The Questionable Value of Real-Time Web Analytics

Yesterday, Google announced the availability of real-time data in Google Analytics.

Hooray. Finally, we have it! Oh, wait. What do we have exactly?

Real-time analytics is an attractive feature, but the value is questionable. What actionable insights can you make based on real-time data? (They do exist but are few and far between.)

Google’s announcement prompted me to revisit a classic blog post by Avinash Kaushik, author of Web Analytics 2.0, where he asked the question "Is real-time analytics really relevant?" In the post, he reviews the inherent problems with real-time data and the potential good uses for it.

How do you use (or plan to use) real-time analytics data to evaluate content?

We already live and swim in a world of too much data, so much that we really have a hard time finding any actionable insights from what we have even after we hack at it for hours and days. Real-time data usually worsens that by giving you even more data faster and you are left to find the proverbial needle in the haystack (a non trivial task as you can imagine).

Source: Is Real-Time Analytics Really Relevant? by Avinash Kaushik, Occam’s Razor, Oct. 30, 2006.

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About Rick Allen

Rick Allen has worked in higher education for over twelve years, helping to shape web communications and content strategy. As principal of ePublish Media, Inc, a web publishing and content strategy consultancy in Boston, Mass., Rick works with knowledge-centric organizations to create and sustain effective web content. Keep going »

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