Rich clients, web services, and web analytics

Today we measure web activity using logs and client-side JS hacks to enrich the logs. As reported in this story on web analytics, the combination of these two techniques represents the current sweet spot:

Software solutions historically have relied on analyzing Web server logs to collect data in batch for customers, while ASPs use Java scripting to place browser tags or "beacons" on a Web site that reports activity back to a third-party site in real time.

But...this "religious war" over techniques is beginning to wane as Web analytics companies increasingly employ both technologies.
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Now I'll relay a question asked of me at a talk I gave recently. Paraphrasing: "If you have a rich client like Flash 6 front-ending web services, then where's the clickstream, and what do we measure?"

To the extent we package back-end interaction as services, we'll get a better (higher-level) record of that interaction. Rather than infer from HTTP logs, we'll see things directly in database and service-broker logs. Since these sources are diverse, there will of course need to be a syslogd kind of mechanism to aggregate them.

Still, the Flash question is an interesting one. There are evidently third-party tools that can report Flash user interaction data, but the analytics industry would probably like to see standard Flash APIs that can, with user permission, report such data.

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