No Web Scraping Here!

Daniel Bashari
Founder and CEO
28 January 2020
Convizit blog cover image

When initially demonstrating to folks the unique website behavioral data that Convizit can provide, we sometimes get the question, “So, you mean you scrape the website’s HTML?” This question is understandable at first glance, considering that we tag our event data with context points, based on what appears on the webpage. However, since our user behavior data must contain the specific context for each individual visitor, screen scraping is simply not an option.

The problem with “scraping” a website’s HTML is that the contextual information on the page changes all the time. This is an important distinction, because hundreds of users can click the identical button each day, but the context information will be different at each click.

Take the following example, of a site visitor clicking “Add to Cart” in a retailer’s website – Convizit automatically captures all of the highlighted context “tags” for every user click in this area of the page:

So, in this example, Convizit automatically captures the following context “tags” for a “Clicked Add to Cart button” event (and delivers this data to the website owner in a structured form, either in JSON or direct injection to a data warehouse):

Action Add to Cart
Product Dyson Cyclone V10 Motorhead
Price $349.00
List-Price $499.99
You-Save $150.99 (30%)
Star-Rating 4.4
Number-of-Ratings 303
Left-in-Stock 2
Editor’s-Choice Yes
Free-Shipping Yes
On-Sale-Now No
Available-Colors Red / Black / Olive / Blue
Selected-Color Red
Available-Powers 180 Watts / 400 Watts
Selected-Power 400 Watts

Many of these details may appear differently for different visitors at different times, since, for example, more may people provide ratings, the price may fluctuate and the stock level may change. Furthermore, the page may appear differently for different users, due to the use of personalization software, collaborative filtering software or other mechanisms.

Why is This So Important?

It goes without saying that on-screen context, such as ratings, low stock levels, free shipping and reduced pricing, can have a profound impact on visitor behavior. However, the only way to accurately collect context information for every visitor action is at the moment each individual visitor performs the action. Capturing user actions without the actual on-screen context at the time of the action – which is what static screen scraping does – ignores a vast amount of data that is invaluable to understanding user behavior.

Because Convizit’s technology captures every individual user action and the specific on-screen context of those actions at the time of the event (in addition to all the “standard” page/user/session details), it becomes possible to derive immeasurably more insight from every user action on the site.

This unique, granular data can immensely enhance the value of all forms of user behavior analysis, from A/B testing to funnel analysis to user journey analysis.

It Must be Automatic

An important distinction between Convizit and other solutions is that all of the context data for each visitor action is captured by Convizit automatically, with no prior or later effort at all, on the part of the website owner. It might be possible (theoretically, anyway), using other tools on the market, to manually tag a few individual events with a few context details, but there are three major problems with this approach:

  • Even for a few events, this requires extensive planning and coding effort.
  • It is simply not feasible to do this for a large number of events.
  • It is impossible to adequately maintain such manual tagging mechanisms over time for a frequently changing e-commerce website

A case in point: a large international retailer with which we are in close contact told us frankly that they established an entire team to do this for their own website and that the effort failed. Even using web analytics tools designed for the purpose, they realized that it was impossible to manually tag and maintain the configurations required to capture all the data they wanted to collect and analyze.

A True Technological Breakthrough

While accomplishing this may seem trivial, there’s a reason why no one has been able to do it before now. We have had to overcome a number of very difficult technological challenges, in various areas, in order to be able to deploy technology to capture, in realtime, all user actions enriched with their associated context data.

But now that this approach is up and running, our clients enjoy the unique business benefits of having most complete and accurate user behavior dataset ever available! Contact us for a free trial and see for yourself the wealth of user behavior activity data you’ve been missing until now!

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