utm_custom: a new URL parameter to attach custom data to visitors

One feature that gets requested a lot is to be able to set a variable in the URL that could then be attached to the visitor as custom data. This would be particularly useful for things like email newsletters, so when someone clicks through, they can be identified automatically.

The variable name needed to be generic because of our white label program, and since we pictured this being used with "campaign activity" more than anything else, we decided to call the variable utm_custom (related to Google/Urchin's utm_campaign etc variables).

You can see full documentation here. Because custom data requires a Pro or higher account (upgrade), this variable will also only be processed if you have a Pro or higher account.

utm_custom is an associative array so you can set multiple key/value pairs on a single page. (It must be an array with at least one key/value pair, or it will be ignored). For example, if you sent a visitor to this page:

http://yoursite.com/landing/page?utm_custom[username]=Bob+Jones&utm_custom[email]=bob@jones.com
&utm_campaign=Email+blast&utm_content=Oct+20+2011


You would see this in your visitor's list:




And this when viewing visitor/session details:




We've had requests for this countless times over the years so we know many of you will find it quite useful :D
3 comments |   Oct 20 2011 7:41pm

SHUT. DOWN. EVERYTHING.


Hmm... did anyone actually read the announcement that Google made today? This isn't "real time Google Analytics", this is a single report in GA that is real time. The rest of GA remains the same. This is more akin to Chartbeat, to be used as a real time compliment to a standard analytics package, rather than a full standalone real time service like Clicky is. But I guarantee you Chartbeat will be just fine, as will everyone else. We've all had, and continue to have, plenty of advantages over GA other than real time data.

If anything, I'm glad Google has done this, as it will bring more awareness to the concept of "real time web analytics" in general. This will inevitably lead to more people searching about it, and we just so happen to have the #1 organic result for this search on both Google and Bing (and hence Yahoo). Everything is going to be just fine!
32 comments |   Sep 29 2011 1:59pm

Multiple dashboards and custom dashboard modules

Paying members can now create up to 5 unique dashboards for each site, allowing you to have multiple birds-eye views of your analytics - all a click a way in the sidebar (as seen to the left).

This is especially handy because you now have the ability to create your own dashboard modules. For example, if you want to see both top countries and top cities at the same time, you could create two new boxes, each one having one of these pieces of data. Previously, dashboard modules were categorized, so you could only view countries OR cities, but not both at once. You can add more than one data type to each module too:




And a much requested feature is the ability to assign a default dashboard to each of your sub-users. This allows you to create things like "boss mode", where he will see only the things he cares about, but you, the analytics junkie, can see everything you want.

11 comments |   Sep 21 2011 3:10pm

New option to anonymize IP addresses

We just added a new site preference to log IP addresses anonymously, which takes the last octet and changes it to 0. For example, 123.123.123.123 would become 123.123.123.0. And we're not just hiding the last octet from you - we remove it before storing it, so it should comply with laws in places like Germany where it's technically illegal to log the full IP address of a visitor.

This preference is available to all users. You can find it in your site preferences, under "advanced".
6 comments |   Aug 26 2011 12:28pm

BREAKING: TWITTER'S INFLUENCE IS NOW ZERO. FACEBOOK WINS. ALL HAIL THE ZUCK.

The media loves to hate Twitter when it comes to measuring their "influence", or how many people click links shared on Twitter. Even when they state the obvious reasons (HTTPS sends no referrer, 99% of people use Twitter "apps" which also send no referrer, etc), they brush them off and pretend no one uses Twitter.

I'm not here to defend Twitter, but they just made a big change that almost 100% guarantees headlines like the one we're using here.

What am I blathering on about? I can't exactly tell what Twitter changed, as I never paid attention to t.co really, but either they finally started actually routing every link through their shortener, t.co, or they changed the way t.co redirects. The bottom line is this: you will pretty much never see a single referrer from twitter.com again. Instead you will be seeing t.co. (At least from non-Clicky analytics services - more on that in minute).

The reason is because of the way t.co redirects. Instead of using a 301 redirect, which every shortener should do, they are using a combination of a "META" redirect and Javascript to send you on your merry way. If you click a t.co link and hit escape really fast, your browser will pause on that page, allowing you to see the source:

<noscript><META http-equiv="refresh" content="0;URL=http://www.addedbytes.com/blog/if-php-were-british/"></noscript><script>location.replace("http://www.addedbytes.com/blog/if-php-were-british/")</script>

The "problem" is that both META redirects and Javascript redirects overwrite the original referrer. The referrer becomes the page with that code on it. Hence, no more twitter.com referrals, because every single link passes through t.co now.

Here are screenshots of our 30 day history of referral traffic for twitter.com vs t.co. Notice the last 3 days, twitter.com is zero, and t.co has come out of essentially nowhere:




What to do?

We just updated Clicky to convert t.co referrers into "twitter.com" automatically. Knowing the specific t.co link someone came from has no value, but knowing someone came from Twitter does. No other analytics service has done this yet that we know of, so as usual our tiny size lets us move lightning fast to address issues like this.

[Update: ok, we changed it back. See comments.]

But wait there's more! There's a damn nice silver lining here. The main reason twitter.com doesn't show up as a referral much, even before this change, is because so many people use apps instead of the actual twitter web site. When you click a link in an app, that app passes the URL to your browser, which then opens it - but that means no referrer.

However, now that all links are being passed through t.co, and this happens via the API as well (I confirmed via our own Twitter keyword monitoring feature), this means that even people who click links from apps will be passing through t.co first. If we automatically convert t.co links into twitter.com in the backend, this means we will be able to give you a MUCH more accurate picture of Twitter's traffic to your web site. (We just pushed this change so we can't guarantee this will be the case, but based on what we've analyzed, if you use Clicky you should start seeing a huge influx of twitter.com referrals).

This may even be the reason that they're doing redirect this way, because they're sick of the uninformed media saying they have no "influence". By having a ton of t.co hits suddenly showing up in referrer logs, maybe the media will consider what that means. Doubtful, but one can always hope.
52 comments |   Aug 20 2011 10:49am

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