Thursday, 17 March 2011

Instances vs. Visits in Omniture

Instances and Visits in Omniture

Lot of people get confused between instances and visits in sitecatalyst . Actually they are two very different animals.
Instance is the count of the number of times a value was received in a conversion variable. Visit pertains to the session.

Lets look at it with an example. Say you are tracking the username in your website in a conversion variable (lets say evar1), then in the evar1 report the instances metric shows you the number of times evar1 received a specific value .
So evar1 report would have values like Guest,UserA,UserB,etc and the instances metric will give the number of times each user accessed a page.

Now that we got an idea of instance, lets look at visit. A visit always identifies the session. A visit lasts for 30 minutes.Visit is the interaction a user has with a website.Visit can comprise of multiple page views/requests.

Instances would increment each time a particular value was received in the conversion variable. On the contrary, the visit metric does not behave so. Even if a value was received multiple times in a session, the visit metric takes into account only one count since it all happened in the same session.

So if a user views 3 pages in the following order

Login->Home Page(evar1=guest)->ContentPage(evar1=UserA)->AnotherPage(evar1=UserA)->Signout Page(evar1=loggedout)->Home page(evar1=guest).

So for the same value (lets take 'Guest') , the instance and visit metric would be different:

eVar1 value
Visits *

*All of this would be counted as single visit if it had been done by the user within the 30 minute time frame. If it had been done by the user after a gap of 30 mins/more , or using two different browsers then more visits would be counted.

Lastly, since conversion variables are directly linked to success events, it makes more sense to use the visits metric with them. As instances and visits are different in sitecatalyst, they both have different scenarios of usage in analytics.