“It’s been the feeling that following metrics too closely is corruptive to good quality journalism,” Haile said. “I think if you’re following the wrong metrics that’s true.”
Salon has a big story today about Chartbeat and our CEO Tony Haile. Writer Alex Halperin discusses online journalism in the era of listicles, click-based metrics, and frequent debate regarding what topics merit coverage, and how Chartbeat may continue to shake things up in the industry – for the better, we think(!). The article features real talk with Tony about measuring content quality and value through audience engagement, click-bait journalism, and where he thinks online publishing is heading.
Here's the whole article and enjoy the excerpt below. If you have questions or comments, tweet at Tony – he'd love to hear from you.
But as Haile presents it, Chartbeat wants to change the data editors and, more importantly, advertisers care about. He thinks this could improve journalism’s quality by reducing the incentive to write click-bait headlines, produce unnecessary slideshows, pointlessly paginate articles and indulge in other chicanery to inflate page views.
Raising page views for its own sake, “Doesn’t help the audience,” Haile said. “The advertiser doesn’t get anything more from it. It’s just a way of gaming the numbers.”
“If [a headline reads] ‘Prince William caught in love triangle,’ it doesn’t matter what the story says,” Haile said. “I’ve got that click, I’ve got that page view. So it lends itself to lower quality.” But in a media climate where every post is judged on its own terms — whether it’s a war zone dispatch or a curated list of tweets about “Mad Men” – how can quality be measured?
Haile thinks the crucial metric should be time, how long a page captures readers’ attention. He believes that articles that engage readers, and are therefore more likely to create a loyal audience, should be worth more to advertisers. That might sound simple, but almost two decades into the era of online media, the industry hasn’t been able to make that happen.
- From "This man decides what you read", Salon