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Adobe Analytics Review: "A developers prospective"
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Vagner Polund profile photo
Updated April 22, 2015

Adobe Analytics Review: "A developers prospective"

Score 8 out of 101
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Overall Satisfaction with Adobe Analytics

Since I work at an agency named Axis41, we have helped build out and maintain multiple implementation of Adobe Analytics including stanfordhealthcare.org. Adobe Analytics helps the designers know how to make informed decisions about how to design the user experience. Just to give an example, there is a carousel on the home page of the site. There was discussion as to how many users were using the carousel. Were users clicking the arrows or the radio buttons? Were users actually clicking on the carousel? Were users actually interacting with links on the carousel? Which links were actually being clicked if they clicked them? All of these questions could be answered because Adobe Analytics is able to capture this information. With that information the designers could make actual informed decisions about what to change about the carousel. This is just one example of one very small business problem that Adobe Analytics solved. There are many other problems that Stanford Hospital has solved with Adobe Analytics.
  • Tracks basic web traffic and key metrics for most websites. Is particularly good at measuring traffic metrics for e-commerce sites. As the software continues to mature, it continues to become effective at capturing complicated scenarios.
  • Well documented with a very verbose training manual.
  • Captures information quite transparently to the user. There is almost no overhead performance issues when the final implementation is integrated into your web site.
  • Implementation has become easier through the years as well. With a DTM(Dynamic Tag Manager) code maintenance is incredible easy.
  • Developer related concepts are sometimes hard to grasp initially. Particularly the use of the terms "variables" and "eVars". I was confused at first when I was learning about these. Then I slowly understood that the definition of these term were a bit different then what a developer typically refers to as a variable.
  • I would like to see a way to have a test suite to test an implementation. There are debugger tools that help developers know that specific vars and eVars are being set. I would like to see however a way to have a separate suite that you could test on a stage environment for example.
  • It is a bit overwhelming at first to grasp all the terminology at once. Adobe does make a great effort to make the management suite intuitive, but understanding what everything does is like drinking from a firehose. It is a very heavy framework with a lot of capabilities which can be overwhelming at times.
  • Influences design decisions based on actual user experience data.
  • influence key business decisions that lead to more profits.
  • Raise awareness of what content people view.
  • Help drive development efforts on what parts of your website need to be changed. You may think one piece of your website is super important or may even be attached to pieces of it, but actual numbers tell different stories.
From what I have seen, Google Analytics is very basic compared to Adobe Analytics. It does not have all the functionality of Adobe Analytics which makes Adobe Analytics more robust. This may be a good thing if your requirements are small. If you need data at an enterprise level however, you will have to choose between either Google Analytics Premium and Adobe Analytics.
Adobe Analytics is definitely a good fit for a large enterprise level website. It can capture divers behavior about the user and collect enormous amounts of information. Like most Adobe products its an investment. You will need people who know the product to make continual maintenance changes to your implementation to adapt to changing requirements. If no one is lined up to help you maintain your implementation, then expect to be patient with yourself to learn all of its capabilities. It is a big piece of software that has major potential to help you make informed decisions. It also intuitive enough to capture basic traffic information. Even though this is a heavy piece of software there is a lot that you get OOB (out of the box) that can be super easy to set up for smaller websites.

Using Adobe Analytics

3 - Having good solid javascript skills is important. Having worked on a couple of implementations with the marketing team, they have unavoidable learned basic javascript terms and concepts. Since the implementation is done in javascript, knowing how variables and eVars are being set and how ajax works is advantageous. Also knowing how a DTM works is also important if your implementation uses a dynamic tag manager.
  • Knowing if users click on specific download links. Questions like: "Are users even downloading the PDF version of this content?"
  • Knowing if users are following links that are displayed to them using personalization algorithms. Questions like: "Did the user like the suggested products that we showed them?"
  • Knowing if users are experiencing basic features of the website that lead to a call to action. Questions like: "Did the user click on the BMI calculator? If so did they use it and then click on the find doctor link?"
It gives good insight as to key indicators as to what customers are looking at. I'm still unfamiliar with all of it's capabilities so my feelings toward it are still developing; however I can see how well it captures data that help drive critical decisions. Knowledge is power and when you know the behavior of your users, then it gives you greater power over how you present your content on your web site. It also drives your capability of catering your web site to your customers and shortens the gap between your customers and you so that you know what they are looking for.

Adobe Analytics Implementation

It is a large effort to implement. Throwing a developer with zero experience with Adobe Analytics with no support is a REALLY BAD IDEA!!! Having experienced developers working as a team is crucial to a strong implementation. I say this because I have experienced both scenarios. I was the only developer on an implementation project and I had no experience with Adobe Analytics. As a result I made many architecturally bad decisions which lead to a rigid fragile implementation that eventually was scraped. It took some hard lessons to learn that Adobe Analytics was not as simple as their sales reps make it sound. Using the Adobe Dynamic Tag Manager made sequential implementations incredibly STRONG. Having a DTM to manage the code was a miracle and a life saver!!! If you plan on doing a big enterprise level implementation, please seriously consider using the Adobe Dynamic Tag Manager!!! it made code maintenance super slick and easy which is super important for a developer!!!
Yes - 
  1. The first phase that I was a part of was getting the initial implementation done. We first wanted to start tracking basic things like what links were being followed and from where. Basically get all the information captured initially.
  2. The second phase was to create a Data Layer for the implementation. This data layer would enable developers to make continual maintenance to the website markup without breaking the analytics code.
Change management was a big part of the implementation and was well-handled - Based on how big your implementation is going to be, having a good Data Layer is super important. It is a lot of overhead to set up a well planed out Data Layer, but it makes maintenance of the analytics code a dream. Knowing how to construct a Data Layer is a bit difficult since you have to make a lot of assumptions about what it will be, however keeping a focused effort in making it will make your implementation stronger and easier to maintain.
  • How do I target specific parts of the markup to attach tracking code if the markup is ajaxed in based on an user click event?
  • How do I change the tracking code to track a modal window as a separate page view (for reporting reasons)?