You’re in the basement of your house looking at a bag of old clothing left behind by the previous tenants. Idly, with barbeque tongs and oven mitts you pull out item after item. At the bottom, you hold up what looks like an early Fugazi roadie tee shirt, all skanky and moldy. Wow.
This particular cool custom report is like that — all-but-abandoned, in dire need of being worked on, likely to fall apart at any moment, and possibly extremely cool.
The Outsider went down to the basement after the recent WebTrends Lunch-n-Learn about “campaign attribution.” The Outsider remembers an old visitor history parameter, undocumented for the past couple years, that still somehow persists in version 8.5 — it’s WT.vr.ac.
“.ac” stands for “active campaigns.”
“Active campaigns” means “all the WT.mc_id campaign IDs that were still active at the time of the visit.”
Note that this is not “initial” or “most recent” or “the current visit.” “Active” means “everything within 90 days.” 90 is the default value that is configurable in the .wlp file and the wtm_wtx.ini file, in this line:
campaigndurationdays = 90
The value of 90 (or whatever) in this line seems to be unchanged by the recent campaign-lifetime settings that were added to 8.5.
Trying it On
If you have Visitor History turned on and you create a dimension based on WT.vr.ac (with measure “visits”), you’ll get a report where each row is a comma-delimited list of all the campaign IDs that were active at the time of the visit, along with the number of visits that had that particular list of campaigns still active in their visit history. If you use a revenue or conversion dimension, you’ll have similar stats but associated with KPIs.
In other words, if you are looking at June data and somebody visited on June 10 and, during the previous 90 days, that same cookie-person had the April25, May07, and June03 campaigns in their history, they’ll appear as one visit with that combination of campaigns. You’ll see a row for “April25,May07,June03” with at least one visit counted. Or something like that.
No, this info is not available in the Visitor History Table export that we’ve described previously.
If you’re willing to put in the time, you have the opportunity to analyze this information in nifty ways. It’s especially productive if one of your measures is some kind of conversion or revenue.
To properly analyze, you’ll need to export the results to Excel etc for some further crunching to get the good stuff:
- Partial attribution, weighted any way you want – 20% to the oldest campaign, 70% to the latest, and the other 10% split between all others? 100% to the latest and another 100% split among all the previous ones?
- Understanding whether lotsa campaign responses are better (in terms of KPIs) than a few, versus the other way around. Seriously, what if you see that people with 10 campaign responses in the last 90 days never bought anything, while people with 2 responses made up the bulk of the buyers? Ouch.
- Noticing that the May campaign appears in conversions disporportionately – OMG you could actually be talking about causality if you find this one. You are such a good debater, er, analyst. (Small USA election campaign joke there, sorry.)
Pause. Curb your enthusiasm.
Did we mention that this is a scruffy VH parameter? It has flaws, which are probably the reason why WebTrends deep-sixed it years ago while thankfully (for us) not completely destroying it.
- Within a given row, the campaign names appear in no sensible order — definitely not chronological or consistent in any way. The order isn’t even dependent on the alphabetical order of the underlying campaign GUID.
- It’s entirely possible to see the same exact combination of campaigns listed more than once, but differently-ordered each time. Crazy. Requires more work to sort it out, yes.
But in our tests, despite these flaws, the WT.vr.ac parameter works. We haven’t done really extensive tests and haven’t played with Visitor-type measures. We hope other people do and let us know about what they find.
We, the WebTrends Outsiders, are hoping that within WebTrends Inc there is a flurry of e-mails about this post. What is this thing, who overlooked it when we tried to wipe it out, who left it in the basement, now what?
As for “now what” we’d like to see WebTrends consider whether extended and/or partial campaign attribution should be tried on for size.