Traffic Sources Reporting

March 15, 2010

I have been back for a little over a week from another great Omniture Summit and my fourth summit. I went over my notes from each of the sessions that I attended and some of the slides of the presentation that I could not attend. I am not going to write a full recap of the summit this year, as there are already a few of them out there that do a great job recapping the summit and some of the sessions. Some of the sessions during the summit covered different ways to track the traffic sources. For those who attended last year’s summit, you might remember the announcement of the Channel Manager plug-in. The Channel Manager plug-in is very similar to the Unified Sources VISTA Rule (USVR). The biggest difference between the two is the Channel Manager plug-in needs help from the consulting group and the Unified Sources VISTA Rule needs help from the Engineering Services group. I am going to write about the Unified Sources VISTA Rule, some of the reports that we had created from the USVR, and some of the decisions that can be made from these reports. When we decided to go with the USVR, the next decision was decided which reports we would like to have set up. We talked to several of our internal clients and then thought about the business and which reports would help the business make better decisions. I worked very closely with the engineering services group to make sure the logic would be exactly what we wanted.

After talking to our internal clients and thinking about the business needs, we decided on three reports that we wanted created for the USVR. The first report that we decided on was an easy decision. We wanted a channels report to get an overall view of all of the channels in one report. After we talked for a little bit, the second report was also fairly easy to decide on. The second report that we wanted as a part of the USVR is a referring domains report. I am going to explain a little later why we decided to have this report added as a part of the USVR. The third report that we wanted to have for the USVR was a little more challenging to decide on. After doing some thinking, we decided we wanted to have a natural search report created. I will also covered this report in a little more detail a little later.

Traffic Sources – Channel Report
We knew very quickly that we wanted to have the Channel Report. For our weekly and monthly KPI reports, we report on these channels each week, but we were using several reports to pull this information together. From the out of the box Traffic Sources reports to our tracking code reports. We wanted everything in one report so we did not have to use multiple reports and we also wanted to be able Visits for every channel. The only drawback to the channels report is the direct load traffic shows up in this report as “None.” The “None” traffic source can make it difficult to trend the direct load traffic source. But before I get into how to fix this, here is a look at what the Traffic Source report looks like. This report has all of our traffic sources in one report, which gives us the ability to add Visits to the report as well any of our success events, such as, page views, video ad begin, video content begin, and sweepstakes entries. This report allows us to see which channel is bringing in more visits and which channel is driving more page views, video plays, or sweepstakes entries. In the time that we have had this report, we discovered very quickly which channels were bringing in more visits, but those channels were not necessarily driving more page views or video plays. It told us very quickly which traffic sources that we need to focus on to drive more page views or video plays on the site and which traffic sources are working. One of the best things about this report, is that you can trend the report and see the traffic sources next to each other. This report can also be used for trouble shooting. To give you one example, one of our sites has a huge spike in traffic one week. We were able to trend the channels report and see which channel had the spike. It turned out to be a partnership campaign that we were running. We then went to the partnership report to find the exact campaign that drove the increase in traffic. When we found that information, we used that information to also drive a home page promotion. As I mentioned in the original report, direct load shows up as “None” which cannot be trended. To fix this issue, you can classify the original channel report and classify “None” as “Direct”. After “None” is classified, “Direct” can then be trended and compared to the rest of the traffic sources.

Traffic Sources – Referring Domains Report
This report was an easy decision to include in the USVR for two reasons. First, we wanted to be able to see Visits for each of the referring domains instead “Instances” that comes in the out of the box report. Second, we enabled full sub-relations for the Channel Report, which then allowed us to drill down from our Sister Site channel and Other Site channel to see which specific referring domain have the most visits and drove the most success. This report might not seem like an obvious choice to pick for the USVR. We picked this report for a couple of reasons. One of them was to be able to see visits for each referring domain, but the biggest reason was to be able to see exactly which “Other” sites are driving traffic to us. In the out of the box reports some of the your campaigns (twitter, facebook, etc) will show up in Other sites, but in the USVR channel and referring domains report those campaigns will put in a bucket and the true “Other” sites will show up.

Traffic Source – Natural Search Report
The third and last report that we decided we needed was a Natural Search report. This report is also the most complicated, but can drive a lot of decisions. Once of the driving factors for this report was we have been focusing on optimizing our sites for natural search and this report will show us if those efforts have been working. After we decided that we wanted to have a natural search report, the next decision was what did we want the report to look like. Knowing that we only had one variable to use for this report, so we had to be creative. We decided early on, that we were going to use classifications for this report. We also wanted to go one step further than just passing the natural search keywords. What we decided to do was pass the natural search keyword and the landing page concatenated in one field (keyword:landing page URL). This report will let us see which natural search keyword and landing page combination has the most Visits and which ones drove the most page views and video plays. One of the things that we noticed that certain combinations driving more video plays and certain combinations that were driving fewer video plays. When we looked at the landing pages driving more video plays, we noticed there was one thing that was different about those pages than the other pages, which gave us some information that we can use to add to the pages driving fewer video plays and see if that change will drive more video plays. As I mentioned earlier, I knew that we wanted to classify this report. The first classification we wanted to do was break out branded vs. non-branded keywords. By classifying the keywords into these groups, it allows us to quickly see how our branded vs. non-branded keywords are performing. Though we decided to breakout the keywords into these two groups, classifications are flexible enough to allow you to bucket the keywords in whatever keyword groups would be best for your company. One of the next classifications that we created was classifying the landing page into the different page types. Besides just looking at which page types were getting the most page views or which pages were users entering the site from, we wanted to see which page types were getting visits from natural search and which page type was driving the most traffic. Your home page will probably get a lot of traffic from natural search, but is their another page type that is driving more page views and video plays. Two more classifications that can be created is breaking out the keywords and the landing page URL into separate reports This is very useful since the original report is a concatenation of the natural search keyword and landing page URL. This will create several keyword and landing page combinations and breaking these out in classifications then aggregates all of those combinations into one line item. Another capability that classifying this report gives you is to be able to sub-relate any of the classified reports by one another. One of the reports that we run all the time is breaking the keyword group (branded or non-branded) by the landing page URL. This report allows us to see which landing page URL brings in the most traffic from branded vs. non-branded keywords and which one drives the most traffic. One of the last things that can be created for all of these reports are some calculated metrics (ex. Visits/Page Views, Visits/Video Content Begin, etc). These metrics can then be added to all of these reports to see not just which channel, referring domain, or natural search keyword/landing page URL has the most visits or driving the most page views, but also which ones have the most visits/page view or visits/content video begin.


One Response to “Traffic Sources Reporting”

  1. Richard,

    Great post! Having the eng services room open for the whole summit seems to have been very helpful to many folks.


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