I have been using Charbeat and Google Analytics for quite a while now an have only recently really started to look at Google’s Real-Time features. Yes, sure they are still in beta, but what at Google isn’t in beta. Today on one of the sites I work on we had a slashdot effect link [take your normal day’s traffic, multiply by 1000 and condense into an hour] and I was monitoring both Chartbeat and Google at the same time. For the first hour there was no comparison – we had exceeded our account size and only Google was showing me ‘true’ numbers.
Judging by the bandwidth we were using – Google’s numbers seemed somewhat close to what I would expect and somewhat lower than what Business would like or expect – but I was happy with it. Then traffic started dropping – and the difference really began to grow. Chartbeat was reporting 2.5x the number that Google was – well that was depressing and somewhat scary.
We have been basing a lot on what Chartbeat has been reporting to us for some months. Whether or not we should spin up some new servers, to increase caching times – whether or not it was a good time to remove a server from rotation for an upgrade or maintenance work – a basic graph of activity on the site currently. Of course this would be backed up by some other stats from some other more precise method of measurement, but it is usually where we started since it was easy to get from a mobile device or bookmark.
In the past it had always bothered me on how Chartbeat would report XX,XXX numbers of users on the site, but the hardware was telling me otherwise. This site is not a 2 seconds on and gone sort of site. There is a lot of content to absorb as a user [if we catch you in the first 2 seconds], but at times the difference was so great that I honestly questioned the value of the product [yes, I have a bit of a one-track mind at times].
Today I found this: http://chartbeat.com/infographics/measure-differently
This changed my whole perspective. Yes Chartbeat is very important and very useful, but as a ‘techie’ kind of guy I am really more concerned with the ‘action’ going on my server. Once I have delivered the page to the user and that stress is off my server I don’t really care if they spend 10 minutes reading the page – I have 1,000 more pages to deliver!
Google is providing me with numbers concerning the ‘action’ on my servers vs Chartbeat’s ‘action’ on the site. Both provide valuable data [although I question the real accuracy of both], they are geared in two slightly different directions – and I really see a need for both. So Business can see their 10,000 ‘current visitors’ and I can see my 6,000, it is the second number I care about in the moment and I will leave the other to the Ad Sales department.