Podcast: Measuring Rich Media (Ajax, Flash / Flex, RSS & Blogs)

Banana LeafI recently had the opportunity to record a couple of podcasts with Wendi Malley of the Web Analytics Association’s Research Committee. The topic of the podcasts was Measuring Rich Media. A heavy and ambiguous topic if there ever was one. Wendi was kind enough to point me to the Wikipedia definition of Rich Media:

    Rich media is the term used to describe a broad range of interactive digital media that exhibit dynamic motion, taking advantage of enhanced sensory features such as video, audio and animation. The term is used to describe widely varying technologies and implementations and an exact definition is elusive.

Like everyone else I have used lots of websites that create rich internet experiences. I have also had the delight of having to measure some rich experiences that use Ajax or Flash or RSS or blogs (are they really rich experiences or really social and web 2.0 experiences?).

[My peer blogger Clint Ivy deserves the credit for first posting links to the podcasts, thanks so much Clint.]

In our first podcast we discussed measuring Ajax, Flash and Flex based rich experiences (including RIA’s – Rich Internet Applications).

WAA webpage with podcast and conversation transcript : Click Here.

Listen to the Podcast : (39:22 mins)

Download the podcast : Click Here (4.6 mb)

Quick Essence: How to do you measure experiences where the page paradigm is dead and there is a lack of any standardization in the current page centric web analytics tools? Especially since every single day the technology and what we do with it evolves. The podcast discusses shifting out thinking from “page views” in a session to identifying “business events” using available technologies (javascript or, for example, ATG event logging) to capture key outcomes and context. More than ever in the RIA world it is important not just to measure outcome but also experience and customer satisfaction with that experience while integrating the rich experience data with rest of the site data for segmentation purposes. For more about the limitations, pros and cons, best practices and examples please listen to the podcast.

In the second one we focussed on measuring RSS (Really Simple Syndication) and Blogs.

WAA webpage with podcast and conversation transcript : Click Here.

Listen to the Podcast : (33:43 mins)

Download the podcast : Click Here (3.9 mb)

Quick Essence: RSS and Blogs are very young and there is a distinct lack of analytics tools created to measure them (except for MeasureMap which I can’t wait to try, sadly sign up has been closed for a while). But there are some interesting things we can do right now. For RSS there is lots you can track with free services like FeedBurner (number of daily subscribers, clicks on feeds – content consumption, geo location and types of readers, and even live data).  Measure success of a blog is even more fun. I cover the thoughts in my Measuring Blog Success post. In addition to that we discuss what rich media / experiences have been used on this blog (Ajax live search, zoom clouds etc) and what was learned from these experiments and how you can use them.

One Overall Core Thought:

    Measuring success of rich experiences (ajax or flash or flex or others) requires a fundamental mindset shift away from how web analytics is thought of and done today. It is hard but necessary. Period.

Three Important Things to Consider:

  1. Pre planning: Unlike other things for this area you need to do a lot of pre-planning and make sure your code is included in the rich experience before you get started. On web pages we can recover and tag later etc. In this area it is very hard to do so set a lot of time for planning.
  2. Integration of data, hyper important because A) you can’t measure in a silo (so you need to know what the differences are in outcomes based on where different segments of people come from or based on offers or what they might have seen before or after the experience) B) you want to know what people “think”, so in our case it is important to integrate into mechanisms such as website surveys.
  3. Testing, testing, testing, testing. You are ready for rich experiences, but are your customers ready? I have a great example of this in the podcast above. Failing faster is a awesome recipe for long term success. 

I want to thank Jim Humphrys and Wendi Malley for the opportunity to do the podcasts, and I highly recommend Wendi for the job of professional podcast recorder! : )

Please share your feedback on the podcasts and your perspective on how to measure rich experiences. Also please considering joining the wonderful Web Analytics Association (click here), it comes with tons of benefits.

[Like this post? For more posts like this please click here.]

PS: I am very happy that today Occam’s Razor has achieved two small milestones.

With this post we have crossed 100,000 words written in 61 blog posts (and you have contributed and additional 82,000 in comments).

Today, after a little over six months of existence, we also crossed 500 unique blog links in Technorati (Nov 29: Rank 4,803 and 1,241 links from 504 blogs).


It is truly kindness from strangers that makes this small milestone possible since I know less than 1% of the blog authors who have linked to this blog. I thank you all very much, you have made my day (it has been a very very tough couple weeks so this is appreciated even more, Gracias).

[The ranking will go down because technorati only considers a rolling six months window, and I can’t possibly get lots more new links! : ) ]


  1. 1

    Excellent interviews Avinash. There were so many things to note that I had to listen each podcast twice. Because of the focus in our large media company I found the RIA / Flash podcast particularly interesting, "business events" are going to be gospel for us.

    Your blog is a rare Web Analytics blog where there is value in every post. Keep up the good work, it is greatly appreciated.

  2. 2
    Vanessa Jones says

    Thanks for the podcasts Avinash and WAA. It is nice to see a rationale perspective on rich / web 2.0 experiences and your practical suggestions.

    I don't see too many companies embracing testing and learning from their mistakes. I like the example in your podcast of implementing AJAX Live Search on your blog, measuring effectiveness and then reverting back to normal search when data indicated the cool search was not working. This is something most websites are not good at.

  3. 3

    Nice podcast! Have you taken a look at ATG's customer intelligence or campaign optimizer products. More information can be found at the using the links below:

    ATG Customer Intelligence

    ATG Campaign Optimizer

  4. 4

    Very interesting interview Avinash, measuring Rich media is something where we have to specially focus today and during next years.

    Thanks for sharing your podcasts here!

    By the way, let me invite you to take a look to an interview I did about Packet Sniffing for Web Analytics proposes (http://www.damia.com.ar)

  5. 5

    hi, i have another very interesting project for those who wants to know about flash,graphics and some softwares so their is a very good opportunity for them to learm.

  6. 6

    I'm building an analytics service that's specifically aimed at Ajax and Flash sites – I'd love to hear what you think: http://www.ajaxmetrics.com


  7. 7

    On our website homepage, we want to track banners which are refreshing after some time period.

    Is it possible to track the no. of visits and other metrics from these banners like how many people are clicking because that's on our home page and covers the main area of our website. Our main concerns is refresh here for tracking.

  8. 8

    Sheen: There are several ways to do this. For example you could use the "event logging" feature of Google Analytics. Some of the other tools also have this feature.

    You can also leverage onclick events (a good old way of doing it). You can also do couple other things.

    At the end of this post there are four specific ways you can get help on how to do this on your website. I recommend using the GAAC option, but its totally your call.

    Google Analytics Help: Questions, Answers, Tips, Ideas, Suggestions

    For other vendors, please check with their tech support (they are all quite helpful).



  1. […] The term is used to describe widely varying technologies and … Like everyone else I have used lots of websites that create rich internet experiences. … what rich media / experiences have been used on this blog (Ajax live search, … Read more: here […]

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