Open Web Analytics (OWA) is an open source web analytics platform built using PHP programming language and MySQL database system. Is it currently used on over 40,000 websites. There is no hosted option; practitioners must download, install, and configure the software using their own infrastructure.
Though far less commonly used in GLAMR institutions than Google Analytics, Open Web Analytics does have some support among library professionals (Azim & Hasan, 2018).
Consult the Web Analytics data collection method guide for more general information about each of the following strategies.
Practitioners can use a list of referrers to help determine the context of use or reuse. Strategies can range from using URL patterns as the basis for segmenting different kinds of incoming traffic to actually visiting the referring pages in order to analyze the links in context.
In Open Web Analytics, referral data is reported under
Referring Websites. The hostname can be displayed via a secondary dimension, “Referral Web Site.” OWA also tracks “Referral Link Text,” that is, if the full URL of the external page where the link resides is known, OWA will crawl the referring page and capture the text of the link. This could potentially be helpful for more easily determining the context of use. However, as browsers have evolved in recent years, the full referring URL will now rarely be reported in an HTTP header. Thus, only the referring hostname will be listed in web analytics reports and the referring page will not be able to be crawled because it is unknown.
Traffic to digital objects originating via social media might signal a distinct type of sharing that institutions would consider to be reuse.
In OWA reports, there is no distinction made between social media traffic and other website traffic. One could potentially identify hostnames that match known social media sites, and use filters on the “Referring Websites” report to isolate those URLs.
Web analytics packages support granular, targeted tracking of specific interactions within a site. Practitioners may identify elements of their website user interface that signal re-use when clicked by a user (e.g., share, download, or export buttons), and track that data for reporting purposes.
OWA’s mechanism for this is called “Action Tracking”; it is similar in syntax and purpose to the “Event Tracking” feature in Google Analytics (UA version) and Matomo. One can provide values for three text fields (Name, Group, Label) and one numeric field (Value) to be logged with each event.
Some digital asset management software supports an “embed code” feature to empower users to reuse digital objects by putting interactive versions of them in external sites (often in an
<iframe>). The service providing the source of the
<iframe> should have a separate web analytics property. External sites embedding the objects are logged as referrers within that property.
OWA can support an unlimited number of tracked site profiles.
Some GLAMR institutions have used IP-derived service provider data to distinguish digital object use from within academic or government institutions from other contexts.
Open Web Analytics does enable tracking some user network data that is derived from IP addresses, including geolocation (country and city) and Internet Service Provider. This functionality requires some additional setup. One must first activate OWA’s MaxMind GeoIP module. Supporting geolocation lookups requires downloading MaxMind’s free GeoLite2 City Database file and adding it to the server running OWA. MaxMind also licenses a more accurate GeoIP2 City data web service for a fee.
There is no free option for obtaining Internet Service Provider (ISP) information. However, practitioners may purchase a monthly license for MaxMind’s GeoIP2 ISP database, and configure OWA with their license key to lookup and track service providers.
Practitioners should follow the practices laid out in the “Ethical considerations and guidelines for the assessment of use and reuse of digital content.” The Guidelines are meant both to inform practitioners in their decision-making, and to model for users what they can expect from those who steward digital collections.
Open Web Analytics collects and stores visitors’ full Internet Protocol (IP) address by default. Its web interface includes a configurable option to “Anonymize IP Addresses,” which, like Google Analytics, will mask the final octet of the address (e.g., 12.214.31.XXX).
See A National Forum on Web Privacy and Web Analytics: Action Handbook (2019, p. 5) for a Five-Point Plan for Privacy-Aware Analytics.
Azim, M., & Hasan, N. (2018, February). Web Analytics Tools Usage among Indian Library Professionals. In 2018 5Th International Symposium On Emerging Trends And Technologies In Libraries And Information Services (ETTLIS) (pp. 31-35).