Google Analytics measures something called time on the page which can sound like attention time, but actually isn’t. Google Analytics actually measures the time difference between pages opened in the same session.
There are several problems with this approach:
- If the visitor bounced (left the site after the first article), time is not counted at all
- Any attention time that didn’t result in opening other articles is not counted
- Time spent on the last article in the session is not counted at all
- Google Analytics doesn’t care much about user activity
So, an article opened in a tab in the background and left for an hour will contribute for an hour of time spent on a page if there is at least one opened article after it.
Content Insights measures something that we like to call true attention time.
The Attention Time metric in the Content Insights app indicates the total time spent attentively by visitors on an observed article.
We calculate only the time when the content is in the focus and there is some kind of activity indicating that the reader is still present.
We don’t care if it’s the first or last paged opened in the session. Attention Time is calculated on the article level, with an update interval of 5 seconds.
How things are calculated in the Content Insights app
Let's go through one example to help you understand Attention Time better.
Let's say an article was opened in a tab and stayed in the background for 20 minutes.
Then, it was put in focus for three minutes, followed by a period without activity for 15 minutes.
Finally, there was another one minute of activity before the person closed tab.
Content Insights would calculate the Attention Time as being a total of 4 (3 + 1) minutes for this visit, because it was only being focused on by a real person behind a screen for those 4 minutes, even though it had stayed open for much longer.
How things are calculated in Google Analytics
In the same scenario with Google Analytics, you would see either 0 (if it was the only page or the last page in the session), or a total of 39 minutes (if the session was continued after this page was opened).
To understand more about the differences between Time on Page and Attention Time, as well as the simple metrics and complex metrics, check out our resource here.