This post has two parts: 1) an introduction to Ad Hoc Analysis, and 2) instructions on how to make a fresh profile populate with up to three months of old data.
I’m putting the “get old data into a brand new profile” first because I think a lot of readers already know about Ad Hoc Analysis but may not know this trick.
1) How To Get Webtrends to Backfill Data From Before the Creation Date of a Profile
This is the trick:
- Make a new profile. The usual way is to clone an existing profile and then modify it, but you can also make one from scratch.
- Use Ad Hoc Analysis to analyze it. You’ll only have one choice, which is “Most Current Day.”
- After it has analyzed, use Ad Hoc Analysis again. This time, change the radio button from “Keep historical data” (the default) to “Delete all data and start over.”
- You’ll now see choices going back two or three months, even for an hour-old profile!
2) Basic Introduction to Ad Hoc Re-analysis for Newbies
… First, why is Ad Hoc Analysis wonderful?
Answer: 1) for testing new configurations, 2) for fixing screwups, such as when somebody else makes changes that affect your content group definitions.
So … here’s the deal, newbies. If you add a report or make other changes to an existing profile, “Ad Hoc Analysis” allows you to re-analyze past data, within certain limits. Under the hood, what you are doing is restoring the profile’s analyzed data to one of Webtrends pre-configured back-up snapshot points. After the data is restored or rolled back, the profile will analyze forward from that date using the configurations that are current as of today.
The names of the time choices are a little confusing so here’s an attempt at translating:
- The way it was early this morning, before today’s analysis ran (“Most recent day”) (this is all you see for a newborn profile)
- The way it was early yesterday morning, before yesterday’s analysis ran (“Today”)
- The way it was two mornings ago, before the analysis of the day before yesterday’s data (“Yesterday”)
- The way it was just before the first day of the current calendar month (“This month”)
- The way it was just before the first day of the calendar month just before the current one (Last month”)
- The way it was just before the first day of two calendar months ago, not counting the current one (“Previous 2 months”)
- The way it was just before the first day of three calendar months ago, not counting the current one (“Previous 3 months”)
The above translations aren’t exact. For example, just now I looked at several of my profiles and found that “Today” sometimes meant “since yesterday night” and for other profiles it was “since yesterday morning.” I really am not sure what the logic is.
Here are a few limitations you should know about:
- Once you have restored one of the backup snapshots, all snapshots since that point aren’t available any more. So, if you re-analyze the last two or three months, you’ll no longer have a backup point available for, say, the beginning of the current calendar month, or the day before yesterday. You will have older backup point choices available, but not recent ones. It’s important to understand that Webtrends sets a new backup point for today when you do the new analysis … so today’s backup will start appearing as “yesterday” tomorrow, and in a couple of months will appear as “previous month” or “previous 2 months.”
- The “Delete all data and start over” option disappears after the profile has aged past the end of the calendar month in which is was created. (See the first part of this post for why this might matter.)
Here’s where to find it.
In the Profiles list, hover over the blank area to the right of the profile, to get the profile action options.
… And a couple more notes …
- Rollback and re-analyses start as soon as you click the “Analyze” button. You can cancel a re-analysis any time up until it’s finished.
- After your re-analysis finishes, you can kick off another one for the same profile, if you want.
- If you enter an email address, the program will send you an email when it’s done.
- The program gives you an inflated estimate of how long it will take. I think it’s inflated because Webtrends prefers to show the worst case, since people are using this feature like mad and loading up their re-analysis servers.
- While a re-analysis is happening, you can’t change anything in the configuration of the profile. You’ll get a warning to that effect.
Finally, I think Webtrends was pretty bold, in a late kind of way, to do this. If you change goal definitions in Google Analytics they aren’t retroactive and there is no re-analysis at all. Same for Omniture SiteCatalyst. Webtrends did this free ad-hoc capability as a way to jump ahead of competitors a bit, while not really catching up to the competitors’ ability to do on-the-fly filters and segmenting. It now sounds like Webtrends is going to do the on-the-fly stuff in the next two quarters, in the form of Webtrends Explore which will use Streams and cloud computing as game-changers for them. I’m looking forward to it … are you?