When using Omni­ture Site­Cat­a­lyst, seg­men­ta­tion is one of the most impor­tant func­tions.  As such, there are sev­eral tools at your dis­posal to seg­ment your vis­i­tors in Site­Cat­a­lyst.  In pre­vi­ous posts, I dis­cussed sev­eral meth­ods of seg­ment­ing vis­i­tors includ­ing Traf­fic Vari­ables, Con­ver­sion Vari­ablesData Ware­house and ASI.  Each of these pro­vides a dif­fer­ent level of vis­i­tor seg­men­ta­tion which can be aligned to your needs.  In this post, I will dis­cuss another way that you can seg­ment vis­i­tors using a tool named VISTA (“Vis­i­tor Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, Seg­men­ta­tion & Trans­for­ma­tion Archi­tec­ture”).  While VISTA can be a com­plex topic, I will do my best to pro­vide the basics here, so you can under­stand what it is and how it can be used.

Under­stand­ing VISTA
When I first became an Omni­ture client, it took me a while to fully under­stand VISTA because it can be used to do so many things.  The way I like to explain VISTA is that it is a way that you can apply a rule or logic to your Site­Cat­a­lyst data after it is col­lected, but before it is stored in Omniture’s data tables.  For exam­ple, let’s say that you would like to send all web­site traf­fic com­ing from within your com­pany to an “inter­nal” report suite so that it is not lumped together with cus­tomers and prospects hit­ting your web­site.  If you know the range of IP addresses that your com­pany uses, you could use a VISTA rule to look for those IP addresses and if a hit comes from an IP address in that range, send it to a sep­a­rate Site­Cat­a­lyst report suite (com­monly known as IP exclu­sion).  This is a good exam­ple to under­stand how VISTA works: 1) You work with Omni­ture to iden­tify the def­i­n­i­tion for the VISTA rule and 2) Once it is turned on, the VISTA rule scans every hit com­ing in and uses the VISTA rule def­i­n­i­tion to take some sort of action.  In this case the action is to move the split data into two dif­fer­ent report suites, but there are many more things you can have a VISTA rule do for you.  Here are just a few exam­ples of VISTA usage:

  • Add vis­i­tors to a Seg­ment on the fly based upon data found in sProps, eVars or querys­tring para­me­ters.  For exam­ple, if your web­site has a form in which vis­i­tors are required to enter Birth Year, State and Gen­der, you can write an detailed VISTA rule that will eval­u­ate the responses and assign the vis­i­tor into a seg­ment by pass­ing a seg­ment name (i.e. “Middle-Aged Mid­west­ern Women”) to an eVar or sProp on-the-fly
  • Pass a value stored in one Site­Cat­a­lyst vari­able to other Site­Cat­a­lyst vari­ables.  For exam­ple, if you cap­ture the Cam­paign Track­ing Code in s.campaigns, but later want to also pass it to a few other Con­ver­sion Vari­ables that have dif­fer­ent allo­ca­tions or expi­ra­tions, you can use a VISTA rule to pass the same value to all vari­ables instead of hav­ing to do addi­tional tag­ging or JavaScript modification
  • Pass data found in GeoSeg­men­ta­tion or Tech­nol­ogy reports to cus­tom vari­ables so it can be clas­si­fied using SAINT Clas­si­fi­ca­tions
  • Set Suc­cess Events based upon a URL or a querys­tring parameter
  • Pass encrypted val­ues into Site­Cat­a­lyst vari­ables (i.e. cus­tomer ID, rev­enue) and use VISTA to decrypt the val­ues back to the orig­i­nal val­ues to ensure secure data transfer
  • Pre­vent other “copy­cat” web­sites that may copy your web­site from send­ing traf­fic to your Site­Cat­a­lyst report suite
  • Look for poten­tially fraud­u­lent orders (i.e. Rev­enue> $XX,000) and move them to a sep­a­rate report suite so Site­Cat­a­lyst data is not tainted
  • Send traf­fic from “bots” or inter­nal mon­i­tor­ing tools (i.e. Gomez) to a sep­a­rate report suite

Impor­tant Things To Know About VISTA
The fol­low­ing are some impor­tant things to know about VISTA:

  1. VISTA rules have access to and can act upon any data point that is avail­able on the page includ­ing IP address, refer­ring URL, querys­tring para­me­ters, sProps, eVars, Suc­cess Events, etc…
  2. Data Ware­house and ASI reports can be con­fig­ured so that they run on pre– or post-VISTA rule execution
  3. Omniture’s engi­neer­ing ser­vices team has cre­ated a mech­a­nism which allows clients to update their own VISTA rules (via FTP) after they have been deployed
  4. While VISTA rules can be used to auto­mate cer­tain types of Site­Cat­a­lyst tag­ging, this is not rec­om­mended as a long-term solu­tion since changes in your site could have adverse affects on pre­de­fined VISTA rules

Real-World Exam­ple
In this week’s real-world exam­ple, I will describe an actual VISTA rule that one of my clients used to seg­re­gate their web­site traffic.  In this case, the client had pretty accu­rate infor­ma­tion about whether the cur­rent site vis­i­tor was a Prospect or a Cus­tomer and they wanted to use this to send data to dif­fer­ent data sets.  They also wanted to focus on a par­tic­u­lar geog­ra­phy such that all United States traf­fic was sep­a­rated from non-United States traf­fic.  Finally, they wanted exclude their own traf­fic and that of their ad agency from exter­nal web­site traf­fic (phew!).  So in all, they had three key ele­ments they wanted to use to deter­mine where Site­Cat­a­lyst data went.  To accom­plish this, we designed a VISTA rule that used the fol­low­ing logic:

If traf­fic comes from an inter­nal IP address, send data to “inter­nal” report suite; else
→  if sProp1=“Prospect” and Country=“USA”, send data to “prospect_us” report suite; else
→→  if sProp1=“Prospect” and Country<>“USA”, send data to “prospect_intl” report suite; else
→→→  if sProp1=“Customer” and Country=“USA”, send data to “customer_us” report suite; else
→→→→  send data to “customer_intl”

As you can see, VISTA rules can become quite com­plex.  The good news is that all you have to do is iden­tify the rules that you might want to apply to your data and Omni­ture can help with the rest.

In my next post, I will build upon the con­cept of VISTA by explor­ing its coun­ter­part — DB VISTA.


Have a ques­tion about any­thing related to Omni­ture Site­Cat­a­lyst?  Is there some­thing on your web­site that you would like to report on, but don’t know how?  Do you have any tips or best prac­tices you want to share?  If so, please leave a com­ment here or send me an e-mail at insidesitecatalyst@​omniture.​com and I will do my best to answer it right here on the blog so every­one can learn! (Don’t worry — I won’t use your name or com­pany name!).  If you are on Twit­ter, you can fol­low me at http://​twit​ter​.com/​O​m​n​i​_​man.

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Vasile Gheorghiu
Vasile Gheorghiu

Is it any way I can check if a VISTA rule is already enabled ? How do I do that in SiteCatalyst Admin interface ?

Nate Purser
Nate Purser

Adam, great explanation of the role that VISTA plays! VISTA can be very powerful, but it admittedly difficult to understand how it fits in the big picture. You did an awesome job of showing how VISTA can be a useful arrow in the quiver.


This is a great post! It is a clear explanation of a complex solution. Thanks

Pearce Aurigemma
Pearce Aurigemma

You will need to contact your account manager, they can send you a report of what VISTA rules are enabled.