Facebook Overhauls Page and App Insights, Adds Domain Analytics Features and an API

By Eric Eldon Comment

Facebook announced a big overhaul of its Insights analytics tool earlier this week at its f8 developer conference. The new version is live now, and provides much improved analysis for Page, application and web site owners. Upgrades include a new dashboard, visualization tools, a lot of new data to look at, and an API so developers can extract and analyze data on their own. Here’s a detailed look at all the changes; you can also watch a video of Facebook engineers discussing the changes, here.

The first is the dashboard. The Pages and Applications Insights were separate before, but now you can see any Page or app that you’re an admin of by going to facebook.com/insights. In addition, you can add Insights for your web site by adding a meta tag in your root web page. This will allow you to track Facebook activity on your site; the interface for the tool, called “Insights for your Domain,” is also viewable from the dashboard.

Page Insights

Page owners now get more information about the activity related to what they’re publishing, within two subsections for each Page on Insights. The first subsection, Fans, shows a wide range of activity from fans. The second shows Interactions.

Here’s what’s on the Fans subsection, from top to bottom: a counter showing your daily active fans, daily new fans and total fans, including the growth rate for each versus the previous day. A top chart shows DAU while a lower chart shows new fans, removed fans, total fans, and users who have hidden your Page from appearing in their news feeds. In these graphs and all others we discuss below, you can toggle each data point on and off. DAU, by the way, is defined as “users who have engaged with your Page, viewed your Page, or consumed content generated by your Page.”

There’s also data about particular items that contributed to the DAU count. Insights shows the following sources of information to the right of the top graph:

  • Daily Stream Story Viewers
  • Page Visitors
  • Daily Fans who Liked
  • Daily Fans who Commented
  • Daily Fans who Posted to Your Wall

If you mouse over each of these items, you can see the rate of change versus the previous day’s stats.

To the right of the lower graph, you can also see the percentage fan contributions brought in by parts of the site. They include:

  • Fan Page
  • Stream
  • Requests

Beneath this section, there are a few other graphs with valuable data. A Demographics graph shows the percentage breakdown of fans by age and gender. A set of tables shows you a percentage breakdown of the top 20 countries, cities and languages that make up the fan base.

The next part of the Fans subsection shows Activity. The upper graph shows page views and unique page views. A section beneath this shows the percentage breakdown of various tabs. They might include, for example:

  • Wall
  • Information
  • Photos
  • Static FBML
  • Static FBML 2
  • Video

Next to this data you can also see the top web site traffic referrers to the page. These can include ad campaigns on Facebook, widgets that link to a Page, flash promotions, blog links, search engine marketing campaigns and other web marketing efforts, according to Facebook data engineer Roddy Lindsay.

The last graph shows Media Consumption, including Video Plays, Photo Views and Audio Plays.

The other subsection for each Pages shows Interactions. There’s not nearly as much data on this part. You can see the number and percentage change for Daily Post Views and Daily Post Feedback. The graph shows Daily Story Feedback, including Likes, Comments and Unsubscribes. The view of negative activity here could be especially useful for brands trying to understand what sort of content their fans appreciate. Some people might like and comment on certain posts, for example, and others might un-like the Page.

Then, you can also see a list of the 10 most recent posts, listing each Message, the time posted, the number of impressions and the percentage of fans who provided some form of feedback on it. You can sort the list by each of these categories.

The last part of Interactions, called Page Activity, shows a graph of daily mentions, wall posts, discussion posts, reviews and video posts.

Overall, this is a massive update to Pages. Before, for example, it showed only a couple of simple graphs, and didn’t show granular data about important elements such as likes and comments.

Facebook is trying to provide every single piece of basic data that the average page owner might need. While it is in some sense competing with third-party analytics services, Facebook is also making this data accessible via an API. The company’s intention, according to ¬†Facebook data engineer Alex Himel, is to have third parties build more complex analytics service on top of what it offers for anyone that needs more detailed analysis.

Application Insights

This part of the tool is divided into three subsections: Users, Sharing and Performance. Here’s what they offer.

The Users subsection is similar to the Fans subsection for Page Insights. It lists DAU, daily new users, and total installed users by number and by percentage change. It shows the percentage contribution of key sources, such Daily Unique Logged-in Widget Viewers or the Games Dashboard. The top graph maps out DAU (as usual, the number of users who have engaged with or viewed the application).

The second graph, Daily New Users, includes application installs and application uninstalls, as well Total Installed Users.

In the next portion of Users subsection, you see demographics by age and gender, same as the Fans part of Pages, and also including the top 20 countries, cities and languages.

The last portion, Activity, shows a graph of Daily Permissions and a graph of Daily Blocks, which includes Block Adds and Block Removes. Facebook said yesterday that “everything that shows up is a permission that’s been requested by an app and accepted.

The next subsection, Sharing, shows the amount of content shared and the feedback per share at the top. Then there are three graphs.

One shows Daily Content Shared via Application, including Publish Story, Update Status, Post Share and Post Photos. The next graph, Daily Content Feedback, shows Story Comments and Story Likes. The third graph shows Daily and Total Content Hides.

The last portion of the app insights tool shows a graph of Requests, including Requests Accept, Requests Ignore and Requests Skip.

As with Pages, Facebook is providing all Insights data on applications to third parties via an API; an extended permission is required to apply Analytics to particular applications. You can read more about it here. We expect Kontagent and other analytics providers to take full advantage of the increased data accessibility.

Insights for your Domain

This last section allows you to track how much Facebook activity is happening in connection with your web site, which is crucial given Facebook’s Open Graph launch. That service provides a wide range of data and plugins to allow web site owners to integrate Facebook user data and features. Here’s more.

Facebook is planning to have all web pages on the internet become Open Graph nodes. They’ll be treated just like Facebook Pages and apps, so you’ll be able to see analytics for each page on the internet that uses Facebook.

First, though, you’ll need to install a meta tag for what you want to track, “a fb:admins or fb:app_id meta tag to your root webpage, linking it to a page, application or your personal account,” as the company explains in the domain-adding dialog box on Insights. You’ll need to install and sync the page to get started.

It tracks similar information to Page and Application Insights. These include DAU and various types of engagement (commenting, likes, etc.), daily shares, feedback per share, reshare rates. There’s a daily most shared chart, and a table showing the top 10 most shared web links, and a demographic graph.

This should allow web site owners to more closely monitor how Facebook users are behaving on their site, something that was previously not easily available.