Web analytics technology typically relies on web cookies merely as a means to identify returning visitors. Cambridge-based Clickstream, by contrast, uses cookie technology to provide far more in-depth analysis of web visitor behaviour.
Conventional web log analysis and visitor tracking systems, say Clickstream executives, have a number of fundamental shortcomings. In particular, they cannot monitor users’ behaviour when sites are loaded from cache – be that their own browser cache or that hosted by their Internet service provider. This cached content accounts for up to four-fifths of all web traffic, according to Clickstream.
The company has developed its own system for recording data for each web page. Since cookies work in the browser, they can record behaviour that does not access the server, storing the information until the browser next accesses the server.
The impetus for this development effort was straight-forward enough: Clickstream is a spin-off from a web site developer, Green Cathedral, which, in the late 1990s, looked at a number of products for tracking visitors to the sites it created but failed to find one that did what it needed.
Since the 1999 spin-off, Clickstream has mainly focused on improving the technology and its reporting tools. But at the end of 2001, it changed tack and is now preparing for a major expansion.
First, it appointed a new CEO in Michael Wheatley, formerly vice president of Europe, Middle East and Africa for customer relationship management software vendor Brightware. Angel investor Douglas Richard was appointed chairman.
These new appointments helped it secure its first round of venture capital funding and to win some high-profile customers, including retailer Carphone Warehouse and software vendor SAP.
The web analytics marketplace is already crowded, but the company is hoping its cookie-based technology will distinguish it from competitors. But it will need to persuade many more high-profile customers of its technology’s inherent advantages if it is to work its way to the top.