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Parse.ly vs. Google Analytics: 9 Ways Parse.ly Emerges as Best-in-Class for Content Analytics

By June 24, 2021September 29th, 2021No Comments

Google Analytics (GA) is a robust analytics platform but misses the mark in key areas around content insights. Customers that use GA incorporate Parse.ly into their workflow as the source of truth for content insights.

Parse.ly has the edge on Google Analytics for content teams, especially when it comes to actionable content analytics and metrics that marketing teams care about. GA was reappropriated for content as a later use-case, whereas Parse.ly was built for content from the very beginning.

Table of Contents

  1. Get up and running quickly with an interface that’s actually user-friendly for content teams
  2. Delve into a comprehensive view of each content piece’s performance
  3. Gauge more accurate user engagement with the ‘heartbeat’ tracker
  4. Take personalization to the next level for audiences with customizable on-site and email content
  5. Unearth and optimize hidden gems in your content archive with Parse.ly’s predictive analytics
  6. Measure the content that drives the highest value over all social networks
  7. Create fast, easy-to-access content analytics reports for all decision-makers
  8. Build dynamic content groupings to deliver unique insights for your organization
  9. Measure the content that drives the highest value in your distribution network

1. Get up and running quickly with an interface that’s actually user-friendly for content teams

When it comes to content analytics, user-friendliness in a content analytics tool is fundamental to driving insights. It should serve up actionable data for content-driven teams and organizations to yield success. Parse.ly makes it easy for all who work with content to harness the power of data. While GA is a robust platform, GA does not do that for content teams.

In fact, almost every Parse.ly customer already has GA installed, but they sign up with us because the majority of users can’t use GA in a substantive way. Let’s compare the two aesthetically, side by side.

GA (after navigating to ‘Site Content’ from logging in):

(Source: Content Marketing Institute)

Parse.ly (the overview right from logging in):

Parse.ly is built with actionability in mind and is tailor-made for content. This also means there’s less time to value for the team—within minutes of using it, the content team can begin extracting data to better their efforts. Using Parse.ly doesn’t require as much training as using GA does, so more people will get trained on it expediently and actually use it. That’s why Parse.ly’s adoption rate among users is unmatched across the content analytics industry.

Ease of use and accessibility are fundamental to driving data insights and are paramount to the success of content-driven teams and organizations.

2. Delve into a comprehensive view of each content piece’s performance

Parse.ly collects and organizes data differently than most analytics platforms. Our system looks at each canonical URL to group multiple pages into a single view, which makes it a snap to understand the performance of a single piece of content in its various versions across various channels.

A single piece of content can have dozens of URLs that all point to the same asset. This could take the form of multiple pages of the same post, different URLs for mobile, syndicated URLs, or different formats like PDFs.

Parse.ly brings together every iteration of a given URL, or the same piece of content. Simply click a post title to get the comprehensive overview of how it’s performing across channels: With GA, you wouldn’t be able to see this post’s performance across various channels in a single view. GA doesn’t think of a piece of content in composite across all the places it lives. Instead, it looks at unique URLs or pages to determine performance. This can make it hard to quickly understand how a piece of content is performing and a chore to collect these same data points to glean the same end result.

3. Gauge more accurate user engagement with the ‘heartbeat’ tracker

Parse.ly’s measurement of engaged-time via our proprietary “heartbeat” pixel measures true audience engagement. Audience engagement, above all other data, is what content teams should care about getting right.

Parse.ly’s heartbeat pixel actively monitors how (and how often) a website visitor is engaging with a page or post on your site. To discern engagement, our pixel “watches” how a visitor interacts with the content. Every few seconds, the Parse.ly pixel pings the webpage to check if the tab is still open and what the visitor is doing on the page. These tracked activities could include clicking, scrolling, pressing play on videos, etc.

Historically, GA has relied on limiting metrics like time on page or bounce rate to hint at engagement, until just recently when they added engaged-time tracking to their platform. Though both Parse.ly and GA now offer this feature, the important thing to note is that Parse.ly offered it 5 years before Google. We are and have always been laser-focused on the needs of content teams and will continue to find innovative ways to serve them in the ever-changing digital landscape.

4. Take personalization to the next level for audiences with customizable on-site and email content

Parse.ly can power on-site and email content personalization through our various API endpoints which drive consumption, engagement, and loyalty.

Powered by AI, this technology crawls your content archive to serve up personalized recommendations immediately on your website, newsletter, or app. On other platforms, this configuration takes months, but on Parse.ly it’s only a matter of a few days.

Further, Parse.ly’s content personalization is content- and user-specific. This means that our personalization can be geared around what a reader has already shown interest in in terms of topics, or what we know about their role or industry. GA’s is about the site structure, simply suggesting URLs in a similar folder, like “blog” which severely limits true personalization.

An example of this personalization power in action is the use-case from publishing giant Gannett, who worked with Parse.ly to develop a personalized content module of ‘Trending Stories in [location]’ as the COVID-19 virus began taking over headlines globally.

This custom module lives at the bottom of posts on certain publications in Gannett’s network:

(Source: USAToday)

Powered by Parse.ly’s API, this module is responsive to the audience’s desires in real-time. It creates content recommendations based on engagement and location data, as well as topics. 

5. Unearth and optimize hidden gems in your content archive with Parse.ly’s predictive analytics

Our platform allows you to easily identify your hidden gems that only need a little extra attention to boost performance and increase engagement.

Parse.ly uses predictive analytics and an “evergreen report” to tell you the content that has the highest propensity of becoming evergreen, meaning content that has a shelf-life of longer than three days. Knowing this allows you to focus your attention on promoting that content to increase the likelihood of it becoming evergreen in the future and maximize exposure from the get-go.

With GA, this sort of effort would be highly labor-intensive and less directive in terms of which content pieces need a little extra love to reach their maximum potential. You’d have to repeat this process each time you want to refresh content. With Parse.ly, it’s already baked into our dashboard.

This preview of our Evergreen Report shows how easy it is to see powerful data points at a glance:

6. Measure the content that drives the highest value over all social networks

Parse.ly has integrations with all social platforms, allowing you to identify the social and external content that is driving the right audiences for your organization through our dashboard. 

Double down on capturing your consumers’ attention from social and get them to lean in with what you know will work. GA has no social integrations but instead simply buckets similar traffic under catch-all buckets called “Social” or “Referrals,” which fall prey to their own sets of growing issues plaguing web analysts like dark social traffic.

Take a look above at how you can sort social engagement through Parse.ly in terms of referrals, interactions, and a combination of the two.

7. Create fast, easy-to-access content analytics reports for all decision-makers

With little effort, add decision-makers to the Parse.ly platform itself, or generate choice reports to send via email on a regular cadence to keep the team and decision-makers in the loop. This is a major pain point for GA users: extracting information and communicating it across the team in the form of graphs and visualizations.

Parse.ly has a faster, easier reporting suite that folks across the organization will actually enjoy using. Send automatically recurring HTML reports that are intuitive, allow everyone to understand how their efforts are paying off, and most importantly, collect the insights needed to determine what to do next.

This type of reporting (and proactive reporting), in turn, makes content data actionable across the organization, making it easier to achieve company-wide buy-in.

8. Build dynamic content groupings to deliver unique insights for your organization 

GA provides content grouping, but it’s not as intuitive or automatic as Parse.ly’s. And now with our newest grouping feature, Smart Tags, we’ve left GA even farther in the dust.

Smart Tags automatically tags your content based on subject-matter and consequently doesn’t require any manual maintenance in your CMS. Using machine learning and natural language processing, Smart Tags scans pages and posts to determine relevant topics and assigns tags automatically. Smart Tags can supplement your existing tags or do the work for you if you’re not tagging your content already.

Smart Tags can be maintained on the post level in Parse.ly, and look something like this:

Content within Parse.ly is also continually recrawled in order to reflect updates you make to your manual tagging taxonomy. We can even retroactively update it for you. GA only collects data going forward, so if you make changes to things like your tagging structure, your data will be skewed and inaccurate.

9. Measure the content that drives the highest value in your distribution network

Parse.ly’s on the pulse of thousands of content creators and publishers like you, and that real-time data is always accessible through our Currents Dashboard.

With this powerful market research tool, you can access panel data of over 1 billion people per month, what content they are consuming, where they are coming from, and what content matters most across platforms. The data looks beyond search and social consumption and provides a full view of how the internet consumes content. For Parse.ly customers, “Currents” serves as a roadmap to apply to their own content strategies of what else is working well. GA does not have a similar research tool in-app to inform your content creation efforts.

Further, we at Parse.ly publish data stories regularly to make sure our insights are accessible. A recent example of this was our roundup of how the content landscape changed in 2020, especially in the context of COVID-19 and online content consumption.

Even if you use Google Analytics, Parse.ly is an essential platform if you are using content as a mechanism to inspire action from your audience.

Choose the content analytics provider that best suits your needs. In a round-up of testimonials on trusted third-party software review sites like Trust Radius and G2, many users speak directly to Parse.ly’s advantages as a Google Analytics alternative (and have rated us higher overall than GA on both platforms!):

“I find Parse.ly much easier and intuitive to use, everything I need is served to me within a few clicks and the time it takes me to train someone on the system is much less than Google Analytics.” – EJ Ward, MCIJ, Senior Editor, Global Radio – LBCMedia Production, 5,001-10,000 employees

“It’s much easier to use and set up than something like Google Analytics which has limited charts and takes a ton of configuration.” – Ben Harborne, Marketing Manager, HourlyInformation Technology & Services, 11-50 employees

“To the everyday user, Parse.ly is much easier to use to drill down into traffic by story, author, referral source, etc. than is Google Analytics.” – Verified User, Vice-President in Product Management, Publishing Company, 51-200 employees

GA is a robust analytics platform that can help you understand the performance of paid acquisition and page performance, but GA was not originally built for content. It was built as a general-purpose web analytics tool that, by default, is difficult to customize for content.

The reason that Parse.ly’s clients have seen such success in the content space is because our platform is purpose-built for that landscape. With this mission, we will continue to build and innovate in ways that a general web analytics tool will never be able to. If you want to prove the value of your owned, earned, and shared content, then making Parse.ly your content analytics tool is the answer.

If this got you thinking about how Google Analytics underdelivers on all your organization’s content reporting needs, schedule a demo with Parse.ly to learn more about our solution.