Those of you who attended Adobe Sum­mit in Salt Lake City at the end of March got a sneak peek into some­thing that the team here at Adobe has been work­ing on for a while: a quan­tum leap for­ward in seg­men­ta­tion func­tion­al­ity through­out most of Adobe Ana­lyt­ics. Seg­men­ta­tion is the most impor­tant item in the dig­i­tal marketer’s toolkit, so we’re pretty excited about these upgrades com­ing later this week. This post is all about intro­duc­ing you to these pow­er­ful new seg­men­ta­tion capa­bil­i­ties so that you know what to expect and how to begin tak­ing advan­tage of these improvements.

Use Seg­ments Across Adobe Ana­lyt­ics Tools

The first major improve­ment to seg­men­ta­tion comes under the hood, where we have cre­ated a uni­fied seg­ment data­base that works across the tools in Adobe Ana­lyt­ics: reports and ana­lyt­ics (Site­Cat­a­lyst), ad hoc analy­sis (Dis­cover), report builder (Report­Builder), and data ware­house (DataWare­house). This means that a seg­ment you build in any of these tools will be avail­able for edit­ing or apply­ing in any other of these tools with­out you need­ing to do any­thing. Gone are the days of cre­at­ing a seg­ment on the Web and then need­ing to cre­ate the same seg­ment a sec­ond time to work with it in ad hoc analy­sis. Wher­ever your analy­sis and report­ing work­flow takes you, your seg­ments will be there wait­ing for you.

There is a very small set of seg­ment cri­te­ria that is not com­pat­i­ble with data ware­house, but the seg­ment builder will make it very clear when you are using one of these cri­te­ria, and it will be well-documented. With the other tools in Adobe Ana­lyt­ics, seg­ments will always be 100 per­cent compatible.

Use Seg­ments Across Report Suites

Another great request we’ve got­ten from you is the abil­ity to apply a sin­gle seg­ment across all report suites. Many seg­ments are uni­ver­sally applic­a­ble, even with cus­tom imple­men­ta­tions vary­ing by report suite, but in the past the need to recre­ate those seg­ments for each indi­vid­ual report suite has con­sumed a lot of time. With this new update, any seg­ment that you cre­ate can be applied across all report suites in your com­pany. This means a few things at a prac­ti­cal level:

  1. If you have 48 dif­fer­ent report suites, each with a “Tablet Vis­its” seg­ment that you’ve cre­ated, you will be able to delete 47 of those seg­ments once this update becomes avail­able to you. (And don’t worry about sched­uled reports or dash­boards; even if you delete a seg­ment that they using, they will con­tinue to run and will use the deleted seg­ment in per­pe­tu­ity unless you decide to make a change to their indi­vid­ual configurations.)
  2. This does cre­ate the pos­si­bil­ity for some seg­ments to be used in the wrong places. For exam­ple, if you have two report suites (we’ll call them RSID1 and RSID2) and eVar5 is mea­sur­ing two com­pletely dif­fer­ent things in RSID1 than it is in RSID2 (say, Cus­tomer Gen­der ver­sus Inter­nal Search Term), then apply­ing a seg­ment that uses eVar5 = Men to the report suite where eVar5 stores search key­words will return very strange data, or no data at all. Just some­thing to be aware of in your new gov­er­nance abilities!

Man­ag­ing Seg­ments for the Enterprise

Since the release of Site­Cat­a­lyst 15, many of you have seen your list of seg­ments grow into the hun­dreds or even the thou­sands as you have tack­led var­i­ous analy­sis projects. It has become unwieldy, and you have been wait­ing for a bet­ter way. That way is now here. With seg­ment stack­ing, cross-suite com­pat­i­bil­ity, and cross-tool com­pat­i­bil­ity, the sheer num­ber of seg­ments you will need to build and main­tain will decrease in most cases. In addi­tion, we are pro­vid­ing you with a num­ber of new capa­bil­i­ties around man­age­ment of those seg­ments in a brand new Seg­ment Manager:

Segment Manager in Adobe Analytics

If you are using ad hoc analy­sis or report builder, you will see a seg­ment man­ager in those tools that looks and behaves like this one and shows the exact same list of seg­ments. Actions taken there apply here, and vice versa. Notice that you can multi-select, so that you can take any of the actions in the tool­bar at the top of the man­ager against mul­ti­ple seg­ments at one time. You can also fil­ter this list by seg­ment owner (for admins, this includes the abil­ity to see/manage every­one else’s seg­ments), by seg­ment tags, or by “approved” segments—segments marked by an admin as cor­rect, canon­i­cal, and ready for wide­spread use by the organization. Let’s drill in to a cou­ple of the things you can do in the seg­ment manager:

Seg­ment sharing

Segment Sharing in Adobe AnalyticsProb­a­bly my favorite addi­tion to seg­men­ta­tion in Adobe Ana­lyt­ics is the abil­ity to share seg­ments. As an admin user, you have the abil­ity to share seg­ments with indi­vid­u­als, with user groups, or with all users in your com­pany. Non-admins can share with other indi­vid­u­als. This is the first time you have had the abil­ity to cater a list of seg­ments to a spe­cific set of users, based on their role in the orga­ni­za­tion, and to curate that list so that an individual’s list of seg­ments is exactly the set of seg­ments that per­son will need.

For exam­ple, I might cre­ate a few seg­ments that include vis­i­tors who have par­tic­i­pated in a set of email cam­paigns, and then share that seg­ment with a user group I’ve cre­ated called “Email Mar­ket­ing Team.” All users in that group will receive those seg­ments in their list. As new col­leagues join that team, and I add them to the group, they auto­mat­i­cally inherit those segments.

Of course, you can also unshare seg­ments as well. Another thing to note here: Only the per­son who cre­ated a seg­ment will be able to edit it, so you do not need to worry about shar­ing a seg­ment with the entire orga­ni­za­tion only to have some­one make unau­tho­rized changes to it. Users can cre­ate a copy if they want to make changes, so that your orig­i­nal is unaffected.

Seg­ment tagging

A brief note here on seg­ment orga­ni­za­tion: the folder struc­ture in ad hoc analy­sis has been replaced by the abil­ity to “tag” seg­ments. This allows you to freely cre­ate labels that help give def­i­n­i­tion and mean­ing to your seg­ments. This tag­ging struc­ture becomes a way to orga­nize, fil­ter, and nav­i­gate your seg­ments. A seg­ment can have mul­ti­ple tags applied to it, and then when doing report­ing, you can pro­gres­sively fil­ter your seg­ments as if you are mov­ing through a folder hier­ar­chy. Hav­ing used them for a bit, I think of tags as pro­vid­ing the best of fold­ers and the best of labels rolled into one.

Stack Your Seg­ments for Bet­ter Iter­a­tive Analysis

One of the improve­ments that you will notice imme­di­ately is that the way to select seg­ments has changed. Gone is the drop-down list, replaced by a left rail, which expands out when you want to apply seg­ments. There you can fil­ter as you type or bring up an advanced fil­ter­ing win­dow which allows you to limit your list based on tags, approved seg­ments, or seg­ment own­ers. Seg­ments are applied by click­ing the blue “Apply Seg­ments” but­ton at the bot­tom of the rail. The rea­son for this is to allow for what we call seg­ment stack­ing.

Seg­ment stack­ing refers to the abil­ity to apply more than one seg­ment to an entire report at one time. For exam­ple, I might start an analy­sis by look­ing at first-time vis­i­tors but then real­ize that I want to see first-time vis­i­tors from mobile devices. Ad hoc analy­sis has made this really easy for sev­eral years; in other tools in Adobe Ana­lyt­ics, you pre­vi­ously had to cre­ate a new seg­ment that would take both of these cri­te­ria into account. With this release, you can stack seg­ments any­where in reports & ana­lyt­ics for easy ad hoc seg­men­ta­tion. In the screen shot below, I have cre­ated what you can think of as an ad hoc seg­ment defined essen­tially as “loyal vis­i­tors from the U.S. who are vis­it­ing on a tablet device.” I can save this report to a dash­board or to a book­mark and the stacked seg­ments are all saved with it.

Segment Stacking

This is going to make your life, and the lives of your col­leagues who use Adobe Ana­lyt­ics, a lot eas­ier. By using seg­ments as build­ing blocks, you will not need to spend as much time cre­at­ing com­plex seg­ments that may only be used once. We have heard sto­ries of com­pa­nies cre­at­ing thou­sands of seg­ments to account for every pos­si­ble per­mu­ta­tion of cri­te­ria. With the abil­ity to stack seg­ments, this num­ber can often be reduced by 90% or more. Addi­tion­ally, the way that you nav­i­gate through your analy­sis and report­ing becomes much more iter­a­tive; you may apply a cou­ple of seg­ments, then have a ques­tion which can be answered by stack­ing another seg­ment to fur­ther fil­ter the audi­ence included in the data set.

Updated Seg­ment Builder

But wait, there’s more! I would be remiss if I did not spend some time talk­ing about the new seg­ment builder, which is get­ting a major over­haul. Where you once had pop-up win­dows on top of pop-up win­dows, you now have an all-in-one-page builder that incor­po­rates the best of the ad hoc analy­sis seg­ment builder and brings it to the Web.

Segment Builder in Adobe Analytics

Dimen­sions, events, and even exist­ing seg­ments are avail­able for me to add to my can­vas by drag­ging and drop­ping from the left. I’m going to stop here to give a lit­tle more love to the idea of build­ing seg­ments using exist­ing seg­ments as com­po­nents. Just as seg­ment stack­ing lets you iter­a­tively progress through your analy­sis using seg­men­ta­tion, the abil­ity to build a seg­ment using exist­ing seg­ments lets you mod­u­lar­ize your seg­ments; now, if I want to build a seg­ment for long-term use, such as return­ing tablet vis­its that saw a cam­paign, I can sim­ply drag the “Tablet Vis­its” seg­ment and “Cam­paign Vis­its” seg­ments onto the can­vas and I’m done. No need to rede­fine all of the cri­te­ria and check to make sure I defined my new seg­ment the same way as I’ve been doing elsewhere.

You will notice that sequen­tial seg­men­ta­tion is avail­able here. And as in ad hoc analy­sis, as I build my seg­ment, a pre­view mod­ule in the upper right shows you the per­cent­age of page views, vis­its, and vis­i­tors in your data set over the past 90 days that match the exist­ing seg­ment cri­te­ria. Even though seg­ments now work across report suites, each seg­ment is still asso­ci­ated with a report suite (we have to get the list of avail­able dimen­sions and met­rics from some­where), and that report suite can also be changed here.

Pub­lish to Adobe Mar­ket­ing Cloud

The last thing I will cover—there’s plenty more, but I’m already close to 2,000 words—is pub­lish­ing to Adobe Mar­ket­ing Cloud. Another great announce­ment at Adobe Sum­mit had to do with pro­file man­age­ment and the Audi­ence Library in Adobe Mar­ket­ing Cloud, which allows you to do tar­get­ing based on an audi­ence defined in Adobe Ana­lyt­ics. If you are enabled for Adobe Mar­ket­ing Cloud and pro­file man­age­ment, both the seg­ment man­ager and the new seg­ment builder allow you to pub­lish your seg­ment to Adobe Mar­ket­ing Cloud so that you can begin using it for real-time pro­file man­age­ment and audi­ence tar­get­ing through Adobe Target.

As men­tioned above, these changes and some other great ones are set to roll out to Adobe Ana­lyt­ics users within the next cou­ple of weeks, so keep an eye out for them! We are excited about these improve­ments and can’t wait to hear your feed­back and addi­tional ideas to improve the seg­men­ta­tion expe­ri­ence once this is avail­able. Happy segmenting!

Marnie Raines
Marnie Raines

Hi Ben, In the Segment Manager, is the event "Hit" based on a Page View? 


Incredible & amazing update. I do expect some hand-holding of the population and I am camtasia-video-recorder at the ready as I do think our Omniture population (800+) are going to need some hand-holding. 


This sounds like an amazing update.  I do have a few questions though on some nitty gritties that will be important for my team (and I'm sure others) to be prepared for these changes.

1.) What happens to existing admin segments that are tied to specific report suites?  Specifically, I'm concerned about the fact that we have admin segments with the same name but different definitions across report suites.  We do this because the goals tied to the segment are uniform across our report suites even though how the goals are exactly defined are slightly different.

2.) You mentioned segments may be used across report suites.  My team loves this idea, but would you have any recommendations on how to handle the eVar5 case above in terms of user access?  I worry about the cross-section between users needing access to particular segments and some of our users' ability to recall that the segment can't be used everywhere.

3.) Segments can be shared with groups.  This would be an admin console change, but is there the ability to create user groups that don't have user allowances tied to them?  This would make sharing segments a lot easier because we could stack user groups without being concerned about how the different allowances impact each other.