Sharks and Tracking

It started with the grand allegory of sharks in the ocean substituting pixels on and scripts on the screen. You know, the ocean of the internet. Tracking prey, moving to stay alive, those hungry hungry google analytic codes revealing incoming links and open rates; murky waters becoming clear. Pixels of similar size, some displayed:none; migrating at breakneck speeds all eager for the same result.
It started with the grand allegory of sharks in the ocean substituting pixels on and scripts on the screen. You
It doesn’t really work. The shark is really whoever is in charge of analytics whether it be your agency’s dedicated analytics director or simply you- excited that a friend posted something from your personal blog on their Facebook account. Are you the aggressive hammerhead shark refreshing the screen every couple of minutes or the harmless bonnethead just checking in every now and again, almost afraid to look?

As a hobbyist photographer in the middle aught’s I became addicted to Flickr’s analytics that came with a “pro” account. It was very exciting to see that other people besides my mother were enjoying my photos of my dog and abstract object silhouetted against the sky. I then understood the importance of tagging and labeling my photos correctly, in a way that was getting picked up by search engines and posted to miscellaneous blogs.

While Flickr continues to evolve while trying not to drown many changes have been made. Some changes for the better and some for the worse, Flickr’s tracking capabilities fall into the latter. Such precise distinctions as email providers and specific blogs became melded into one: Unknown Source. Explanations exist but to me the explanations don’t resonate because these sources were once known. Now it’s me, the shark, looking at food and well, bouncing. Their analytics have become pretty pointless, merely bait.

Omniture and Google are two of the better known tracking options in the sea providing those with big appetites with plenty to feed on. These continue to evolve utilizing slick UIs that provide graphical and numerical feedback. If we could turn the shark analogy away from the human and back to the tracking, these would be more akin to a Terminator style shark: half fish half machine.

Which is the complete solution? In my “view source” snooping I occasionally run into a mess of combo tracking. Google, pixels, Omniture, plus whatever home coded solution a client or agency provides. Sharks often swim together for feeding or migration purposes, usually the same species. We can diffuse this combo tracking to simply to “the senses.” The hungry analytics shark utilizing all available to keep feeding.

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