Riddle me this?

Since I am always thinking about web analytics and whatnot (its a disease really), I was wondering how in the future someone is going to figure out how to measure activity off of other sites that ultimately determine success on your site. In this case I am not speaking of campaigns or banner ads, but rather someone learning about your product somewhere and checking it out somewhere else.

Example: I am an avid reader of Pitchfork. Great writings on indie music, and usually a great place for me to find out about new bands. I don’t always like what they think is decent, but it at least makes me aware of the existence of these acts that usually aren’t on the radio or tv. Then again I haven’t listed to the radio in 4 years anyway. So say I am on Pitchfork and read an article on the Decemberists new record. Then I go to iTunes or eMusic and check it out an buy it.

So if I am iTunes or eMusic how can I attribute my sale in some manner to the learning on Pitchfork? Because wouldn’t you want to know that reading on that site ultimately made you aware of the new record by the Decemberists, and that the favorable review peaked your interest enough to check it out?

But how do we correlate those 2 events? Wouldn’t we have to adapt to a ‘master’ tag of some sorts that followed you everywhere? I know this is obviously possible for things you pay for with campaigns, but how do you tap into the recommenders on the web found in blogs, forums, and indie sites? Cuz this would be valuable information in how you go about promoting certain types of things, but yet I feel there is a big blind spot associated with it. So in your metrics it looks like you get ‘organic’ traffic, but really it was cultivated elsewhere. I want to know how much is being cultivated.


7 thoughts on “Riddle me this?

  1. Ah Padawan, in Omniture the truth you must seek
    Will not “referrers” give you a sense of originating traffic? True — it only follows overt links, but it is a blunt start.

    As for a universal tracking beacon — dream on

  2. Jim: I think it would end up being perceived as big-brotherish, and force the opposite reaction (not shopping). I use Sitemeter, and I can see referrals for each unique visit, in otherwords, what URL or tag “referred” them to my site. More than one hop though, and you are back to square one.

    I think good old fashioned surveying at the checkout “where did you hear about this/us” is the best right now. –K

  3. I personally wouldnt like a “beacon” following me everywhere. From a “professional” point of view I’d love the data it would bring, but I’m quite certain “privacy” will be an issue.

    On the other hand “Identity 2.0” might shed some light on this, as long as every site people visit share the same identity-provider.

    Now, doing a crossover of various data feeds might get you closer to the ultimate objective; for example, if a Web announcement for, say, a new product, boosts sales not only online but on Resellers and Retailers you can claim part of that success. Also, DC’s work chasing “Lenovo” all around WebLand is also a good indicator, if that same announcement is picked up by blogs, news and the like, that’s also a good sign. The trick, I fear is in how to pull all data together *somehow*.

  4. This topic, allthough not through web analytics, is also a puzzling situation for me at this point. Being a Programs division within our organization and we drive sales of our core products. Many of the new product sales and accounts are produced through our development of Programs with customers.

    We are ultimately judged on the gross amount and percent of new sales developed. So, in an Oracle setting we have to tag each account and develop a custom report showing sales in all fashions. Easy enough.

    One would think, but alot of the product goes through third party billing companies or vendors and you need to get down to a shipping or address variable within each account to peg the exact details of an order. And then it is seperating out your items. I equate this to splitting hairs with a butter knife. Could be our companies capabilities with Oracle.

    Ultimately, without a beacon or GPS on each user or product it becomes a tough proposition for now. Bits and pieces are used and non conventional methods, but everyone gets and idea to buy or purchase a product somewhere.

  5. i should write more things about invading privacy, it sparks more comments.

    I was just thinking about how the problem is just going to get worse as customer created content ends up driving more decision making than any of the advertising we end up pushing into the market place. So ultimately someone will want to know what does better?

    Dave, referrers only give you a direct linkage. I am talking more about the content we as a company have little control over but still mentions our products,a la recommenders. And… I just wanted to give Pitchfork and the Decemberists some props. Killed 2 birds with one stone.

  6. Binding the two blog entries together, the masses will end up wagging the long tail and revolt against any known big-brother hocker of wares… or have we been properly anesthetized to corporate spying on private citizens?

    While not entirely web related Credit Card companies have been spying on the buying habits of consumers for years. And while they cannot trace a purchase to a specific article, blog, message board post, advert or what not it seems generally accepted.

    Scary what we know and allow… and what an apropos time for such an entry… being 10/31 and all.

  7. With the rampant rumors of a pay-to-play type of market structure for bandwidth, ultimately, couldn’t your ISP track where you go and be able to link similar sites together and figure out the interconnectivity of it all?

    Time Warner should be able to tell every web site I go to since it is having to be routed through their network. Just have the router grab every web address that my IP visits and dump it into a huge data file. If Time Warner sees I like a lot of internet porn, they start sending more ads for PPV porn in my cable bill, or I see more porn ads on the sites I visit.

    Time Warner could also turn around and sell the data to companies so that Pitchfork knows that it is losing out on bounty revenue from people reading its content and that leading to a purchase.

    You know they are already collecting the data cause that’s how the FBI investigates a lot of web crimes, they subpoena the IP logs from ISPs and tell exactly what sites I visit.

    Am I missing something?

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