Welcome to SiteCatalyst v15
Among the many announcements Adobe made at the 2011 Omniture Summit (#omtrsummit), probably the most anticipated was the release of version 15 of the flagship SiteCatalyst product. Those of us who follow SiteCatalyst regularly know that this release has been a long time in the making. Unfortunately, Omniture didn’t provide much detail in the keynote about specific enhancements so in this post, I will try to highlight some of the key things that I have heard about this new release (but in the interest of sharing info in semi-real-time, forgive me if I am not 100% correct and keep in mind I am writing this between sessions!). Since version 15 isn’t scheduled to be released right away (April?), not all features listed here are set in stone and as more details emerge about the release, I will follow-up with additional information/corrections…
Instant Segmentation Segmentation
The ability to segment data has always been a two-step process in SiteCatalyst. You could segment your data by passing values into eVars and sProps, utilize DataWarehouse/ASI, but if you wanted real-time segmentation you had to pay additional $$ for Discover or Insight. Unfortunately, most of the available options required you to wait for your segmented data which is not ideal from a web analytics perspective. However, when Google’s free analytics product released the ability to segment data in real-time, it became apparent that SiteCatalyst’s segmentation capabilities needed to be improved. The masses asked why they were getting less functionality than a free product?
With version 15, Omniture will now provide the ability to segment data in real-time. This will go a long way to appeasing those who realize that segmenting data is almost as critical as collecting the data. Instant segmentation will allow casual users to slice and dice website data without having to go through power users and then wait for the data to process. As you might expect, when business users have questions, they usually want the answer NOW! Forcing them to wait causes you to lose momentum and prohibits adoption so I think this feature will really help create more data-driven cultures. While this feature will be a big hit with the SiteCatalyst community, I expect that other web analytics vendors will position this as Omniture gaining parity with what they have already had.
One outstanding question I have is what this release means for ASI? Does this product/feature go away? Do customers who have paid for it, get some $$$ back?
So why did it take so long to introduce instant segmentation? Well the answer lies in the next big item Omniture discussed – a next-generation architecture. While I am not privy to all of the details, Omniture has stated that they redesigned the entire back-end of SiteCatalyst so that it could scale better and provide additional functionality like instant segmentation. Unfortunately, since most end-users won’t ever see the “back-end” of SiteCatalyst it will be hard to appreciate what went into it, but if this new architecture is as described, it should allow for more features and faster product improvements in the coming months/years.
However, there is one important catch to this v15 architecture. End-users will not be able to upgrade to v15 be themselves, but instead will need to work with Omniture to upgrade. This is due to the fact that once you upgrade, there is no going back. This is because v15 processes data differently than its predecessor. In general, v15 will process data in a manner that is more similar to Discover so users of both products should find that their data between SiteCatalyst match much more closely going forward. However, this means that SiteCatalyst v15 will approach things in a slightly different manner which could result in key metrics like Visits being slightly different than they were in previous versions. This means that looking at YoY data could show some variances, but SiteCatalyst will have an alert that tells you when you are comparing pre v15 data to v15 data so you are at least aware of this potential anomaly.
While it will remain to be seen how the SiteCatalyst community reacts to this, my hunch tells me that most clients will bite the bullet and upgrade to v15 and deal with this one time data discrepancy and take the benefits that v15 provides with respect to functionality.
More eVar Subrelations
Power SiteCatalyst users will rejoice in the fact that hey can now have full subrelations on more (all?) eVars. This means that you can break down more eVars by other eVars. In the past, you could only select a few conversion variables for which you wanted to see breakdowns, but this limitation will be reduced (abolished?) in v15. This is huge news and is another example of why the new back-end architecture is so vital.
UPDATE: Brett’s closing session suggested that ALL eVars and sProps could be broken down by each other. I have heard conflicting things on this so stay tuned!
Trend Multiple Metrics!
While it may not sound super-sexy, one new feature of the v15 release is the ability to trend more than one metric at the same time. To date, you can view multiple metrics in a “Ranked” report, but as soon as you switch to the trended view, only the 1st metric is trended. This has been a real bottle-neck and forced people like me to create additional reports in ReportBuilder to get this functionality. Version 15 solves this and I am told that it will continue to improve over time.
Visits & Visitors in all Reports
Another sticking point for SiteCatalyst users was that you could not see Visit/Visitor metrics in all reports. There were numerous workarounds, but most had an additional cost associated with them, but in v15 you can see both metrics in most reports. This will be a welcome addition, especially in conversion reports where they are needed the most. I have not confirmed whether Visits and Visitors will have full subrelations or not.
Ad-Hoc Unique Visitors
Currently in SiteCatalyst you can see unique visitors for set time periods, such as day, week, month, but if you choose an ad-hoc date range, you cannot see an accurate unique visitor count. In version 15, Omniture has rectified this like it had done in the Discover product. This feature will bring SiteCatalyst to closer parity to other web analytics vendors who have been providing similar unique visitor counts for any timeframe.
UPDATE: Brett’s closing session mentioned that you can also see ad-hoc unique visitors for Pages as well. That might mean that arbitrary time frame ad-hoc unique visitors might be available for all sProps?
After many requests from customers, Bounce Rate will finally be a standard metric in SiteCatalyst. Initially it sounds like it will be limited to a few reports, but it looks like it will be more pervasive in the future. While it has been possible to create Bounce Rate work arounds to compensate for not having Bounce Rate as a default metric, I think the gerenal population will be happy to have this baked into the product.
Previously, video data was relegated to video-specific reports only. Those clever enough would add custom metrics and eVars to get around this, but now it appears that you no longer have to do this to see video data in all SiteCatalyst reports.
New iPad App
In v15, the SiteCatalyst iPad app is getting a huge overhaul and will allow for more advanced web analysis on-the-go:
General UI Enhancements
Mixed into this release are a bunch of UI enhancements that people will probably like. These include searchable menus, report-specific default metrics, some new dashboard stuff and some more hand-offs between multiple Omniture products (like sharing segments with Test&Target). I think most will notice that that Omniture spent some cycles thinking about how an analyst uses the tool on a daily basis.
Long Live the Idea Exchange!
Lastly, I wanted to take a moment to thank Omniture for listening to its customers via the Idea Exchange. Many of the items above were highly voted upon by the Omniture community through the Idea Exchange. Omniture has done a great job of listening to its clients throughout the year (in addition to Brett’s fun Summit session!) so that it can focus its development efforts on what the majority of people are saying they want. It takes real courage as an organization to open up and ask customers what they want, interact with them, let all customers see this and then deliver the top items. While it sounds like common sense, there are very few vendors doing this today and I applaud Omniture for being forward-thinking about it. A special shout-out goes to Bill, JD and Ben who worked hard to champion this effort and I hope that v15 and beyond are the better for it…
UPDATE – ADDITIONAL FEATURES MENTIONED AT BRETT’S CLOSING SESSION
In v15 it will be possible to apply real-time segments to SiteCatalyst Dashboards which will change all reportlets on the dashboard
Default Metrics by Report
In current versions of SiteCatalyst, you can set default success event metrics for conversion reports, but it is an all or nothing proposition. In v15, it sounds like you will be able to assign different default metrics for different conversion reports.
Data Warehouse Improvements
It sounds like v15 will provide more information about pending DataWarehouse requests and possibly allow for re-running (or “Save As”) of DataWarehouse requests. The latter will be a huge time-saver since today, you have to re-create each from scratch to make any changes…
In addition to the new version of SiteCatalyst, another related product release is the Adobe SocialAnalytics product. This new product will compliment SiteCatalyst and will allow companies to monitor all social media activity. This product will be positioned as a competitor to Radian 6 and others in the social media measurement space. Key parts of this product are measurement for Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Personally, I am excited that Omniture has formalized some of the cool social media tracking things I spoke about a few years ago and delivering on past promised features like viral video measurement. This new product will allow you to see Social Media metrics side by side, but and filter on specific influential users, but doesn’t appear to show if it is the same people who are coming from Social Media sites and then converting (if that is even possible!). Unfortunately, I believe this new product won’t be available to everyone until Q3, but it is interesting to see this new product, especially in the context of what was announced by Webtrends last week around social dashboards.
While I will defer final judgement until I learn more about all of the new v15 features, at a high level, I think that version 15 is a big step forward for Omniture. While there are not hundreds of new features, they have hit some really big ones that will have a real impact for power users. I predict that Omniture’s competitors will discount this release by saying that SiteCatalyst is now providing functionality they have had for years. While I could see that argument (and don’t disagree with it), I will offer the following perspective. SiteCatalyst was a product that experienced tremendous growth over a very short time frame as they went from a vendor that no one had heard of ten years ago, to one of the most popular web analytics tools used in the enterprise. With that growth, it was likely hard for SiteCatalyst to change its back-end architecture during this growth spurt, whereas other tools have either been around longer (and had more time), or come around afterwards (and had the ability to start with a clean slate). It is in that context that I still believe that Omniture is taking a big step forward and that the move to a new architecture is probably the right move for the SiteCatalyst product. I will be curious to hear your thoughts as you start seeing more about the product this week and beyond…
So those are a few of my favorite new features of SiteCatalyst v15 and some thoughts on SocialAnalytics and the new platform. What are your favorites? Have you heard of others? Are there any I listed that are not true? Which features were you hoping for that didn’t make the release?
As always, if you have any questions about SiteCatalyst or migrating to v15, feel free to contact me to learn more. Thanks!