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Global Intelligence for the Digital Transition

//Valer Kot /January 10 / 2014

Real-time analytics for publishers

Real-timeReal-timeEvents that happen “live” at a particular moment. When one chats in a chat…//read more  analytics gets a lot of buzz in online publishing circles but some online executives are still unclear about what it is, how it works and what is it good for. You do not have to be a fierce believer in the power of big data, web analyticsWeb AnalyticsWeb analytics is the process of measuring, collecting, analyzing and reporting…//read more  and the impact it can have on the performance of your web sites. Essential starting point that should be realized: web analytics may not work only with long-term, a few days or weeks old data.

Internet is often described as ‘the most measurable medium ever created’, thus real-time analytics is designed to monitor very precisely the current data on the behavior of visitors in order to help you optimize your website, content and overall online operations by delivering live and granular data. Through knowledge of what users are doing on your website right now, it is possible to understand the consequences of short-term changes and content updates, and respond to them immediately. It’s about moving with a greater speed towards previously unknown questions, defining new insights and reducing the time between what is going on on your website and your proper response or reaction within minutes.

Omnipresent generation of data in online environment is not just about transforming your content itself, it is, at the same time, also the transformation of workflow in news organizations and helping to develop effective content production strategies related to actual demand. New tools – like real-time tracking – are being deployed in newsrooms to provide insights around how your content is performing on site, in social networks, news aggregators and search engines. A new role in digital newsroom has been created: an audience editor is in charge to deliver and interpret real-time perceptiveness into the heart of the news workflow. This change in interaction with live audience improves how internal resources are deployed and what new perspective is explored in the newsroom.

Real-time analytics allows digital editors, content producers and analysts to easily inspect content viewing patterns on their own websites and to monitor visitorVisitorIndividual or browser which accesses a Web site within a specific time period.//read more ’s activity trends as it happens on site and react within minutes accordingly. The reports are updated continuously and each user’s activity is reported seconds after it occurs on your site. For example, you can track how many people are on your homepage right now, what is their geographic locations, the traffic sources that referred them to your site and which pages they’re interacting with after leaving your homepage. With real-time analytics, you can immediately and continuously monitor the effects that site changes and content updates have on your traffic, whether a new and changed content on your site is being viewed, what content is being consumed massively and monitor the immediate impact on traffic from a blog/social networkSocial networkAn online destination that gives users a chance to connect with one or more…//read more  posts or tweets. We can also see when you have stopped receiving visits from the social network, which helps you to realize when to reengage.

Better understanding of content consumption trends in progress leads your editors to more relevant, high-interest content creation. It helps to draw your attention to a particular information demand even on a kind of seemingly unimportant topics (you can also track and see, based on the traffic referrers, how people got to an article which led to rapidly growing reader’s interest trend). This way you may find that readers are significantly more attracted not by a present lead article and cover story on your homepage but greater information demand is focused to an article that is not listed on your homepage. Based on this finding, you can decide to place a link to the article on a location of your website through which people tend to visitVisitA single continous set of activity attributable to a cookied browser or user…//read more  your site. At the same time, you can instruct editors to supplement and enrich the article with related links, images, video or to add to the article a chart or infographics, and thus creating a compelling reader’s experience.

Based on continuous (a second-by-second basis) measurement of visitors’ behavior, it is easier to understand which various factors contribute to your visitors’ satisfaction (e.g. increase time spentTime SpentThe amount of elapsed time from the initiation of a visit to the last audience…//read more  on site), and how to convert a random visits to a loyal, returning visitor. More granular up-to-date data will generate fast yet informed decisions for your news desk. Soon, you will realize that just refining the title of an article can make a huge difference in terms of numbers of visitors accessing the article.

How to choose the right tool to fit my needs?

Before you start to compare the different real-time analytics tools, their features and the granularity of the reported data, think about what questions these tools should answer and solve for you. You must have a clear answer to questions like these: What criteria do you use to decide which articles to publish on your homepage? What are the types of things your editors disagree about internally and you have to decide intuitively? What everyday decisions have a major impact on the way your site looks and feels? According to what criteria do you control and assess the quality of content processing on your website? Do you know which time during the day is the most effective use of social networks? Who will be in charge of working with real-time analytics in the newsroom and what are his/her expectations? What would be needed to simplify and streamline the work?

Once you can answer these questions, you have got quite a clear understanding what features are a must for your daily use, so you can start comparing different real-time analytics tools.

Real-time analytics tools

There is a wide range of on-site measurementOn-site measurementWhen a server has an appropriate software program to measure and analyze…//read more  tools from different vendors that provide real-time analytics software and services. Data from your site is usually gathered via pagePageA document having a specific URL and comprised of a set of associated files. A…//read more  tagging – an embedded tracking code, usually written in JavaScript or JavaJavaA programming language designed for building applications on the Internet. It…//read more ; increasingly Flash is used. (Of course, there are also other data collection methods, e.g. packet analyzer.)

Here you can find a very useful comparison chart of different available real-time analytics platforms: Another well worked-out comparison might be found in this Google Doc. Yet, other good up-to-date overviews of available web analytics tools are: Top 30 Web Analytics Tools and 53 Alternatives to Google Analytics.

Case studies

Reynolds Journalism Institute  hosted Journalytics Summit in September 2013. Following presentations are case studies given by representatives of real-time analytics company and their clients:

Outbrain (Visual Revenue) case study

Dennis R. Mortensen, Outbrain

Rhonda Prast, The Kansas City Star

Chartbeat case study

Joe Alicata, Chartbeat

Joy Mayer, Columbia Missourian case study

Andrew Montalenti & Mike Sukmanowsky,

Adam Felder, Atlantic Media

Related article:

Real-time analytics can help you use scarce editorial resources more effectively

Article by Valer Kot

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