Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Innovation Showcase - "Tracking in PDF"

 Recently, I had the good fortune to present on an innovative solution that was developed by some *great minds part of the competency I belong to. I presented the solution at the “Partner innovation showcase 2015” in the annual Adobe Summit held in Salt lake City, March 9th 2015. This solution was on how we could track customer behavior on PDF, while click stream tracking and analytics based on the same has been a main stream analytics solution, till now no one ventured in the realm of “in-PDF” tracking.

“In-PDF tracking” can have multiple use cases especially for B2B companies that provide rich content to their site visitors in terms of white paper downloads. We all know that it is common practice for these companies to track their prospect behavior on how many times they visit the site/ app from which device and do they then download a whitepaper or webinar, etc. Imagine, if we could stitch this with how many times the prospect opens the whitepaper, the interaction on the white paper like filling in a form or forwarding it to friend, etc. Now this insight is possible if the user interacts with the pdf while they are online.

 Well the solution is not limited to B2B sites, it can very well translate to Medical/ Pharma sites that provide additional information on the product/ drug/ prescription to health care professionals or even patients by PDF downloads. An analysis to validate if these additional documents are put to effective use or not, can save huge costs to these companies. Further there are several financial companies that require users to download forms as pdf and then send it over by post after duly signing them. This would directly relate to the revenue potential for the financial companies.

One big area for which this solution was originally developed was in the field of online coupon printing business. I did not know that this online couponing is such a huge business giving out *329 billion coupons in 2013 alone and out of this close to 2.9 billion coupons were redeemed. This apparently resulted in savings worth 3.7 billion dollars to the consumers. This was a huge revelation for me, as I was not aware that the simple coupon that I throw away very often is such large industry both as a business as well as impactful marketing tool. The below cartoon strip puts the emotions associated with coupons in a light yet powerful manner.

 The website tracking is usually done using HTTPGET method, the solution that was developed completely flipped this over and derived the data and information from the PDF documents using the HTTPPOST method. The fact that we can stitch the visitor sessions using the cross device visitor identification methodology, we were able to seamlessly track the visitor behavior across the browser and the pdf irrespective of, whether the pdf was opened using the browser or the desktop application.

Further the possibility of using this technique to track other applications like pdf has opened a whole new world of opportunities and possibilities for the digital marketer.

* Kamal Chembath
*  Courtesy: inmar 2014 Coupon Trends