Webtrends has a handle on a pretty clever kit that could really shake up the digital marketing space. Its new Streams technology was on display at the Webtrends Engage conference, and the team put some live, real-time website data into some really futuristic and geeky visualizations that almost literally has to be seen to be believed.
As-it-Happens Behaviors in Real-Time
We try not to be hyperbolic about these things. We aren't cheering Webtrends on here. It's just that the team of data engineers and interface experts have pulled Streams data into some mesmerizing visualizations.
The promise of real-time website data, of course, isn't new but it might help to remember that real-time isn't even the point. It's about understanding what customers are doing on a website, for example, and how to guide them toward a desired outcome. For most marketers, that would be enough, but Webtrends decided to put its stream of real-time data into a format that makes things like marketing reports almost obsolete.
Webtrends has taken its Streams analytics tool and given it a turbo boost that delivers as-it-happens customer behavior while people are on a webpage. That way, their time on a site can be taken advantage of instantly, while they are in the shopping mode, Rick Weithas, Webtrends senior product marketing manager said at the Engage conference.
This kind of real-time analytics allows for things like ad targeting and referrals nearly instantly, he said.
As-it-happens website data from The Telegraph UK shows people (the colored circles) on specific sites on the page.
The above image is actually a live demonstration from the Engage keynote. The smaller spheres around the large inner circle are shaking slightly on the screen as more or less people jump into and out of specific pages. Even more interesting, and one of the things a still image doesn't capture, are the other actions being taken on the news site. Of course, The Telegraph wants to know who's going where and what they are reading, but this display also depicts more specific interactions with little green blips in the middle of the large circle.
The blips then shoot off toward the page the person goes too, and the entire effect is a bit like the behavior of a shooting star. Put together with the constantly changing sphere's on the outside, and the knowledge these are all real people on the The Telegraph UK's website, it was an effective presentation.
This data visualization looks more like a stream as the people visiting scroll across from left to right.
This image shows website visitors coming and going on the left hand side, and as they appear on the site, they scroll across the screen. In the middle are more specific actions like adding something to a shopping cart or choosing the size or color of an item they might want to buy. These actions scroll down from the top like on a Facebook feed. Again, watching people pop in and out of the website, and seeing their actions as-it-happens is simply surreal in this context.
Data Comes to Life
When a website or app is plugged into Streams, there are four data visualization models pre-built for customers. There are custom options too because the system is meant to be flexible.
"We set out to rebuild real time data," Eric Butler, Webtrends senior director of emerging markets, said at Engage. "We recreated the real time access, and we got bored with it about a year ago. It was evolutionary, not revolutionary." Expressing the data as it happens was a better idea, he said. It gets collected and shot right out. Variables are sent by the website, mobile site or apps, and the firehose of data is pushed out right away. "It's not analytics," Butler said. "It's the rich data expressed as it is collected."
The variables can be selected by the dozens, and can then be filtered down. Campaigns for example, can be filtered by device models, source type, search related items (including on site) and geo level data. This query data can be sliced and diced for ad hoc insights. "We built these customizations so data would be easier to understand," Butler said.
This can inspire businesses to do things differently because they can see the process in a new way. If a favorite version of one data set is found, that visualization can be saved. Additionally, Webtrends data can be plugged right into Streams if you're already a customer, and the data can be pushed into other systems like a CMS.
Even though Streams is a new system, Webtrends is already planning on new updates. One big one is a replay or flight recorder feature that allows streams to be played back later. Mesmerizing as these visualizations may be, nobody wants to watch them all day.
We're curious how the marketing teams at Adobe, Google and IBM will respond, so let us know in the comments if you think Webtrends is really at the cutting edge here.
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