Monday, November 30, 2009

Widget Analytics in Omniture – Part 1 of 3

Widget metrics are fairly straight forward. Getting the metrics, however, can be a bit more complex, depending on your tools. This is the first part of a three part article that will discuss both widget metrics and how to implement them in Omniture.

What’s a Widget?

Widgets are primarily used to present content or ads. Many widgets do both by providing content with embedded ads. Sometimes widgets are used for direct response to start a conversion process.

Ad widgets can consist entirely of an ad. For example, movie studios create a trailer widget that then spreads to social network sites, blogs, or home pages by individual users. This engagement builds brand affinity and extends the audience reach beyond the initial impression.

National Geographic Photo of the Day Widget
Web based widget

Content widgets can consist of copy, images, links, video, games, tickers, or just about anything else one can think of. Again, these can spread to social network sites, blogs, or home pages. For the content owner, these widgets can be a traffic generator in addition to building brand awareness.

Individuals can “grab” the widget and place it on sites or devices over which they have control. They can share it with friends who can share it with their friends. As you can see, widgets have some commonality with magazines in that there is a “pass along” effect that can greatly magnify your campaign. (These days we call it “viral” rather than “pass along”.) For companies, this is probably the most important value-add for widgets. The distribution by individual users is an implicit endorsement of the widget and, by extension, your product, site, and company (brand building) and those users have the potential to reach people in a way that your marketing budget never could.

Yahoo Clock Widget
Yahoo desktop widget

In addition to building audience, brand, and driving additional traffic, widgets have also been used to start a conversion process. One can sign up for a newsletter, more information, or even make a direct purchase. An example of a “purchase” is a “donate” button for a not-for-profit organization.

A widget can be placed on a Desktop, a Mobile device, or a Web Site. A website widget lives on a Web page. For example, this can be a stock ticker on a Google home page or on a social site such as Facebook. Mobile widgets live on those types of devices as little applications. Think iPhone apps. Desktop widgets live on an individual’s computer desktop. For example, I have the Yahoo Clock set to the time in Hamamatsu Japan because my daughter is currently living there. It sits next to all my other desktop icons.

The technology that powers a widget can vary. Some are html based, some are built in rich applications such as flash, and some can be full-blown compiled application code. Anything that can be made available on the Web can probably be made into a widget.

Widget Metrics

Generally widgets are intended to support branding, reach, and acquisition. So widget metrics are for the most part campaign metrics, not much different than those used for emails, banner ads, or your direct mail promotion.

Once you know what your widget is supposed to do for you, there are three types of metrics that you will want to look at. One type speaks to the contribution to the business. The second set is concerned with whether users are interested in your widget offering. The third set asks how usable the widget is (see my earlier article 5 Types of Success).

Broadly, here is what you will want to know:

  • Branding
  • How many people saw the widget and where? What host sites or type of sites work best?
  • Reach
  • How many domains have placed the widget and how many people have seen or used it? What host sites or type of sites work best?
  • Acquisition
  • How many people interacted with it, how often, click-through rates, what is the post-click behavior, etc? What host sites or type of sites work best?
  • Usability
  • What is the best configuration to produce the best Reach and Acquisition response?

Here are some metrics that can be obtained to inform these questions:

Metric Business Use
1. Reach by widget (count of domains)This counts the number of different domains a widget lives on and measures the level of viral uptake. You can plot this over time to determine a velocity (rate) of distribution. The greater the velocity, the more interest your widget is generating.
2. Which domains have placed the widget? Used to know which sites have placed the widget. This will help inform your branding impact. Are you reaching the right audience?
3. Widget placements per domainUsed to know the level of penetration in social media sites such as Facebook.
4. Which domains have distributed the most widgets?Used to know which sites are most involved in spreading the widget. The vendor Clearspring calls these distributors “hubs”.
5. Specific places the widget was placed.Used to know which specific pages or devices are hosting the widget. This is useful to understand the context in which the widget is being presented and informs both your Branding evaluation and how that location may be affecting the level of interaction with the widget. You may not be able to affect the relevance of the placement, but it looking at that will help understand what is and is not working.
6. Acquisition by site (UU per domain where user clicked or interacted with the widget)This measures the ability of a given site to engage. This is both a reach and acquisition measure. Reach because it is based on UU and acquisition because it only counts users who have initiated an interaction.
7. Repeat use for a Widget (user must have clicked or interacted) across all domainsUsed to gauge widget interest and engagement over time.
8. Impressions for a widget across all domainsUsed to understand branding exposure and to calculate widget CTR.
9. Impressions for a widget per domainUsed to understand which domains provide a greater Branding exposure and to calculate widget CTR per domain.
10. Unique user presentations for a widget across all domainsUsed to understand the branding reach.
11. Unique user presentations for a widget per domainUsed to understand which domains provide a greater branding reach.
12. Count of clicks (or whatever you deem an interaction) to a widget across all domainsThis counts every interaction with the widget to build an engagement measure. It is used to gauge widget interest and engagement and to calculate widget CTR.
13. Count of clicks to a widget per domainsThis is the same measure as above, but by domain. It is used to know which domains perform better for a given widget.
14. Count of clicks to a given link in a widget.Used to gauge link effectiveness. As you modify the widget configuration, this will help you understand the usability of the widget.
15. CTR of a widget across all domainsMeasures ability of the widget to generate engagement. This is a typical campaign metric that is also used to gauge the level of usability.
16. CTR of a widget per domainMeasures the ability of a given domain to generate engagement.
17. Site activity driven by a given widgetMeasures the ability of the campaign to drive monetized results. For media sites this might be Page Consumption. For commerce sites it might be conversions such as Purchases or Order Value.

If you find some domains are particularly productive, you might contact them to see if there is any way to enhance the relationship between you and the other company. Often times you will have no ability to influence placement beyond creating an interesting or useful widget. Even so, by understanding where your widget is placed and the level of engagement in those places, you will better understand your Branding context and the fit of the audience you are reaching.

In part two of this article, Wiget Anlytics in Omniture, part 2 of 3, I will go through how Omniture can be configured to provide these metrics.

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