/ Google Analytics

Engaged Time: What is It and How is It Different from Session Duration

A typical analytics site like Google Analytics (GA) measures audience behavior on your site by the event: the page load, the click.

So, if you visit Page A then Page B, the time in between those two page loads is recorded as your Time on Page A.

But what happens in between those two page loads? Are people actually reading? Is their tab just open in the background while they answer emails? What if they never make it to the next page?

Momently, on the other hand, is built with a totally different state-based system. We see what your readers are doing in-between the clicks.

We can tell if they’re actually engaged, whether they’re reading (scrolling, page up and down). If they aren’t engaged for 30 seconds, then we consider them idle, and their time on the page is not recorded.

A note on Momently's Engaged Time
Time spent on comments, ads, banners, or just browsing through your blog is not considered engaged time.

Momently tracks visits with active pings every few seconds, effectively asking each person on your site, "Where are you and what are you doing now?". This enables us to give a uniquely accurate assessment of how long visitors are engaging with content at any moment in time.

engaged time

Google Analytics (GA) works differently. It receives data every time a page is loaded. From that point on, right up until the next page load, it's blind to what is happening on your site.

Lost time in Google Analytics

In GA, session duration is calculated as follows:

(the time of the first hit on the last page) - (the first hit on the first page)

GA uses the time of the next Pageview to determine the time spent looking at the current page. On the last page, there is no next Pageview recorded, so the time spent on the last page is recorded as 0 and Session Duration ends when the last page is opened.

Google can’t measure the time a user spent looking at the last page of their visit to your site.
- Mike Sullivan, Analytics Edge

Myth: bounces didn’t read your page
For sessions where the user only looked at one page (a bounce), as is usually the case with blog readers, the Session Duration is 0. This is because GA has no indication of when the user left, so it cannot calculate Session Duration, and the lack of value in GA means 0.

Time spent on the last page could have been 15 seconds or 15 minutes. Did the user read your blog post? GA doesn’t know. Maybe. Maybe not. Should you then assume the user left without reading the page? You shouldn’t. As a matter of fact, “bounces” on a blog are typically highly engaged with the content on the page. That's why you might want to question the common wisdom that Google Analytics is the best thing since hypertext protocols.

Bottom Line

Session Duration and Engaged Time are fundamentally different because of the way visitors are tracked. The power of Momently's real-time data is that it allows you to understand how people are consuming your content, not just that they were there recently. This is how you can create content that people will love.

Engaged Time: What is It and How is It Different from Session Duration

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