Archive for February, 2013

We’ve known for a long time that page views are a pain in the ass and tell you far from the whole story.  So it’s encouraging to find more and more comrades out there share the sentiment and, like us, are working to get our industry out of the page view game. Some of these like-minded thinkers were at the Crossmedia TO conference last week in Toronto.

A few of those presenters called out the futility of counting clicks:


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“Ipsa Desai from @Youtube, “true currency is not how many total youtube views, but how much time spent watching and if shared.” 

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“Measure of success on @YouTube isn’t necessarily view count, says @coreyvidal. Track + value audience engagement + your influence #cmto13


We’ve made this point before, but page views only measure the effectiveness of your headline or your thumbnail image.


That’s great if you’re trying to get people to click. But aren’t we, as content creators, more concerned with measuring the value of the content itself?

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“Difference is that with Chartbeat you know if people are reading the article, not just landing on the page #CMTO13

And once you’re able to measure your visitor’s interest in your content, you can start building that audience by focusing on those people – who they are, where they come from, when, and so on.

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@savvymomdotca: Creating a community “is not rocket science.” Ability to match right content with right audience is critical.”
Whether it’s creating a community or building an audience, the ability to match right content with right audience is the way to keep them coming back.


Once you figure out how to do that, then you’re able to, as Paul Kotonis puts it, reach your audience in a regular, repeatable, predictable way.

Understanding how to build audience loyalty is a huge focus for Chartbeat in 2013. We’re working hard to identify who your quality audience is – that is, the people that engage with your content and show a propensity to return – and introduce you to them.

At the end of my presentation CrossmediaTO host Bradley Cooper, errr, Gavin McGarry asked me how newsrooms reacted to Chartbeat when it initially came out two years ago and how that’s changed over time. And actually, our history mimics the changes in the publishing industry as a whole, I think.

In 2011 editors were worried that real-time analytics were good for content farms or news site that were interested in chasing quick clicks and views of any kind, but not for scholarly publishers or anyone concerned with creating quality content.

In 2013 many of those publishers are now at the forefront of data-driven audience development: how to match right quality content with the right quality audience, how to know if a visitor is just a piraña or likely to come back (maybe even subscribe), and how to optimize acquisition and retention.

Relevance and engagement have always been vital aspects of journalism. But in the past that was seen purely in a content-centric way (great content speaks for itself). Now it’s widely understood as the intersection of content AND audience.

That’s what our focus has been by encouraging newsrooms big and small to use Engaged Time as a measure of the depth and quality of content AND as a direct correlation to understanding if that reader will return to your site to read tomorrow’s quality piece.

What did I do Friday afternoon? Well, I’ll tell you I spent it having some seriously nerdy fun, my friend because I went to an amazing social media talk in Tribeca. The Social Media Week panel was called Longform in a Shortform World and was hosted by Buzzfeed’s longform editor Steve Kandell.

The panel consisted of Max Linsky from, Evan Ratliff from The Atavist, and Laura June from The Verge. The discussion centered around how longform is utilized in today’s times.

The recurring question? “How does the audience interact with longform narratives when time is of the essence?”

Something you guys know we think about all the time here at Chartbeat Studios; in fact, it’s what Engaged Time is trying to solve.

According to the panelists, it’s absolutely about audience engagement, but also design, narrative themes, and of course timing are all core elements of the answer.

Writers don’t just write.

The layout and design of how readers can engage with a piece is in the forefront of your editorial minds. It’s one thing to write and lengthy blog or magazine-style article, but it’s another to write a compelling narrative that’s formatted exactly the way your audience will best interact with it.

Audience engagement: who’s reading, commenting, and generally reacting to your piece is important. We’re learning that the industry hypotheses are right: People engage with different content in different forms in different ways. It’s so much more than just sex, celebrities and crime catching people’s attention — it’s about keeping that attention and that interest through quality content all the way through.

No mas wait-and-see.

One of the best parts of the session, was a discussion around the change in longform narratives since it has entered the digital realm. A major change for the better, actually, as editors can now immediately see how (or even if) readers are fully engaged with the piece. (Real time data nerd bias, I know. But it’s true! We hear it from you guys every day.) Not only is it helpful to get instant feedback on traffic/eyeball numbers, but editors can now see how themes, topics, issues, whatever resonate with a reader by the length of Engaged Time and bringing to light things like unexpected pause-points in the narrative where you may be losing or confusing your readers.

The bottom line, longform is far from dead. Your readers expect it from you – expect a variety of content and moreover the highest quality content and in a form that supports it best, short or long.

Ahead of our fearless CEO Tony Haile’s talk at the Guardian Changing Media Summit, he gave some time to discuss the state of the real-time industry and the ways Chartbeat is working with our thousands of media client-partners to move us forward — away from just a faster way to chase page views and traffic numbers and toward metrics that measure quality and map that quality of content and audience to the value of the business.

In the print world, it was pretty clear that your job was to make sure that people came back and bought a second copy of your newspaper. So your motivations were clearly aligned between creating quality and being a great business.

For a long time, I believe we lost that on the digital side of things. We started chasing page views or impressions and we started using link-based headlines and creating slideshows of questionable value. One of the things that is starting now and is a huge debate in the US, especially among the thought-leadership publishers, is how do we start to reunite the idea of quality and being a great business. How do we find the right metrics to use? What are the right business models that mean that we can make enough money by creating quality content? That is something that only now we are starting to wrestle with in a pragmatic way. For a long time, we accepted this separation as being the necessary way of things and this is not true at all.

Read the full interview and let us know if you’re heading to the Changing Media Summit in London in a few weeks. Would love to see you there.

(2) Social Media Week New York

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending Other Ways of Being Social Around the News, a Social Media Week event hosted by our friends at The Guardian.

The awesomely all-female panel of Elena Haliczer from the Huffington Post, Lauren Bertolini from Gawker, Ruth Spencer from The Guardian, Libby Brittain from one of our favorite startups Branch, with The Guardian’s Amanda Michel moderating discussed the importance of social commenting within news stories.

The conversation centered mainly around engaging your audience – specifically figuring out a way to have meaningful discussions in forums and comments within the content itself.

Some of the best advice these ladies shared:

You gotta get in the game yourself.

Journalists who interact with their readers through social media, comment bars, and forums typically have a more loyal and engaged readership. Makes sense, right?

Connect with the people who care about what you care about; you’ll get fresh perspectives on your work, and often spark some ideas on new content for you to create. Inspired content and a loyal audience. It’s the whole reason you got in this business.

Comments are windows to your strengths and opportunities

Lauren Bertolini pointed out comments often expose the material that people actually read. What parts were most interesting, controversial, confusing. Comments are like having an instant focus group on your work.

She used Nick Denton, founder of Gawker, as a prime example: He leaves his writers notes in the comments bar starting a meaningful discussion between the editor and writer and reader.

Put the data to work.

Pay attention to your best-liked posts, your least-liked posts and everything in between to further build your own brand as a writer. Not only to watch yourself and your audience grow and evolve over time – but in the moment, as it happens.

News is never done in this online world, if comments are picking up steam right now take advantage and create new content around what’s resonating most with your readers. 

While it would have been great to have had more time to talk about engagement beyond just comments, since that’s what we focus on every day at Chartbeat, I learned a lot about new ways journalists are getting even closer with their readers.

And my favorite part? Every panelist suggested distinctly different systems and algorithms to keep discussion clean and meaningful. Data nerds unite!

(2) Social Media Week New York

Social News according to The New York Times

On Tuesday afternoon I attended Social News, a Social Media Week NYC session hosted by The New York Times on their readers’ behavior, social media sharing, and news consumption. The session featured data from over 3000 online interviews that The New York Times conducted with readers about their news consumption habits, particularly how readers consume and share news via social channels.

Lucy Wood, Senior Manager of The Times‘s Customer Insights Group, and Cynthia Collins, Director of Social Media Marketing for, spoke about the survey’s data reflecting the practices of social media news sharers – The Times‘s looked at everything from the exact times of day news consumers are using specific devices to what qualities they associate with each type of media platform.

Collins mentioned how researching social media news sharer behavior provides useful guidance for aspects of their online audience development strategy. The survey’s detailed data reflects the value of understanding social sharers – how they consume content, what content they share, what their go-to news sources are – so you can make your content friendlier for this specific kind of news consumer.

Cool tidbits from the Social News session:

  • Social media users have a broader definition of what content constitutes “news” – e.g. celebrity gossip shared on Twitter.
  • Social media news sharing happens later in the day than general news consumption.
  • Television remains the primary source for breaking news stories. A majority of people follow breaking news stories on a second source (besides TV), and half of these users switch platforms (so, computer to mobile, tablet to laptop).
  • More news consumers turn to established news sources (like for breaking news rather than web-native news sites.

The Chartteam is stopping by Social Media Week 2013 NYC sessions all week – stay tuned for more updates from Chartbeat!