Events from paused experiments, stopped variations and archived experiments

  • Updated
Relevant products:
  • Optimizely Web Experimentation
  • Optimizely Performance Edge

There are times when it is necessary to pause an experiment. Before doing so, you should consider what happens to the user experience for visitors who were already bucketed into the experiment.

If you are using Optimizely Performance Edge, certain features described in this article behaves differently than in Optimizely Web Experimentation. Optimizely Performance Edge is a lightweight experimentation product that delivers significantly faster performance than previous versions of Optimizely. It does this by relying on a streamlined "microsnippet" which limits the range of available features.

You see this notation edge-info.jpg whenever the text describes a feature that works differently in Performance Edge than it does in Web.

Paused Experiments

If you pause a running experiment in Optimizely Web Experimentation, the variation code is removed from the snippet. This means the experiment and variation code are no longer available to run on the page because the code has been removed from the snippet.

Expected behavior of experiment:

  • New visitors are not evaluated for the experiment, meaning no new visitors are bucketed into the experiment once the experiment is paused.

  • Visitors who were already bucketed into the experiment while it was running see the native web page, with no experiment or variation code added.

Restarting Paused Experiments

If you restart a paused experiment, the experiment and variation code are both added back to the snippet. Visitors who were bucketed into the experiment while it was originally active again see the variation they saw before. Returning visitors are not re-bucketed into a new variation because their bucketing information, which is stored locally in their browsers, does not change if the experiment is paused.

Results Page

When an experiment is paused, the results page stops refreshing until the experiment is restarted.  Events scoped to the page that were triggered during the time the experiment was paused are still collected. However, they will not appear on the results page until the experiment is restarted.

For events scoped to the experiment, the results were not triggered while the experiment was paused, and thus the results page can show a gap during the time the experiment was paused.

Network Events and Raw Data

Visitors who were already bucketed into the experiment can continue to trigger events while the experiment is paused. If you are testing your experiment and were bucketed into the experiment while it was running, then certain events (specifically, pageview, click events scoped to the page, and custom events) will continue to be triggered and visible in the Network tab.

Events scoped to the experiment are not triggered when an experiment is paused. Only Pageview events, click events scoped to a page, and custom events continue to be sent to Optimizely when an experiment is paused. These events are not visible on the results page. However, they are visible in the raw data. If you choose to export your raw data for analysis, be sure to note when an experiment was paused and/or restarted on your own.

Stopped Variation edge-info.jpg

In some cases, you may need to stop a variation, but cannot stop the experiment. This is common when a winning variation is declared, and losing variations have to be stopped. When a variation is stopped, Optimizely removes both the variation code and the variation ID from the snippet, while leaving the experiment and any other variation information intact.

Expected behavior of experiment

  • New visitors are evaluated by Optimizely Web Experimentation for the experiment and bucketed randomly into the remaining variations. This means no new visitors are bucketed into the stopped variation.

  • In Optimizely Web Experimentation, visitors who were already bucketed into the stopped variation see the native web page, with no experiment or variation code added.

  • edge-info.jpg In Optimizely Performance Edge, visitors who were already bucketed into the stopped variation are rebucketed into another variation in the experiment.

When you stop a variation, you cannot restart it.

Results Page

The results page will continue to collect data for the experiment. However, you should expect conversions for the stopped variation to decline

Updating visitor bucketing information

Visitors who were bucketed into the stopped variation continue to attribute events to the results page until they go back to a URL where the experiment is active or running. Only then is bucketing information updated with the removal of the variation ID. At that point, events are no longer attributed to the variation ID on the results page.

Network Events

If you are testing a variation that has stopped, you may continue to see events triggered in the network tab. Open the network event, Navigate to the page where the experiment activates and open the network event. If the variation ID field is NULL, the bucketing information was updated.

Screen Shot 2018-01-08 at 2.52.38 PM.png

Raw Data

When viewing the raw data for an experiment with a stopped variation, you may see data points with a value of NULL under the variation ID column. These events are from visitors who were bucketed into the variation that had stopped, but still continued to trigger events. When you see events with NULL values for variation ID, the visitors who created these events will not be attributed to the results page. The event will only be visible in the raw data.

The following image shows a single visitor's activity in raw data. When the variation ******50923 was stopped, the variation_id value became null; meanwhile, the rest of the values remained the same.

Screen Shot 2017-12-28 at 10.33.50 AM copy.png

 

If an experiment with a stopped variation is duplicated, the duplicate version also contains the stopped variation. To get around this, you can duplicate a stopped variation within an experiment. This lets code from the stopped variation run again without rebuilding it. However, the duplicated variation has a new ID, and none of the bucketed visitors from the stopped variation transfer to the duplicated copy.

Archived Experiments

When an experiment is archived, the results page records a new stop date and time, and ceases tracking events for the experiment. The raw data continues to receive custom events and events scoped to the page. The reason for this is that Optimizely does not change the visitors bucketing information, which is stored in the visitor's browser. As a visitor continues to trigger events after an experiment is archived, those events will be attributed to all experiments listed in the visitors layerStates, including archived experiments. This means that events not scoped to the experiment are still recorded in the raw data after an experiment is archived.

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