Archive for April, 2013

April High Fives: Our Clients Are Doing Great Things

April 29th, 2013 by Clara

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A killer homepage from Chartbeat Publishing client Primera Hora

We’re still dusting off dried cake crumbs from our fourth birthday celebration at the Chartbeat HQ.  This has been an incredibly busy month for us as we've reflected on the past four years, explored new channels for sharing insights and strategies, and last but not least, released new products

For the past 4 years, we’ve been lucky enough to partner with a growing roster of incredible clients, who have helped us make real-time data into something that is both compelling and powerful. We've had the distinct privilege of building and iterating on products to help clients create some of the most dynamic destinations on the web. 

Although we tend to be about all things real-time, crossing the four-year milestone seems like a great opportunity to look back and celebrate all the awesomely innovative ways clients have been reacting to and making decisions based on data. As a Chartcorps member, part of my job is collecting our clients' stories– both to better understand the industries we serve, but also to get insights that make our products better and more integrated into the workflows and goals of our clients.

Across countless kinds of sites, we've seen and heard how our clients use, adapt, and build strategies around data. From blogs to newsrooms to e-commerce sites, we know that real time data is more than a one-size-fits-all game to win. Our savvy clients analyze, react to, and create their own benchmarks with data – data that gives them hard facts to confirm what they already know about their audience. I’m happy to share some client success stories to really put this celebration into context.

Developing new strategies

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The Mirror's Big Board looking mighty fine

Editors at the Mirror in the UK have been taking a multi-faceted approach to using Chartbeat's real-time data. First, they analyze the data to gauge their readers’ interest in the day's stories. Based on reader consumption trends – that is, the content that keeps readers actively engaged, editors then decide how to adapt, honing in on what stories they will focus on, repurpose and promote throughout the day. After giving a little extra TLC to the highest performing stories, editors check back in to validate their content strategies in real time. The Mirror's strategy allows editors to surface big-potential articles and to use already top-performing stories to drive readers deeper into their site.
Writing new rules for web content

For every product, we’ve seen our clients take strategic approaches to making their data work for them. Our pals at GFR Media (home to El Nuevo Dia and Primera Hora), have been using the Heads Up Display for over a year to dynamically program their homepage. With hard data on their side, editors can easily identify their top 10 most clicked links by placing them above the fold. Those links that don’t make the cut get some extra love and attention from the editors and the links are then promoted out on social media. If the link still doesn’t perform, the editors push those under-performing links further down or drop them from the home page entirely. We're pumped that GFR has been empowered to create new web editorial rules for their homepage based on hard, real-time data evidence.

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Creating bespoke customer profiles

As one of the largest multicultural e-commerce websites in the U.S., Telegaleria is analyzing real-time data to identify customer behavior on the site. The site uses data to confirm personas of their customers. Moments after dropping a campaign targeting a particular persona, they analyze the campaign in real time and tweak images, colors, and content to reach sales goals. They are constantly testing and analyzing customer behaviors  to tailor content to that fits targeted demographics and their overall sales strategy. Telegaleria's site remains incredibly agile and adaptive – a huge advantage in an every-second-counts industry.

As you can see we're fiercely proud of the great things our clients do with our data – it's what gets us out of our beds in the (sometimes mid-) morning. Our clients' stories are part of everything we do here – whether we're designing a new product or training a new Chartteam member, it's our clients' experiences that inform how and why we do the work we do.

So cheers to four years' of great stories, and we look forward to many more!

   

Introducing the Chartbeat Publishing Video Dashboard

April 25th, 2013 by Doug

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As Joe wrote on Monday, publishers are doubling down on producing video content, but right now many people have little-to-no insight into how their video strategies are working - if they’re lucky enough to have a video strategy at all. We’re now giving you real-time data on how video is performing across your site and across the web, focusing especially on getting your most engaging videos in front of your visitors.

The Chartbeat Publishing Video Dashboard provides hugely important insights that are often missing from current video strategies, which is the context of your video content on your pages - as well as pages outside of your own site. Stand-alone video pages rarely prove successful for even the biggest publishers, while engaging articles can be bolstered by a quality video that supports the story in the text.

Now that we’ve armed you with some video strategy tips, so now let’s take a look at the new Chartbeat Publishing Video Dashboard.

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Performance: Know what's doing well

To understand how each video is performing, we’re focusing on five metrics – key measurements we see as the foundation for your coherent video content strategy. all of which are either new signature Chartbeat measurements or are select industry metrics that Chartbeat calculates differently through our real-time ping methodology:

A: Watching Now: The number of people watching your video right now
  • What are most people watching? This metric helps you understand in real time which videos your audience is actively paying attention to. It’s not just the number of people who’ve loaded the page or even loaded the video - it’s the number who’ve actually started watching the video itself.

B: Play Rate: The percentage of visitors who actually played your video
  • When your visitors see an embedded video, are they clicking play? This gives you insight into which videos people want to watch - which is influenced by the thumbnail image, the content of the video, and the context of the video embed on the page itself.

C: Average Engagement: The percent of each video that is actually watched
  • How much of your video are your visitors actively watching? Just starting the video isn’t good enough. If you want them to come back tomorrow and the next day, you need to serve them video they want to sit through. The longer they’re watching, the better experience they’re having, and the more likely they are to come back to you for video.

D: Engagement Score: A single, consolidated score for evaluating your videos
  • When the length of your videos varies, comparing video content can be inaccurate based purely on time or number of watches. Building off our Average Engagement metric, this score helps you easily compare video performance by grouping and contrasting videos with similar characteristics (notably length), so you're comparing apples to apples.

Ad Drop-Off: The number of visitors leaving the video during ad pre-roll 
  • Pre-roll ads are great for monetizing content, but are some ads and video content not playing well together? It is a great feeling when a piece of video content is getting a ton of page views. It is a terrible feeling when you realize later in the day that hardly anyone made it past the ad pre-roll. Avoid surprises.

  • We let you know, in real-time, how many people aren’t getting past the ad, so you can be ready to switch in a different ad – or, in some cases, to lose the ad altogether to let your content shine.

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Context: Know where your video is doing well

Unlike written content, which tends to be on a single page, a video can be embedded in a lot of different places - multiple articles pages, the homepage, video-specific pages, or even on other people’s sites.

When you click on a video in the Chartbeat Publishing Video Dashboard, you can see where that video is getting watched the most and compare performance metrics across all of those pages.
Opportunities: Find top pages that don't have videos

Knowing where video is doing well is important, but what about where your video could be doing well? Because we look at your site holistically, rather than just your video content, we can highlight your best-performing articles that don’t have videos. Treat those as opportunities - places you might consider for video embeds.

Learn more about the Chartbeat Publishing Video Dashboard
You can learn more by visiting the Video Dashboard product page (link only works if you're logged out of your Chartbeat account). I hope this introduction pumped you up for the Video Dashboard – feel free to share your questions or feedback in the Comments section, or get in touch with the Chartcorps to learn more.

Webinar: Using Quality Content to Engage Visitors and Build Your Loyal Audience

April 23rd, 2013 by Josh

Josh Schwartz is one of our awesome resident Data Scientists at Chartbeat. He focuses on using machine learning to find human-readable insights from quantitative data. Much of his current research concerns modeling how users' loyalty to specific publishers changes over time. 
The lowdown from Josh
You already know that great content is the first step in getting people to your site, but what happens next? Earlier this month we spoke at the WAN-IFRA Digital Media Europe conference about the correlation between quality content and a loyal audience. This webinar continues the conversation about leveraging your content to increase your core reader base. I talk about the importance of thinking about traffic quality, not just traffic volume, strategies for increasing engagement on your page, and the key reader experiences that build towards a loyal, returning audience.

Check out my webinar and feel free to email me if you have any questions!

How You Can Improve Your Video Content Strategy

April 19th, 2013 by Joe

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Joe joined the Chartteam in 2013 after several impressive years as ESPN's Senior Director of Product Development. At ESPN, Joe led teams that created a variety of innovative apps and video platforms that vastly expanded the scope of ESPN's digital presence. His experiences bring a progressive, industry insider's perspective to his responsibilities as Principal Product Owner of Chartbeat Publishing. Strategy, monetization, metrics... all concepts usually talked about around digital content in general. When it comes to digital video, however, it's still a very confusing and ambiguous discussion. Strategy doesn't really exist and the level of experimentation is hard to justify given the high cost of creating videos – but the opportunity is huge. When asking publishers what their strategy is you will typically hear comments like "We are simply trying to understand what is working when where and why, we are far from a real strategy but doubling down this year." While it's a common situation these days, it's far from ideal, right?
Know what your audience wants
What's often missing from the discussion is a true understanding around what the user actually wants to consume. Many times what a user wants to read or skim is very different than what they are willing to commit to watching, especially on a mobile platform. It's all about the content, integration of that content, and building the loyal audience who know they can return to find more of that quality content easily day after day. Asking questions around what particular need you are satisfying will help you determine what video content will truly resonate with your visitors. Content adjacency, at the page level or the digital video level, is a key factor in building a user-focused digital video strategy. This can be as simple as embedding video within the story based on that topic, or as complex as developing a recommendation system to provide continuous playback from one video to the next, all around a user's specific persona. Digging deeper to understand what digital video content can be resurfaced to provide context or can offer a fresh angle on a newly written story, is one of the fastest ways to increase the quality of the user experience without the additional investment of creating new digital video content.
Get cozy with your digital video team
In order to achieve the deep content integration it's important to think of how your teams will communicate and interact as one. Digital video creators need to be an integral part of the content creation teams within the newsroom. This means using tools like instant messaging or email groups to communicate, or ensuring, when possible, teams sit near each other to facilitate the content integration. All are important aspects to think about when creating and restructuring the new digital newsroom. When the topics or stories of the day/week are discussed, you should always be determining how to integrate video to help tell the story in context of the topic.
Get actionable insights from your video data
So how do you know what is actually working? Many content creation teams are flying blind when it comes to understanding the success of their digital video due to the lack of integration and missing insights. Others focus solely on things like video starts. The missing insights are all around context. For example, people rarely know if the video started automatically, the length the user watched, how the ad impacted their experience, or what caused them to abandon the video or worse, the site overall.

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The Chartbeat Publishing Video Dashboard brings clarity to a lot of these unknowns. It focuses on the context of the video, the engaged audience, and the impact of ads on that audience. Like all of Chartbeat Publishing products, the Video Dashboard has a set real-time insights to provide a clear understanding around what’s resonating with your users. We’re also introducing a new signature measurement we call “Engagement Score” that blends several critical metrics to provide an overall quality benchmark against which you can measure all of your video content. And take note: these metrics can be used by all of your internal teams – editorial, video production, digital, etc. – so regardless of whether they're creating written or video content, everyone is aligned through measuring with the same metrics. I hope what I shared today was helpful – feel free post your follow-up questions and thoughts in the Comments section. Later this week, Chartcorps member Doug will introduce you to our brand new Video Dashboard.  

Chartteam Spotlight: Shaun Springer, Frontend Engineer

April 18th, 2013 by Cat

Whoa! I know what you’re thinking. You want more of those crazy-interesting Chartteam spotlights and this second round is long overdue. Don’t fret, don’t fret -- we’re about to get up, close, and personal with Shaun, a Frontend Engineer extraordinaire, who joined us early this year. As far as I can tell, he’s happy here – though he does frequently complain to me about how the insane amount of cake and desserts is affecting the fit of his pants, but that's one of the better problems to have in my opinion. You may have noticed that Shaun’s been all over our blog recently, sharing some of the work he’s been up to. I sat down with him a few days ago to chat about his experience at Chartbeat so far and what keeps him excited about what we’re building here.
What he brings to the table:

Shaun didn’t necessarily go to college with his mind set on frontend engineering – he actually went to school for Electrical Engineering. Before coming to Chartbeat, Shaun owned a paintball company, travelling the world playing in awesome leagues like PSP and AXBL. Yes, I said paintball company. Most recently, though, he spent some time at Crestron Electronics as the head of UI for their software group and as a Lead Frontend Developer for Lot 18.

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So what cool things are you working on now?

My main focus this cycle includes tying up loose ends on the Video Dashboard as well as building the Ooyala Flash and HTML5 video plugins. However, I’m most passionate about the work I’m doing around measuring content quality – or at least trying to. I'm working on my Shaun Appreciation Score ( it's not a narcissistic naming choice by any means), which is my attempt to measure how much time users are spending inside actual content – the stories themselves – and not just on the page. If you’re curious, check out my most recent post. 

What challenges are you facing as we continue to grow?

In the short term, I’m looking at creating a pinger that is optimized for size since serving billions of requests off of our CDN can get real pricey. What’s even more interesting is that the pinger needs to work with lots of different use cases like Brightcove, Flash, etc.

 If we’re talking about long-term challenges, that’s harder to say because we’re working on so many cool things right now and only time will tell, really. I suppose I’m most focused on creating fast, responsive UI’s that are user intuitive and fun to use.
What have you learned working here?

One of the greatest things about working at Chartbeat is how much you’re encouraged to continue learning. At Chartbeat, I work with some of the smartest people I’ve ever worked with,  so I’ve been pushing myself to new limits lately. Specifically, I’ve learnt a lot more about Python over the last few months and also doing frontend work that’s optimized for scale (because we’re growing!).

What’s the weirdest Chartbeat moment you’ve had so far?

Our CEO Tony and his wife Maya get to know new hires by cooking dinner for them. The first thing I noticed when I arrived at their place was their massive book collection and more importantly, this enormous number of romance novels on the shelves. Two minutes later, everything clicked and I realized that Maya is a romance novelist by trade and I no longer felt the need to judge Tony’s less-than-manly reading preferences. ;) 

What do you think one of the best Chartbeat perks are?

A culture that supports dogs in the office isn’t an uncommon perk for most startups out there, but Chartbeat is awesome about pups at work. I may be a little biased around this perk because I think my dog, Ranger, is the best, but the Chartpups really make our office fun, relaxed and happy.

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I love it so much that every Wednesday I try to wear my “Champ” tee since Champ is in the office most weeks on that day. It’s amazing how something so simple makes long days at work far more enjoyable for everyone.

Clearly, we have some amazingly challenging problems that come up every day that only the brightest – and quirkiest – minds out there can solve.

If you’re a data-loving nerd at heart and curious about why frontend development at Chartbeat is awesome, get in touch with Shaun directly or check out one of our openings. We’d love to meet you.