A key feature of ATG is personalization. We have had some internal discussion about “scenarios” versus “targeters”, and the appropriate use of each. From the 2007.1 documentation:
How Are Scenarios Different from Targeters?
Several features in the Scenarios module are also available in a different form in the Personalization module. For example, you can set up targeters in the Personalization module that respond to user actions by displaying personalized content on a page or by sending e-mail.
The Scenarios module, however, introduces an element of time to the way you interact with visitors and personalize your site’s content. Scenarios can contain elements that tell the system to wait for a specified period before continuing with the next step; for example, you can have the system identify new members, and then wait three months before sending out a follow-up message. It is primarily this feature that turns a collection of unconnected personalization and targeting activities into a campaign and allows you to choreograph (and therefore better control) the relationship between your visitors and your Web site.
The following guidelines below suggest when to use scenarios and when to use targeters.
- Scenarios are triggered by events. If you want to personalize content as a result of a site visitor’s doing something specific (for example, logging in), use a scenario. Targeters are not event based.
- The business rules you can set up through targeters are more flexible in some cases than scenarios. For this reason, if you need to set up highly complex rules to match content to visitors, use targeters.
- Scenarios use a feature called slots to display dynamic content. Slots provide some powerful advantages over targeters (for example, you can set up empty slots that generate their own requests for content).
- The reporting features of the Scenarios module rely on scenarios to supply data. If you want to use reports to track and analyze business information, you must set up appropriate scenarios.
- As described above, scenarios are time aware. If you want to set up a long-term approach to content and visitor management, use scenarios.
Scenarios and targeters are, however, complementary features. You can use a combination of targeters and scenarios to achieve the results you want.