Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Ecommerce tracking. Oh shoot me now…

One of the really boring bits of my job which doesn’t involve explosions (all the best bits involve explosions), is the tedious process of working out which people who saw an advert or website coverage bought a game. Big companies have an army of calculator-brained accountant/web developer geek hybrids to worry about this nonsense, while the game designers do more important stuff like eat canapes and quaff champagne. In my case, I have to do it.


(The sales tracking, not the quaffing)

Double Bah.

People who know me well, will realise that peversely, I love this sort of stuff. However, getting it working properly is a nightmare. I use google as my analytics provider, and BMT Micro as my payment company. I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to get it all to work properly. In theory this is what happens:

  • Visitor comes to the positech site from a google advert, google analytics drops a cookie on their PC.
  • Visitor buys the game(yay!) and is redirected to the BMTMicro site.
  • Javascript on BMTs site notifies google all of the data about the transaction, and who made it
  • Analytics ties this together and lets me congratulate myself on a l33t advert.

In practice, this is what currently happens:

  • Visitor comes to the positech site from a google advert, google analytics drops a cookie on their PC.
  • Visitor buys the game(yay!) and is redirected to the BMTMicro site.
  • Javascript on BMTs site treats all transactions as UK Pounds, regardless of currency. Lets hope nobody in zimbabwe buys the game or the stats are useless,
  • Analytics denies all knowledge of the fact that it’s the same visitor, convinced that everyone who buys the game must have appeared magically on BMTs website by beaming there direct from Tatooine.

I may have fixed this, by completely re-doing all of the javascript for the analytics on all the pages on the site I’m tracking, but it will take a few days for me to see if that’s really the case. To add confusion, I don’t have access to the code on the actual post-buy page, because that’s a secure page hosted by BMTMicro, so debugging this takes longer than usual. Google have written dozens of articles on how it works, almost all of which is contradictory. Thanks guys!

To really hammer home how clueless I am at that, I have picked up a stalker.

My stalker is an advert for an iiyama monitor that I looked at once, which follows me everywhere. It’s the digital equivilant of a girl you smiled at in a bar once who then follows you everywhere for the next 30 days. Creepy, and annoying, but more importantly, it’s evidence that everyone else has their customer tracking down to a fine art, and I’m still acting like some newcomer blundering about in clown shoes wondering who buys his games.


6 thoughts on Ecommerce tracking. Oh shoot me now…

  1. Also, those who buy might have watched your website a few times before deciding to buy it.

    For example, there is often 3 weeks or more between the time I discover something, and then decide to buy, or even try it.

  2. I’m one fish in a pond, but I’ll tell you my route to your game:

    I bought mine through seeing the game on and followed the link to Red Marble Games, then looked up your site to see who was the “Official” source, watched all the youtube stuff there, then back to Red Marble Games, and bought the Collectors/Deluxe Edition and the Nomads and the Galactic Conquest add on.
    Great Game BTW.

  3. Hi Cliff,

    maybe this helps since I just bought the game yesterday evening (it’s fantastatic and I hope you’ll not abandon it too soon, but I’m interested what G4 will be :) )

    I’ve bought GSB as part of an indie game pack from Steam (hope you get a few cents…) and after seeing the DLCs cost 5 € each I went to the Positech website to have a look around and found your DLC Bundle and the new expansion GC, two easy “Buy” button clicks later and my money was on its way.

    I was actually playing a rather extended demo from time to time over the last few months, but getting the latest base GSB game very cheap on Steam and playing a night convinced me to just buy all the DLC and hopefuly support you a tiny bit.

    Keep up the great game ideas!

  4. When you do finally get it figured out, hopefully you’ll make a post about it and save everyone else the horror.

    … personally, I still just trying to get in the habit of at least tagging events likely to lead to traffic spikes, instead of looking over last month’s totally untagged report and trying to piece together what happened like a detective.

  5. “Hey Cliff,

    FYI, the ads following you around are called remarketing and are fairly simple to set up. Here are instructions from Google:

    -Google Employee”

    And that doesn’t particularly pleases some internet users.

    Google services for surfers is free : our participation is through being receptacle for advertising. But I would be glad to pay google for its services in exchange of ad free services and being sure that no information would be recorded (websearch, browsing, and what so ever).

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