Session Replay – The Creepy New Way Websites Are Spying on You

Session Replay is the one of the newest varieties of In-Page Analytics that offers webmasters the ability to view recordings of live user interactions, including mouse movements, clicks, and keyboard entries in forms. The recordings are stored in a database and can be played back later, just like watching a video of everything a user did on a webpage.

You heard that right – websites are now able to record what you’re doing, what you’re seeing, and even how you’re moving your mouse. It’s pretty creepy, and it gets worse – it’s completely invisible to the end-user.

For all you know, this site is watching you right now. (it’s not)

But other, larger websites (sites that you likely have visited) absolutely are. The team at SessionCam (a UK company that specializes in Session Replay) boasts a client base that includes Best Western, The Financial Times, and the Filson clothing company.

In the past, session replay has been limited by its inability to read certain user interactions that involved the use of drop-down menus or popups, but SessionCam has found a way to read these events directly from the browser and replay them later.

SessionCam says that they don’t collect password data, and anything you type into a password field is hidden when played back. Still, even if you’re not using SessionCam, collecting live passwords isn’t a particularly hard feat to manage, and would only take an hour or two of Javascript coding.

If you’re running a website, playing back user interactions can be invaluable to improving landing pages and conversion rates. In the past, the only way to see how your visitors engaged with a site was to conduct a focus group. Now, you can see how customers use your website for free, with instantly updated data.

If you’re a user, needless to say, it might not be so cool. As much as we all love being watched, maybe it’s better left to the NSA.


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Casey Ark

Casey Ark is the CEO of Plato Web Design, a custom web design and marketing agency. His writing has been featured in The Washington Post, Entrepreneur, Business Insider, Newsday, The Tampa Bay Times, and The Cleveland Plain Dealer.

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