Measuring Content’s Value and the Futility of Counting Clicks

February 28th, 2013 by Adam

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.
  • http://Semphonic.com Chris Meares

    Great post…so many media sites are stuck in the “how many page views” did I get game and they aren’t focused on growing their core audience or learning how to grow their core audience. Chartbeat is a great tool that helps you to do that but honestly, it can be done with any analytics tool, but not in real time like Chartbeat. More organizations, media and otherwise, need the correct people on staff to understand the data, that is where they should be investing the money.

    • Adam

      Thanks for the comment, comrade Chris. Yep: many ways to skin a cat and we wouldn’t pretend to be the only way. But we do think that Engaged Time has some intrinsic benefits – it tells you something about the volume of visitors AND how much they read, plus it’s state-based (as opposed to the click-based ‘Time On Site’) so it’s highly accurate. But curious about what you’re hearing and seeing out there regarding page views – something we have to live with, or can we kill it?

  • http://theepochtimes.com Jan Jekielek

    Excellent post—agree on all counts. Engaged time is the key, and also strongly related to monetization, obviously. Yet the most direct measure of monetization for most websites remains page views—which makes me think that the relative fixation on page views isn’t going to go away any time soon. :)

  • Adam

    There’s some very firm hegemony around page views and impressions. It’s a two-headed monster. But glad to see there are more and more of us who see the need to change.