Tracking Enablers: Did You Know About Widget Tracking?

Just this past week Twitter announced its recent changes to service and that they would honor the upcoming Do Not Track (DNT) standard.   Around the same time, a colleague of mine also noted that after visiting his Facebook profile, he notice the company was capturing non-Facebook site visit data whether or not he clicked on a Like button.

Curious as to why this happens?  Well Twitter was kind enough to send me an email and be upfront about their policies, so being one of the few people who actually reads them, I thought I’d take a deeper look.  There is so much to cover, but I’ll just focus on one of the many ways we are being tracked – typically without our knowledge:

Widget Data: We may tailor content for you based on your visits to third-party websites that integrate Twitter buttons or widgets. When these websites first load our buttons or widgets for display, we receive Log Data, including the web page you visited and a cookie that identifies your browser (“Widget Data“). After a maximum of 10 days, we start the process of deleting or aggregating Widget Data, which is usually instantaneous but in some cases may take up to a week. While we have the Widget Data, we may use it to tailor content for you, such as suggestions for people to follow on Twitter. Tailored content is stored with only your browser cookie ID and is separated from other Widget Data such as page-visit information. This feature is optional and not yet available to all users. If you want, you can suspend it or turn it off, which removes from your browser the unique cookie that enables the feature. Learn more about the feature here. For Tweets, Log Data, and other information that we receive from interactions with Twitter buttons or widgets, please see the other sections of this Privacy Policy.

In short – if you visit a page with with a “Like Button” or “Tweet” option, then all those social networks can see where you go, whether or not you are currently logged into them.  Most reasonable people expect to be tracked ON the social site, but not OFF of it.  So as the EU privacy directive builds up enforcement steam, and as you re-evaluate your Web strategy (not just your privacy policies), please be aware that if you use a social Widget (available as a free plug-in for most content management systems) on your site or blog (as we considered doing), you are subjecting your visitors to tracking – and I bet, like me (and the EU Commission, I suspect) – you didn’t even know it.  See the share button, in the upper right corner?

EU Privacy and Social Widgets

Digital privacy is one of the most complex and challenging business issues today.  The more we all know, the faster we can find a better balance between privacy and commerce – and deliver a great user experience in the process.

By the way, our social media “buttons” are images with links to our SoMe pages and not widgets.  We are not knowingly sharing your data with anyone else on this site, however, our social sites do use “widgets” to read this blog and share posting information between them.  

The Real Mobile Performance Problem

This morning I ran a speed test using my iPhone tethered to my MacBook Air (via Bluetooth). I was not so much interested in the actual download speed (which I found to be pretty impressive using a 2 1/2 year old iPhone), but more in the latency numbers.

Here are the results – the top test is using my iMac to access Notice that the latency is sub 10 ms (great) and that my location used a server in Centennial CO (about 10 miles away). Overall I have no complaints at all on the desktop

The second test is the MacBookAir test via an iPhone. Note the latency – almost 1/2 a second. Also notice the server. Using my IP address it guessed that the closest test server was in AR.

Bottom line…

Latency (the time to locate something) is a big deal in Mobile. If you’re going to make a mobile page load really quickly you have to assume that there’s going to be a lot of system latency. Therefore you should focus your efforts on delivering the smallest amount of data (sub 150K) and ensure that it’s compressed and contains as little JavaScript as possible. (See my last post on “Sears shows what a really fast Mobile site looks like”)




APM – Identity Crisis or Something Else?

Recently, I’ve been reading a lot about Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Application Performance Monitoring, as each company mentioned is leveraging the coverage for it’s own promotional purposes.


Copyright 2011 Gartner Research

Having spoken with several of the companies on this list, and being the curious gal that I am, I thought I’d take a closer look at all of the APM Magic Quadrant contenders to see how each company positions and differentiates itself.

What I found was 12 unique variations on the “APM” theme from the 29 companies included:

  • IT Reliability™ software
  • End User Experience Monitoring
  • End User Experience Management
  • Application Performance Management
  • Application Management
  • End-user experience and performance management
  • Business transaction management
  • End-user experience and web application performance management
  • Real-time visibility
  • Unified service delivery management
  • Responsive process management
  • Application Performance Monitoring

Is this the inevitable product line extensions of a maturing network performance market?  Perhaps it’s the natural fragmentation of an emerging market searching for its sweet spot? Regardless, I identified three overriding commonalities:

  1. Each solution is very complex, providing lots and lots (and lots) of data
  2. Most are desktop centric – there is little to no support for mobile apps or Web
  3. Each company is primarily targeting IT or Network Operations

I did not see any targeting of the Business Analysts, Product Managers, Voice of the Customer executives or other app stakeholders.  Hey, us non-techies like and/or need data, too.  More than just network speed matters.  Oh, and remember your employees and customers are accessing your customers’ sites and apps via mobile.  The time to move is now.  If an organization’s goal is to improve application/Web app performance, or any of the other 11 “APM” descriptions, then the real visionaries will be the first to fill in these blanks.

End User Experience Monitoring Myths

Wow!  Couldn’t stop shaking my head in agreement while reading through Donna Parent’s recent blog about The Top 10 Myths About End User Experience Monitoring from Tuesday’s opinion section.  Right on the money.  And I’ll argue that when you extend her analysis beyond apps to the Web and beyond the desktop to mobile, getting on the end-user device becomes even more relevant.

I encourage you to read the entire post, but my favorite myths include:

Myth #1:  Network appliance monitoring is enough

Myth #2:  Synthetic monitoring can validate end user experience

Myth #8: Desktop agents cannot determine probable cause of application performance issues.

While mobile EUE monitoring and management is still new and mobile Web monitoring even newer (virtually no data is available), the variables that affect the mobile user experience are greater than those associated with desktop Quality of Service/Quality of Experience measurements.

Without looking at the real experience on real devices, over constantly changing mobile networks, you are not measuring, monitoring or managing the real user experience.  Not knowing can hurt.  Reach beyond the data center if you want to learn what is really going on with your mobile user experience.