Mobile Analytics
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Mobile Analytics

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Overview of mobile analytics and my implementation experience at R.H. Donnelley

Overview of mobile analytics and my implementation experience at R.H. Donnelley

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  • 1. Mobile Analytics
    Todd Chenard
  • 2. My Background
    Sr. Manager Website Analytics at IHS
    Cheaptickets.com (‘03 – ’05)
    DexKnows.com (‘05 – ‘09)
    IHS.com (’09 – Current)
    Involved in the deployment of the DexKnows mobile platforms from the Spring of 2008 through December 2009.
  • 3. US Mobile Market at a Glance
    228M individual mobile subscribers1
    6.1% year over year subscriber growth1
    As point of comparison, 220M Internet users2
    1 ComScore M:Metrics for 3 months ending October 2008
    2 Nielsen/NetRatings in June 2008
  • 4. Mobile Market is Rapidly Changing
    Smartphones!
    Ever increasing Wi-Fi coverage and faster carrier networks, e.g. 3G and the coming 4G
    ‘All you can eat’ data plans
    Carrier ‘walled gardens’ slowly coming down
  • 5. Smartphone Growth Trend is Real!
    • Smartphone: a mobile phone offering PC like functionality such as e-mail, calendar, and web access. Examples include iPhone, Blackberry, Palm, Symbian, and Microsoft Mobile.
    • 6. 106% year over year growth1
    • 7. 22M subscribers with smartphones, which represents 9.7% penetration.
    1ComScore M:Metrics for 3 months ending October 2008
  • 8. Why is smartphone growth important to web analytics?
    • If not already, smartphones will become a significant segment of your website’s usage.
    • 9. Smartphones represent the majority of Internet usage from mobile devices. 90% of mobile traffic (hits) on DexKnows.com comes from smartphones. 51% of traffic hits from the iPhone alone.
    • 10. Due to the ‘on the go’ nature of mobile, the traffic is mostly incremental and therefore very little cannibalization of PC traffic.
    • 11. Smartphones have web browsers very similar in functionality to PC browsers – meaning your web analytics code will mostly function as is.
  • Mobile Internet Platforms
    WAP/xHTML: The standard Internet browser interface on non-smartphones.
    ‘Full featured’ smartphone browsers: e.g. Safari on the iPhone, IE Mobile, Google Chrome (‘scaled down’) on Android, Opera, SkyFire, Firefox Mobile (soon to be released).
    Downloaded apps: examples include Java apps on non-smartphones and iPhone/Android apps.
    SMS: AKA text messaging to a phone number or short code.
  • 12. Web Analytic tracking challenges with mobile platforms
    • Cookies available on smartphones with ‘full featured’ browsers, however rarely available on non-smartphones.
    • 13. JavaScript not available or very limited in WAP/xHTML interfaces
    • 14. Referrer not available for pixel based tracking in WAP/xHTML.
    • 15. IP Address can change several times during a session (switching between towers and/or Wi-Fi) or the IP reflects the network gateway, e.g. Blackberry.
    • 16. SMS tracking is strictly server based. No image capability for 1-byte image send from client device.
    • 17. Downloaded apps may have ‘offline’ functionality. To capture events or actions, the tracking may need to be queued for the next online access.
  • What’s the impact of those tracking challenges?
    With no cookie or unique device ID, repeat visitor tracking is not possible. In addition, visit ‘sessionization’ is less accurate without a cookie or changing/gateway IP address.
    Without the referrer, tracking of SEO effectiveness is lost.
    IP filtering not possible given gateway and changing IPs.
  • 18. Mobile Analytic Solutions
    • PC based web analytics providers offer mobile functionality, e.g. Omniture, WebTrends, Coremetrics, Google Analytics, etc.
    • 19. Omniture offers mobile reports in SiteCatalyst 14, a non-javascript pixel tag, and recently announced iPhone App tracking.
    • 20. WebTrends offers mobile reports and non-javascript pixel WAP tracking.
    • 21. Coremetrics 2009 now offers mobile analytics.
    • 22. Mobile specific analytics provider, e.g. Mobilytics, Admob Analytics, Amethon Analytics, Bango Analytics
    • 23. These vendors are better at tracking across almost all mobile platforms and have better visit ‘sessionization’ and unique visitor tracking.
    • 24. Custom in-house solution
  • How did R.H. Donnelley implement mobile analytics? Background:
    Came to market in March 2009 with SMS, WAP/XHTML, downloadable Java app, and an iPhone App.
    The DexKnows.com platform released in Feb. 2009 replaced Omniture with a custom in-house pixel based solution that requires no JavaScript.
    Why did we replace Omniture? R.H. Donnelley purchased Business.com whose website platform already had the custom pixel based solution. This custom solution provides the flexibility necessary for dynamic closed-loop ad serving on our proprietary websites, the search engines, and our network partners.
  • 25. How did R.H. Donnelley implement mobile analytics? Details:
    For WAP/XHTML, we implemented our custom pixel based solution. This was possible because our pixel based solution does not require JavaScript.
    For SMS, we are triggering our custom pixel based calls from the application server.
    For the Java and iPhone apps, we are using the custom pixel based tracking. Some of our app actions are ‘offline’ and those tracking events are queued for the next online call.
  • 26. What’s in the future for mobile?
    IMHO:
    • Expect smartphone growth rates of +100% per year in 2009 and 2010. Consumers will replace old phones with competitively priced smartphones and data plans.
    • 27. ‘Location Awareness’ device functionality and applications will rapidly grow. Can your website use location awareness on mobile or in a PC browser?
    • 28. SMS (the ugliest ‘walled garden’) will slowly die over the next few 5-10 years. Replaced by IM services and/or Twitter.
    • 29. A small percentage of less affluent consumers will jettison their PC for an all-in-one smartphone. Evidence of trend already in markets such as India and China where PC Internet access is limited and/or expensive.
  • What should my company be doing for mobile (if not already doing)?
    • If you don’t know, first measure how much mobile traffic is already on your website. You might be surprised!
    • 30. Start planning smartphone optimized browser versions of your website, e.g. iPhone (1st), Blackberry (2nd), Android (3rd).
    • 31. Review whether downloaded apps make sense for your business, e.g. iPhone, Blackberry, or Android.
    • 32. Don’t worry about SMS or WAP/XHTML versions as Smartphones are replacing those platforms.
  • How do I measure mobile traffic to my website?
    • Gather up a sampling of your Apache or IIS logs. Extended format must be enabled to capture user agent.
    • 33. Match the user agents to a comprehensive list of mobile user agents such as WURFL or Device Atlas: (http://wurfl.sourceforge.net/ or http://deviceatlas.com/)
    • 34. Calculate % of hits from mobile devices. This will provide a rough idea of overall mobile usage. Further breakout % of hits coming from smartphones by grouping user agents.
    • 35. Your current web analytics vendor might also provide mobile reports and/or browser (user agent) breakout. Remember this may NOT be all your mobile traffic due to vendor’s tracking limitations.
  • A few parting pointers on implementing mobile analytics
    • Once your mobile browser platforms are live, redirect traffic from your main website to your mobile versions based on the user agent.
    • 36. Even though mobile Internet access speeds are rapidly increasing, still minimize the size of your pixel based calls to avoid a slow user experience. Use coded values for custom parameters when possible, and only send the parameters necessary.
    • 37. Mobile devices are all very different in their browser functionality, JavaScript support, etc. Test your mobile analytics using various devices. Borrow your fellow employees mobile phones instead of purchasing a bunch of test phones.