A better way to measure content engagement with Google AnalyticsThis post is inspired by a conversation that I had with my friend and colleague Simo Ahava at Superweek as well as a recent work request from a well-established Italian publisher. In short, the publisher was quite challenged by the fact that they had an 85% bounce rate, and that their time on site was so low. Their articles tend to the get many hundreds, if not thousands, of Facebook likes, so “how could it be that users were spending so little time on site?!” Their average time on page was around the three minute mark, so how could be that average session duration was significantly lower?
- Challenge 1: Google Analytics tracks time on page / on site by measuring difference between time stamps of hits. If the page is a bounce, no time will be recorded.
- Challenge 2: Even if the page viewed is not the bounce/exit page (and thereby has a time greater than zero), GA doesn’t distinguish between time on page/site if the browser window is in a hidden or visible tab
After a lengthy explanation to the client informing them of the way the Google Analytics tracks time on page (and by extension, time on site), they were still stuck without a way to accurately measure content engagement. First of all, there are a number of different ways to measure engagement besides time on page / site. Many posts have been written about this and I urge readers to seek those out since time metrics gain too much undue focus as it is. As things stand, since this publisher’s site was not configured with any event tracking (a scroll tracking module would be great), they were seeing many users come to their site, view one page, and then leave. Unfortunately for them, “out of the box GA” does not provide very good insights into the nature of how users are interacting with their content. “Are they even reading the content?”
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