15 for 15: Processing Rules and Context Data Variables

My sister had an experience while raising her three-year-old son that has given me some perspective.She was trying to explain the importance of rules in the household and said, “These are the rules!Do you understand the rules?”My nephew looked back at her with a sideways glance and said, “Rules?I like Cinnamon Rules!”

The release of SiteCatalyst 15 exhibits many features that are geared toward making the life of the Online Marketing Professional easier. One of the exciting new pieces of functionality in SiteCatalyst 15 is called “Processing Rules.”Essentially, this feature allows you to set the value of a variable (prop, eVar, or event) based on the information sent in any particular image beacon.While this may sound fairly simple, the effect has profound potential and may just change the way you think about your implementation.Note: At the time of the writing of this blog post, this functionality is still in beta.Please contact your Account Manager if you are interested in participating in beta testing.

The concept of pre-processing is not new to SiteCatalyst.You may be familiar with the other two ways of doing some data pre-processing: VISTA Rules and Marketing Channel Processing Rules. The diagram below shows the processing stack that SiteCatalyst data goes through before becoming available in reports.

So what is possible with these processing rules?Let’s look at what you can and cannot do.


Not Possible

The good news isall these things are possible using other SiteCatalyst functionality or VISTA rules.Let’s go through some examples to illustrate just how powerful these rules can be.

Example 1

We’ll start with a scenario that may be familiar to you.Let’s say we want to gather a campaign tracking code from a query string parameter in the destination URLs of our marketing campaigns. (http://www.omniture.com/?cid=blog_processing_rules)We can create a processing rule that will place the value of that tracking code into the s.campaign variable every time we detect the “cid” query string parameter.“What’s so special about that?” you may ask.“We could have accomplished this with the getQueryParam plugin in the javascript code.”True.But Processing Rules allow us to get the same result without having to go through the process of deploying code through the IT department.Depending on the process in place, this could help us gain several months of valuable data.Another small benefit is the reduced size of the SiteCatalyst javascript code.


Example 2

Once I was working with a client who accidentally included code for an eVar in pages where it wasn’t wanted.This had the effect of overwriting data that was valid and skewing the numbers.Unfortunately, the IT development cycle made it inconvenient to put a fix into the implementation.This would have been a great situation for processing rules.We could have created a rule for the pages affected to blank out the value of the eVar.

Example 3

We have a page named “Product Details Page:[Product ID]” on which we want to start firing a custom success event (event3).We can create a rule to detect this pattern in the page name and place the success event there.That was easy!Again, we are able to do this entirely in the Admin Console of SiteCatalyst without touching our implementation.

Context Data

There is another innovation which is related to processing rules that increases the flexibility with which you can implement your data collection.In a nutshell, Context Data Syntax allows you to define the name of the variable that you assign a particular value to.Note: You must have an s_code version of H23 or greater for Context Data.

s.contextData[‘var_name’]=”some value”

For example:

s.contextData[‘author’]=”J.K. Rowling”



These values will then be available in the Processing Rules interface for assignment to particular variables (props, eVars, or events).You could also use the context values for setting or removing values.The power is now in your hands!

There is one caveat to using Processing Rules and Context Data. As Spider-man’s Uncle Ben has told us: “With much power comes much responsibility.”Essentially, by giving you access to these features, we are also giving you the power to royally mess up your implementation! In order to mitigate this risk a bit, we will require all admin users who want to take advantage of this feature to go through a brief training and certification process. There are training videos in the Help section that you can reference. Then you will need to pass a brief 30-question quiz. Your account manager can provide access to this quiz.

As you can see, the Processing Rules and Context Data functionalities of SiteCatalyst are powerful tools that allow you as an online marketer to have more control and flexibility with the data you collect in your implementation of SiteCatalyst.

Have specific questions about Adobe SiteCatalyst? Want to track a data point on your website, but not sure where to start with the implementation? Follow me on Twitter @sitecattips Please feel free to leave a comment here or send me an email at adobesitecatalyst (at) adobe.com