We’re working on another update to our tracking code that’s going to add two much needed features: cookies, and pinging support. We have to make some backend changes also to support this, so we expect it to be about 2 weeks before it’s ready. Here’s what these features will do for us:
Cookies will let us track unique visitors more accurately. Currently we just do this based on IP address, which works well most of the time. But if you have a bunch of people all behind the same router all accessing the same site at the same time, Clicky currently sees this as one visitor. This is rarely a problem for most of you, but some of you have sites that are accessed mainly by intranets, so it’s more of an issue. Cookies will also let us finally track new vs returning visitors.
Cookies will be enabled by default. Most of you couldn’t care less, but we do have some government sites using our service and we have been contacted more than once to ask about cookies, because it’s illegal to have a government site that sets third party cookies without a signoff from the Secretary of Defense – no joke. So if you want to disable cookies in your tracking, implement this code as soon as possible. We’re going to email everyone who has a .gov site in their account and point them to this post so we can be sure that everyone sees it.
Pinging support will let us provide much more accurate “time on site” figures for your visitors. Right now we just rely on a time out period to say “ok, this person is gone”. With pinging, we’ll actually know when they’re gone. Spy will be much more accurate in terms of how many visitors are actually on your site literally right now. This will also let us track how long someone is on your page for the last page view of their session. In particular, people who only have 1 action will no longer all be shown as “10 seconds” – we’ll actually know how long they were online.
We’re also going to adjust our “bounce rate” calculation so not everyone with just one page view will be counted as a bounce. While a lot of people who only have one page view are not engaged with your site, this isn’t always the case. If you have a long article linked from Digg for example, 50% of the people may actually read the whole thing and be on your site for 5-10 minutes. Right now, all of these people would be shown as bounces, but once this feature is implemented we’ll probably classify anyone who is on your site for more than 30 seconds as an engaged user, and they won’t be a bounce.
Woopra recently poked fun at us on their blog for not having pinging support, but we agree with them – this feature is needed, and we will have it very soon. It’s been a planned feature for a very long time, so we’re glad it’s finally in the works.