As attribution becomes mainstream and available to marketers with any size budgets, confusion around web analytics vs attribution will need to be ironed out. This blog will help distinguish the difference and the importance of having both a web analytics tool and an attribution tool in your marketing arsenal.
What is Web Analytics
Web analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of web data for purposes of understanding and optimizing web usage. It helps one to estimate how traffic to a website changes after the launch of a new advertising campaign. Web analytics provides information about the number of visitors to a website and the number of page views. It helps gauge traffic and popularity trends which is useful for market research. Some other data points you will find in web analytic tools are bounce rate, session data and KPI’s around keywords.
Session Data: What is it?
Session data is a group of interactions that take place on your website within a given time frame. A single user can open multiple sessions. Those sessions can occur on the same day, or over several days, weeks, or months. As soon as one session ends, there is then an opportunity to start a new session. There are four methods by which a session ends:
- Time-based expiration (including end of day):
- After 30 minutes of inactivity
- At midnight
- Campaign change: If a user arrives via one campaign, leaves, and then comes back via a different campaign.
As you can see, session data is great for analyzing how people interact with your site but, it does not give you a full view of how people are converting with your brand through your marketing efforts. On top of that marketers needs to see the lifetime touchpoints of each conversion. Web analytic tools that use session data could have an infinite number of sessions for one consumer, which will skew marketing KPIs and present wasted ad spend.
What is Marketing Attribution
We have touched upon this in a previous blog but, here’s a refresher;
It’s the process of identifying a set of user actions (“events” or “touchpoints”) that contribute in some manner to a desired outcome, and then assigning a value to each of these events. Marketing attribution provides a level of understanding of what combination of events in what particular order influence individuals to engage in a desired behavior, typically referred to as a conversion. Understanding the entire conversion path across the whole marketing mix eliminates the accuracy challenge of analyzing data from siloed channels. Typically, attribution data is used by marketers to plan future ad campaigns by analyzing which media placements (ads) were the most cost-effective as determined by metrics such as effective cost per action.
We have outlined both Web Analytics tools and Attribution tools. The key takeaways are, web analytics tools are session based and great for analyzing web traffic. On the flip side, attribution tools focus on lifetime marketing touch-points across all channels in hopes to optimize ad spend for future buys. Both tools are essential to the success of a business and must be used in conjunction with each other.