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Why User Experience Isn’t Limited to Performance Metrics: Digital Governance, Risk and Compliance

May 9, 2017 – Mollie Panzner

Digital governance has benefits that support various parts of a business – from web and ad operations, to ecommerce and marketing, to privacy and legal.

At Evidon we champion the concept of “Digital Governance” as a collection of benefits that result from organizational discipline when it comes to leveraging digital vendors. When we began speaking to businesses about this concept, they often wanted to stick us into a solutions category, which they could then leverage to determine if our platform made sense for them. The problem however is that digital governance has benefits that support various parts of a business – from web and ad operations, to ecommerce and marketing, to privacy and legal. The benefits?

  1. Vendor Accountability: Companies need visibility to ensure vendors are delivering on their service level agreements, i.e. all tags run where and how they should.
  2. User Experience: Vendor redundancies, legacy implementations, recourse volumes and partner redirects all negatively impact user experience and page performance.
  3. Compliance: The first step to compliance with the range of privacy regulations is holistic visibility into the vendors collecting data on company sites.
  4. Operational Efficiency: A complex digital supply chain adds cost and anxiety to daily operations.

In order to illustrate the above, I’ll use a real-life example: my recent experience with Dollar General.

This morning I was encouraged to see that the weather in my area was looking up – sunny after several days of clouds and rain, and eagerly I began perusing for some summer purchases, including an inflatable pool (living in the center of Manhattan makes the idea of an actual in-ground pool seem more like a daydream).

Along comes Dollar General, with just the type of summer buys that I was looking for. Except that, I couldn’t even access one of their product pages without waiting 34 seconds for the page I was on to allow me to choose the pool that got my attention.

That’s right, in an age where 40% of site users abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load [1], Dollar General wanted me to wait 34 seconds before I could interact.

So, why is this article about “digital governance” and not “performance”?

A poor user experience is not just the result of “performance,” or latency; rather, it’s much larger than just a metric of milliseconds: Did on-site ads hold up the content? Did technologies stop images from rendering? Did redirects, or legacy implementations cause page bloat? Did unauthorized or unknown vendors scare my audience? Did a mixed content warning make my users gun-shy about a purchase? The list goes on, but only a handful of these are directly related to “latency,” while most are digital governance challenges that contribute to a bad user experience. Here’s a couple that I found on Dollar General:

Vendor Accountability: Adherence to SLAs

In the below example, I’ve leveraged Evidon’s enterprise-level browser extension to illustrate a vendor that might not be delivering on its performance SLA; in this case, the vendor in question is a free tool, Google Analytics, but the length of time it takes to load (464 ms) certainly begs the question: is this implementation delivering on the data it’s expected to capture, or is it leaving holes in analytics reporting?

While the page itself is extremely slow in this example (34 sec until time to interaction!), it’s not a direct correlation with vendor latencies, like Google Analytics, due to page location details, synchronicity, etc. That being said, I’m still left wondering whether Dollar General is getting all of the value out of Google Analytics that it expects to…

 

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Rather than assuming that all free tools (like Google Analytics) are slow, I looked at Evidon’s list of the webs’ 50 most prevalent technologies, and analyzed the slowest 30% to better understand whether performance issues are more often associated with “free,” or with purpose. It turns out that the latter was more accurate.

 

 

Interestingly, it was actually many of the paid-for technologies that saw poor performance metrics (Exelate, Rubicon, Neustar), and it was the free, but purpose-sensitive technologies that were the quickest (Adobe TypeKit, Google Search Function, Google Translate). Not surprisingly some free tools found themselves in the poor performers category (Facebook Plugins, Gravatar), but they weren’t as latent as many of their vendor peers.

The takeaway here is that as a part of the digital governance process, the responsibility is on businesses not just to choose vendors that suit the organization’s online needs, but to ensure they choose the right vendors from a user impact perspective. In this example, instead of choosing the more latent vendors referenced in the “Ad Targeting” group, instead choosing quicker vendors, like DoubleClick, MediaMath or AppNexus.

The fastest technology in the top 50? Mixpanel.

User Experience & Operational Efficiency: Capability Redundancies

I’ve leveraged Evidon’s Trackermap technology to address vendor-capability redundancies on the Dollar General site. On this one page, Dollar General has three analytics tools (Adobe Analytics, Google Analytics and Webtrends), as well as two tag managers (Ensighten and Signal).

From a recent Forrester report: “Redundancy runs rife as different teams purchase similar tech. Most large enterprises that Forrester briefs have multiple digital technologies from different vendors that serve overlapping or duplicative functionality. For example, 90% of enterprises use multiple web analytics tools. Not only does this multiply software costs and provide differing if not conflicting views of customer interactions; it also vastly increases the human capital needed to deploy, run, and analyze these different tools.

One obvious item of concern – Dollar General is firing one enterprise tag manager (Signal) inside of another enterprise tag manager (Ensighten); shown here:

 

 

Compliance: Opting Out of Data Collection

The first step to compliance with the range of privacy regulations (US’ AdChoices Program, Canada’s PIPEDA and the EU’s ePrivacy Directive & GDPR) is site-wide visibility into vendors with access to your audience data. Dollar General provides an opt-out disclosure where they link to the Network Advertising Initiative’s list of opt-outs. One problem – Facebook isn’t on there, and as shown in the Ghostery browser extension, Facebook is currently collecting user data on the Dollar General website:

 

 

The intent of this post is not to place blame on Dollar General, or it’s vendors; rather, it’s to illustrate the varying implications that digital governance challenges can have on the user experience – from the customer’s perspective, as well as the site owner’s.

To learn more about digital governance, and some of the challenges your own organization might be facing, contact me at (mollie at evidon dot com). You can also scan your own page and see your own Trackermap at https://www.evidon.com/digital-governance-solutions/trackermap/.

 

 

[1] https://blog.kissmetrics.com/loading-time/?wide=1