Does the “cookie” take a bite out of business media companies' ability to accurately define their audiences and maximize their advertising rates? While cookies can provide b-to-b media companies with the ability to track their users in aggregate terms, they do not necessarily provide media companies with the sort of data that will give them more specific information on individual users, said Yon Nuta, senior VP-product management at comScore Inc. The online measurement company's Digital Analytix, which was rolled out in March, seeks to give publishers more in-depth, “unaggregrated” analyses of their users. Digital Directions spoke with Nuta about the new platform.
Digital Directions: How does Digital Analytix work?
Yon Nuta: It's powered by Atomix, [a proprietary technology] which allows [publishers] access to their Web performance data and create reports on the fly. With traditional analytic solutions, data is collected and put into predefined buckets on the basis of what you're going to report against. With Atomix, we don't put [data] into question-specific buckets to start. We take each cookie that we see visiting your site and every attribute associated with that cookie that we glean from that site—the duration, the pages they've been to, the information on what type of device they're using and what type of browser—and create an individual file associated with the attributes to that cookie. The power comes in when you have a business question that may have never occurred to you when you were setting up your data analytics.
DD: The technology maintains an unaggregated data set. How is that better than deploying aggregated data?
Nuta: Leveraging an aggregated data system only works well when you know all of the questions you want answered ahead of time. So if something in your business changes, normally with aggregated data you have to “redimensionalize” your data by redefining the cube structure that stores all of your information. This can be very time- and resource-intensive. You don't have to do any of this with unaggregated data; because the data is kept in the raw format, Digital Analytix is built to reprocess data on the fly.
DD: Do “cookies” distort the ability of publishers to properly measure their online audiences? How does your technology remedy that?
Nuta: Cookies can distort publishers' ability to measure the number of unique people visiting their websites. One way the data is distorted is that people may access the same website from multiple browsers; each Web browser would generate another cookie, even though it's the same person. Very quickly you might collect three cookies from that one visitor. The other common scenario is a user might delete the cookie. If the user goes back to the site, a new cookie is dropped onto the site and the user is counted as another visitor. In Web analytics, that can inflate the core site interaction numbers dramatically. In Digital Analytix, we have remedied this by calling people “unique browsers,” because we don't want businesses to misconstrue them as “unique visitors.”
DD: How will the technology help business publishers enhance their online marketing?
Nuta: One of the most unique features of Digital Analytix is the synthesis of audience demographics with Web behavior. In general, Web analytics providers can provide very little information as to who your users actually are. You might know that you have 10 million users, but you don't their ages or their genders—two of the key, actionable elements of marketing segmentation. Knowing that kind of user information really helps optimize and define your site's navigation, content and outreach.