An expresson of my interests in Web 2.0 and everything beyond and other than it.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Accidents and crossroads

Literally, Web analytics (using the page tagging system) is a accident-prone business and one has to be very careful. We are in a perpetual threat of accidentally getting our calculations wrong. When it comes to calculate user activity on the web, one has to take into account the concerns raised by human behavior.

It seems easier to ascertain the number of visitors who visited a particular page on a website than calculating the number of those visitors who also deleted their tracking cookies. The latter remains in the realms of probability and estimation. And cookie is what nourishes web analytics. You deny mine and I am bound to behave erratically.

According to a recent report released by JupiterResearch, about 15% of users reject all cookies, while 28% selectively block third-party cookies. Also when even atleast a section of the analysis is done on the basis of tracked IPs, there is a problem. The same user may be assigned diferent IPs at diffrent points of time and may access a site from different locations. A strange case would be when the user accesses the same website from his laptop from two different locations going through two diffrent proxies. Cases like these -hypothetical or real- obstruct accurate calculation and obfuscate the collected data.

There is thus a need to understand and design an intuiative algorithm which has to look through the possiblities of cookie deletion or blocking one one level and the possibilities of the same user going through several IPs over any period of time, in order to talk effectively of unique-ness of visits and visitors.

We thus seem to have come to a crossroads, where new possibilities and needs emerge. May be we need to slightly shift and shuffle and take the right road. Thanks to people like Magdalena Urbańska and Tomasz Fryderyk Urbański, who are thinking of new innovations to perfect the art and science of Web Analytics.