Shortly after we launched the Idea Exchange in early 2010, a sub­mis­sion floated to the top and has stayed there ever since.

Carmen Sutter B/W
This is Car­men, in case you couldn’t tell.

Car­men Sut­ter asked—nay, demanded—“Make Bounce Rate a default met­ric!” Our cus­tomers agreed en masse, with 238 peo­ple vot­ing for the idea. We took a step toward respond­ing when we released Site­Cat­a­lyst 15 by remov­ing the need to build cal­cu­lated met­ric after cal­cu­lated met­ric to exam­ine bounce rate in Pages reports, but we knew we weren’t done.

The next time you log into the Idea Exchange and click “Top Ideas,” you will see a big fat “Imple­mented” under Carmen’s idea. Between adding Bounce Rate to most Site­Cat­a­lyst 15 reports (includ­ing eVars) and the new Total Time Spent met­ric with all that it enables you to do, today’s Site­Cat­a­lyst release is def­i­nitely some­thing to be excited about. Here’s a brief run­down of what we’ve done.

Bounce Rate

Bounce Rate has been one of the most impor­tant met­rics in dig­i­tal ana­lyt­ics for years, and (admit­tedly) we haven’t always done a great job unearthing it for you out­side of the Pages report. With this lat­est release, we’ve taken another step toward mak­ing Bounce Rate avail­able through­out Site­Cat­a­lyst 15. For the first time, you will see Bounce Rate in con­ver­sion reports (includ­ing Cam­paigns and Prod­ucts) and in Traf­fic Sources reports. This enables ana­lyt­ics around things like Prod­uct Bounce Rate, Cam­paign Bounce Rate, and Search Key­word Bounce Rate. Addi­tion­ally, Bounce Rate is avail­able in sub­re­la­tions, so you can go another level deep into your Bounce Rate to answer ques­tions like, “Which prod­uct pages in Cam­paign X have the highest/lowest Bounce Rate?” or “Which prod­ucts are least inter­est­ing to my return vis­i­tors?” enabling you to focus on what is work­ing and fix what isn’t.

bounce rate in an eVar report

You should see Bounce Rate as a stan­dard met­ric in every report where it is now avail­able. Just add it as you would any other met­ric. We’ve also added Bounces (i.e. single-page vis­its), Entries, and Exits to these reports as well.

bounce rate in the metric selector

Note that a Bounce requires that the given vari­able occurred on the first (and only) request of the visit. So, for exam­ple, if a user views a sin­gle page where eVar1 has a value of “men’s shoes” and then leaves your site, that would record a bounce for the eVar1 value “men’s shoes.” But if the user views three pages, and on the third page the value “apple ipad LTE” is passed into eVar1, even if that is the only eVar1 value dur­ing the visit, it is not a bounce.

A few more “things to know” about Bounce Rate in Site­Cat­a­lyst 15:

  • Bounce Rate does honor eVar (and cam­paign) per­sis­tence. Let’s say you have an eVar that per­sists beyond a sin­gle visit (e.g. one month). I visit your site on June 4 and the eVar in ques­tion is pop­u­lated with a value of “ABC” on the third and final page view of my visit. (By the way, that’s not a bounce, because the value occurred on a multi-page visit.) Then, on June 10, I come back to the site and leave imme­di­ately after one page view; the eVar does not receive another value. That sec­ond visit would be a bounce asso­ci­ated with “ABC” because this value had per­sisted from the pre­vi­ous visit and had not been over­writ­ten by a new value for this eVar. This means that cam­paigns and eVars that have long per­sis­tence peri­ods will likely accrue more bounces than sim­i­lar vari­ables that expire at the end of the visit. How­ever, it does not nec­es­sar­ily mean that they will have a higher Bounce Rate, because non-bounce vis­its are also asso­ci­ated with the per­sisted eVar value, poten­tially rais­ing the denom­i­na­tor at a higher rate than the numer­a­tor in the Bounce Rate formula.
  • Bounce Rate in Site­Cat­a­lyst 15 looks at what we could call “single-beacon vis­its” in its cal­cu­la­tion. A user inter­ac­tion, even if it does not lead to a new page view, can thwart a bounce. This means that if a land­ing page sends mul­ti­ple requests into SiteCatalyst—either mul­ti­ple page views, or a page view and a cus­tom link, or a page view and a video view—it will not be a bounce. Based on feed­back we have obtained from our cus­tomers, this def­i­n­i­tion is how most of you view your site/app; inter­ac­tion means “no bounce.” For those of you who dis­agree with this def­i­n­i­tion, we are look­ing into the best way to give you a more suit­able met­ric, and you can hide Bounce Rate from your users in the User Man­age­ment > Groups area by restrict­ing access to this met­ric at a group level.
  • Can you seg­ment reports show­ing Bounce Rate? Of course you can! There are all kinds of ques­tions I can’t wait to answer with this new func­tion­al­ity. Are there land­ing pages that are stick­ier for first-time vis­i­tors than they are for repeat vis­i­tors? Do tablet users bounce from my site more fre­quently than desk­top users? I could keep going, but you get the idea. Seg­men­ta­tion + Bounce Rate = seri­ously impact­ful analysis.

Total Time Spent

Another new met­ric that you’ll see in Site­Cat­a­lyst 15 begin­ning on May 31 is Total Time Spent. This met­ric rep­re­sents the total amount of time, in sec­onds, attrib­ut­able to val­ues in your Cus­tom Traf­fic (prop), Cus­tom Con­ver­sion (eVar) reports, and Traf­fic Sources reports. And since you can use it in cal­cu­lated met­rics to cre­ate things like Aver­age Time Spent per Vis­i­tor and Aver­age Time Spent per Video Start, it allows you to under­stand engage­ment much bet­ter than ever before in Site­Cat­a­lyst. (Gone are the days of try­ing to squeeze every­thing into Cus­tom Traf­fic reports so that you can mul­ti­ple Time Spent per Visit by some­thing and then divide it by some­thing else.)

total time spent in reports

I’m really excited about this one. Not only does it enable all sorts of engagement-related answers to ques­tions such as “How much longer do vis­i­tors who pur­chase spend on my site than users who don’t pur­chase?” and “Which of my cam­paigns are stick­i­est?” and “How does Time Spent vary for vis­i­tors who fit dif­fer­ent segments/profiles?” but when cou­pled with new video report­ing in Site­Cat­a­lyst 15 it makes a num­ber of con­sump­tion met­rics much eas­ier to work with. In my con­ver­sa­tions with pub­lish­ers who stream live events or TV pro­gram­ming to their sites or apps, it is clear that met­rics like Aver­age Minute Audi­ence are key to the future of dig­i­tal in their world, and Total Time Spent makes it much eas­ier to obtain, seg­ment, and ana­lyze on met­rics like Aver­age Minute Audi­ence and oth­ers. I think you’ll find that Total Time Spent and the cal­cu­lated met­rics you might cre­ate with it are won­der­fully applic­a­ble. It truly moves beyond the old Page Views era to one where you can under­stand your cus­tomers’ jour­ney with new clar­ity. I, for one, have really enjoyed play­ing with it as I ana­lyze my own site visitors.

A cou­ple of things to keep in mind as you dig in to Total Time Spent:

  • Right now, you’ll need to build your own cal­cu­lated met­rics involv­ing Total Time Spent. Start with Time Spent per Visit ([Total Time Spent] / [Vis­its]) and Time Spent per Vis­i­tor ([Total Time Spent] / [Unique Vis­i­tors]). Make sure to choose the “hh:mm:ss” cal­cu­lated met­ric to get a really easy-to-read-and-interpret out­put that you can share with colleagues.
  • As with Bounce Rate, when you use Total Time Spent in con­ver­sion reports, it does respect your expi­ra­tion and allo­ca­tion set­tings. If you have an eVar set to “orig­i­nal value” (i.e., first-touch allo­ca­tion), Total Time Spent will con­tinue to accrue to that orig­i­nal value as long as it per­sists, even if that eVar receives other val­ues sub­se­quently prior to expiration.
  • In reports where the “Aver­age Time Spent” met­ric already existed, it will con­tinue to exist, and you prob­a­bly don’t need to cre­ate the Aver­age Time Spent per Visit met­ric in those reports.

One more thing: “Uniques Exceeded” renamed

Last month, Matt Free­stone wrote an excel­lent post detail­ing a change to the way we han­dle high car­di­nal­ity in Site­Cat­a­lyst. By way of update, note that we have changed the label “Uniques Exceeded” to “(low traf­fic)” in your reports. Remem­ber, you should only see this label for very low traf­fic val­ues (hence the name) and never among the top items in unfil­tered, unseg­mented reports, as had been the case previously.


It’s a lot of fun to be in the office late on release nights. We get some food, fire up some music, and get stuff done. But the best part of the night is when we get to mark your Idea Exchange sub­mis­sions as imple­mented. We’re up to 161 total ideas imple­mented from the Idea Exchange, but we’re just get­ting started. I have to tell you, Car­men, it feels REALLY good to mark the over­all number-one idea as done. Be sure to let us know what you think. You can find me on Twit­ter at @benjamingaines or leave me a com­ment here on the blog!