Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 09-09-2019, 12:07 PM
HeyHomie's Avatar
HeyHomie is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: Viburnum, MO
Posts: 9,955

Math Question About Estimating Numbers Based On A Brief Snapshot (Better Explained In OP, I Promise)


Apologies for the vague thread title, it's impossible to phrase this question within the character limit for thread titles.

Via the magic of Google Analytics, I can see what I call a "snapshot" of how many readers my articles are getting, although I don't get the final daily report until the next day. Essentially, at any time, the live report will tell me how many readers are reading the article at that time. So if I look at 1:05 p.m. Eastern time and it shows 145, that means that 145 readers are currently reading the article. If I check again at 1:10 Eastern, and it says 150, then that means that 150 readers were reading the article at the time.

What I'd like to know is how I can use this information to get a general idea of how many readers that will work out for me in raw numbers.

Assume for this thought experiment that it takes a reader exactly 60 seconds to read one of my articles. With this in mind, if my reader average is between 140-150 every time I check within a one-hour period, then roughly how many readers would that mean for the article in that hour?
  #2  
Old 09-09-2019, 12:49 PM
ASL v2.0 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2019
Location: Various
Posts: 153
What are your expectations, and how much time are you willing to spend? Have you considered taking the real time data and then comparing it to the final day-after data to see if there are any identifiable trends?

I mean, really, it seems like it depends on how much effort you are willing to put into coming up with a working model. It might be that some kind of forecasting based off what youíve determined to be a reliable enough relationship between viewers at a certain time or a very few times throughout the day, vs. total numbers (ie: you may find that if 100 people are reading the article at 8 AM, then 1000 people, give or take a few dozen, will typically have read it by the end of the day).

Alternatively, and especially if your readership isnít quite so consistent or doesnít follow much of a pattern, if youíre intending/willing to check it regularly throughout the day, not just once, I could imagine some sort of integral function being worked out to approximate viewers for the day, provided you can come up with numbers who average reading speed (so you can estimate the average length of time each reader is likely to spend on the article, based on how long the article is).

And lastly, I wouldnít be shocked if thereís already an app for this sort of thing, but thatís just a swag.
  #3  
Old 09-09-2019, 01:04 PM
OldGuy is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Very east of Foggybog, WI
Posts: 5,421
Can Google tell that the readers are actually reading? Do they only know if the article is open? Do they know if the article is on the active tab? Does the site of your article require registering or removing ad blocking or even suggesting it?

I could easily see someone start to read the article and then get a phone call so s/he remained active on the page for 10 minutes. That would not be ten readers (based on your 60 seconds) but one.

Might they see something in your article that causes them to look up something else? In particular do you have links in your article. They might have the page open for a long time but not active.

If your article requires registration even if free, or requires or suggests removing ad blocking, I could see you getting many opens that are not reads. How google interprets these I have no idea.

Last edited by OldGuy; 09-09-2019 at 01:05 PM.
  #4  
Old 09-09-2019, 01:25 PM
Limmin's Avatar
Limmin is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Posts: 122
As OldGuy said, there are a lot of ways a user could be "reading" your article.

Having studied Google's ways (analytics, ads, etc.) I am convinced that their rules and algorithms can make a good estimate of who is reading your articles, how long they are reading it, etc. and distinguish between idle time (another app is running, or you stepped away from your computer) and active reading time. They can also filter out instances where someone visits your article and then immediately hits the back button, closes the window, or visits a different URL.

That said, I am not convinced that Google is always up front about sharing this information with you. I would believe the hard facts, such as X unique visitors clicked to view your article, and the average time per viewer was Y seconds, and believe them if they say they're filtering out results where the user spent less than a couple seconds on your article page. I don't think that instantaneous numbers like "140 viewers at this moment" is all that valuable, because some could be in the process of leaving, and others might be coming back to your article after being away.

So what I believe you are looking for is the number of unique visitors to your article, that spent at least enough time on your page to get the message. I'd suggest that people spending at least 20-30 seconds spent enough time to give something on your page some good attention. (Hopefully it wasn't an ad.) If your article has a link to something else, such as a call to action ("take this survey" or "click here to learn more about widgets" or "click to view an enlarged picture of this panda's nose") that may signify that you had an interested reader.

And I would suggest waiting until your article has been out for a day or two to get summary numbers of visitors. After a day, most articles might be considered "done" as far as analytics are concerned.

Last edited by Limmin; 09-09-2019 at 01:29 PM.
  #5  
Old 09-10-2019, 04:23 PM
Napier is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Mid Atlantic, USA
Posts: 9,550
8400 to 9000. Why is this complicated? Am I completely misunderstanding?
  #6  
Old 09-10-2019, 04:42 PM
Aspidistra is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 5,528
Yeah, that's the answer if the estimate of 60 seconds spent reading is accurate. But like people said above it may be completely off - some large proportion of those 'readers' may just keep the tab open for hours, and get counted and counted and recounted.

Are there other stats you can cross-reference with? Unique ips? General locations? What happens if you look at 3am - do you see much difference between that and 6pm? Because if not, that would be highly suspicious
__________________
Science created the modern world. Politics is doing its best to destroy it.
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 11:03 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright © 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

 
Copyright © 2017