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[ Hear the podcast: Audio | Transcript ]

Digital technologies open the door to new kinds of data collection for the analysis of business processes. As you travel the Web, everywhere you go and everything you do leaves a trail of bits -- a virtual calling card that can illuminate your online activities. For example, your visit to this site is being logged by a server. This page is configured to return some of the information about you below:

Remote host:


HTTP referer:

The remote host is the IP address or domain name that identifies the location of the computer network you are using. Information about your browser and operating system are also logged. The "referer" is the web page with the hyperlink you clicked on to arrive here. This information and more is recorded in the server logs (here is an example). Every request to a server is recorded and assigned a status code, which describes how the server responded.

The data logged by servers can be analyzed to help optimize network infrastructure, improve web site architecture, measure the effectiveness of site design and advertising campaigns, and much, much more. The analysis of log data can be rudimentary, such as simple summaries of basic activity. However, the tools are becoming increasingly sophisticated and the amount of information gathered about each individual web site visitor can be quite extensive. Much work is being done to develop analytics that yield meaningful statistics for decision makers (see below). As impressive as these tools are, the analysis of web activity has only just begun to scratch the surface of what may be possible in the future.

The collection of web data, and especially the use of of "cookies", raises important concerns about individual privacy, a subject we will discuss at length later in the course.

ClickTracks ClickTracks provides an innovative line of products and hosted services in the field of web site traffic analysis. ClickTracks focuses of presenting meaningful information about user behavior visually in context.

Coremetrics Web Analytics platform captures and stores all customer and visitor clickstream activity to build LIVE (Lifetime Individual Visitor Experience) profiles that serve as the foundation for all successful e-business initiatives.

Google Google Analytics offers free web analytics services with integrated analysis of Adwords and other keyword-based search advertising. Based on Urchin, which Google purchased in 2005.

Nedstat is a provider of software solutions and services for monitoring websites and reporting on website-visits.

WebTrends WebTrends offers both an On Demand service and software solutions to measure campaign performance, search engine marketing, web site conversion and customer retention.
Omniture SiteCatalyst is a hosted application that offers a comprehensive view of activity on a company's website that includes historical (data warehouse) and real-time analysis and reporting.
SAS SAS Web Analytics applies SAS Customer Intelligence software to online channels so that every customer interaction is powered by a complete view of the customer.
Visual Sciences

Real-Time Analysis Platform (RTAP) and suite of applications to collect, process, analyze and visualize their data for decision making, including Internet sites and services.

Sources: Company press releases and web sites.


Learning Objectives:

Things to read:

Evolve Into a Data-Driven Organization: Part 1 | Part 2
Jason Burby | 04.26.2005

e-Metrics: Business Metrics For The New Economy
Matt Cutler and Jim Sterne | 04.28.2000

Measuring Web Traffic: Part 1 | Part 2
Andrei Malacinski, Scott Dominick and Tom Hartrick | 03.00.2001

Internet Metrics: The Loyal Audience
Steve Coffey | 05.28.2002

Basic tutorials:

Conversion University
Google Analytics

Log File Lowdown
Michael Calore

Case study:


Hungry minds:

Web Metrics Bibliography
Anita Coleman and Chris Neuhaus

A Model of Web Site Browsing Behavior Estimated on Clickstream Data
Randolph E. Bucklin and Catarina Sismeiro

Understanding Web Performance
Peter Sevcik and John Bartlett

Visualization and Analysis of Clickstream Data of Online Stores
Juhnyoung Lee and Mark Podlaseck

Field of Web Dreams
Jim Wirth

Analysis and Visualization of Metrics for Online Advertising
Juhnyoung Lee, et al.

In the news:

Google settlement or not, click fraud won't go away
Elinor Mills | 04.10.2006

Google to offer free Web Analytics service
Elinor Mills | 11.13.2005

Amazon.com knows, predicts shopping habits
Allison Linn | 03.39.2006

The Power of Metrics
Kent Bauer | 02.01.2005

Data sources:

Usage Metrics
Nielsen // NetRatings

Traffic Rankings
Alexa Web Search

Web Advertising Data

Look it up:



Server log

Places to visit:

Internet Domain Survey

Internet Traffic Report

Web Analytics Association

Previous topic:

Digital Design

Course information:

© 2010 Michael Rappa
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