Every Decem­ber, at the Omni­ture hol­i­day party, spouses, part­ners, and dates of employ­ees get a crash course in the value of some of our prod­ucts, cour­tesy of a “seg­men­ta­tion game.” Every­body stands up, and the emcee (CTO Brett Error) reads from a list of cri­te­ria and instruc­tions, such as, “If you have a five-dollar bill on your per­son, please sit down,” or “If you have ever been told that you look like a celebrity, remain stand­ing; every­body else, sit.” (When you’re asked to sit down, you’re out.) The idea is that even­tu­ally, through this some­times bizarre and always humor­ous seg­men­ta­tion, the group of a cou­ple thou­sand is whit­tled down to one winner.

My wife is not a web ana­lyst, mar­keter, devel­oper or IT pro­fes­sional. For her, the game is a wel­come intro­duc­tion to the idea that busi­nesses need to be able to break apart their online data to focus on key groups and demo­graph­ics. Site­Cat­a­lyst offers seg­men­ta­tion func­tion­al­ity, often through the use of cor­re­la­tions and sub­re­la­tions, but the real pow­er­houses of seg­men­ta­tion in the Online Mar­ket­ing Suite are Data Ware­house, Dis­cover, and ASI. Since most read­ers of this blog do under­stand the con­cept of seg­men­ta­tion, and why it is crit­i­cally impor­tant to online busi­ness opti­miza­tion, I’d like to dive a lit­tle bit deeper here and explain exactly how to build a cou­ple of com­monly used seg­ments to illus­trate how this process works.

Some back­ground

If you haven’t read Adam Greco’s post on seg­men­ta­tion, I highly rec­om­mend it. Espe­cially impor­tant is the fol­low­ing expla­na­tion of seg­men­ta­tion “containers”—Page Views, Vis­its, and Visitors—

  1. Page Views — Drag­ging a Page Views con­tainer to the seg­ment can­vas will allow you to define which Page Views you would like to include or exclude from the seg­ment. When eval­u­at­ing the Page Views con­tainer, Omni­ture is, in effect, scan­ning through each page view it finds within the spec­i­fied time frame and decid­ing whether it should be included or excluded. There­fore, it may be the case that two dif­fer­ent page views from the same visit may or may not be included in the seg­ment. For exam­ple, let’s assume that you are build­ing a seg­ment where you only want pages where the lan­guage was Span­ish. It may be the case that a vis­i­tor viewed ten pages dur­ing their visit, but only two of those ten were viewed in Span­ish. Using a Page Views con­tainer, would mean that only these two page views would be included in the segment.
  2. Vis­its — Drag­ging the Vis­its con­tainer to the seg­ment can­vas will allow you to define which vis­its you would like to include or exclude from the seg­ment. When eval­u­at­ing the Vis­its con­tainer, [the tool] is, in effect, scan­ning through each visit it finds within the spec­i­fied time frame and decid­ing whether the entire visit should be included or excluded. There­fore, if any of the cri­te­ria are met within the Visit, all data from that visit will be included (or excluded if using the exclude tab) in the seg­ment.  Using the pre­ced­ing exam­ple, if the seg­ment look­ing for pages viewed in Span­ish were built using a Visit con­tainer, the entire visit would be included since at least one of the pages was viewed in Span­ish (even though the major­ity were in English).
  3. Vis­i­tors — Drag­ging the Vis­i­tors con­tainer to the seg­ment can­vas will allow you to define which Vis­i­tors you would like to include or exclude from the seg­ment. When eval­u­at­ing the Vis­i­tors con­tainer, Omni­ture is, in effect, scan­ning through all data it has for each Vis­i­tor within the spec­i­fied time frame and decid­ing whether at any time the vis­i­tor met the cri­te­ria. If it finds that the vis­i­tor has met the cri­te­ria, all Vis­its and Page Views for that vis­i­tor will be included in the seg­ment.  Con­tin­u­ing the pre­ced­ing exam­ple relat­ing to pages viewed in Span­ish, if a vis­i­tor had six site vis­its within the spec­i­fied time frame and in one of those vis­its viewed at least one page in Span­ish, data from all six vis­its would be included in the segment.

Here’s a visual rep­re­sen­ta­tion of this:

Visualization of Omniture segmentation

(I made it myself; can you tell?) If I were to seg­ment on value A using the Page Views con­tainer, I would get the two page views con­tain­ing “A” in the first visit shown above. If I were to seg­ment on value A using the Vis­its con­tainer, I would get the five page views in the visit where “A” exists. And if I were to seg­ment on value A using the Vis­i­tors con­tainer, I would get both vis­its, because the vis­i­tor did have a value of “A” at one point.

An extremely high per­cent­age of per­ceived issues that I’ve seen involv­ing the reports returned by Data Ware­house and ASI are based in a mis­un­der­stand­ing of con­tain­ers. Admit­tedly, they are com­plex and dif­fi­cult to explain. Adam did a great job clar­i­fy­ing exactly what scope of data is returned by each con­tainer. Users always need to con­sider this scope when build­ing a seg­ment; do you want the visitor’s entire his­tory, or just a rel­e­vant piece of it? Do you want all of the page views in a visit to be included, or just a por­tion of them?

Cam­paign Attribution

Pulling con­ver­sion data for a cam­paign track­ing code seems straight­for­ward enough. Most peo­ple prob­a­bly define the seg­ment as vis­its where track­ing code equals/contains [value]. This is cer­tainly a valid option. How­ever, some users are frus­trated when the result­ing reports con­tain data for track­ing codes that do not match the seg­ment. Some vari­a­tion on the ques­tion, “If I spec­i­fied track­ing code XYZ, then why am I see­ing con­ver­sions tied to track­ing code ABC in my report?” has been asked of me lit­er­ally dozens of times. The answer is that the visit con­tainer includes all data from any visit that matches the seg­ment. You may have spec­i­fied track­ing code XYZ, but both track­ing codes were ever passed dur­ing the same visit, then you will see both in your report. That might be really valu­able to you; it shows which cam­paigns are clicked dur­ing the same visit as your tar­get cam­paign. But in the event that you want to kick out any page views within the visit that don’t per­tain to your desired track­ing code, use the Page Views con­tainer to include page views where track­ing code equals/contains [value]:

A Single-Page Visits segment

You may be think­ing, “Won’t this only include the page views where s.campaign was set? What if I want to include page views where con­ver­sion occurred so that this data can be tied back to the track­ing code?” The seg­men­ta­tion tools are smart enough to include all page views where the given value was passed or where it per­sisted from a pre­vi­ous page view. So using the page view con­tainer will include all page views tied to the track­ing code, includ­ing those on which con­ver­sion happened.

Note that you can use “track­ing code is greater than or equal to [excla­ma­tion point]” to include any track­ing code in the seg­ment. The “greater than or equal to !” state­ment means “is not null” or “has any value at all.” (Con­versely, “less than !” returns only data where there was no track­ing code.) How­ever, keep in mind that the prin­ci­ples dis­cussed above are still rel­e­vant. If the user’s visit con­tained some page views where there was no track­ing code, and you seg­ment for vis­its where track­ing code is not null, the page views where there was no track­ing code will also be included.

Accu­rate visit/visitor counts in any container

Users often choose the vis­i­tor con­tainer think­ing that it is the only way to get an accu­rate unique vis­i­tor count (or the visit con­tainer to get an accu­rate visit count) for the seg­ment. This is untrue. Seg­men­ta­tion using the Page View con­tainer is often the most direct way to answer the given ques­tion, and it will return cor­rect vis­i­tor and visit counts. Data Ware­house doesn’t need all of the data from a user visit in order to attribute a visit to a vari­able value. For exam­ple, if you’re seg­ment­ing using the Page View bucket for rows where eVar1 equals “Blue,” and request the vis­its met­ric, you will get a cer­tain num­ber of rows where eVar1 equals “Blue.” Data Ware­house then exam­ines the vis­i­tor data for those rows and cal­cu­lates the num­ber of vis­its by find­ing the unique vis­i­tor ID and visit num­ber com­bi­na­tions. The num­ber of vis­its will not be higher using the visit con­tainer with the same seg­ment def­i­n­i­tion, because the num­ber of unique com­bi­na­tions will not be any dif­fer­ent (and the same holds true with the vis­i­tors metric).

Con­clu­sion

Let’s call this an early chap­ter in the book on seg­men­ta­tion in the Omni­ture Online Mar­ket­ing Suite. I rec­og­nize that this post may intro­duce a num­ber of ques­tions for some of you, and that’s okay. Please let me know what ques­tions or con­cerns you have, and I’ll address them in follow-up posts. As nerdy as it may sound, I love seg­men­ta­tion, and I would be happy to explain any of this fur­ther. As always, you can con­tact me via Twit­ter, Friend­Feed, LinkedIn, or by e-mailing omni­ture care [at] omni­ture dot com.

And for the record, I’ve never been told that I look like a celebrity, so if any­one can sug­gest one to whom I bear even the slight­est resem­blance, please let me know; it might help me win the seg­men­ta­tion game this year.

8 comments
John Christmas
John Christmas

These online data analytics are great tools for analyzing all these online traffics especially for campaign tracking.

Mark
Mark

If I’m tracking the bounce rate for a page that loads, then automatically cycles to other pages every 4 seconds (via s.t function) before returning back to the original page: Would I still be able to track bounce rate for that first page visit by using [Single Page Visits / Entries ] since by default the page begins to cycle to the next page? If not do you have a recommendation for an Advanced Segment calculation that would accurately determine bounce rate from a dynamic page like this?

Abraham
Abraham

Hi Ben, fantastic post. Really useful info. I have a question about using segmentation in Discover - if i want to segment my visitors for the site minus one channel or content section, but i only want to exclude unique unique visitors for that channel or content section (so only exclude visitors who went to a particular channel or a content section and not to any other part of my site, how could i do that? thanks.

Shawn
Shawn

What about Joshua Jackson? ;)

Rudi Shumpert
Rudi Shumpert

Thanks for this article! I set up my first ASI slot using this guide. -Rudi

Ben Gaines
Ben Gaines

I suppose the answer depends on how you want to define "page" in this instance. It sounds to me like each of the different pages in the cycle have their own page name. I'm going to assume that this is the case. If you're asking, "What percentage of users see any of these pages and then leave before it cycles to the next page?" you can do that using the normal [Single Access] / [Entries] calculation in SiteCatalyst. You'll want to isolate the pages that are part of the cycle and view this bounce rate calculated metric to see how sticky the individual elements of the cycle are. On the other hand, if you're asking, "What percentage of users see all (or some subset) of these pages and then leave?" I would recommend using an ASI slot. You would define the segment as something like "include page views where page equals A or B or C or D, exclude visits where clicks to page is greater than 1." Let me know if this is unclear at all, and I'll be happy to clarify.

Ben Gaines
Ben Gaines

Thanks for the kind words, Abraham! To answer your question, it's difficult to exclude visitors who viewed only viewed a certain channel value. There is a Path Length criterion that can be used to isolate single-page visits, but it doesn't work as well for single-channel visits. I'll keep thinking about this and will let you know what I come up with! And if anyone else has any suggestions, please share.

Ben Gaines
Ben Gaines

Joshua Jackson is a great suggestion. . . although my wife and I watched Ocean's Eleven last night, and he's in the scene where Rusty (Brad Pitt) is teaching the celebrities how to play poker. In that scene, at least, I didn't see a resemblance. Oh well. All I needed was for someone to try to make the comparison. Now I'm prepared for this year's contest, should that question come up again! :)