Will more screens mean less Analytics?

Posted on 27. Jun, 2012 by in Digital Marketing, Thoughts

In a week of shock announcements and continued rumours in the tablet marketplace, we ask: Will more screens mean less Analytics?

Multi Screen AnalyticsThe tablet market in Scotland has been in a period of growth since the 1800’s, this localised success has started to spread worldwide over the last five years with the recipe changing from a sweet, sugary, after-dinner treat to mobile, touchscreen must-haves.

The burgeoning success of tablets and smartphones has every manufacturer vying for the consumer’s hard earned pounds. With market leaders Apple and Samsung, leading the field by a distance, the big guns are readying some competitive releases aiming to steal back some tablet market share. From the Microsoft Surface to the rumoured Google Nexus , alongside the possible UK release of the Kindle Fire (with accompanying Amazon App Store ), some would argue that we are entering a mobile renaissance, where tablets are becoming a truly ubiquitous consumer electronic.
During the Christmas period of 2011, the increase in tablet use was so momentous that we started to see up-turns throughout Analytics packages, such as the one seen below (from Google Analytics):

Google Analytics Tablet Traffic Growth

(Note: Chart shows all tablet traffic, not just iPad)

This begs the question: “How big will the Christmas 2012 spike be?”

If the trend continues and tablets, smartphones and desktops are common place in every household, then how do we understand a user’s web data across so many different platforms and interactions?

We are fans of data. We like understanding interaction. We enjoy preparing analysis. We like informing strategy. Is it a natural progression that our data will become disjointed and tougher to understand?

Apple’s safari browser, for example, blocks cookies by default on iOS devices and with the inherent analytics issues surrounding the EU cookie directive and Google’s SSL encryption, we are going to need to start thinking outside of the box to get the analysis we crave.

Matt Swan, client Strategist at Affiliate Window, noted in a report for Econsultancy that vital affiliate tracking analytics was sometimes accidently excluded from mobile sites with tablets also being incorrectly detected and served as mobiles. This issue could affect a multitude of users and the repercussions wide-spread. An appropriate and robust tagging strategy should be applied to all versions of the site to avoid the proliferation of such issues.

Some of the industry’s thought-leaders are already starting to distil these new user tendencies and are suggesting that the holy-grail of modern, mobile analytics is to accrue data for multiple interactions across multiple screens. Avinash Kaushik refers to this as “Multi-channel Attribution, Across Multiple Screens ”. This is the idea that we will be able to track multiple interactions from TV to Tablet, Desktop to mobile. MCA-AMS would allow for the analysis of a full research-to-buy cycle, tracking customers switching between devices by using services such as Evernote and Pocket to keep track of user interests. The future of an MCA-AMS system is still in the “blue-sky thinking” stage, but with many of the industries greatest minds thinking about the issues; surely it won’t be long until there is a solution in place.

It is not merely the tracking of multiple devices that could present some new challenges for web analysts. The way in which users interact with tablets is vastly different from desktop machines. Most people don’t use a mouse for tablets and, therefore, heatmaps revealing where on-site users dwell will become difficult (if not impossible) to read anything in to. In fact, most onHover JavaScript events will become obsolete in the tablet experience.

In conclusion, we are on the cusp of a new frontier which started with smartphones and tablets and will continue to evolve with connected TV’s and connected consoles . With more devices, more people interacting with devices in any one session and more data than we can shake a stick at, the challenge for analysts is to find a new recipe for web analysis… by beating the air out of the multiple interactions, whisking the varied platforms and baking some tasty little treats to inform strategy, build better websites and increase the all-important return on investment

It is an exciting time for all of us… Now time for a cup of tea and slab of the traditional Scottish stuff!

Scottish Tablet

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  • http://www.andrewburnett.com/ andrewburnett

    +ONE for Scottish tablet! (ayeTablet – groan)

    It could be argued that more devices will mean more analytics, not less, but I suppose that is a mostly semantics. In any case, these are indeed exciting times for all who harvest and analyse data.

    • Wendy Rees

      Hello Andrew! *Waves*
      More analytics data is like a double rainbow for analysts: “But what does it mean?!” I’ll be almost pathetically excited when we can go “Oh look, this user searched for this term on their phone, bookmarked the site, and accessed the bookmark on their home computer to make a purchase” Long way off though *le sigh*