Speaking Cxensian: A handy dictionary of terms

11 Apr 2017 | By Erica Gilbert

Working in technology, you’re likely to encounter unfamiliar terms. Cxense is no different, happily slurping its own bowl of Alphabet Soup. We’ll walk through some of that terminology in this post — some unique to Cxense, others not, but each with their distinct Cxense spin.
 

The Cxense Solution Set

Sometimes I skim emails I’ve sent and think: “Wow, Cxense terminology could almost be it’s own language.”  Given the depth and breadth of the Cxense solution set, it’s no wonder. So we’ll start off by defining what each overarching solution type means, digging deep into what we’ll call ‘Cxensian’. As Cxense has developed a broad solution set with core principles around detailed data collection and real-time actioning, we solve for complex problems that challenge media publishers and retailers alike. Cxense likes a challenge, so here is how our products enable our Customers to solve problems:

Data Management & Insight

Set of work capabilities available within Cxense enabling detailed audience management and understanding, including real-time analytics dashboards and segmentation. Products you might use within this Cxense solution: Cxense Insight, Cxense DMP, and Cxense Video.

Personalization

Set of work capabilities available within Cxense enabling data action for personalized content delivery to end-users at an individual level. Products you might use within this Cxense solution: Cxense Content, Cxense DMP, and Cxense Video.

Conversion Optimization

Set of work capabilities available within Cxense enabling conversion on different campaign types, whether email subscription, subscription offers, ad blocking, and more. Comprised of the following from the Cxense solution set: Cxense Content, Cxense Display, Cxense DMP.



The Cxensian Dictionary

Now that we’ve defined exactly what sort of solution Cxense brings to its customers, let’s take a look at the individual terms used within these solution sets, whether concepts, principles, or features.
 

1st, 2nd, 3rd Party Data

1st Party Data is data collected or created by your online and offline presence, whether your own website or applications, any paid advertising and response data, or your on-boarded CRM data. 2nd Party Data is provided by friendly sites and partners, while 3rd Party is licensed data. The differentiated and revenue driving data lies within your own 1st Party Data.
 

API

An API, or Application Programming Interface, is the specific set of requirements around how applications talk to each other. It was always imperative, from the beginning, that Cxense build our technology on an accessible API base, as we know our customers likely will not use us alone, fostering an open infrastructure ripe for integration. This means that everything that is accessible within the Cxense UI is also accessible via API.
 

Content Profile

Cxense generates a Content Profile for each unique web page where the Cxense Script is present. The presence of the Cxense Script on your pages triggered the Cxense web robot to crawl them on a regular basis. The crawled pages are subsequently parsed, and the text extracted from each page is then semantically analyzed and summarized to produce a content profile, using natural language processing and dictionaries. A content profile conveys the topic and theme of the page. A content profile can be thought of as a set of triples:

  • An item: A string of some kind that carries some interest. Often this is a normalized version of something actually found on the page, but it could equally well be a category name or something else.
  • A weight: A number that somehow reflects the relative prominence of the item on the page, as measured via well-defined concepts from information retrieval.
  • A group name: A string that somehow indicates the type of the item. This typically identifies how to semantically interpret the item. For example, an item ‘john smith’ might have the group name ‘person’, indicating that it's a person name.
     

Cookie

A cookie is a small text file that your browser maintains on your machine. You may have zero, one, or more cookies per site that you are visiting. The purpose of the cookie is to give the site that you have visited a way to leave information about you and/or your visit so that it can then access the next time you get back to the site. Cxense leverages these in order to track and associate users on Customer sites, and also to create a User Profile (see separate entry below). However, not all cookies are created equal. As such, Cxense follows a multi-layered approach when it comes to setting cookies for user tracking.

The Cxense Script first sets a first-party cookie. This always works. If it didn’t, the Internet wouldn’t work. A first-party cookie allows us to recognize the user as being a repeat visitor when they visit the same site/domain. In the case of ad blocking on 3rd party cookies, Cxense is still able to accomplish cross-site tracking with the following approaches:
 

  1. Try setting a third-party cookie, then;
  2. Try writing to local storage, then;
  3. Try script caching.

 

Cxense Crawler

As part of automating the content ingestion process, your site may be visited by the Cxense web robot, or crawler. The web robot will only fetch the pages where the Cxense Script is present. A page is identified by means of an URL. Pages are periodically re-crawled to ensure that we have an up-to-date view of the content. New pages are fetched immediately, as capacity allows. Note, however, that we currently require that a new page has been viewed at least 3 times (within a window of approximately 6 hours) before it is crawled.
 

Customer Cubes

Each customer onboarded at Cxense has data stored in an isolated customer cube. This is an in-house developed custom database with real-time properties, storing information such as identity mapping, content profiles, user profiles, and event profiles.  Events fed to the cube are typically searchable less than 10ms later. The Customer Cubes enable efficiency in: data storage, data computation, real time processing of historical data. Additionally, they reduce data redundancy, and prevent data leakage.
 

Cxense Script (cx.js)

This is the JavaScript snippet included within a web site's <head> section that enables analytic tracking of activity on Customer sites. The JavaScript snippet placed on the page is really a shim or thin wrapper around the "real" script which is named cx.js.

  • The cx.js script is loaded asynchronously by the client, hence there is no adverse performance impact perceived by the client when loading the page.
  • The cx.js script is empowering some of the highest traffic web-pages worldwide and we have continuously optimized our approach since 2010.
  • The cx.js script will usually always be served from the browser cache (no network traffic) and periodically an update request is sent but no content is transferred (HTML code 304 “Not Modified”), which keeps the network traffic and impact, especially for mobile browsers, at a minimum.
  • The cx.js script resides on a content delivery network (CDN) in order to ensure low latency delivery globally.
  • The cx.js script sets 1st and 3rd party cookies in order to do anonymous user identity management, letting the Cxense platform know not only which page was viewed but by whom.


Funnel

A series of steps in a user journey that are tracked for conversion is a funnel. The typical steps for any funnel will narrow from beginning to end. These funnels can be constructed using the Cxense DMP funnel feature.


ID Syncing

Often Customers want to align their user IDs with the Cxense generated User Profile (the browser cookie). In this case, the Customer provides this via a line of code within the Cxense Script on page. When the Cxense Script is executed, both the User Profile (the browser cookie) and the Customer ID will be among the data sent to Cxense.
 

Individuation

This refers to the personalization approach and strategy that the Cxense solution set offers, meaning that data points are collected to the most detailed level feasible to make data available for execution in real time.


LTS (Long Term Storage)

As Cxense offers such a robust data set that is actioned in real-time, it only makes sense that we store event data for 31 days. For customers wishing to store event data longer than 31 days, can purchase Long term storage (LTS) on a site by site basis for any set period of time.


Noise Attenuation

This is one of the benefits of using Cxense for personalization, specifically for publishers. If you think of end-users accessing a Customer’s page, sections powered by Cxense will present end-users with content they haven’t seen before. This means the large real estate of the featured editorial section on the home-page has more reach on the end-user. End-users are provided with more options of content to consume, meaning the publisher can surface more of the evergreen content it has already invested in, leading to higher conversion.
 

Optimization

Optimization, otherwise known as A/B testing, determines the best possible presentation of something to a broad set of users. Typically using a challenger/incumbent approach, optimization rotates a series of candidates in front of an audience over a period of time until a winner is declared. While a good approach for tailoring content, Cxense does not consider this true personalization.
 

Personalization

Tailor content to the individual. The big leap from recommendation solutions to personalization solutions is the collection of data from the browsing behavior of each individual user.  This is where Cxense focuses our efforts: collecting data and making it actionable for real-time 1:1 personalization.


Pixel Tracking (aka Pixel Request, Web Beacon)

In order to avoid cross-domain errors, data associated with analytic and user-tracking generated by Cxense is attached to a 1x1 pixel for reporting information.
 

Placement

Placement or widget are used interchangeably at Cxense, referring to a section of content that can be powered by the real-time personalization algorithms, targeting different types of users at one time. For example, a placement might be the section below the product overview on checkout that recommends other items to purchase. These can be created using the Cxense Content Wizard in just a few clicks, or using our APIs to power a full page placement.


Product Pressure

As the digital retail store is a version of the in-store experience for any Customer’s end-user, product pressure becomes the number of items seen in a given section of a website by an end-user. With Cxense, you can increase product pressure and likelihood of buying by creating personalization placements of “What’s New” on the homepage that only surface items the end-user has not seen.
 

Real-time

Taking action in real-time on data collected in real-time is core to the data philosophy at Cxense. At Cxense, real-time does not mean batched-processing. It means that all user interactions surface within Cxense Insight sub 2 seconds. It means that updates to DMP segments occur within sub 2 seconds. It means that requesting page profiling from the Cxense Crawler occurs in less than 60 seconds. Cxense receives tens of thousands of events per second, and events fed to our Customer Cubes are typically searchable less than 10 milliseconds later.
 

Recommendation

A close cousin to optimization, recommendation solutions apply the same approach to individual pieces of content. Most commonly built around a technique known as collaborative filtering, most recommendation engines compare similar sets of audiences in terms of popular or most likely to be clicked content. While a good approach for tailoring content, Cxense does not consider this true personalization.


The Search Index

The individual web pages ingested by the Cxense Crawler are stored as part of a Customer’s search index. They can be accessed via the Cxense Search API to create rich, relevant search experiences.
 

Semantic Analysis

As the Cxense Crawler parses a page, it uses a parsing heuristic to strip away unnecessary data from the page, but using machine learning and language models to pull meaning from the structured and unstructured data that remains. Once complete, the semantic analysis associates categories, concepts, entities, location and other relevant keywords to create an aboutness of the content, whether a product lander or an article.


User Profile

The Cxense platform keeps a user profile for each unique user, which is continuously updated as the user navigates your site. Such updates may happen in real-time, or through periodic updates. A user profile is comprised of data originating from four main sources:

  1. The content profiles for the pages that the user consumes. For example, if a user tends to read pages about technology, that will be reflected in that user's profile.
  2. Search queries submitted by the user.
  3. Data inferred from the requests made by the user. For example, from the IP address and User-Agent string one can infer a lot about the location and device usage for that user.
  4. Externally supplied user data. This could be non-public data about the user that the Customer somehow knows and has shared with Cxense.
     

Widget

Widget or Placement are used interchangeably at Cxense, referring to a section of content that can be powered by the real-time personalization algorithms, targeting different types of users at one time. For example, a widget might be the section on the right hand rail of an article lander that presents other articles the user may not have seen related to the current article. These can be created using the Cxense Content Wizard in just a few clicks, or using our APIs to power a full page widget.

 

There you have it, a peek into the Cxense daily dictionary: cookies, funnels, and crawlers, oh my! Makes sense that a lot of our terminology is data and technology focused. Each of these terms is a core component of the overall Cxense vision and strategy to deliver what people want — so now go out into the world and speak ‘Cxensian’ with confidence.



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