Guide to Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence
Web Analytics uses Internet communication data between a client computer and a server to generate business intelligence of use to an organization. In brief, this is how it works:
When a request for a web page is initiated by a web browser on a personal computer to a web server, identifying data is sent with the request. This information includes the physical address of the personal computer on the WWW (i.e. IP address), the originating and destination URLs, and the date and time of the event.
This data is required by the web servers in order to return web page content back to the web browser on the the personal computer. This is illustrated graphically:
The web server retains all incoming communications in a log that is stored on the web server. This data can be copied into a Data Warehouse and sliced and diced as needed to generate business intelligence about website visits.
In addition to transmitting basic Internet communication data, many websites store "cookies" on the visitor's personal computers. These cookies contain identifying information about the visitor's previous visit to the website.