Archive for June, 2013

This coming Monday, June 17, I’ll be speaking at the NYC Open Analytics Summit. During my session, How People Consume Content on the Web, I’ll be covering Chartbeat’s approach to defining new metrics: the process of going from conversations with customers to research to building technical infrastructure.

In particular, I’ll go over the research that went into measuring Engaged Time and audience development. I’ll also throw in some interesting bits of data that we’ve learned from looking at these metrics across tens of billions of browsing sessions per month.

If you’ve wanted to hear a bit more about the process behind our metrics — either the reasoning or the technical implementation — I’d encourage you to attend. And, if you do, track me down before or after the talk!


Webinar topic: Understanding how to leverage your video inventory and build a loyal audience

Great video content is a huge aspect of your site’s overall health – that much is clear, but what’s the strategy for something that hasn’t traditionally had a strategy in the past? In last month’s awesome webinar we went over ways to get the most of out of your existing video library and covered topics ranging from helping underperforming videos find new audiences to getting maximum ROI out of existing videos. Check out the webinar below, and feel free to suggest future webinar topics in the Comments section below.

Our awesome webinar leaders

Joe Alicata 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.

Doug Benedicto came to Chartbeat in 2012. He’s now the team lead for the Chartcorps, where he serves as one of our product and industry experts, having spent extensive time working with editorial staff at every sort of content publisher big and small.

 PS- Check out our new Chartbeat Publishing Video Dashboard!

“What’s the company culture like at Chartbeat?”

This is undoubtedly the most-asked question I get when folks are interviewing at Chartbeat.

These days, highly talented candidates need more than just a company logo and a text description to get excited about joining a team. They want a behind-the-scenes look at each company, the people who work there and what they love about it.

Lucky for us, we’ve found a way to give job seekers just that! I’m excited to announce that we’ve partnered with the fabulous team over at The Muse to give you an inside look at what it’s like to work at Chartbeat.

Click here to head on over to The Muse and check out our company profile. You’ll be able to tour our brand new digs in Union Square, meet some of our kick-ass employees and learn how we nerd-out (typically over a Miller High Life) at Chartbeat.

And because we believe culture is additive, we’re always looking to hire more insanely smart people just like you. If you’re a data-loving nerd at heart and ready to join the fun at Chartbeat, get in touch with us or check out one of our awesome job openings. We’d love to meet you.

Josh from Chartbeat: Competent team from The Muse on Vimeo.

The Muse is a site dedicated to helping folks make better-informed, super-savvy career decisions. Check it out for career advice, in-depth company features (like ours!), and job listings.


If you haven’t read “You Won’t Finish This Article: Why People Online Don’t Read to the End“, check out Farhad Manjoo‘s piece in Slate – it’s an honest and in-depth look at Slate’s audience behavior based on Chartbeat’s engagement data, researched by our Data Scientist Josh Schwartz. Manjoo explores a major editorial –and in Manjoo’s case, personal – pain point, which is the fear that readers aren’t reading the entire story– or reading the story at all sometimes.

And sure, that’s a valid concern. As Manjoo says, 50% of Slate’s readers scroll to the midway point of a Slate story. There’s also data that shows people sometimes tweet about stories before they’ve actually finished them. And that probably stings when you’ve spent hours, days, and sometimes longer crafting the perfect article.


But we actually don’t see this as a Debbie Downer tale of woe. We’ve always known not everyone reads a full story. But until now, we haven’t had a way to prove it since our only metric, really, has been page views. They click. The end. But that’s so far from the truth.

And honestly, some reader drop-off is to be expected –it’s impossible to lock down 100% of your readers for 100% of your story. What you want to focus on are those readers that are actively engaging with your content at all. The people who are interested enough to get past the headline and start engaging with the info. As Josh has said before, this is about matching the best, most-engaged readers to your content, as these folks have the greatest likelihood of becoming your loyal, returning audience.

As for that 50% reader bail stat Manjoo speaks of – in general,  we think the most important thing to understand is not that they’re bailing but where on the page you’re losing your readers because that starts to tell you why they’re leaving. That’s helpful data you can act on — maybe a paragraph needs to be restructured and clarified or the accompanying video needs to be promoted higher on the page.

And take note: Slate gets awesome below-the-fold engagement. A whopping 86% of the time Slate’s readers spend engaging on the page takes place below Slate’s digital fold. Ad Sales teams, this is yet another example of why your most valuable ad positions aren’t always right at the top.


As readers, this data has lead loads of people to defend their reading habits and explain the “why” behind bailing mid-post – so please share your thoughts in the comments below or tweet at Chartbeat. Josh is on deck to answer any data science-related queries and if you’ve got some ideas on what he should dive into next, let us know.

We’re a science-y bunch at Chartbeat. So our hearts were aflutter when we were mentioned in a study. Last week, Switched On Media published the results of a study that looked under the hoods of the web’s 500 most important sites (as determined by “The Moz Top 500”) plus 50 handpicked industry sites. Wanting to know which web analytics platforms were the most popular, the digital marketing agency simply examined the sites’ publicly visible source codes. (FYI – for us to begin collecting data, our Chartbeat Publishing clients just drop a couple lines of JavaScript into their source code – most analytics services have similar practices.)

The study’s results were pretty interesting: Of the top 500 sites, 66% were using Google Analytics, 18% were using Adobe’s Omniture, 10% were using Chartbeat, and 3% were using Webtrends. To be counted among the top three analytics solutions—especially alongside the heavyweight giants Google and Adobe—is really freaking amazing since we’ve only been in the game for a few years.

It’s important to point out, however, that Chartbeat is crazy different from Google Analytics and Omniture; what we’re measuring and how we’re measuring is very different. (More on this topic in a previous blog post, written by our CEO Tony Haile.) Loads of sites use us and one of those guys.


Source: Switched On Media

There are about as many ways to go about measuring online activity as there are licks to the center of a Tootsie Pop; every company has its own opinion on the matter. Methodologies range from event tracking, the nucleus of Google Analytics, to heat mapping, the hallmark of visualization startup Crazy Egg.

Those of you who know us, know we’re doing something different: measuring what’s happening in between clicks. We put our finger on how people are actually engaging with content once they’re on that page — if they’re actively reading, commenting, or maybe just happen to have the tab open while they’re out grabbing coffee.

“Engagement” is actually an interesting term—it’s getting tossed around quite a bit these days, and there are lots of folks sticking different definitions to it. The study from Switched On Media does mention “engagement,” but the digital agency talks about it in the context of conversion-rate optimization.

We see that world differently.

To us, engagement means capturing and holding an audience’s attention, which takes high-quality content — content those specific people really care about and actually want to consume. When publishers do that, they build a loyal audience that returns to their site over and over again. (Josh Schwartz, one of our data scientists, recently hosted a webinar on how to build returning audiences.)

That’s a huge shift in how folks are thinking about this stuff. The industry gets that. It’s not enough anymore for The Wall Street Journal, for example, to look at only how many people are clicking on an article—the publisher also needs and wants to know if anyone is actually consuming that content.

Take a gander at the study’s second chart, which ranks analytics platforms among industry sites such as Mashable, TechCrunch, and The Verge: in first place, Google Analytics with 92%; in second place, Chartbeat with 12%. These are the publishers who spill tons of digital ink covering the cutting edge of technology. They’re focused on the future, and we think, serve as another leading indicator on the big shifts in thinking that are happening right now.

Chart 2

Source: Switched On Media

It’s not just newsrooms going through philosophical transformations—we’re seeing the same thing with advertisers, too. Impressions, the traditional metric of ad success, are no longer enough. Brands want to know if their ads are actually being seen. So a few weeks ago we launched Chartbeat Publishing for Ad Sales, which tracks what we’ve heard advertisers have wanted all along: time people engage while an ad’s in view. On television, you’d pay more for a 30-second spot than a 15-second spot, so why shouldn’t the same pricing concept apply online?

We’re pumped about the progress we’ve made over the past few years, and can’t thank you enough for getting us here. We’re going to keep preaching the good word about Engaged Time because it’s not a metric that’s built for us to win or brands to win or publishers to win — it’s a metric that tells us simply what people want to spend time with, and that’s what editors want to give their readers and that’s who brands want to get in front of.

We’re always looking to talk about this stuff with smart people. Get in touch with us.