When using segmentation features in Adobe Analytics, it is important to understand the different containers. Knowing the difference between the available containers gives you more control over your reporting. It also gives you a better understanding on what is returned.

Segmentation works by scanning through every hit within the time period selected, checking to see if that image request matches your segmentation rules.

  • If it matches, then that hit is part of your segment (along with additional data depending on the bucket).
  • If it does not match, the hit is treated as if it didn't exist in context of the segmented report.

To help illustrate the differences between each containers, consider the following example:

  1. A customer comes to your site via Natural Search, views one of your products, then leaves.
  2. That same customer returns the next day via a bookmark, and purchases that item.

Hit container

The hit container is the most narrow of the containers available. When a rule within a hit container matches, only that individual hit is included in the segment. Unless other hits within an individual's visit also match the rule, all other hits are excluded. Using the above example, the following segment is used:

Include all hits where Referrer Type is Natural Search

This container includes only a single hit; the customer's first hit to your site. If you tried viewing the number of orders or product views with this segment, you would not see any data. The individual hit that actually made the purchase has a referrer of the billing information/checkout page. Since the purchase page's referrer is not considered Natural Search, it is not included in the subsequent report.

Visit container

A visit container is the most commonly used across segmentation. Again, using the above as an example, the following segment is used:

Include all hits where Referrer Type is Natural Search

This segment scans through all the hits on your site, and if one matches, all hits that occurred within that visit are included. Looking at product views using this segment would now display data. The hit that matched the ruleset not only brought in the individual hit that matched, but the rest of that customer's visit.

Orders however would still not display data. Since the purchase event occurred on a different visit, this example's orders and revenue would still not be shown using this segment.

Visitor container

The visitor container is the largest of the three available buckets. Once it finds a hit that matches your rule, it pulls in all hits within that same visit. It also pulls all hits across all visits that individual generated. Using the same above example in context of a visitor container:

Include all hits where Referrer Type is Natural Search

Since the same visitor that entered your site via Natural Search also eventually made a purchase, SiteCatalyst includes all hits within your segment.

Pitfalls and tips

It is important to understand that having a broader segment is not always necessarily better. If you wanted visits where Referrer Type was Natural Search, using a visitor container would not return desired data. It would also include many other visits that did not begin with Natural Search. In this specific scenario, a Visit container would be best.

If you have any questions about what container matches closest to the data you're looking for, contact one of your organization's supported users. They can provide advice based on your specific implementation.

Additional Resources