If you’ve been waiting since late 2006 for the publication of the WAA Standards definitions, yesterday’s announcement is big news. Yet for the majority of the world, this new set of standards will fly way under the radar. For those intimately involved, the definitions represent a milestone in the development of web analytics. For those who missed the news…well let’s just say they’re not going to lose any sleep over it. I commend the Standards Committee for pulling together this comprehensive list of 26 definitions, yet the terms and definitions are nothing new. What is new is the fact that the institution responsible for guiding the direction of web analytics agreed upon a set of common definitions to talk/measure/calculate web metrics. Although I believe that the real challenge lies in getting outsiders, new entrants and current users to adopt these common characterizations.
The thirty-four page report identifies the “Big 3” definitions most important to the industry as: Unique Visitors, Visits/Sessions and Page Views. These metrics comprise most web analytics definition roots and thereby needed to be standardized first in order to proceed from common ground.
I very much like the way that the report sets up the framework for its definitions by Type, Universe and Definition/Calculation. The report describes four metric Types as: counts, ratios, KPIs and Dimensions. The Universe is measured as the dynamic of visitors to the site such as: Aggregate, Segmented or Individual. Both of these classifications are used to define all metrics within the report.
The report is certainly worth a read, if only to reaffirm the definitions you are already using. It will also serve as a useful tool for educating co-workers and superiors to the inner workings of analytics and possibly provide them an introduction to your world.
Here’s a link to the full PDF containing all definitions: http://www.webanalyticsassociation.org/attachments/committees/5/WAA-Standards-Analytics-Definitions-Volume-I-20070816.pdf