Tracking and event collection philosophy

Hi all, doing some initial data stack exploration. i’m very familiar with segment but am doing my due diligence on other platforms like Heap.
My question is which tracking and event collection philosophy do people prefer and why?
Autocapture (Heap) v/s. Explicit tagging (Segment)


Explicit tagging. Even if I’m “trusting” Autocapture I’m still QAing the heck out of it.

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Autocapture at the start, then tagging once you understand user behavior a lot better. This lets you not wing it off assumptions and makes sure you have everything that could be of value stored. Engineering / Product time is expensive and data storage is cheap


Hey @carolynmiles . I used to work at Heap. The real answer is there is a lot of nuance and what works best for you is probably different from what works best for everyone is best for everyone else. Autotrack is a better solution in the following cases:

  1. The team making use of the data is not able to write code. Autotrack is a great way to give them the capability to set up events themselves
  2. You are limited in engineering resources
  3. You want insurance against forgetting to track something or your tracking breaking. Because autotrack lets you access data retroactively, if you ever discover an event you wish you were tracking, autotrack lets you pretend as if you were tracking it the whole time
  4. You are iterating on what you want to track. Autotrack tracks pretty much everything for you out of the box

As for when precision tracking is better:

  1. There’s some number that needs to be precise. For example revenue data. This data usually is better to come from the server-side where it won’t be subject to things like bots or ad blockers
  2. Data with lots of contextual metadata. For example if you want to capture information from an ecommerce checkout page, getting what items are in the cart, how much of each item are in the cart, and what is the total price will be easier to get with precision tracking than with autotracking
  3. IME, about 5-10% of the events a company wants to track cannot be captured through autotrack. For example, if you want to capture an event for when a user sees a specific image, that’s not something autotrack would be able to capture

BTW, I would recommend looking at Freshpaint is a Segment alternative with autotrack functionality. We usually push the “hybrid” approach where our customers use a mix of both autotrack and precision tracked events

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Thanks all!
@MichaelYoffe, really appreciate the thorough and thoughtful response! taking a look at freshpaint and really impressed with the integrations.

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