The Heartbeat Sensor: Taking the Pulse of Your Campaign

Background & Industry Implications:

Time on Site (TOS) and Bounce Rate are standard metrics many site owners rely on to measure campaign performance. Because they are directional metrics, tracking trends over time is essential. Changing the measurement tools used for TOS and Bounce Rate is therefore especially challenging as it means previous performance metrics may no longer be relevant. But when new tools can provide far greater accuracy and insight than what was previously available, it’s worth the effort. The Heartbeat Sensor is a new tool that can change the way you measure TOS and Bounce Rate dramatically. This POV will introduce you to how the Heartbeat Sensor works, why we recommend its implementation, and how we can help you move forward with building a new set of benchmarks for your directional metrics.

The problem with measurement

Time on Site (TOS) is an elusive and shifty web metric that has been the bane of every web marketer since the advent of site analytics. In order to calculate TOS, the web analytics tool (Google Analytics, WebTrends, etc.) requires the time the first page on a site was requested (time stamp #1) and the time the next page on the same site was requested (time stamp #2). If the visitor leaves the site before visiting the second page, then there can be no reported TOS through the web analytics
program. The problem is that many visitors will go to one page only, get the information they need, and then swiftly disappear into the Internet as if they were never there. And in truth, the web analytics tool will capture them as a bounce with no time on site.

However, even if the visitor gets to the second page, they are still not accurately measured because the analytics tool must rely on the person to then go to a third page in order to capture the time they spent on the second page.

Bounce Rate is also calculated in a similar fashion. If a person never gets to the second page of a website, they are considered a bounce. If you have a loaded or scrolling home page where most of your information resides, then most of your visitors will be recorded as bounces with no time on site.

The Solution

To provide a more accurate look at TOS and Bounce Rate than have previously been available, CMI/Compas recommends implementing the “Heartbeat Sensor”: a small snippet of code placed on any page that you want to more effectively measure.
The code will “pulse” a visitor every 10 seconds to see if that person is still viable on the site. The code will relay the person’s viability back to the analytics tool every time it detects the person’s continued presence on the site.

Why it’s a game-changer

Once this new measurement technique has been employed on your site, you will not be able to compare to historical measures of past TOS or Bounce Rate metrics; you will need to move forward and create new benchmarks for your site. Industry standard TOS is between 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Industry standard Bounce Rates may be between 40% to 70%, depending on how new the site is. The Heartbeat Sensor, if applied to all pages of the site, will change these metrics dramatically. The site may see a lift of 5 minutes or higher spent on a site and the Bounce Rate could decrease to 15% or lower.

Therefore, it requires a change in “worldview” of how these metrics traditionally measured up.


If you’ve determined that a directional look at your visitors’ site engagement is of value, you should consider implementing the Heartbeat Sensor in order to measure TOS and Bounce Rate in the most accurate way. Placing the code on every page of your site is recommended. This way, if people come into your site from different sources, whether paid campaigns or organic, you will be able to more accurately measure every visitor’s engagement with your site no matter how they got there.

Once the code is implemented, TOS and Bounce Rate can be seen for each specific source of traffic and on the site as a whole.

New industry benchmarks for these metrics will be calculated as CMI/Compas gathers more intelligence and more sites begin implementing the new technique. If you choose to implement the code on your website, you will be included in all updates to these new benchmarks. If you would like more information on how to implement code, please contact your media team or IQ Rx analyst assigned to your account.

This is a fascinating new spin on old metrics and CMI/Compas strives to remain at the forefront of new technologies that can help you more accurately view your site’s effectiveness.