The EU cookie directive and chartbeat

We’ve had a few of our European clients ask about the new EU cookie directive and how this affects their site’s use of chartbeat or newsbeat.

The EU law, which requires that all users are asked for consent before using any non-essential cookies, will have an impact on the cookies served by chartbeat.

Currently, chartbeat uses two cookies. One cookie (_chartbeat2) is used to register if a person has visited the domain before (to calculate “new vs returning” users). The other (_SUPERFLY_nosample) is used only if you go over your plan’s traffic limit. At that point the cookie is set and will disable the beacon from that visitor for one hour. The _chartbeat2 cookie is valid for 30 days. The _SUPERFLY_nosample cookie is valid for one hour.

For more information about the chartbeat code, please see our docs page.

We’re in the process of building support for a cookie-less mode of chartbeat and newsbeat. Once available, the “new vs. returning user” data point in the chartbeat or newsbeat dashboard will not be accurately reported if you choose to allow users to opt-in to chartbeat cookies.

We’ll send out an update when a cookie-less mode is available. In the meantime, please contact us at with any questions.

Newsbeat: Introducing Spike Alerts

One of the biggest values of a real-time data product is its ability to highlight unusual activity on your site – activity that directly translates into actionable information. However, in order to identify what’s “unusual,” you must have a good sense as to what is “usual.”

Over the course of our research, we’ve found that the number of active visits on an article, as a function of the time since it was posted, generally follows a few typical patterns. Armed with those patterns, we designed a newsbeat “Spike Alert” system to identify and alert our users when an article’s traffic suddenly and unexpectedly deviates too far above its expected levels.

For every article, we evaluate the incoming traffic on a source by source (i.e. Social, Search, Links) basis to identify whether there is a spike in traffic from that source.  (The number of active visits in the Spike Alert email is specifically from that source, not for the article as a whole.)

We determine that a spike is occurring by taking into account a number of factors, including:
  • Predicted increase in traffic. This is to avoid sending alerts for expected, and therefore, uninteresting, increases. For example, an article posted at 2 a.m. that starts to pick up traffic at 9 a.m. is not that interesting.
  • Rate of increase in traffic
  • Absolute increase in traffic
Newsbeat Spike Alerts are configurable at a site, section, or author level and can be received by email, SMS, or iPhone push notification.

As an initial means of throttling the number of alerts we send, we created a default thresholding system based on the site’s 30-day maximum number of active visits. Sites with large amounts of traffic will have a higher threshold than sites with smaller audiences. Going forward, we’re exploring a number of different options to allow for more customized Spike Alerts.

It’s incredibly important that we hear your feedback, so we can continuously improve our product. Please email us at with questions or feedback on Spike Alerts, or any other newsbeat feature!

Tools for sharing your data with the world

Displaying data about your site, on your site, has become part of the standard user experience – from the number of Facebook and Twitter shares to the total page views on every article.

Business Insider's Engage-O-Meter

Last Wednesday, Business Insider took it one step further when they launched the Engage-O-Meter, a customized chartbeat-powered widget showing how many people are on their site right now.

They also made their chartbeat dashboard accessible to the public.

By opening up their real-time data, Business Insider joins a group of other chartbeat users who are showing off their numbers:

  • Midi Libre is displaying both active visits and traffic to top stores at the top of their home page
  • has a real-time feed of where their users are arriving from and what they’re reading
If you want to join this growing list of users, we have a few tools and widgets to get you started. And don’t worry if you aren’t a coding genius – many of these options require minimal engineering skills.

Active Visits

The Active Visits Dial shows the total number of visitors across your entire site with the classic chartbeat gauge. You can customize color and size, refresh rate, and the widget label. Please note that you will need to proxy the api request to use this, so it’s a little more developer intensive than the rest of the widgets.

Active Visits by the Numbers shows the number of people that are currently on a specific page or across your entire site. It can show either the total number of people, the new vs. returning users, or the reading/writing/idle activity on a specific page or the entire site.

Mapping Your Visitors

The Incoming Visitors Map is a simple mashup of Google Maps and the chartbeat ‘recent’ API call that plots the physical location of visitors to your site, along with what page they’re reading. The mashup is open source. View a live demo.

Top Stories

The Big Board is a dynamic overview of which articles are trending at the moment on your site. As traffic moves around your site, the pages will automatically rearrange themselves in order of popularity and arrows will indicate the direction of the traffic to that page. The Big Board is an open source project. View a live demo.

The Top Pages widget is a list of the current most visited pages across your site. You can select the number of stores to be shown in the list.

If you’re interested in displaying recent visits and referrers data, check out our Site Widgets page for easy-to-embed widgets. Or, if you want to build something from scratch, sign up for an API key and have all your data at your fingertips.

As always, we’re here to help. If you run into any problems installing the widgets or have an idea for other tools you’d like to see, let us know. Or, if you do something amazing with your chartbeat data, drop us a line. We’d love to see it!