With the news that Adobe will be acquiring the Digital Analytix function from comScore we thought it would be relevant to call out what the ‘best of both’ would look like in our (and I think our clients’) eyes:
Data Collection Method
Remove it – Although the DAx solution is very flexible in that you can pass pretty much any label you want I actually think this is a hindrance. It makes data governance a lot harder and doesn’t force the implementer to really think about what they are collecting and why. Given that Adobe has recently increased the amount of variables that can be passed I believe they should not adopt the DAx methodology on this one.
Keep it – What DAx does allow is some pretty flexible server-side rules (Event Rewriters) to process the data as it comes through. Adobe do this as well in the form of ‘VISTA Rules’ but these tend to be in the form of very expensive consulting engagements. I think they should keep more flexibility on the server-side and make it more open to customers as to how their data is processed before it hits the reporting location.
Keep it – This is one of the really key areas that I think DAx has done better than Adobe. DAx allows customers to configure ‘Virtual Sites’ and ‘Logic Virtual Sites’. At a level above this is the ‘Site’. What this means is that data originally comes into the ‘Site’ where it is stored in its raw format. From here it can cascade down into either a Virtual Site (physical copy) or a Logic Virtual Site (filtered view). This is a bit like ASIs in Omniture for those who remember them and very similar to how Google Analytics works. I’m sure it benefits Adobe financially for removing ASIs as the number of duplicate server-calls has probably increased but I think they need to look past this and adopt something similar (or the same) as DAx have and in doing so give far more power to the analyst.
Remove it – More recently DAx has tried to make their reporting interface better by introducing Labs and Focus. Labs has a ‘drag-and-drop’ approach to presenting data and is designed to work much like their Report Builder but in much smaller/faster doses. Focus is effectively a dashboarding tool but it cannot be configured by the customer. It requires DAx consulting to actually programme in what the customer is asking for. In both cases I think Adobe has better solutions. Their inbuilt dashboarding capabilities and Analysis Workspace tools are superior to those of DAx so it’s probably just best to roll with them.
Keep it – Report Builder is actually a really simple but neat tool. It works much like Data Warehouse in that you define your dimensions and metrics in a table, apply your segments and then request the data. Data Warehouse however does not then deliver you the data immediately. It gets emailed or FTP’d several hours (maybe days) later. With Report Builder not only do you have more options in terms of how your data is structured and filtered but you will be able to request up to 5,000 rows of data in near real-time. If your request will be in excess of 5,000 rows then it’s pretty simple to export this in another way and even that is quick. We’ve been able to grab many thousands of rows of data in minutes.
A bit of both – The ‘Report Items’ that DAx use are quite neat. They are designed to provide quick methods of getting at the most relevant data points. The Adobe Analytics standard reporting interface is very flexible by comparison but can be a little confusing for the user as to how to create the report they want. Perhaps in this instance the Adobe Solution can provide the underlying reporting options with the concept of ‘Report Items’ built in a bit like the way they have standard reporting type templates in AHA?
Keep it – I think Adobe have struggled with this in comparison to DAx and this is perhaps down to the types of clients each business has had. DAx has a core customer following in the Media & Broadcast industry whereas Adobe has a much wider reach and probably focuses a little more on Retail. As such the ‘Streamsense’ product offering from DAx is actually very advanced due to the volume and types of customer needs they have had. The Adobe solution has improved greatly and even more so after they changed their billing model around Streams vs Hits but I still think they could learn a lot from what DAx have done here.
Remove it – Office Link for Excel is a similar concept to the Adobe Report Builder Excel plugin but not as sophisticated, elegant or useful. The concept of Office Link is a good one in that it is possible to get data into any Microsoft Office product and as such is something that should be considered by Adobe (if that’s really required) but I can’t really see a reason to keep it for Excel.
Keep it – API Report Items are actually very useful for getting at the data. With the Adobe API you need to specify your report on the fly by setting dimensions, metrics, filters etc. While this is good from a flexibility POV and should therefore not be removed the DAx API also has the concept of calling a ‘Report Item’ from the ‘One-Call API’. This allows a business user to define their report via Report Builder as well as their segments and filters and then just pass across IDs to whoever administers the API data extraction. As such it will make communication between business users and technical users that much simpler… an issue we’ve seen crop up with using the Adobe API.
Segments & Filtering
Remove it – The canvas for creating segments and filters in DAx is not the most intuitive. It is also quite hard to do nesting and exclusion criteria. The Adobe interface now that they’ve unified it somewhat what the AHA functionality is the one to keep here.
Keep it – Quite simple this one but keep regex! The drop-down options in Adobe are very handy for the less technical user but for those analysts and other technical users who want to create a more elegant single argument for identifying a variable it’s a bit of a pain. The drop-downs are just pre-canned regex arguments anyway so why not have an option to specify your own regex as well!?
These are probably the most obvious items on my list although it is a lot longer. If anyone would like to know more (including Adobe Product Managers!) then please feel free to contact me and you can buy me a coffee to discuss further.