Client-side Data Collection

An alternative to traditional web server log file analysis that involves collecting data directly from the visitor’s browser (the client) rather than from server log files, improving data accuracy. Special script in a page’s source code is used to transmit page-level data, not “hit-level” data, to a data collection server, dramatically reducing data volume and decreasing processing time. Client-side data collection obtains more accurate information than log files do—by accurately tracking visitor activity normally hidden by browser’s local cache and proxy and caching servers like those used with an AOL account—as well as by collecting extra, customized data not included in normal web server log files. Accuracy is also improved since spiders do not trigger client-side tags; with log files, spiders can appear to be “real” visitors unless their activity is filtered out. However, client-side methods provide no information on server technical performance or bandwidth use. WebTrends’ proprietary client-side data collection technology is called SmartSource.