About the Author:

With a career that has spanned advertising, production, technical services, and project management, Michael is able to articulate the wide range skills and professions that make the Internet work. This eclectic understanding and his desire to shine the light on those hiding behind techno babble has brought success to a wide range of projects.

Twitter @bissell

Linked In

Past Postings:

Using Dissent To Enhance Your Social Influence Online

Industry Profile - Author

Industry Profiles Full Time Employees - Professional Writer

Some Thoughts On Freelancing

Building Your Online Brand

Marissa Mayer and the Change in Yahoo's Remote Workforce

LinkedIn for Professional Writers

Fake Republican Twitter Accounts

"Did you mean?" -- Google's chiding nanny of search results

Branded Technology

Sharingspree.com -- Stealing more than GroupOn's Idea

The Internet Isn't Entertaining Enough

It's not your bank... It's Apple's and Amazon's

Violated by Madison Avenue

Google+ Scares Me

"We need to..." Internet Marketing Myths

Facebook's deal with the Devil

My cool new phone is a little too cool.

You are never alone

Promotion vs. Distribution... You'd think they'd know that one...

Publishing Industry Watch

Content for Social Media

Social Media Slot Machine

Anonymous vs Me

News from the Twitter Follow Campaign Trail

The art of Indiscriminate Twitter Following

The Cloudy Meaning of The Cloud

The Demand For The Loss of Creativity

Alien Technology and Government Conspiracies

Time for a New Reality

The Death of Email

Protecting Free Speech... Anonymously (and geekily)

Amazon Shouldn't Have Shut Down WikiLeaks

The Superpowers of the Hive Mind

Time for New Ideas

Comcast, Netflix and the Mystery of the Modem

The Great Technical Disconnect

New for the Sake of New

A Retail Store Built Like the Web

Disposable Personas

When did Google Start Policing the Internet?

Getting back to HTML basics, thanks to Apple

Inspecting my Navel Base

A shoebox vs. an online backup

Is Your "Resume" Website Recruiter-friendly?

iBooks -- Creative Epicenter or Gatekeeper?

The Failure of Success

The Economy is Going to Get Worse, but that's okay

Time lost on Twitter

Client Vendor Relationships

Twitter's back alleys and dark places

Social Media is NOT Advertising

Microsoft Courier

Form (designers) versus Function (geeks)

PDXBOOM -- The power of social media and the portland pipe bomb

China and Apple -- Different organizations, same management

The volume of screens


Google Adds Biking Directions to Maps


That magical little tablet

How your website can be in two places at once

Masterpieces created by sheer volume

Suing over lack of originality

A Primer on Internet Fame -- dancing babies, hamsters, numa numa, and more...

Checking my messages

Rules are made to be broken -- in a reasoned, systematic way

So many accounts, so few passwords

Who really uses Twitter? 60% of Twitter's traffic isn't on Twitter

The Web is a Jerry Rigged Kludge

Twitter: Asleep at the Mouse Wheel

Where regulation is good: Google Voice and Vonage

How Facebook is (unintentionally) forcing programmers to piss off users

The Twit Cleaner

Perfect Secretary's pitch for @Adbroad (and the Youtube API)

The Emotions of Text

The Shorty Awards Scandal -- Manual Spam is still Spam

Google Analytics, the cloud and missing numbers #fail

Helen Klein Ross & Michael Bissell Interview at Adweek's Social Media Strategies Conference

The Internet is the New 60's

Cougars from New Zealand (and I don't mean big cats)

Adding facts together, or why you can't charge your cell phone from wifi

Social Media and the Destruction of the World

Rabid Fans vs Passive Viewers -- The Coco vs Leno saga

How to tell someone to retweet (without using up your 140 characters)

You can't buy social media

A book unopened is but a block of paper

Building the LOST: The Final Season Sweepstakes

Holiday SPAM (or the lack thereof)

Archiving Twitter

Too Many Toolbars

Random Censorship with Google Adwords

Accessibility and Shopping Online

Twisted path to customer service

Flash: Shiny objects blinding your audience

Twollow and other gold rush scripts

GPS in a Laptop computer

Thinking outside the box... There was a box?

Twitter was designed for Text Messaging

It's not the corporations, damnit

Entrepreneur or Dreamer?

Adweek Social Media Twitter for Brands Presentation

Socializing is more than Social Media

Generational Marketing is a Myth (or Who's your Daddy?)

Social Media is Just the Way We Use the Internet

Twitter Followers Don't Matter (ask the porn sites)

The Internet is Gooder than Books

Sometimes you don't want your campaign to go viral

Best Twitter Branding Campaign

Like flies to crap, Spammy Twitter Followers don't really go away

iPhone SMS Security Hole

How Flipmytweet works

Cell Phones as Microscopes

Digg is not the Hijacker -- You Are

Steve Ballmer -- the walking dead?

Twitter as an open mic poetry reading

Automatic Social [un]Awareness

New York, New York

First splash for United Against Malaria

New Media/Old Media and the CLIO Awards

Interview at SXSW: Mad Men Twitter And Tracking

We've got an App for that -- it's called the Web

Understanding Google To Get Your Resume Noticed

Made it to SXSW in Austin

The trouble with Wordpress and other templates

Wayward Words with Baggage

Speaking at SXSW March 17th

The fleeting Memory of the Internet

It's okay to say 'I don't know'

Good Morning America, now Go Fight Traffic

More surreality in Portland

Nike Takes Over Conquent

Facebook owns this title

Excuses, excuses

A little on Social Media

Feeding on Content

Attack of the Bots

Irish Music in Oregon City

Landing on an Aircraft Carrier

Got Curry? And some bizarre art?

Web 1.0

Random Music and Random Life in Portland

To the dump, to the dump, to the dump dump dump

Flight Simulator

Cold night, hot fire, happy cat

Net Neutrality

Walking to work in the snow

A window into Moreland of the Past

Getting clever with data feeds

Big and Little Beirut

The Other Credit Crisis

The Broadband Inauguration

T-Mobile owns Magenta and Other Patent Stories

The Risk-takers, Doers and Makers of Things

The noise of 20,000+ Twitter Followers

Reflections on my DC Trip

Born Again American

30,000 feet, 500 MPH Suburban Strip Mall

Cellphones, toilets and the Inauguration

The wall of pissing

National Treasure/National Archives

My trip to DC so far

Everyone is insane

Getting ready for DC

The End of Days (of song): Microsoft Songsmith Example

The Very Model of a Modern Major General

Browser Bigotry

The Death of your Soul: Microsoft Songsmith

Creative Development or Developing Creatively?

Race to Witch Mountain

The Myth of Wikipedia (or the Wiki-1400)

Online/Offline Sales -- is it really that bad?

Is PayPal Tacky?

Old School Web Design Still Works

Domain Squatting

Christmas Fire

Green Chri$tma$

QA 101

Portland Snow

Get some return on that web traffic

I think they have a backup...

I'd love to have that problem

The [un]importance of statistics

Don't be a tool of viral marketing

CAT Scan!

Follow up to the shoulder injury

Emails, discussions, blogs, wiki and web content

Ironic Injury

On the Santa Monica Pier

You Designed for Print First

You let someone else register your domain name

You figured .biz, .info, .us would work fine

What's after the Integrated Circuit?

Intelligent life is out there (but it's bugger all down here on earth)

Subject Matter Experts Talking Other Subject Matter

The Totalitarian Regime of Apple

Oversimplifying how people work


Creative Services for the New World

Reverse Anthropomorphism

The End of Time

Oil prices and birdsong

Watching Starship Troopers AGAIN!

Better Living Through Twitter

Lessons Learned From Apple

It's the Brand, Baby

Business Architecture vs. Web Construction

On Truth

You can't build life

Accidentally Drunk in Portland

Al Gore the Winner

Intelligent life is out there (but its bugger all down here on earth)

Aussie Rules Football

Trip to Nostalgia Land

I am such an idiot

Long day of travel

Miami -- as far from Portland as you can go in the US

Inverse Peter Principle

Random Knowledge

I'm fascinated with modern plumbing

Leaving Seattle (or why you should keep your ticket close)

On the Rails

The Hive

RSS for this blog
Google Analytics, the cloud and missing numbers #fail
2010-01-26 08:19:38

We ran the backend for a sweepstakes project for ABC/Lost this month -- it was one of those projects you simultaneously love and dread because a company like ABC/Disney can push a LOT of people to the microsite all at once. So, we set up the site on Rackspace's cloud (you can read the details about setting up the project here) and it all worked great.

As a bit of an experiment, we hooked up Google Analytics to the site to track visitors. Now, keep in mind, server stats are always a little tricky, what with bots and other automatic processes hitting your site all the time, but for something as tightly controlled as this sweepstakes site, this was a pretty good test of the technology.

And Google failed.

This conclusion wasn't from an arduous comparison of server logs and weighting what might be a real visit and what might be a bot -- that would be one of those vague, subjective conversations. The fact is that Google reported fewer page views than registrations -- which is impossible as a visitor would have to look at two pages minimum to register. One page to answer the questions, and the thank you page saying "You got the right!"

Google Analytics is run on the client browser with JavaScript; I know visitors had to have JavaScript turned on to register for the sweepstakes because they couldn't have gotten into the site from ABC without JavaScript turned on. So, either Google is overwhelmed and not picking up the visits as we flood the server, or people are blocking Google's scripts.

No matter what the reason, that kind of discrepancy can't be ignored. We usually create special tracking scripts (on the server side) to filter out all the noise in the server logs, which is kind of the thought behind Google Analytics. But our tests so far show that a client side, JavaScript driven tracker, even by the geniuses at Google, just doesn't work...

russ: Re: Google Analytics, the cloud and missing numbers #fail
2010-01-26 10:30:16

were you using "vanilla" google analytics or the new(testing) asynchronous one?


Note that one of the plusses it lists is "enhanced collection." I can't cite it because I just glazed over it but I read that using this one should get better matches with regards to numbers.

Michael Bissell: Re: Google Analytics, the cloud and missing numbers #fail
2010-01-26 11:46:39

Russ: We were using "plain vanilla"; but this does point out that they saw a similar problem and are attempting to correct it.

Thanks for the link!

Adam Chubak: Re: Google Analytics, the cloud and missing numbers #fail
2010-02-03 20:43:07

I am not so sure it failed. It is suspicious to say the least. What I want to know what kind of 'submissions' were they. For our clients we run two analytic packages, GA and another that connects the form submission itself to all of the contact points. When we get form spam, we see this all of the time. Too many 'submissions' and next to no page views. If its spam we just see a filled out form with no page views.

I would cross check the submission forms. Sounds like bot spam. The spammers are smart and they can fill the form out without even triggering GA.

Michael Bissell: Re: Google Analytics, the cloud and missing numbers #fail
2010-02-03 20:50:27

Adam: Good thought, but it would be difficult for a bot to get to these pages as the project was embedded in an Iframe on ABC.go.com and you had to log into ABC to get to the sweepstakes page. If the microsite wasn't given a unique ID the visitor would get kicked back to the ABC login page based on a server-side redirect (so not a JavaScript thing).

And again, there were MORE registrations than GA pageviews -- and considering we only counted unique user ids (you could only register once per ABC managed account), a bot would have only shown a single registration, or the database would have been polluted with random, fake user IDs, which also didn't happen.

Adam Chubak: Re: Google Analytics, the cloud and missing numbers #fail
2010-02-03 21:00:23

Hmm...Interesting. These are the types of issues, that I love digging into. They drive me nuts, at times ;).

I know GA, is no good with redirects, unless you throw the cookie info into the url. I know you mentioned the server-side redirect, not sure if there were any redirects at play, but may have caused some issues. But not with just raw numbers, only segmenting those numbers. So that probably was not it.

The only thing, that may have played into this that I can think off hand would be in regards to russ. The code may have not loaded fast enough to be triggered. Could have hung on something or people just zoomed by before it loaded. The new async code could help to resolve these issues if they do indeed exist.

<tinfoilhat>With a huge traffic surge from one UA id, it may have tripped alarms at Google and they may have slowed it down.</tinfoilhat>

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