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May 23, 2023 | Enric Cid

User-Centric vs. Site-Centric Data: Which is more accurate when analyzing online consumer behavior?

User-Centric vs. Site-Centric Data: Which is more accurate when analyzing online consumer behavior? 

Nowadays, companies have access to a rich amount of data to decode online consumer behavior. However, this amount of data can become somewhat overwhelming. To meet this challenge, many organizations often look for ‘packaged solutions’, such as Google Analytics. Nevertheless, these solutions often fall short when it comes to consumer profiling. 


Rather, these days, organizations have an unparalleled opportunity to use innovative methods such as behavioral data to develop their products, provide personalized experiences, and improve their services in more accurate ways. That is why multiple companies around the world are using it. 


The importance of behavioral data to understand online consumer behavior 

Today, there is no doubt that customers cannot be considered as a faceless mass. The wide variety of profiles that exist, each with different tastes, interests, and needs, is being confirmed more and more every day. 


Given this truth, it is wrong to think that online behaviors can be predicted. If there is an important lesson we have learned over the years, it is that online consumer behavior is highly dynamic, and even changing at times. 


Despite this, online activity, especially through mobile devices, has made online consumer behavior more transparent. So much so, they come across as individuals demanding a personalized business experience. 


Thus, online behavioral data can be an essential source of information. 


An example of this is e-commerce brands, which often use such data to better understand how consumers buy and use their products. This, in addition to knowing what information influences their decisions and how they compare the different options available. 


In this way, the use of behavioral data can undoubtedly lead to the direction of the next strategic action to be taken. However, this is where the famous debate about which type of data is more accurate for these purposes comes into question: site-centric or user-centric data. 


Let's learn more about each one. 

 Behavioral data for research

Online consumer behavior under site-centric data: advantages and disadvantages 

Site-centric data is focused on analyzing user activity on a website. This means that the data collected is based on consumers' interaction with this particular site or platform. 


Site-centric data for analyzing online consumer behavior can include key information such as the number of unique visitors, average visit time, most visited pages, bounce rates, and conversion rates, among other aspects. 


While this data is good for understanding the performance and effectiveness of a website, it is known to have limitations when it comes to consumer profiling. In other words, to know the habits and interests of the users. 


Nonetheless, like everything else, the use of site-centric data has its advantages and disadvantages. Let's review some of them. 


Advantages of analyzing online consumer behavior with site-centric data 

  • By extracting data from all visits received, site-centric data allows an accurate analysis of user interaction with page views. 


  • It allows for identifying and comparing the performance of each page that integrates the website, facilitating the detection of opportunity areas. 


  • Provide real-time information. 


Disadvantages of site-centric data for studying online consumer behavior 

  • As it is based on cookies, the profile of users browsing the site (demographic, behavioral, etc.) is unknown. Not to mention the potential risk of blocking and deleting cookies. 


  • The focus of this data is susceptible to bots and other analytics inflation tactics, such as click fraud. This can distort the data and make the metrics appear more positive than they are. 


  • Site-centric data is limited to the activity within the website (it is not possible to know the before or after the visit to the site). 


Balancing mechanisms against the disadvantages of site-centric data 

Despite the aforementioned disadvantages, one thing that has benefited site-centric data in recent years is the emergence of a new generation of data providers, capable of collecting data from multiple websites (not just one, as was previously the case). 


This practice is known as 'data scraping'. This is because they are robots/web crawlers that collect data (do the scraping) from the sites. That is, with the same great limitation of not being able to know in detail who are the consumers who browse the web. 


The differential approach and the advantages of user-centric data 

User-centric data bears that name because the data is obtained directly from the users. 


How? The data collection is done through software that is hosted directly on the devices of the users or panelists (whether smartphones, tablets, or computers), allowing brands to know naturally the online consumer behavior, such as the websites they visit or the social networks they use, along with the schedules in which they usually do it. 


Thus, by enabling a deeper understanding of the user's identity, it is possible to profile far beyond basic demographics. 


Therefore, companies that adopt a user-centric approach achieve a substantial competitive advantage by collecting direct information from the consumer. 


Some of its clear advantages are: 


  • Detailed insight: user-centric data provides specific information about the user's online behavior, allowing companies to better understand their interests, needs, and preferences. 


  • Personalization: with user-centric data, companies can also personalize content and experiences for each user, encouraging higher satisfaction and loyalty. 


  • Improves decision-making: by better-knowing users and their online behavior patterns, companies can make more informed and strategic decisions. 


Disadvantages of user-centric data 

However, even though there are many other advantages of user-centric data collection, if it is not well managed, it can work against it. For example, privacy issues. 


Nevertheless, many of these obstacles can be overcome by having an experienced and reliable data provider with advanced collection technologies and processes aligned with international standards such as GDPR. 


Especially, at present, where companies face the challenge of merging site-centric and user-centric data to get more accurate and meaningful results. 


In that sense, companies like Wakoopa, which are highly committed to data quality, client results, and adherence to the strictest privacy standards, are undoubtedly a great option for conducting successful market research that leads to accurate and profitable marketing strategies. 


Site-centric or user-centric: which one to choose for analyzing online consumer behavior? 

So, what kind of data is best for online consumer behavior analysis? 

As we have seen, site-centric data is useful when we are looking for exclusive metrics of a website's performance. However, if what we want is to really know the consumers behind it, user-centric data is undeniably the alternative to choose. 


After all, nothing compares to having direct data from the source. 


If you want to know more about everything your brand can achieve with user-centric data, send us a message! We want to help you get a 360° view of your consumers' online behavior.