Friday, August 04, 2006

I want my within-visit associations!

Yesterday I had a brief correspondence with Robert Allison of SAS, who has been posting several really good dashboards on Dashboard Spy ( The one that I wanted to know about was this one because it had to do with web analytics and because some of the stats were really cool yet simple. I wanted to know the identity of the program that had produced, from raw site activity, the underlying data that his dashboard was based on. As it turned out, he got the data from Stephen Few's book. I have that book on order so I'll check further when I get it.

Meanwhile, the point of this is my frustration with web analytics programs today, which are for the most part dressed-up tabulators with a sessionizer tacked on. You get the equivalent of cubes for data within a hit, hit data with first-hit extras (referrer etc), and some visitor history dimensions.

I want associations more than anything else. I got out of grad school umpteen years ago and this was an old idea back then.

Allison's (and presumably Few's) dashboard had, for example, these two lists:

Top 10 [pairs of] Products Purchased Together but Not Displayed Together
Top 10 [pairs of] Products Displayed Together but Not Purchased Together

Those two tables are worth a lot not only to web managers but product managers. Try getting them out of a web analytics program.

PostScript: In response to my question, Rob Allison remarked that the stats didn't seem very sophicated to him. He's right. But then, he's in R&D and let's not forget that he actually works for SAS (!) which means what is sophisticated for him is some kind of nirvana for us web analytics drones. But let's at least get web analytics out of the within-hit crosstab world.


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