Measure how much time things spend on-screen

Screentime is a small tool that helps you start thinking of your website traffic in terms of time instead of hits (pageviews, visits, etc). You can define areas of the page, called Fields, and then Screentime will keep track of how much time each Field is on screen for. You can also use it to track smaller elements, like ad units.

Screentime only handles the client side work. You'll need to provide your own backend to post the data to. I've included an example that shows how to this with Keen IO using only a few lines of code. There's also a built-in option for posting to Google Analytics but there are some caveats (see below).

Download the JS View on Github

(You may also like my other analytics plugins, Riveted and Scroll Depth.)


How it works

You specify some DOM elements that you want to track and then every second Screentime checks the viewport to see which ones are in view. It tracks the viewable seconds for each element/field and then issues a report every 10 seconds (you can adjust the interval). The report is passed to a callback function that you can use to post the data to your server.

If the user switches tabs, the timer stops. The timer doesn't require that the user be active, just that the screen elements are visible.

Using it

Load jQuery, load screentime.js, and pass in selectors for each unique element you want to track, including a name for each. The callback option receives an object containing the data.

<script src="screentime.js"></script>
  fields: [
    { selector: '#top',
      name: 'Top'
    { selector: '#middle',
      name: 'Middle'
    { selector: '#bottom',
      name: 'Bottom'
  callback: function(data) {
    // Logs: { Top: 5, Middle: 3 }


fields (array)

An array of object listing the DOM elements you want to track. Each object should specify a selector property and a name property. Required.

reportInterval (number)

The interval, in seconds, used to issue a report. The default is 10 seconds.

percentOnScreen (string)

This determines what percentage of the field must be on screen for it to be considered in view. The default is "50%". One exception to this rule: if a field occupies the majority of the viewport it will be considered in-view regardless of its viewable percentage.

googleAnalytics (boolean)

Setting this to true (default is false) will send a Google Analytics event for each field (if the field has data to report) when the report is issued.

callback (function)

The callback function that receives the screentime data.



Calling $.screentime.reset() will reset the counter. This is useful for Single Page Applications where the page context is reloaded client side.

Posting the data

The built-in Google Analytics option is an easy way to quickly start collecting screentime data, but it's not exactly scalable. For each field that has data to report, a separate GA Event has to be sent. If you're only tracking 2 or 3 fields, this is probably fine. But anything more than that and you might start hitting the GA collection limit.

For scalable data collection you'll want to provide your own backend or use a service like Keen IO. In the examples folder there's a demo showing how easy it is to use Keen for this. It's as simple as this:

callback: function(data) {
  Keen.addEvent("screentime", data);


Browser Support

All the good browsers and IE8+


Licensed under the MIT license.

© 2018 Rob Flaherty  ·  Hosting by WebFaction