Uses, Limitations, and Trends in Web Analytics

Uses, Limitations, and Trends in Web Analytics

Anthony Ferrini (, USA) and Jakki J. Mohr (University of Montana, USA)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-974-8.ch007
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As the Web’s popularity continues to grow and as new uses of the Web are developed, the importance of measuring the performance of a given Website as accurately as possible also increases. In this chapter, we discuss the various uses of Web analytics (how Web log files are used to measure a Website’s performance), as well as the limitations of these analytics. We discuss options for overcoming these limitations, new trends in Web analytics—including the integration of technology and marketing techniques— and challenges posed by new Web 2.0 technologies. After reading this chapter, readers should have a nuanced understanding of the “how-to’s” of Web analytics.
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Current Uses Of, And Problems With, Web Analytics

This section addresses the state-of-the-art with respect to Web analytics, and is organized around the following issues:

  • What data is collected in Web analytics?

  • How is it obtained?

  • Who uses the data?

  • For what purposes are the data used?

  • What are the deficiencies and limitations with Web analytics?

  • How can these deficiencies be addressed?

Key Terms in this Chapter

Behavioral Targeting: A technique used by online publishers and advertisers to increase the effectiveness of their campaigns. The idea is to observe a user’s online behavior anonymously and then serve the most relevant advertisement based on their behavior. Theoretically, this helps advertisers deliver their online advertisement to the users who are most likely to be influenced by them.

Clickstream Data/Clicktrail: The recording of Web pages that a computer user clicks on while Web browsing or using a personal computer.

Cache Busting: Techniques used to prevent browsers or proxy servers from serving content from their cache, in order to force the browser or proxy server to fetch a fresh copy for each user request. Cache busting is used to provide a more accurate count of the number of requests from users.

Log File Analysis: Analyzing log files (Web server logs) to review the aggregate results.

Site Overlay: Any type of content that is superimposed over a Web page; for the purpose of Web analytics, the site overlay typically shows click and conversion data superimposed over the links on a Web page.

Server Logs: See log files.

Cookies: (HTTP cookies or Web cookies): Parcels of text left by a Website on the computer user’s hard disk drive; these data are then accessed by the Website’s computer server each time the user re-visits the Website. Cookies are used to authenticate, track, and maintain specific information about users, such as site preferences and the contents of their electronic shopping carts.

Page Tagging (Web Bug/Beacon): An object that is embedded in a Web page or e-mail and is usually invisible to the user but allows checking that a user has viewed the page or e-mail.

Web Analytics: The study of the behavior of Website visitors; the use of data collected from a Website to determine which aspects of the Website work towards the business objectives (for example, which landing pages encourage people to make a purchase).

Web Metrics: A generic term for the many types of measurements that can be made about a Website and its visitors.

Log Files or Web Server Logs: A file (or several files) automatically created and maintained by a computer server on which a Website is hosted of the activity on that Website (traffic, hits, etc.). A typical example is a Web server log which maintains a history of page requests.

Geo-Mapping: A visual representation of the geographical location of Website visitors layered on top of map or satellite imagery.

Web 2.0: A second generation of Web-based communities and hosted services, such as social-networking sites, wikis and blogs, which facilitate collaboration and sharing between users.

Flash Cookies: Similar to “cookies” (above), but coded with Macromedia Flash software; Flash cookies are more difficult to remove than traditional cookies, and as a result, they tend to be more reliable.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Table of Contents
Bernard J. Jansen, Amanda Spink, Isak Taksa
Chapter 1
Bernard J. Jansen, Isak Taksa, Amanda Spink
This chapter outlines and discusses theoretical and methodological foundations for transaction log analysis. We first address the fundamentals of... Sample PDF
Research and Methodological Foundations of Transaction Log Analysis
Chapter 2
W. David Penniman
This historical review of the birth and evolution of transaction log analysis applied to information retrieval systems provides two perspectives.... Sample PDF
Historic Perspective of Log Analysis
Chapter 3
Lee Rainie, Bernard J. Jansen
Every research methodology for data collection has both strengths and limitations, and this is certainly true for transaction log analysis.... Sample PDF
Surveys as a Complementary Method for Web Log Analysis
Chapter 4
Sam Ladner
This chapter aims to improve the rigor and legitimacy of Web-traffic measurement as a social research method. I compare two dominant forms of... Sample PDF
Watching the Web: An Ontological and Epistemological Critique of Web-Traffic Measurement
Chapter 5
Kirstie Hawkey
This chapter examines two aspects of privacy concerns that must be considered when conducting studies that include the collection of Web logging... Sample PDF
Privacy Concerns for Web Logging Data
Chapter 6
Bernard J. Jansen
Exploiting the data stored in search logs of Web search engines, Intranets, and Websites can provide important insights into understanding the... Sample PDF
The Methodology of Search Log Analysis
Chapter 7
Anthony Ferrini, Jakki J. Mohr
As the Web’s popularity continues to grow and as new uses of the Web are developed, the importance of measuring the performance of a given Website... Sample PDF
Uses, Limitations, and Trends in Web Analytics
Chapter 8
Danielle Booth
This chapter is an overview of the process of Web analytics for Websites. It outlines how visitor information such as number of visitors and visit... Sample PDF
A Review of Methodologies for Analyzing Websites
Chapter 9
Gi Woong Yun
This chapter discusses validity of units of analysis of Web log data. First, Web log units are compared to the unit of analysis of television to... Sample PDF
The Unit of Analysis and the Validity of Web Log Data
Chapter 10
Kirstie Hawkey, Melanie Kellar
This chapter presents recommendations for reporting context in studies of Web usage including Web browsing behavior. These recommendations consist... Sample PDF
Recommendations for Reporting Web Usage Studies
Chapter 11
Seda Ozmutlu, Huseyin C. Ozmutlu, Amanda Spink
This chapter summarizes the progress of search engine user behavior analysis from search engine transaction log analysis to estimation of user... Sample PDF
From Analysis to Estimation of User Behavior
Chapter 12
Gheorghe Muresan
In this chapter, we describe and discuss a methodological framework that integrates analysis of interaction logs with the conceptual design of the... Sample PDF
An Integrated Approach to Interaction Design and Log Analysis
Chapter 13
Brian Detlor, Maureen Hupfer, Umar Ruhi
This chapter provides various tips for practitioners and researchers who wish to track end-user Web information seeking behavior. These tips are... Sample PDF
Tips for Tracking Web Information Seeking Behavior
Chapter 14
Sandro José Rigo
Adaptive Hypermedia is an effective approach to automatic personalization that overcomes the difficulties and deficiencies of traditional Web... Sample PDF
Identifying Users Stereotypes for Dynamic Web Pages Customization
Chapter 15
Brian K. Smith, Priya Sharma, Kyu Yon Lim, Goknur Kaplan Akilli, KyoungNa Kim, Toru Fujimoto
Computers and networking technologies have led to increases in the development and sustenance of online communities, and much research has focused... Sample PDF
Finding Meaning in Online, Very-Large Scale Conversations
Chapter 16
Isak Taksa, Sarah Zelikovitz, Amanda Spink
Search query classification is a necessary step for a number of information retrieval tasks. This chapter presents an approach to non-hierarchical... Sample PDF
Machine Learning Approach to Search Query Classification
Chapter 17
Seda Ozmutlu, Huseyin C. Ozmutlu, Amanda Spink
This chapter emphasizes topic analysis and identification of search engine user queries. Topic analysis and identification of queries is an... Sample PDF
Topic Analysis and Identification of Queries
Chapter 18
Elmer V. Bernstam, Jorge R. Herskovic, William R. Hersh
Clinicians, researchers and members of the general public are increasingly using information technology to cope with the explosion in biomedical... Sample PDF
Query Log Analysis in Biomedicine
Chapter 19
Michael Chau, Yan Lu, Xiao Fang, Christopher C. Yang
More non-English contents are now available on the World Wide Web and the number of non-English users on the Web is increasing. While it is... Sample PDF
Processing and Analysis of Search Query Logs in Chinese
Chapter 20
Udo Kruschwitz, Nick Webb, Richard Sutcliffe
The theme of this chapter is the improvement of Information Retrieval and Question Answering systems by the analysis of query logs. Two case studies... Sample PDF
Query Log Analysis for Adaptive Dialogue-Driven Search
Chapter 21
Mimi Zhang
In this chapter, we present the action-object pair approach as a conceptual framework for conducting transaction log analysis. We argue that there... Sample PDF
Using Action-Object Pairs as a Conceptual Framework for Transaction Log Analysis
Chapter 22
Paul DiPerna
This chapter proposes a new theoretical construct for evaluating Websites that facilitate online social networks. The suggested model considers... Sample PDF
Analysis and Evaluation of the Connector Website
Chapter 23
Marie-Francine Moens
This chapter introduces information extraction from blog texts. It argues that the classical techniques for information extraction that are commonly... Sample PDF
Information Extraction from Blogs
Chapter 24
Adriana Andrade Braga
This chapter explores the possibilities and limitations of nethnography, an ethnographic approach applied to the study of online interactions... Sample PDF
Nethnography: A Naturalistic Approach Towards Online Interaction
Chapter 25
Isak Taksa, Amanda Spink, Bernard J. Jansen
Web log analysis is an innovative and unique field constantly formed and changed by the convergence of various emerging Web technologies. Due to its... Sample PDF
Web Log Analysis: Diversity of Research Methodologies
About the Contributors