Uni­fied Sources is one of Engi­neer­ing Ser­vices most pop­u­lar VISTA solu­tions, it is also one of most com­plex rules we develop.  As you can imag­ine with the pop­u­lar­ity and com­plex­ity we receive a lot of ques­tions, some I hope to clar­ify here.

What is Uni­fied Sources?
Sim­ply put it is a com­bi­na­tion of the cam­paigns report and refer­rers report, giv­ing you a sin­gle report with all your paid cam­paigns and non-paid cam­paigns.  The other fea­ture is it grabs the key­word and places it into another eVar for sim­ple key­word reporting.

Unified Sources Report

How is Uni­fied Sources Valu­able?
Value is unique to each busi­ness and their needs, but let me high­light a cou­ple ben­e­fits of the rule.

  • Event credit is applied to all traf­fic sources based on the same rules that apply to cam­paigns. This allows you to more accu­rately mea­sure how well each traf­fic source or cam­paign ulti­mately results in conversion.
  • The key­word placed into an eVar by Uni­fied Sources is the actual key­word searched for by the vis­i­tor. If you are using broad match for your Paid Search and cap­tur­ing the broad search terms into another eVar (via Search­Cen­ter or oth­er­wise) you can break down the key­word you paid for by the actual key­words that the vis­i­tor searched for. Key­words that are per­form­ing espe­cially well or poorly can be dis­cov­ered and your paid search efforts mod­i­fied accordingly.
  • Nat­ural Search terms can be clas­si­fied for sim­pli­fied SEO report­ing and analysis.

Require­ments for Uni­fied Sources VISTA Rule:
This rule requires lit­tle to no work for you.  If you are already pop­u­lat­ing the s.campaign vari­able or another eVar with your track­ing codes then you are all set. The only thing we need from you is to know which eVar you are plac­ing the track­ing codes in, whether we should use that eVar or a sep­a­rate eVar for the main Uni­fied Sources report, which eVar you would like us to place the key­words into and finally we need a list of inter­nal domains.

Inter­nal domains list — The con­fus­ing part of the rule:
This is usu­ally the most dif­fi­cult part to under­stand when request­ing a rule but it really is simple.

If you have one main site and all report suites are based on traf­fic from the one main site then all you want to do is pro­vide a sin­gle list of inter­nal URL domains and you are done.

If you have mul­ti­ple sites and you want to see how traf­fic goes from one site to another (ie. con­sider traf­fic from one of your other sites as “exter­nal” traf­fic) then you want to pro­vide us with a list of inter­nal URL domains for each of the report suites you plan to put the rule on.

If you need to be able to change the list of inter­nal URL domains for your report suites on a reg­u­lar basis then we can build another DB table into the Uni­fied Sources VISTA rule that will allow you to upload a new list of inter­nal domains when­ever you want.  This does add cost but it will save money if you have to alter your list of inter­nal domains more than twice.

The icing on the cake:
As you can imag­ine, a sin­gle list of all your track­ing codes, organic search sites and refer­ring domains will become quite bulky. Once the rule is in place you may want to clas­sify the Uni­fied Sources eVar in ways rel­e­vant to your busi­ness to take full advan­tage of one of the most use­ful solu­tions Engi­neer­ing Ser­vices has to offer.

If you already have Uni­fied Sources VISTA solu­tions, how do you use it?

If you don’t then feel free to send me an e-mail ( pau­rigemma (at) omni​ture​.com)  with ques­tions.  Or con­tact your Account Man­ager and they will help you get started.

12 comments
Roop Kumar
Roop Kumar

We are creating SAINT Classifications for uploading additional data attributes for the Keywords in the USDBV keywords evar. Would be interested in some best-in-class examples for the same.

Ursula Phoenix
Ursula Phoenix

Is Unified Sources Vista built into Site Catalyst? We have the channel manager plug-in but is US Vista a seperate code plugin?

Paul Zaras
Paul Zaras

Pearce - I am confused by something you wrote to Heather when you stated that 'On the other hand Unified Sources cannot set cookies to persist values' . I am under the perception that the Unified Sources rule is set to an eVar and an eVar can be configured to expire after a visitor's session. Am I correct in assessment? Thanks Paul

Florian Pihs
Florian Pihs

Thanks Pearce again for the feedback, although its a bit disheartening. It seems a lot of work (and extra cost) for what free tools do out of box. While we can certainly argue about the value of tracking bounce rate by traffic source (for example as opposed to defining specific interactions as conversions and segmenting those), most of our brand advertising clients find Bounce Rate an intuitive KPI for their traffic sources. While creating a custom metric for my pages is possible, the numbers are not actionable if I cannot segment them by key drivers (e.g. connection speed, traffic source, creative....).

Heather Aeder
Heather Aeder

How is Unified Sources different than the Channel Manager PlugIn?

Paul Zaras
Paul Zaras

Pearce - Thanks for a thorough explanation of the Unified Sources rule. I just have two questions. 1) Does there need to be any additional java script code added to my web pages to accommodate the rule? 2) Can I map the DB Vista rule to the eVar of my choice rather than to the s.campaign variable? I would need to keep the logic of s.campaign variable intact as my organization has finally come to an agreement on how to measure external campaigns.

Florian Pihs
Florian Pihs

Thanks Pearce for a bit more color Vista Rules. Do Vista Rules enable us to track "Single Page Visits" and "Entries" for each traffic source (Unified or not)? If so, this solution would enable Bounce Rate segmentation by traffic sources, something I that I wanted to do with Site Catalyst for ages.

Pearce Aurigemma
Pearce Aurigemma

Unified Sources is a custom addition to Site Catalyst kind of like the channel manger but you do not need to edit any of the code on your pages. If you have the channel manager plug-in then you don't need the Unified Sources because they do basically the same thing.

Pearce Aurigemma
Pearce Aurigemma

Paul, I often find myself to be long winded sometimes and it can cause confusion. So, sorry to confuse you but your understanding is correct.

Pearce Aurigemma
Pearce Aurigemma

Heather The Channel Manager PlugIn is basically the same solution just implemented differently. Each solution has its pros and cons. For example, when Microsoft released Bing Omniture was able to update the database for all clients who have Unified Sources, whereas the Channel Manager PlugIn would need to be updated manually for each occurrence of the plugin. On the other hand Unified Sources cannot set cookies to persist values. Also there are price differences. As you can see there are pros and cons to each solution and the solution that you choose should be dependent on your needs and being able to gain the maximum value from your investment. My recommendation would be to get on a call with your Account Manager to see which solution would be best for you. Florian The argument would not last long because we would both come to a quick agreement that bounce rate is a valuable metric. I will send your comment to product management to ensure your points are known.

Pearce Aurigemma
Pearce Aurigemma

Paul, You are welcome, and thanks for the comment. 1) You don't have to change a thing on your JavaScript, or on your pages. It is completely Omniture server side logic. 2) You can map the Unified Sources DB VISTA solution to any eVar of your choice. The only part you will need to pay attention to is the difference in settings for the eVar, specifically subrelations. Make sure you run it by your Account Manager when you ask them about the solution.

Pearce Aurigemma
Pearce Aurigemma

Thanks for your compliment. VISTA can only see the data that is passed in with the hit or what is in a DB table, which is why the Unified Sources solution is so amazing because it does a lot of complex work with DB tables. With that in mind VISTA can not track Single Page Visits or Entries unless those values are passed in with the hit. Also, VISTA only sees one hit at a time and cannot save any data into memory for use in future hits. Now that I have you thinking it is not possible to get Bounce Rate for traffic sources, I am going to pull a complete 180 and say it can be done. The bounce rate based on traffic sources has a lot of dependencies on evar allocation and expiration time and how events are set, so the solution would need to be designed to your specific setup. Omniture Consulting would be the team that would work with you to setup a plug-in and if need be they would work with Engineering Services to alter the Unified Sources VISTA solution.