If you are a decent sized online publisher, chances are, you are spending a lot of time in you analytics software. Sadly, though, most of the standard analytics packages like Google Analytics aren’t so much meant to give publishers a bird-eye view of how their site is doing. Instead, they often feel like they were designed more for marketers than publishers. Parse.ly, which is launching its flagship Dash analytics software out of private beta today, wants to provide a better solution for publishers by offering them a package that focuses almost exclusively on the needs of content-driven sites.
I got a demo of the service last week and was quite impressed with how clearly the Parse.ly team understood what publishers and writers want from a modern stats package. Not only is the software far easier to navigate than Google Analytics, but thanks to the company’s smart semantic tools, it’s also far more useful for publishers.
Unlike other tools, Parse.ly, for example, understands what your posts are about and can extract keywords and other metadata from them. Thanks to this, you don’t have to rely on your writers’ strict adherence to a tagging taxonomy. Instead, if your are a political site, for example, you can quickly get a glanceable view of how your posts about Newt Gingrich have been doing lately, who wrote the most popular posts about him and then allocate resources accordingly. In the same way, you can see what keywords are driving traffic on your site right now and what the trends for these stories look like.
In contrast, most regular analytics tools today don’t even make it easy for you to see who wrote a story.
The data is compiled in real-time and during its beta test with publishers like The Daily Caller, The Next Web, The Atlantic and a number of other high-traffic sites, Parse.ly analyzed over 4 million URLs and over 4 billion pageviews.
Parse.ly also takes a look at the aggregate data across its network and provides its users with global trends from the sites in its network. In addition, it can also look at social trends, though as the team pointed out to me, having access to its own, more focused data-source helps Parse.ly provide publishers with more timely and far less noisy data.
Not for Small Publishers
Before you get too excited, though, it’s worth noting that Parse.ly isn’t a tool for small publishers. The cheapest plan costs at least $499 per month. That’s pretty pricey compared to the free Google Analytics package or the relatively cheap dedicated real-time stats packages like Woopra, Clicky or Chartbeat, which also offers a dedicated (and similarly priced) package for newsrooms, though without most of the semantic features that Parse.ly offers.