Sticky data: Custom data, referrers, and campaigns saved in cookies

[Do not panic. You do not need to update your tracking code.]

We've just pushed a major update to our tracking code so it works a bit more like one aspect of Google Analytics now, that being that some additional data is saved in first party cookies (set with Javascript) for visitors to your site. This data being referrers, dynamic (UTM) campaign variables, and custom data set with clicky_custom.visitor (renamed from clicky_custom.session - don't worry, the old name will still work indefinitely).

We're calling this "sticky data" and the point of it is two fold. First, for referrers and dynamic campaigns, this will better attribute how your visitors originally arrived at your site, as they visit in the future. In other words, if they find your site via a link or search, all future visits to your site where they go directly to your site instead of through a link, this original referrer (and/or campaign) will be attached to these new sessions. This will be particularly useful for those of you who have setup goal funnels using referrers or campaigns. These cookies are set for 90 days. Google does 180, which we think is a bit too long, so we're doing 90 instead.

(Note: This does not work for "static" (pre-defined) campaigns that you create in Clicky's interface. It only works with the dynamic ones created with e.g. "utm_campaign" etc variables).

Second, if you set custom visitor data, we've thought for a while now how great it would be if that data stuck across visits. For example if someone logs in and you attach their username to their session, that's great - everytime they login that is. But what about when they visit your site in the future but don't login? Well, now that we save this data in a cookie, their username will still get attached to their session so you'll still know who they are. utm_custom data will also be saved! These cookies are set "indefinitely", more or less.

A lot of you use custom visitor data to attach things that are very session specific though, such as shopping card IDs, that kind of thing. With this in mind, there are only 3 specific keys we'll save by default for custom visitor data. Those keys are "username", "name", and "email". Of course, if you have others you want to save in cookies, you can customize it with the new visitor_keys_cookie option. Click that link to learn more.

We think the vast majority of you will like this new sticky data. However, if for some reason you don't, we created another new clicky_custom option as well, sticky_data_disable. Setting this option will disable this data being saved to or read from cookies, without having to fully disable cookies. And of course, if you have fully disabled cookies, this data will never get saved in the first place.

Originally we wanted to add support for parsing GA's "__utmz" cookies, which is what GA uses to store campaign and referrer data for 6 months. The cookie format is fairly straight forward but upon investigating our own GA cookies we saw a lot of inconsistency across all the sites that it had been set for. So we're going to hold off on that for now.

Our privacy section on cookies has been updated to reflect these updates.

Enjoy!
5 comments |   Sep 27 2013 1:27pm





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