Author Archive

Facebook is Now Taking Into Account Time Spent on Stories

June 12th, 2015 by Alexandra

Facebook announced today that it’s updating its News Feed ranking in an effort to show users more of the content that matters to them. The social network will now be factoring in how much time a user spends viewing a story in his or her News Feed.

How is this different from what they’ve done in the past?
Traditionally, Facebook has relied on people’s actions—liking, commenting or sharing a post—to determine what should appear at the top of a user’s News Feed. However, after surveying a number of people about how they use their News Feed, researchers concluded that these factors don’t always indicate whether the content was meaningful to a person.

They found, in many cases, that a user may have chosen not to like or comment on a story, but he or she still found the story to be important or interesting.

“We’ve discovered that if people spend significantly more time on a particular story in News Feed than the majority of other stories they look at, this is a good sign that content was relevant to them.

Based on the fact that you didn’t scroll straight past [a] post and it was on the screen for more time than other posts that were in your News Feed, we infer that it was something you found interesting and we may start to surface more posts like that higher up in your News Feed in the future.”

Why is this a big deal for publishers?
These new updates, along with the News Feed algorithm changes Facebook made last August to combat clickbait, show they’re taking important steps toward surfacing quality content that captures and holds readers’ attention. And as the social network continues to lean on the fundamental ideas of the Attention Web, quality content stands to win big.

Naturally, we’re pretty excited about these changes. For the better part of a decade, Chartbeat has been talking about getting the industry to align the quality of content with the value of a page, instead of with empty clicks and impressions. We’ve been building products around Engaged Time (methodology here for the curious) on written and video content and around Active Exposure Time and Lifetime Exposure with display ads to make it easier for content creators and advertisers to do so.

The more we work together as an industry — publishers, advertisers, platforms, and other tech companies — to reward the best content on the internet, the better the internet as a whole becomes. We’re looking forward to seeing how other major media players follow in Facebook’s footsteps.

Metrics 101: Lifetime Exposure

January 13th, 2015 by Alexandra

As part of our larger efforts to help build an Attention Economy—in which success is measured not by clicks and pageviews but by time and audience attention earned—we’ve publicly released our Description of Methodology, which outlines the measurement process on which Chartbeat’s MRC accreditation is based.

Given that this document is a bit well, hefty, we figured we’d briefly explain a couple of our signature metrics here on the blog.

Need a primer before we get started? Check out our Metrics 101 series:

  • Metrics 101: Viewability
  • Metrics 101: Average Active Exposure Time
  • What is Lifetime Exposure?

    Quick Recap: Active Exposure Time measures the amount of time users spend engaging on a page while an ad is in view.

    Definition: Lifetime Exposure measures the amount of time an average visitor spends with all viewable impressions over the course of a campaign. So basically, Lifetime Exposure shows advertisers the total amount of time an audience actively spent with their ads across an entire campaign.

    Use it in a sentence: “On average, users spent over 30 seconds with ads in this campaign, with a Lifetime Exposure of 37 seconds per user.”

    Chartbeat Methodology: We calculate Lifetime Exposure as the following: Total exposed time for all cookied users / all cookied users.

    What’s the Industry Saying About Time Metrics?

    “Moving to time-based media currency is the smartest move that digital publishers can make. There is a reason that the foundation of the TV ad business is time-based. It equates to the amount of attention that audiences give their ads. If digital publishers want to be comparable to TV dollars, particularly as they develop more robust sight, sound and motion content, they will need time-based packaging of their ad product.”

    -Dave Morgan, CEO and Founder, Simulmedia

    “We pay more attention to time spent reading than number of visitors at Medium because, in a world of infinite content — where there are a million shiny attention-grabbing objects a touch away and notifications coming in constantly — it’s meaningful when someone is actually spending time. After all, for a currency to be valuable, it has to be scarce…The problem with time, though, is it’s not actually measuring value. It’s measuring cost as a proxy for value.”

    Ev Williams, CEO, Medium

    “Your clicks are valuable, and your eyeballs are valuable, but to advertisers your time is the most precious commodity of all — and publishers say they want to sell ads based on the time readers spend on their sites, not mere pageviews. So, the logic goes, the more time you spent with a story, the more expensive the accompanying ads would be. In a world that values time over views, quality could trump clickbait—and, after all, isn’t quality the thing we want in the first place?”

    Julia Greenberg, Research Editor, Wired

    “It doesn’t matter if consumers hit your site or app in 30-second blocks of time; the more time users spend on a site or app over the course of a month, the more likely it is that they value the content they find there. A paradigm in which time invested results in actual value — rather than often-random clicks and taps — encourages further investment in quality content by publishers and marketers alike.”

    Jason Kint, CEO, Digital Content Next

    Chartbeat became the first analytics company accredited to measure attention for both display advertising and content. The Media Rating Council has accredited 21 of the metrics featured in Chartbeat’s advertising platform including viewability and active exposure time.

    Metrics 101: Average Active Exposure Time

    November 11th, 2014 by Alexandra

    As part of our larger efforts to help build an Attention Economy—in which success is measured not by clicks and page views but by time and audience attention earned—we’ve publicly released our Description of Methodology, which outlines the measurement process on which Chartbeat’s MRC accreditation is based.

    Given that the Description of Methodology document is a bit well, hefty, we figured we’d briefly explain a couple of our signature metrics here on the blog.

    What is Active Exposure Time?

    Active Exposure Time measures the amount of time users spend engaging on a page while an ad is in view. How do we know if a user is engaging, you ask? Chartbeat’s JavaScript is constantly listening for acts of engagement on the in-focus webpage within an active browser that indicate when a user is actively engaged on the page.

    So, when Chartbeat measures Active Exposure Time, we’re asking the following questions:

  • Is the audience engaged? (i.e. have they exhibited some kind of engagement behavior like clicking, scrolling or typing in the past 5 seconds)
  • Is the audience engaged in an active browser in an active window?
  • Is the advertisement viewable per MRC guidelines (at least 50% of the unit is in view for at least 1 second?)
  • Time Metrics

    AVERAGE ACTIVE EXPOSURE TIME

    The average number of seconds for which an ad unit is viewable while a user is actively engaged with the content on the page. This only applies to impressions deemed viewable. In other words, Average Active Exposure Time shows advertisers the average amount of time each viewable ad is exposed to an engaged audience.

    Chartbeat Methodology

    We calculate Average Active Exposure Time as the following: total exposed time for all viewable impressions / all viewable impressions

    Chartbeat only sums and reports Active Exposure Time if audience engagement criteria and MRC viewability criteria are met.

    What’s the Industry Saying About Time Metrics?

    “Once we have the opportunity to see (viewability) nailed as a first step cross-platform currency, the sequential next step currency is engagement. Short of scalable, affordable neuro measures (of emotional response), time is the best surrogate to measure engagement.”

    Mike Donahue, EVP, 4A’s

    “Time metrics are a way to justify moving from standard transaction based units to high-impact units and something other than click-through rate to measure the success.”

    Steve Ahlberg, VP, Advertising Solutions & Product Management, Gannett

    “The digital publishing media metric of the future will include some form of attention-based metrics. Valuing content based on the amount of time consumers spend with it provides a meaningful, cross-platform measurement for brand marketers and publishers rather than counting links and clicks. This has the potential to solve a host of industry problems.”

    Jason Kint, CEO, Digital Content Next

    “That means we can tell the difference between a second where someone is actively engaged with an ad in view and a second where someone has an ad in view but has been distracted by a friend asking them if they want coffee. It brings an unprecedented level of accuracy to the measurement of attention.”

    Jon Slade, Commercial Director of Digital Advertising, Financial Times

    Chartbeat has become the first analytics company accredited to measure attention metrics for both display advertising and content. The Media Rating Council has accredited 21 metrics featured in Chartbeat’s advertising platform including viewability and active exposure time.

    Metrics 101: Viewability

    October 24th, 2014 by Alexandra

    As part of our larger efforts to help build an Attention Economy—in which success is measured not by clicks and pageviews but by time and audience attention earned—we’ve publicly released our Description of Methodology, which outlines the measurement process on which Chartbeat’s MRC accreditation is based.

    Given that this document is a bit well, hefty, we figured we’d briefly explain a couple of our signature metrics here on the blog.

    What is viewability?

    A viewable impression is a metric of online advertising that indicates if a display ad is actually viewable when it’s served. More specifically, the IAB and MRC define a viewable impression as one that’s at least 50% visible for at least one second. To keep it simple, viewability is a metric that tracks if at least half of a display ad has the chance to be seen in the viewable portion of a browser window for at least one continuous second. Technically speaking, one second is measured as 10 consecutive 100 millisecond observations.

    For the full scoop on viewability check out our 101 series:

  • What is Viewability?
  • What Does Viewability Mean for Publishers?
  • What Does Viewability Mean for Advertisers?
  • Viewability Metrics

    Chartbeat is accredited for the following viewability metrics:

    VIEWABLE IMPRESSION

    A count of the number of impressions that were deemed “viewable” under the MRC’s Viewable Impression Measurement Guidelines.

    Chartbeat Methodology: Every 100 milliseconds on in focus pages Chartbeat checks every ad tagged with Chartbeat’s “data-cb-ad-id” attribute to see if over 50% of the ad has entered the viewport (the viewable portion of your browser window). When the ad enters the viewport Chartbeat checks every 100 ms to ensure that it has remained on the screen and the window has stayed in focus. After ten consecutive successful checks (one continuous second), Chartbeat designates the impression as viewable.

    IMPRESSION BREAKDOWN

    The number of impressions that are considered non-viewable, standard, or premium

    NON-VIEWABLE AD IMPRESSION

    These represent served impressions where the viewable status is not met, but they can be “seen” by the viewable decisioning function.

    MEASURED RATE

    This is calculated as a percentage and represents (Viewable Impressions + Non-Viewable Impressions)/Total Served Impressions.

    VIEWABLE RATE

    This is calculated as a percentage and represents Viewable Impressions / (Viewable Impressions + Non-Viewable Impressions).

    Note: We are accredited for a few additional viewability metrics required by MRC’s Viewability Guidelines.

    What’s the industry saying about viewability?

    Well, they are saying a lot. While opinions certainly vary, it seems the common consensus is that the new viewability standard is, at the very least, a step in the right direction:

    “I don’t believe that viewability is a performance metric at all, but is rather just a huge step up from the old ‘served’ impression metric that we have used for years. However, a focus on increasing viewability will result in greater performance on the major engagement metrics like Universal Interaction Rate and Click Through that marketers value highly. It is this increased performance that will eventually lead to higher CPMs.”

    Jeff Burkett, Sr. Director Ad Innovation & Product Strategy at The Washington Post

    “The current viewability standard, while clearly nascent, serves an important purpose. It introduces a baseline criterion for and measure of accountability. At the end of the day, it is a means to a larger end: increased brand spend that better aligns with time spent online.”

    Neeraj Kochar, Tremor Video

    “Viewability is a positive development. The industry is at a major crossroads as we’re dealing with a growing amount of traffic being non-human, which has created a polluted ecosystem. The viewable impression is one step in the process to help solve this problem. It’s becoming the anchor that will allow for engagement and exposure metrics to be used to evaluate campaigns and prove for brands the value of the impressions being served.”

    Mark Howard, Chief Revenue Officer at Forbes

    “Unfortunately, it’s going to take a while before viewability becomes a valid currency and is established as a key metrics in determining impression value. However, I do think that there is an opportunity for publishers to take advantage of this debate to maintain and increase premium rates as more media becomes traded programmatically.”

    Peter Jones, The Guardian

    “Until now the ad impression was, essentially, a mechanical event — the creative file being loaded on the Web page. The viewability standard transforms an impression into an opportunity to see event: something of inherent value to a brand, just as in traditional media”

    Yaakov Kimelfeld, chief research officer at Millward Brown Digital

    Chartbeat has become the first analytics company accredited to measure attention metrics for both display advertising and content. The Media Rating Council has accredited 21 of the metrics featured in Chartbeat’s advertising platform including viewability and active exposure time.

    80% of Publishers Interested in Transacting on Time: Digital Content Next Report

    October 22nd, 2014 by Alexandra

    Earlier today Digital Content Next, an organization representing over 50 premium publishers, released a study and special report outlining how digital publishers currently view and use time-based metrics and what their expectations are for the future.

    In the report DCN suggests that shifting to a measurement framework that incorporates time-based metrics would “align valuation of content and advertising with time and attention…and offers solutions to significant industry challenges.” Namely, time-based metrics take viewability a step further and create an inventory constraint and, as a result, an economy of scarcity in which attention is a true measure of quality content and effective advertising.

    The report, which consisted of in-depth qualitative interviews with nine leading publishers, including CNBC, ESPN, Gannett and Wall Street Journal, as well as a quantitative survey with 25 DCN member publishers, covers current usage of time-based metrics, both internally and as a sales tool, as well as attitudes on the future of time as a currency. Here are some of the key takeaways:

    1. Time metrics are commonly used to evaluate performance.

    90% of DCN members surveyed use time metrics to internally evaluate performance of their sites and content among editorial and/or ad operations teams.

    Publisher use of time-based metrics
    Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 2.29.14 PM

    2. Publishers are sharing time metrics with advertisers.

    85% of publishers using time-based metrics share these metrics with advertisers as proof of things such as audience engagement/attention, quality of content and audience loyalty.

    3. There is a real interest among premium publishers to transact on time.

    80% are already testing or express an interest in transacting on time.

    Publisher interest in transacting based on timeInterest in transacting on time

    4. Publishers believe there is potential for time to serve as currency.

    52% agree or strongly agree that transacting on time is the next evolutionary step of viewability implementation.

    Attitudes on the future of time as currency
    Attitudes on time as currency

    While a significant number of publishers are already using time metrics to gain insights about consumption patterns, adjust editorial cycles, and more accurately forecast ad inventory, many still see several hurdles to using time as currency. Among these, lack of standard metrics and measurement methodology, lack of research showing that time in view is correlated to ad effectiveness, lack of marketer and ad agency education and interest, and scope constraints were among the most common obstacles cited. Bottom line, time-based metrics are a big step in the right direction, but the road to a more sustainable media ecosystem will not be without challenges.

    So what’s next? As the buy side continues to grapple with the concept of viewability, publishers can continue pushing to integrate time measurement into their metrics suite. By better understanding their audiences and bringing the time dimension to ad unit measurement, publishers will be well positioned to prove the value of audience time spent with their content and introduce the time topic into conversations with the buy side.

    Read the full DCN report How Time-Based Measurement is Grabbing Digital Publishers’ Attention.