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Understanding Calculations in Parse.ly

Throughout the Parse.ly Dashboard, you may encounter averages, comparisons, and other numbers that don’t have an explicit description. This guide is dedicated to calculations in Parse.ly, helping you navigate through various metrics and data interpretations. We will discuss Factoids, the Overview Sentiment, Overview Timeline, and Goals.

Factoids

Factoids are the numbers we display under the timeline and filter bar on many Dash pages.

Calculated metrics in the Parse.ly factoids and comparison bars.
Factoids, comparison bars, and tooltip values

Comparison Bars

Beneath the Factoids, we display comparison bars. These illustrate the relative performance of the metric to the past 4 similar periods

We only expect these comparison bars to appear when:

In historical mode AND The number of days in the period selected is between 1 and 31 (including both numbers in the range)

In-Progress Improvement

To improve consistency in calculation, we will add another condition: we have tracked 4 similar previous periods for the Site ID.

Example: month selection

The Parse.ly Dashboard with the Posts tab, historical toggle, and month of July selected for comparative calculations.

When selecting the month of July with the monthly toggle chosen, the average bar below the factoids appears because it’s the historical mode (not pulse), and July has no more than 31 days. After the bug fix mentioned above, there’ll also be the condition that the given Site ID has been tracked at least since 4 * 31 = 124 days

The -10.9% average compares the 25.9M views with the 29.1M average (which is calculated by getting the number of days in July (31 days) and getting the number of views for the last 4 periods of 31 days. Note that the past 4 periods won’t necessarily match the past 4 months because it depends on whether the past months had 31 days or not.

Example: day selection

The Parse.ly Dashboard with the Posts tab, historical toggle, and a single day selected for comparative calculations.

In the above image, we see that Wednesday, November 29, received 36,856 page views (as seen in the timeline). The comparison bar indicates this is 3.8% above the average of 35,503.75 page views.

The average is from:

DatePage Views
Wednesday November 2235,885
Wednesday November 1534,416
Wednesday November 835,814
Wednesday November 135,900
Average35503.75
Relative Change calculation sample metrics.
Relative Change of Page Views for November 29 compared to the previous 4 Wednesdays.

Overview Sentiment

The “overview sentiment” is the second sentence that sometimes appears in the overview, beneath the Headline. It says something like “X% more traffic than on an average Friday”. These are the possibilities for that sentence:

  • Numbers match an average weekday
  • X% more traffic than on an average weekday
  • X% less traffic than on an average weekday

The rules for that sentence to show up are:

The time range preset is “today” AND There’s no filter applied

The Parse.ly Headline and Overview Sentiment.

To calculate this percentage, we query numbers for the last 8 weekdays (where weekday stands for the day of the week that we’re currently in, so if it’s Friday, it’ll query the previous 8 Fridays).

If we’re not tracking the Site ID for that long, it gets as many weekdays as possible up to the track start date – and compares it against today’s number. It also considers whether we’ve included Apple News traffic in the top-line metrics per your specification.

Overview Timeline

The Overview timeline also shows comparisons by drawing a gray line or gray bars in the background of the timeline.

Depending on your time-range-preset selection, we’ll calculate the gray average-graphs as follows:

Today

Get the past 8 weeks of data for today’s weekday, then calculate its average and draw the gray line.

The Parse.ly Timeline graph derived from calculations of previous similar periods.

This week

Get the past 8 weeks of data, then calculate the averages for each weekday and draw the gray bars based on that.

The Parse.ly Timeline graph -- weekly view.

This month

Get the past 8 months of data, then calculate the averages for each day of the month and draw the gray bars based on that.

The Parse.ly Timeline graph -- monthly view.

Goals

After setting up Goals in Parse.ly, understanding the calculations in Parse.ly for tracking your progress is helpful. We label in-progress goals as Behind, On-Track, or Ahead. We determine these labels based on the pace calculated in Parse.ly as follows:

time_passed_percent time_so_far / goal_total_time

expected_number = goal_number * time_passed_percent

pace = current_number / expected_number

If the page is lower than 0.9, it’s below the expected. If it’s larger than 0.9, then it’s above the expected. Otherwise, it’s On Track.

Parse.ly Goals with labels that indicate pacing success.

Additionally, when we click on one of these goals, a modal appears. Within it, there’s a sentence that depends on the goal’s pace, with two possibilities:

  • Above expected pace by X metric name.
  • Below expected pace by X metric name.
Parse.ly Goals with information to help understand pacing.

Rounding errors

There are some Calculations in Parse.ly that may not seem to agree with each other. And there are a couple of reasons for that. Firstly, there are many calculations running on the page in real-time, so it’s possible to find some of the calculated results lagging behind the others. And secondly, not all metrics are suitable for adding together due to factors like the “hotel problem“.

Conclusion

With this overview of calculations in Parse.ly, you’re now equipped to better analyze your dashboard metrics. If you have a question about these or any other calculation, please contact Support.

Last updated: January 16, 2024