Welcome!

API Journal Authors: John Basso, Elizabeth White, Kevin Benedict, Anders Wallgren, Amit Golander

Blog Feed Post

Web Analytics: How to Handle Direct Traffic, Not Provided, Dark Social and Do Not Track

For marketers, measurement is no longer an option, but a requirement.  The C-Suite (which many marketers have now proudly joined) is looking for more than warm fuzzies, and is instead looking for reporting, results, and ROI.

A number of developments over the past couple of years—not surprisingly, led by Google—have shaped the way we measure, analyze and optimize digital marketing tactics. This is a good thing, as long as we understand what we can track—and what we can’t.

Google’s (Not Provided) Mystery

Take organic search keywords as an example.  Despite it being just over a year since Google encrypted keywords and implemented secure search for anyone logged into any Google product when searching, many people still don’t understand the impact of this (not provided) result on their analytics.  Search Engine Land explained the (not provided) issue well when released, but essentially what it means is that if people are logged into a Google product (think Gmail, YouTube, Google+, etc.) and conduct a search using Google, the referring keyword data is not passed through to your site.  This is also commonly misunderstood as an issue with Google Analytics; in fact it doesn’t matter which analytics program you are using because Google search is holding the data and never passing it through to your website, regardless of whether you are using Google Analytics, Omniture, or any other application.  For a significant number of the clients that I work with, (not provided) has become one of the top 3 keyword sources in organic keyword reports.  This means that a significant amount of keyword data isn’t being captured; it’s just gone.

We can only control what we can control, but knowing what you are seeing in your keyword data—and just as importantly what you aren’t—is critical to your evaluation of organic search strategy and results.

Can We Shine a Light on “Dark Social?”

Similarly, an article in The Atlantic last month, Dark Social: We Have the Whole History of the Web Wrong, has sparked a good bit of conversation on how to view social media metrics within your web analytics platform.  Alexis Madrigal uncovers an issue that many of us who know analytics have looked at for a while – that “Direct” traffic in your analytics reports is a big catch-all bucket, and often doesn’t mean the traffic was direct at all.  Instead, a good chunk of it can come from email links, instant message sharing, and clicks from third party social media apps.   In essence, anything that can’t capture a referring or tracking URL inaccurately shows as “Direct” and is not measured—thus the phrase “dark.”  While it’s well worth reading the whole article, the main points are the following:

1. The sharing you see on sites like Facebook and Twitter is the tip of the ‘social’ iceberg. We are impressed by its scale because it’s easy to measure.

2. But most sharing is done via dark social means like email and IM that are difficult to measure.

3. According to new data on many media sites, 69% of social referrals came from dark social. 20% came from Facebook.

4. Facebook and Twitter do shift the paradigm from private sharing to public publishing. They structure, archive, and monetize your publications.

The phrase dark social comes from the fact that it is difficult to track and manage, so there’s not a clear prescription. However, it is still important to recognize that dark social is a factor as you look at your analytics, and you should consider looking at it in the same way as The Atlantic.

Do-Not-Track

Maybe the greatest threat to your analytics and targeting data is what has been categorized as “do-not-track” (DNT) browser standards.  By default, Internet Explorer 10 will be set to encourage publishers to ignore third-party tracking cookies, and other browsers will follow suit on the privacy bandwagon.  The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has recently come out in opposition to this, saying it limits visitor choices and options.  The eye-opening stat the IAB provided was that they estimate within a year 50% of browsers could be using DNT, meaning you may not get any analytics data on at least 50% of your visitors. This could be a fundamental shift in the way we analyze data, and is worth watching.

What Does it All Mean to Me?

While there are no “magic bullet” solutions to remedying these issues, for those of us that rely on web analytics it’s important to recognize what the data is telling you, and where you may be overvaluing or undervaluing data and potentially drawing incorrect conclusions. Understanding what your analytics program is telling you, and what it might be missing, will allow you to factor it into your decision-making process.

 

Image Source

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Will Davis

Right Source Marketing helps organizations build their marketing strategy, organize the structure to accommodate that strategy, and deliver the specific services to execute that strategy. We do this through a unique model that provides senior level strategic consulting as well as specific services that cover every area of an organization’s marketing plan.

@ThingsExpo Stories
The increasing popularity of the Internet of Things necessitates that our physical and cognitive relationship with wearable technology will change rapidly in the near future. This advent means logging has become a thing of the past. Before, it was on us to track our own data, but now that data is automatically available. What does this mean for mHealth and the "connected" body? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Lisa Calkins, CEO and co-founder of Amadeus Consulting, will discuss the impact of wea...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Peak 10, Inc., a national IT infrastructure and cloud services provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Peak 10 provides reliable, tailored data center and network services, cloud and managed services. Its solutions are designed to scale and adapt to customers’ changing business needs, enabling them to lower costs, improve performance and focus inter...
We’ve worked with dozens of early adopters across numerous industries and will debunk common misperceptions, which starts with understanding that many of the connected products we’ll use over the next 5 years are already products, they’re just not yet connected. With an IoT product, time-in-market provides much more essential feedback than ever before. Innovation comes from what you do with the data that the connected product provides in order to enhance the customer experience and optimize busi...
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Klein, CEO and Co-founder of Rachio, will discuss next generation communities that are using IoT to create more sustainable, intelligent communities. One example is Sterling Ranch, a 10,000 home development that – with the help of Siemens – will integrate IoT technology into the community to provide residents with energy and water savings as well as intelligent security. Everything from stop lights to sprinkler systems to building infrastructures will run ef...
So, you bought into the current machine learning craze and went on to collect millions/billions of records from this promising new data source. Now, what do you do with them? Too often, the abundance of data quickly turns into an abundance of problems. How do you extract that "magic essence" from your data without falling into the common pitfalls? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Natalia Ponomareva, Software Engineer at Google, will provide tips on how to be successful in large scale machine lear...
Digital payments using wearable devices such as smart watches, fitness trackers, and payment wristbands are an increasing area of focus for industry participants, and consumer acceptance from early trials and deployments has encouraged some of the biggest names in technology and banking to continue their push to drive growth in this nascent market. Wearable payment systems may utilize near field communication (NFC), radio frequency identification (RFID), or quick response (QR) codes and barcodes...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Stratoscale, the software company developing the next generation data center operating system, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Stratoscale is revolutionizing the data center with a zero-to-cloud-in-minutes solution. With Stratoscale’s hardware-agnostic, Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) solution to store everything, run anything and scale everywhere...
Angular 2 is a complete re-write of the popular framework AngularJS. Programming in Angular 2 is greatly simplified – now it's a component-based well-performing framework. This immersive one-day workshop at 18th Cloud Expo, led by Yakov Fain, a Java Champion and a co-founder of the IT consultancy Farata Systems and the product company SuranceBay, will provide you with everything you wanted to know about Angular 2.
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Men & Mice, the leading global provider of DNS, DHCP and IP address management overlay solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The Men & Mice Suite overlay solution is already known for its powerful application in heterogeneous operating environments, enabling enterprises to scale without fuss. Building on a solid range of diverse platform support,...
You deployed your app with the Bluemix PaaS and it's gaining some serious traction, so it's time to make some tweaks. Did you design your application in a way that it can scale in the cloud? Were you even thinking about the cloud when you built the app? If not, chances are your app is going to break. Check out this webcast to learn various techniques for designing applications that will scale successfully in Bluemix, for the confidence you need to take your apps to the next level and beyond.
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
Artificial Intelligence has the potential to massively disrupt IoT. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, AJ Abdallat, CEO of Beyond AI, will discuss what the five main drivers are in Artificial Intelligence that could shape the future of the Internet of Things. AJ Abdallat is CEO of Beyond AI. He has over 20 years of management experience in the fields of artificial intelligence, sensors, instruments, devices and software for telecommunications, life sciences, environmental monitoring, process...
Increasing IoT connectivity is forcing enterprises to find elegant solutions to organize and visualize all incoming data from these connected devices with re-configurable dashboard widgets to effectively allow rapid decision-making for everything from immediate actions in tactical situations to strategic analysis and reporting. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Shikhir Singh, Senior Developer Relations Manager at Sencha, will discuss how to create HTML5 dashboards that interact with IoT devic...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ericsson has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Ericsson is a world leader in the rapidly changing environment of communications technology – providing equipment, software and services to enable transformation through mobility. Some 40 percent of global mobile traffic runs through networks we have supplied. More than 1 billion subscribers around the world re...
There is an ever-growing explosion of new devices that are connected to the Internet using “cloud” solutions. This rapid growth is creating a massive new demand for efficient access to data. And it’s not just about connecting to that data anymore. This new demand is bringing new issues and challenges and it is important for companies to scale for the coming growth. And with that scaling comes the need for greater security, gathering and data analysis, storage, connectivity and, of course, the...
SYS-CON Events announced today that DatacenterDynamics has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. DatacenterDynamics is a brand of DCD Group, a global B2B media and publishing company that develops products to help senior professionals in the world's most ICT dependent organizations make risk-based infrastructure and capacity decisions.
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, will discuss how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to im...
This is not a small hotel event. It is also not a big vendor party where politicians and entertainers are more important than real content. This is Cloud Expo, the world's longest-running conference and exhibition focused on Cloud Computing and all that it entails. If you want serious presentations and valuable insight about Cloud Computing for three straight days, then register now for Cloud Expo.
IoT device adoption is growing at staggering rates, and with it comes opportunity for developers to meet consumer demand for an ever more connected world. Wireless communication is the key part of the encompassing components of any IoT device. Wireless connectivity enhances the device utility at the expense of ease of use and deployment challenges. Since connectivity is fundamental for IoT device development, engineers must understand how to overcome the hurdles inherent in incorporating multipl...