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    « X Change 2008 News and Deals | Main | The Dreaded 404 Not Found: Three Ways to Find Broken Links »

    July 09, 2008


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    Jacques Warren

    Hi June,

    Finally, a concrete and informed post about mobile analytics in our blogosphere!!

    Shall we announce the return of the server log files??

    It seems that "hybrid" companies such as WebTrends could play the mobile analytics card, while the market is not entirely dominated by smartphones (which executes javascript and accept cookies I understand).

    June Dershewitz

    Thanks for your feedback, Jacques! I know I'll see *you* in the mobile analytics huddles at X Change.

    It is sort of funny that data collection methods come into question again as web analysts begin to measure mobile. A few years ago we saw the shift in preference toward page tags; now - for at least some customers - we may see a shift *away* from page tags.

    The pure page tagging approach is clean and convenient, sure, but it doesn't always give us what we need.

    dean collins

    Hi June,

    Where's the link love?

    How come you didn't mention that Amethon Mobile Analytics are the only vendor who uses Wireline Capture for our mobile analytics solution.

    Because this methodology is the only mobile analytics solution that can see 100% of the packets traveling from the handset to the mobile web content server we can tell not only when a file begins to download but also if the file download is abandoned half way.

    But you already know this.....

    For those that dont - check out

    Dean Collins

    June Dershewitz

    Hi Dean, thanks for reading! As weak as page tagging is, I think that some web marketers are willing to try it out anyway because it's a tracking solution they've already got in their repertoire of tools.

    In the case of campaign tracking it would be great to see mobile campaigns listed alongside traditional web campaigns in the reporting interface we analysts already use every day. Obviously we're not there yet.

    In the meantime I think that web marketers will turn to separate measurement solutions - such as Amethon's fine product - that rely on alternate methods of data collection. Certainly we could overcome the download tracking deficiency I describe here.

    Andy Bovingdon

    Great summary June, you make many valid points. For most marketers the idea of adding a simple image tag to pages is much easier than installing and maintaining additional hardware. I just wanted to mention a few tricks we can play on mobile that helps alleviate some of the problems you mention.

    With campaign clickthroughs we find benefits in using similar URL redirection tricks that many of the ad companies use. This reliably tracks the action of the consumer clicking the ad and simply redirects to a single consistent landing page. In fact you can then use image tags to detect the actual page view. If you have a reliable ID for each user you can directly tie the two events together to measure each campaign and compare against natural browse-ins.

    Not all image tag technologies are equal – while each use the same basic mechanism, some are more advanced than traditional desktop solutions. For example the Bango mobile web analytics product adds our unique user ID technology on top. This uses a number of steps to allocate a persistent identity to each visitor allowing you to easily track repeat visits across many months. Like the PC this will use cookies where possible, but it also uses handset configuration data and secure information available to Bango from a number of carriers – we call these steps our fingerprinting process. You can find out more at

    One thing to be warned of is blindly using an existing web analytics solution on mobile. While some work but simply don’t tell you enough, others actually break your site on many handsets. Quite often the mobile site owner does not realise this problem early enough because they don’t have a sufficient range of handsets to test against.


    Andy Bovingdon

    Scott Zakrajsek

    I agree completely with Jaques's post above, this is an excellent post on mobile analytics, and in plain english no less.

    We launched our mobile site a few months back and track it with page tags stuffed into image requests as mentioned above. It has been quite the learning experience for myself as well as our mobile vendor.

    We began with simple page view tracking which led to phase 2, tracking transactional and cart data (orders, sales, abandonment rates, all that good stuff). Now there is an appetite to survey our mobile customers which means we'll need to collect their email addresses upon login (as I do not think we can capture it in the URL string). Page tracking in this media is a cumbersome process at times, but our mobile traffic is very small now and does not require a dedicated mobile analytics vendor. However, this could very well change in the future.

    I guess the part I struggle with most is that we've recently received some great support from senior leadership on our web data, and its difficult for me to tell them why our mobile data isn't as "clean". But you probably know all about that... (#4)

    June Dershewitz

    @Andy: Now that I know what hoops we must jump through to track campaigns on mobile I can appreciate the existence of a solution such as the one your company provides.

    I take interest in your comment about web analytics solutions "breaking" mobile content on some handsets. How troublesome! The ability to test our tracking on mobile is severely limited (where's WASP for mobile, Stephane?) and I know we lack visibility regarding what works and what doesn't.

    @Scott: Thanks for sharing your experience. I think your company's rationale ("our effort is not a big enough deal to merit a dedicated mobile analytics vendor") is probably pretty common ... at least until marketers demand more than page views. :^/

    And I know *exactly* what you mean about having to repeatedly explain why mobile data quality sucks even more than regular web data quality. (Glad you found that article!)

    Andy Bovingdon

    The testing aspect is an interesting one June. At Bango we used to have a large testing lab full of the latest handsets. This has now been totally replaced by Device Anywhere from Mobile Complete ( It provides remote access to real handsets on a range of networks worldwide. Makes it very simple to check your mobile site against a selection of top handsets.

    We then use Bango Analytics ( to monitor top handset traffic and re-test the sites on those devices to ensure optimal experience. We also check handsets hitting error pages and test these devices also to see why they may have failed.



    Steve Jackson

    Hi June,

    Unfortunately I won't be able to make Xchange but thanks for sharing. I work with a lot of telco companies and we've run into this problem a number of times. The point about mobile not being big enough to justify installation of another tool is the main issue we've found as well.

    I think the main reason Omniture or GA for instance haven't done anything about the problem is the trend in mobile browsing and the rate of adoption. All (smart)phones execute Javascript and allow cookies. As the phones get better and the older models are phased out it means Omniture for instance don't have an incentive in investing heavily in mobile tracking. Why bother investing when in 1-2 years all phones being used for browsing will be tracked to a certain extent anyway?

    The problems you mention (downloads/campaigns) are minor in comparison to the costs of adding an additional tool to an enterprises suite of tracking tools in my opinion.

    The real challenge with mobile technology is how will we start tracking offline actions and this is something had I been going to Xchange I would have raised. When advertisers start using GSM to know your location and push adverts based on where you are physically we have a different set of challenges. Vouchers/Bar codes are one way to track the success of such campaigns but advertisers will need more information than simply who buys and who doesn't.

    In my view this is something we should start thinking about sooner rather than later.


    Micah Fisher-Kirshner

    Perfect timing! I was just going to start searching for information on mobile analytics this week and read your blog over the weekend. Thank you for putting this information out there and making life easier for us all.

    June Dershewitz

    @Steve: Thanks for pointing out that this is indeed a temporary situation. Eventually the majority of our mobile devices will have JavaScript and cookies, at which time we'll get the same level of tracking that we do with traditional web sites.

    In the meantime ... well, we either make do with our existing analytics system's limited functionality, we accept the additional expense and get a mobile-specific solution, or (my least favorite) we don't measure at all.

    Regarding location-based tracking - ooh analysts are salivating over that! Vendors continue to make progress when it comes to data integration, so I'm hopeful that, by the time we're ready for it, it won't be too cumbersome to connect the dots.

    @Micah: Glad you found my article! Come to SF WAW on July 23rd and I'll gripe in even more detail. Uh, that's an offer, not a threat.

    Leevi Kokko

    One thing which can also severely limit the mobile analytics data quality is that many mobile network operators actually tamper the traffic data, ripping HTTP headers and blocking cookies at their gateways. So, to add another layer of complexity to the challenge, it's not only the handset scripting and cookie capabilities that matter, but also the network which is being used to access service.

    Thanks for the great post, June!

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