a change to your daily import process isn’t something that can happen soon (such as data being imported from an internal database that takes time to change), there is an easy workaround that will allow you to get Data Sources data immediately. This approach is also useful if you want to retroactively include Data Sources metrics that was imported before you make the preceding fix.
This short-term solution involves modifying the Segment used to pull data into the Virtual Report Suite. By adding additional criteria to your Segment definition, you can manually select which data appears in the Virtual Report Suite. In this case, the Responsys e-mail metrics don’t have an eVar16 value, but you can add them to the Virtual Report Suite by finding another creative way to include them in the segment. For example, you can add an OR statement that includes hits where the various Responsys metrics exist like this:
Once you save this new segment, your Virtual Report Suite will now include all of the data it had before and the Responsys data so the report will now look like this:
So this post is just a reminder to make sure that all of your imported Data Source metrics have made it into your shiny new Virtual Report Suites and, if not, how you can get them to show up there. I highly suggest you fix the issue at the source (Data Sources import file), but the segmentation approach will also work and helps you see data retroactively.