Web Analytics Increasing In Importance

Kevin Keane FOXSports.com has begun relying on Unica NetInsight OnDemand to analyze site visitor behavior and create relevant marketing programs. The sports Web property on MSN began running the software as a service (SaaS) platform this month in parallel with its prior analytics platform, HBX.

Kevin Keane, VP of marketing resource management at Unica, says FOXSports.com will phase out the platform Omniture acquired from Visual Science by the end of this month and begin relying solely on NetInsight OnDemand.

Unica NetInsight's "soft-tagging" technology lets FOXSports.com remain flexible when analyzing site visits, while reducing the cost of maintaining and re-tagging pages. NetInsight's "drill anywhere" capability gives FOXSports.com the ability to understand the information visitors seek when coming to the Web site to look for games or sports information.



The platform is available for both on demand as a hosted service stored on servers at another location, or on premise at the customer's location. Self-service capabilities built on an open data architecture allow marketers to analyze visitor behavior.

Keane believes that Unica has developed a method to put less code on the page, and the ability to merge more information through an administrative interface in the platform rather than extract the information, merge and mix the data, and then import it again. Along with the visitor's behavioral information, demographic data stored on registered users that play online video games and fantasy sports provide FOXSports.com with additional metrics to target site visitors. Data from email campaigns can also be added.

Web analytics to track and monitor site traffic has increased in popularity lately. The U.S. government has also recognized the importance of using the data to improve the content and navigation of Web sites. U.S. officials acknowledge that cookies and tags allow a greater level of accuracy in measuring unique visitors by being able to look at returning visitors to see what content is important.

While there are no restrictions for companies deploying Web site analytics, the Obama administration may soon call for changes when it comes to government-owned Web sites. On the White House blog Tuesday, the Office of Management and Budget associate administrator for information and regulatory affairs wrote that cookies -- a small piece of browser software that tracks and authenticates Web viewing activities by users -- present a challenge for the government.

It's not clear from the post what steps the U.S. government will take in the future, except that it is "reexamining the cookie policy as part of this Open Government Initiative" to find a balance between citizen privacy and the "benefits of persistent cookies."


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