Dashing Analytics for Publishers Shows Value of APIs

Adam DuVander
Jan. 24 2012, 09:37AM EST

High traffic, content-rich sites want to slice their analytics in different ways than, say, an e-commerce site. That's the concept behind Parse.ly Dash, a new product to provide "fresh insights" to these publishers with a price tag starting at $499 per month. Interestingly, the company's three pricing tiers each come with another level of API access. Despite the beautiful graphs provided by Dash, it's clear that sometimes getting at insights programmatically is preferred.

The most impressive piece of technology is the auto-tagging system driven by natural language processing. While we've seen these sort of keyword extractions before, here Parse.ly combines it with analytics to show the traffic to each of those terms. Users of the system can further refine by author, the site's own sections and from where the traffic is coming. Parse.ly lets publishers zero in on tiny slices of data, which is what makes the API such an important addition.

The lowest price tier has "preview" API access, which ramps up to "basic" and "advanced" levels. In the SaaS world, we're used to seeing different levels of service based on pricing tiers. It's not as common in APIs, but as programmatic access becomes as important as other features, I wouldn't be surprised to see others follow this approach.

If the price seems high, that's likely because you don't have the volume of content production of the 50 beta testers. Dash analyzed 4 million unique pages and 4 billion pageviews (~700 million per month) during its private beta. "Parse.ly is helping publishers with the big data problem on the web," Parse.ly's Andrew Montalenti said.

ReadWriteWeb explains the value of Dash:

A tool like Dash gives a site a huge advantage in the short term. While some sites putter along without this kind of detailed feedback, the ones who have it could dominate. The ability to see exactly which topics and events need covering, and exactly how to cover them for a particular audience, is a sort of online omniscience.

""We define the media industry broadly," Parse.ly's Sachin Kamdar said. "Most people think news. We think of medical reference, how-to sites, style sites." One of the Dash beta testers was home decorating resource Apartment Therapy.

A preview of Dash in action is available in the video embedded below. In addition to providing an API, it's also driven by some APIs. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google Plus APIs all help get social data into Dash.

The company also has another API in the works, to provide access to its topic extraction algorithm.

Adam DuVander -- Adam heads developer relations at Orchestrate, a database-as-a-service company. He's spent many years analyzing APIs and developer tools. Previously he worked at SendGrid, edited ProgrammableWeb and wrote for Wired and Webmonkey. Adam is also the author of mapping API cookbook Map Scripting 101.

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