With this post, we will be con­clud­ing this series of blog posts specif­i­cally around Site­Cat­a­lyst 15. (If you haven’t been count­ing, this one is num­ber 15!)  We hope you have found some great infor­ma­tion here.  We will con­tinue to pro­vide updates and tips for Site­Cat­a­lyst and the Dig­i­tal Mar­ket­ing Suite in var­i­ous blog posts in the future.

My first job in col­lege was as an assis­tant in a com­puter graph­ics lab.  My job func­tion was as a seam­stress.  Yes, you read cor­rectly, a seam­stress in a com­puter graph­ics lab.  Ok, maybe it’s more polit­i­cally cor­rect to say I was a “tai­lor.”  I’ve heard it both ways.  In either case, my pri­mary goal was to take two over­lap­ping images that were taken with a dig­i­tal cam­era and iden­tify points on them that rep­re­sented the same objects in each pic­ture.  Once these points were iden­ti­fied, there was a soft­ware pro­gram that would merge, or “Stitch,” the pho­tos together in such a way as to make many pic­tures appear as if they were one.  Of course, these days, this capa­bil­ity is avail­able to all who have a cam­era phone with a “panorama” fea­ture to it.  I find poetic jus­tice in the fact that I now work for the com­pany that has made my col­lege job obsolete.  :)

What does this have to do with web ana­lyt­ics?” you ask?

Web Ana­lysts and Mar­keters are faced with a very sim­i­lar dilemma.  We have many vis­i­tors com­ing to our site using var­i­ous devices.  Often, the same vis­i­tor might browse using sev­eral dif­fer­ent devices.  But we have not been able to effec­tively track them as the same vis­i­tor.  In effect, the result is an over­state­ment of vis­i­tors because of the inabil­ity to de-duplicate them across devices/browsers.

I’m excited to intro­duce you to a new tech­nique that can be used for resolv­ing this prob­lem.  We call this tech­nique, “Cross-Device Vis­i­tor Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion.”  In order to “Stitch” these vis­i­tors into one, we will need a way to iden­tify the vis­i­tor, such as a login authen­ti­ca­tion.  When a vis­i­tor has authen­ti­cated, we need to place the unique iden­ti­fier into the s.visitorID vari­able.  You may want to con­sider hash­ing or encod­ing this value to pre­vent pass­ing per­son­ally iden­ti­fi­able infor­ma­tion.  Let me illus­trate how this works.

We will look at a sce­nario where a vis­i­tor browses the site from a desk­top at home, then from a lap­top at the office.  Here are the steps this vis­i­tor takes:

Once a user has authen­ti­cated on both devices, we can con­sider them the same vis­i­tor mov­ing for­ward.  This is espe­cially use­ful when vis­i­tors use sev­eral devices to access your site.  The intri­ca­cies of this tech­nique are described in more detail in Appen­dix E of the Site­Cat­a­lyst Imple­men­ta­tion Manual.

If we take a look at how this affects our vis­i­tor count, we will be able to see the effect that cross-device vis­i­tors has on our data.  Let’s take the exam­ple of a fic­tional retail web­site for Egbert Inc.  The web ana­lysts for Egbert Inc. want to see the effect that mul­ti­ple devices play into their Order Sta­tus Check page.  In this exam­ple, we imple­mented Cross-Device Vis­i­tor Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion on Nov. 1, 2011.

As we can see for the data above, vis­i­tors who use mul­ti­ple devices rep­re­sent a sig­nif­i­cant per­cent­age of our over­all vis­i­tors.  How­ever, it is impor­tant also to under­stand the effect that this has on our conversion.

From these num­bers we see that some of our con­ver­sion pre­vi­ously attrib­uted to “Direct” is now cor­rectly being attrib­uted to the appro­pri­ate chan­nel for the vis­i­tor, not just the device-specific chan­nel.  This gives us the con­text we need to make opti­miza­tion deci­sions for our site and improve its performance.

In the ever-changing land­scape of the Inter­net, the num­ber and types of devices con­tinue to increase.  Track­ing your vis­i­tors appro­pri­ately will enable you to get a proper view of vis­i­tor activ­ity in this dynamic environment.

Have spe­cific ques­tions about Adobe Site­Cat­a­lyst?  Want to track a data point on your web­site, but not sure where to start with the imple­men­ta­tion?  Fol­low me on Twit­ter @sitecattips Please feel free to leave a com­ment here or send me an email at adobe­site­cat­a­lyst (at) adobe​.com


Many of these older blog entries are still really useful today but it's a shame that most of the ones written more than a year or two ago don't load up any images.  Many of Adam Greco's old posts also have this problem.  This post in particular could really use the screenshots back.  Adam or anyone else at Adobe who might be paying attention here: is that something that can be fixed?  Thank you!