Real-time Web analytics have changed the nature of collecting, analyzing and reporting Internet data. As the name implies, it’s a way to measure website traffic in order to understand and optimize a site’s usage.
It used to be this was a specialized area, inhabited by a select few who knew their way around data well enough to tease out trends. No more. Today, the ability to collect and view data in real-time allows more people to get their arms around it. In publishing, for example, “they’d push a story out and forget about it and think about the next one,” said Tony Haile of the analytics service Chartbeat, whose clients include the New York Times, Fox News, and Forbes. “What we’re seeing now with the real-time Web is they’re putting out a story but they’re often iterating on it. They’ll see a story is spiking (generating a lot of user interest) so they will draw out the audience and see what they can do with it. That ability to be much more adaptive is key to what’s happening to the real-time Web.”
Interested? If you’re a programmer you may already have the skills to hit the ground running. “The core of our real-time engine is built in C, which is pretty much as old school as you can get,” says Haile. “And then we combine that with things like Python and Tornado which are more conducive to real-time situations.”