Visualising real time analytics

An incredible amount of content is generated by social networks around the world. In 2015, Facebook had 1.44 billion monthly active users, who sent an average of 31.25 million messages each minute, according to CIO. In 2016, Twitter had over 300 million users who tweeted 661 million tweets per day, according to a recent article, despite an alleged decline in users since 2014. Instagram has over 300 million monthly users who like 48,611 photos each minute.

Real time analytics data helps publishers weed through the clutter, and visualisation of that data helps publishers find relevant and useful information that can help them understand and serve their audiences better.

IDG, the world’s biggest tech publisher, pulls social analytics data into a bigger platform called Domo which can visualise and analyse it, according to Gordon Plutsky, director of applied intelligence at IDG Global Strategic Marketing Services.

Gordon Plutsky ()

Above: Gordon Plutsky

“For example, if we’re managing a large campaign that has a website, digital ad components and a social component, we can take all of those real time streams and bring them into Domo, to visualise,” he said. “We are able to analyse data, give recommendations, optimise the program to make sure we’re on what’s trending.”

Analysing and visualising analytics data in real time is a departure from the past, according to Plutsky. “When you compare it to what was done in the past – when you looked at a month’s worth of data, a month after it happened – the imperative was to go to a real time system so we could make changes quickly.” 

“I think the human mind works in a much more visual manner,” Plutsky said. “If you look at a giant spreadsheet, that’s what we used to do before I got here, there were spreadsheets with pages and pages of numbers, you really have to have a numbers brain. If you visualise it, you can tell what direction it’s going in and get a feel for it.” 

Visualisation of real time analytics data is extremely useful, he said, as publishers can investigate and examine.  “You can ask why,” Plutsky said. “You can dig deeper and get real insight that’s going to inform decisions going forward. And, you can scale and customise it for the business you’re in.”

Visualisations of real time web data – especially if it is interactive – can help publishers identify new relationships, trends, patterns, zero in on audience behaviours and preferences, and pinpoint areas that are weak or discover other potentially useful information. 

Ally Tubis, executive director of data science and growth at Rodale, says Rodale visualises its analytics data in many forms, with a proprietary dashboard that is plugged into three different data sources: Google Analytics API, Chartbeat and Facebook API.

Ally Tubis ()

Above: Ally Tubis

Their dashboard allows Tubis and her team to see where their content and brands are trending and growing. Their dashboard also monitors their social traffic and posts that are going viral and visualises that data, so they can see in real time how they’re doing, but also what content is being shared or going viral. It is something the team has created from scratch and is customisable. 

“It’s really helpful to see what’s happening on your site right now,” Tubis said. “We have so many brands, we can lift out what’s happening on every brand’s site, and learn from each other and each other’s audiences, cross-promote and cross-share. It has been a really successful strategy for us.”

Tubis said she also looks at Chartbeat’s Big Board Mosaic, which ranks content based on engagement, and Chartbeat Rising, which aggregates content from the Chartbeat network and show which topics are being engaged with. 

Chartbeat rising ()

Social listening

Visualisation of social analytics data in real time offers publishers numerous benefits, the least of which is that it is an easy way to comprehend large amounts of information. By visualising real time social and web data using charts and graphs, publishers are able to make sense of interests, preferences, what’s popular and trending, where, and provides actionable insights.

“A lot of the big social platforms have social listening tools that can produce visualisations including word clouds, if you’re looking at different topics, or the volume of what’s being searched or what is being talked about,” Plutsky said.

Social listening software tries to use different logic and algorithms to look at the language of conversations and see whether there is a positive or negative sentiment. These types of software monitor content and topics with the potential to go viral.

These types of platforms can be extremely useful for publishers who are also in e-commerce or working on things that are time sensitive, Plutsky said. “In particular, business intelligence visualisation programs are designed to do just that – give you up to the minute data, visualised.”

Plutsky said because the digital world is always on, it is important to be able to monitor results for conversions and SEO, for example. “That was our goal here, to move to a real time analytics platform, and that’s a trend, particularly in the media business.”

Tubis recommends publishers look at and visualise their real time analytics, as it offers greater insight than spreadsheets full of data alone.  “With a publisher like Rodale, monitoring and visualising data in real time gives us a really big advantage… it helps us optimise what we’re promoting when,” she explained.

“I think social listening is really important for publishers, because if someone is talking about a topic that you have an opinion about, or you have a perspective that hasn’t been written about yet, it’s important to jump on that conversation,” Tubis explained. 

“It’s about being in the conversation at the right time,” she said. “If it is a topic that engages a large community, or has potential to, if you got into that conversation, you would end up reaping the rewards as far as traffic back to your site. There is the potential that people are also going to start searching for it, then we can also potentially reap the benefits from search… You can create a multiplier effect, almost, by putting yourself in the conversation at the right time.”

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