July 27, 2006, 12:00 AM

Web analytics expands to measure value of rich media on sites

A new offering from Omniture streamlines data capture and reporting to allow sites to analyze visitor interaction with Flash-based site applications.

The use of rich media is becoming standard at major retail sites, and web analytics provider Omniture has extended its offering with one of the first tools to measure the performance of rich media on sites.

While possible to measure the performance of rich media applications -- features built in Flash or other technology that allow site visitors to zoom in, rotate, view in video or 3-D animation or otherwise interact with product displays – it’s been challenging, requiring a two-step process. To do it, web developers have had to manipulate data through both JavaScript and ActionScript, which is the programming language for Flash.

The two-step process is cumbersome, and risks compromising data being translated from one programming language to the other. Omniture’s ActionSource solution, for the measurement of Flash-based applications, eliminates the programming language translation barrier by capturing data directly from ActionScript independent of any JavaScript interaction, the company says.

Omniture is in the process of deploying the new analytics functionality with a number of retailers. However, the experience of a media company already using the tool illustrates how it works. Scripps Network, which owns the House and Garden Television channel, used ActionSource on its Flash-based media player on HGTV.com to measure traffic and conversion off streaming video it ran on the site during its recent HGTV Dream Home Giveway. The event was a live on-air special, immediately followed by a live online broadband presentation.

On-air, HGTV encouraged visitors to go to HGTV.com for live continuation of the on-air event: site visitors could, via the live video, tour the home for the first time with the winner who’d just been announced on the TV program. In one hour, HGTV.com registered more than half a million requests to its server, including 120,000 first time visitors to the site as determined by the identification of unique IDs. The analytics tool also determined that 55,000 site visitors logged onto the live video.

Omniture notes that ActionSource is built so as to allow site operators to measure Flash activity without having to code individual elements of the Flash application. The supporting feature, called AutoTrack, “listens” for click action to determine if the click is related to a button or to movie clip activity. It can automatically capture and send that data for reporting, according to Omniture.

“Integrating the measurement and optimization of new media across multiple channels – within a web browser, outside of a web browser, on mobile devices and on any ActionScript-enabled device with an Internet connection – is an important part of our strategy,” says Brett Error, Omniture CTO.


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