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Flash Activity Tracking System

Recently, I was asked to recommend a tracking system to be implemented on a clients website.

As the entire site was built on flash, my first thought was to suggest custom built tracking system. However, our company at that point of time didn't have the resource or the expertise to build this. So, we were asked find and review products that would suit this requirement.

One of my first reviews was obviously Google. They have a flash tracking system. However, as comprehensive their product is, so much so in fact, it is complicated. Personally though, I love the way Google handles the tracking system. It's just amazing. However, the company where I was consulting, was not able to implement it.

I was simultaneously reviewing Omniture. They are probably the best in this industry. They had products that suited the requirement. In fact they have product that most likely suits everyones requirement, it proved to be very good and quite flexible. However they are a paid service and the client was not ready to fish out the extra funds for the tracking.

Usually clients want everything for free. Hence my next search was for a flash tracking system that was free. A few hours of search led me to a site called Webeacon. URL -  Webeacon is a free online system to track events and clicks from flash. I was happy that I found something that would meet the clients minimum requirements and a Free Service.

My client thought the product was fantastic and implementation was really easy.

All that was required was to register on their site, get the automatically generated token number, download their MXP component, install and run it. As simple as that. The documentation was really easy to understand and made the whole implementation very straight forward.

The system tracks the impressions, unique impressions, clicks, unique clicks, custom interaction and also geo locate the traffic. The online reporting panel was also comprehensive. The best part of all is the reports are 100% realtime. It means that I can test 2 or 3 or even 100 or more impressions and see the result immediately.

Currently the system supports ActionScript 2. But the AS3 Beta will be released shortly it seems.

On a scripting front, not much work is needed. You need to put the component on the 1st frame of the flash, provide it an initial name and call a function passing the unique token given by the system as the parameter and a unique flash name. This will track the impressions, unique impressions and geo locate the traffic.

Tracking a click was easier. Just call another funciton and pass the click name. Make this call just before the "getURL" call and it would track the click. If you want to track an internal action and not a click, then just need to call a function called setInteraction and pass an interaction name and its tracked.

However, first impressions, I felt that some how the site was not professionally managed. My concern was based on the domain name itself - "CO.CC". I found that this is actually a free domain acquired from a website. Initially, not such a comforting thought. So, I got in touch with the people who built it.

The guys had built it and hosted it completely free cost. These guys wanted to provide this service free of cost to all the online users and were in search of funding. Till that time, they were going to host it on a free server and move it on a paid server once the funding is ready.  

Since I would be recommending this to the client, I was worried whether they would be a sustainable business. It was not the cost of the system (it is free) it was the cost of having to change systems that was my major concern and the impact that has on my customers. Worse, if supplier got the funding, will this be changed to a paid service, and my customer be suddenly hit with a big bill ?

But they guys assured me that this is intended to be a life long free service, their business model requires that, and it is certainly not going to close any time in the foreseeable future. My concerns were allayed to the point I was confident enough to recommend the system.

Bottom line ? We now have the system implemented for 5 of our clients and the feedback from them about the system is fantastic.

Hope this is useful.

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