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Meet the New Additions to Chartbeat Publishing for Ad Sales

April 10th, 2014 by Alex Carusillo


We’re rolling out some big additions to Chartbeat Publishing for Ad Sales this week and with these new features come some new ways of thinking.

For a while now, we have been talking about Active Exposure Time (how long people spend actively reading while ads are in view) as the best way for publishers to focus on selling against what matters (you only perform well on this metric if people are actually reading your stuff) while giving their clients the greatest chance for their campaigns to succeed. But as our clients have started selling on time we’ve seen a surprising thing develop - it turned out there was more to all of this than just getting your ads seen for the longest amount of time. In reality every campaign was different and some advertisers just wanted to be sure their ads were seen while other advertisers want to get their message in front of audiences for as long as possible.

In response we’ve added a bunch of stuff to our product to let our users build different campaigns for different needs: the two biggest of which are our updated campaign report and that all new goal-based package creator.

It’s covered in more depth here but - in short - we noticed that impressions seen for 1-5 seconds are good for advertisers with simple messages while impressions from 6-10 seconds are ideal for those trying to tell a larger story or create an emotion (impressions longer than this are good too but begin to see diminishing returns.) We looked at all the sites using our product and found about half of all impressions are in that 1-5 second range while the rest are distributed through the remaining times.

New: Campaign Report

Our campaign report sees the first big change. After people sell on our metrics we wanted them to have the ability to report on them and we initially built this tool to do just that. Once the reporting tool was in the hands of our clients we heard three really common requests:

  1. Clients wanted to see our data in conjunction with their ad server data.

  2. They wanted to understand where their impressions fell in time ranges.

  3. They wanted to compare their performance against the internet.

As of today all three are in the product.

The most immediately apparent is the ad server data. We wanted to show our metrics in line with more conventional ones so we’ve created a link with Google’s DFP that allows advertisers to see how each part of their campaign performed on the metrics you probably already know (CTR, viewable impressions, etc) and compare that with our time-based measurements.

On the third screen of the report we now show a breakdown of a campaign's impressions and what time periods they fell into so our clients can better understand if a campaign received the kind of impressions that were best for it. And - of course - all of this is benchmarked against the internet so when something’s great it’s easy to prove it.

While these are the big updates to the campaign report, there’s a ton of new stuff in there - everything from geographic data to more data science insights that help tell the story of a campaign - so go ahead and check it out.

New: Target Packages

We’re pushing out more than just new ways of telling stories about campaigns. Our goal has always been to make it easier to sell quality writing and so we’ve created a new tool to help making packaging inventory easier. We call it Target Packages.

 When we first released our product the only pitches that were happening based on time were really custom campaigns and we built an interface that was perfect for exploring and meticulously developing packages.

But over time, this idea of creating campaigns based on audience time and attention has become less scary to folks and there’s been interest in a more automated process. As such we’re releasing a tool that automatically creates an optimal package based on an advertiser’s goals. Just tell us what you’re looking for (high engagement impressions in the Sports section, ads that are almost always seen in Finance, and everything in between) and we’ll do the work and put together the ads that will most efficiently hit your goals.

Target Packages So that’s what I have for you for now. We’re working on a whole lot more new stuff right now  (big updates to the campaign report coming soon) but hopefully these additions make it a lot easier for all of you to sell pixels. If you're interested in learning more about our advertising platform, feel free to get in touch.

How Long Are Viewable Impressions Actually Seen?

March 23rd, 2014 by Alex Carusillo

On Friday, Digiday wrote a piece examining some assumptions that are all too often made about the way people read on the internet. It covered a bunch of our favorite stuff including that the conventionally “good” advertising spots aren’t necessarily in the places people read. In addition, Lucia introduced something we’ve been thinking about a lot lately: the duration of an impression.

Over the past year, the industry has finally rallied around a viewability metric. As a result we’ve seen a lot of premium publishers do great work to make their ads more viewable and - in turn - pull way ahead of their lower quality competitors. Naturally now, more and more ads are becoming viewable across the internet. Which begs a new question we hear almost daily from publishers: how do I prove that my inventory is actually better than the alternative?

Everyone is looking to sell based on reader attention, but I’ve yet to meet someone who thinks that the viewable impression actually helps them do that -- particularly when it comes to premium sites.

So we’ve been working with publishers, helping them take the next step: understanding how long people are actively focused on content while an ad is on the screen.

There’s a lot of research out there that says the more time people spend with an ad, the more likely that ad is to succeed, but this research rarely looks at how long real ads on the internet perform.

We decided to find out.

We took a look across a select group of publishers to find out how long ads are seen when they’re seen.  

Turns out, half of all viewable ads are seen for 1-5 seconds while the other half are, obviously, seen for longer than that. The natural reaction is to look at each number of seconds and sort of consider them “engagement points” and just assume that a higher number means better ads, but it’s actually not that black and white.

Research has shown over and over that at about ten seconds of exposure diminishing returns start to set in and each additional second is worth less in terms of recall than the previous ones; that doesn’t mean, however, that every ad should seek to be seen for ten seconds. It means that different ads are right for different goals.

If an advertiser is trying to get their name out there as efficiently as possible in a pure awareness play, they likely want to be buying a spot where shorter impression duration occurs. Whereas if an advertiser is trying to get a specific message out there or telling a more complex story than just their logo appearing in an ad, they should look for one in the 6-15 second range.

This, of course, leaves a big chunk of impressions that are longer than that ideal engagement time and don’t really help advertisers any more than 15 seconds ones. We’re working with a handful of people to see what kind of creative things they can do to solve that, getting the most of their inventory and giving their audience fresh content that benefits everyone involved -- the publisher’s business, the brand’s goals, the reader’s interest.

The point is, not every viewable impression is equal but that doesn’t mean that the shorter ones are categorically worse. It means that we should think about the goals of a campaign and which impressions are the right way to achieve these goals.

Introducing Chartbeat Publishing for Ad Sales

May 15th, 2013 by Alex Carusillo

Through our Chartbeat Publishing product, we’ve spent the last three years getting to know the ins and outs of the editorial teams inside major media sites and building things to help them make their best stuff even better. That’s always been our dream and we’re going to keep at it.

But over the past six months we’ve been busy building our first tool for the other side of the publishing house. One that will help sites earn more because of the quality of their content.

So we’re incredibly excited (and more than a little exhausted) to introduce Chartbeat Publishing for Ad Sales, our new product that allows sites to sell the thing advertisers asked for in the first place - their audience’s attention.

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The origins

Before really getting to what any of that means, however, I’m going to bury the lede a whole bunch. Because to understand why this will help you, you first really need to know why we built it...which starts way further back than six months ago.

It really starts with the whole point of journalism: to get the best information possible to the right people. Writers have adapted our approach over time – from in-depth investigation to short form breaking news – but the goal has always been the same: to inform the people and influence the discussion. But writers have never really known if their readers engaged with the things they created. They couldn’t have; it was just too hard to track.

We all thought the internet was going to fix this. And a whole bunch of doors opened when everything went online. Notably, for the first time ever we were able to understand who was actually clicking on the pages where the stuff we created lived. The audience was no longer the people who picked up the phones during market surveys or the number of addresses the paper got delivered to each morning; it was the people who were actually there on the page doing something.

For a while, that was all pretty great. Page views and clicks gave us an understanding that was totally new and a huge step up from the data around the physical world.

But the inevitable happened: we began to make what we measured -- and we optimized the internet for these measurable things.

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Capturing attention, not clicks

Success was no longer writing stories that made a difference culturally or otherwise, it was making sure that whoever got to your webpage clicked a bunch of links so the page view counter went up. And that was crazy. That’s what gave us slideshows and pop-ups and roadblocks and auto-playing videos and all the other things that make the internet frustrating.

That was never what journalism was supposed to be about.

I think everyone’s always hated that. We at Chartbeat certainly did. And because of that, our products have always been about understanding the user’s experience. We wanted people to write really good stuff and we wanted to create the ways for them to understand the audience liked it. That's why we created Engaged Time. We wanted to give people who actually created things a number that actually measured the attention their content captured, not the number of people who happened to open their page.


Making the understanding easier was the motivation behind everything we’ve built here. And it worked. Right now, people all around the internet - from your favorite blog on stereo equipment to 80% of the top media sites in the US - are using Engaged Time to understand and improve the quality of what they're creating.

Making not-awesome things more awesome

So editorial teams are making decisions around Engaged Time, but traditional metrics made it really hard for advertisers to understand the quality of content and very very few of them paid to be around it.

Old metrics like impressions created this idea that people don't read stuff on the internet. But we’ve proven it’s not that they don’t read stuff, it’s that the time people spend reading is hard to measure. That’s why even the best publishers out there can’t sell what makes them special - the quality of their work (which in turn drives a highly-engaged audience).

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Grab anyone writing on the internet and you'll hear the same problems: they can't sell ads lower on page, no one wants their "boring" sections, and click-through rates are terrible.

Talk to the advertisers and you'll hear about the same: they only understand a percentage of their audience, click-throughs don't tell the whole story, and their data doesn't match their goals.

Talk to us, the people reading this stuff? Well, I think everyone would agree the internet is just a generally frustrating place when it's built around every brand in the world chasing a click-through rate.

So, here’s where Chartbeat Publishing for Ad Sales comes in.

We’re here to help salespeople at publishers big and small sell something new and something they actually control: their audience's attention and the quality of their content.

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You've already got good stuff – we're just here to help

Advertisers come to you because your content matters and your audience is great. They want to create a relationship with your audience but only understand simple things like the number of people who click on their banners. Our new product tells you how much time your audience is spending actually reading stuff on the page while ads are in view. It’s a chance to quantify something new – and something super desirable – the active attention of the people they want to speak to.

But explaining that can be hard so we go a step further and we don’t just help you find the best spots on your site - we build the sales collateral for you to give to advertisers about why they want to work with you.

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Right now our goal is pretty simple: we want to make it easier for publishers to tell stories around why their site and their engaged audience is special. We want to go back to the things we used to know, to move the discussion away from “does .08% of your audience click on ads or does .09%?” to “does your work keep people interested?”

Yeah, it’s just the first step. We’re not saying this will solve every single problem instantly. But, based on the few dozen alpha testers’ reactions, it’s certainly getting us there. And based on your use of it, we’ll learn a lot more.

Everybody wins – editors, advertisers, and readers, too

We built this product to help solve the problem for everyone: people who create really awesome stuff can get paid for it because it's good, not because a fraction of a fraction of the people who come to their page click on an ad; brands advertisers get the thing that they've been looking for - a chance to be in front of the best audience for the longest period of time; readers aren’t pushed through some terrible, road-blocking experience, but are actually encouraged and rewarded for consuming the content they want to consume.

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We’d love to show it to you and your sales teams in action -- and you brands out there who are advertising with publishers, we’d love to get your take as well. So shoot us an email, and tell us what you think. Get the details on Chartbeat Publishing for Ad Sales here.

PS- We'll be talking about this more on Tuesday evening during our NYC Internet Week event with Disqus, Beyond the Click: Getting to Actual Engagement – come join the fun.

(Re)Introducing Replay

January 22nd, 2013 by Alex Carusillo

Real time is pretty great, right? It can be a complex tool that helps inform future action or it can be a simple, visceral thing that just feels totally awesome (and watching a page flood with traffic is totally awesome.) But the issue with real time is that you're not always on in real time. I mean, really, at some point you've got to set aside the stats and go to sleep. And when something happens when you're not around - from your site going crazy in the middle of the night to  a subtle shift in your traffic when you're out to lunch - you might miss it entirely. But that stuff is just too important (or too fun) to not see outside the moment. So we went to the vault and pulled out an idea from one of our earliest dashboards... a way for you to re-watch your past week as if it's live. Think of it as a a DVR for your site. To check it out on your page head to the Content View and click the "Today/7 Day" toggle in the upper right. The graph on top will break free from its old 24-hour confines and show you everything that's happened over the past week. Now that you've got that look, go ahead and drag your cursor over the graph - yup, that's your traffic at that exact moment and the traffic from the previous week, making it super easy to know if you're in the middle of something unusual or its just a normal variation. "Context," it's totally the best, right?

But okay, ready? The cool stuff is about to really start. Try this - instead of hovering on that graph, go ahead and click and drag your cursor over a range you want to watch again. We'll kick you into our "replay" mode and actually show you what your dashboard looked like at that moment in time. That way you can get the kids out of bed, hook up the big screen, and watch how your pages changed, who was sending them traffic, and what specific pages were doing what. Even better you can pause at any time to take a closer look and step through that old data slice-by-slice.

So that's it! No more wondering exactly what happened while you were away. You can sleep the night away in peace, take an even longer lunch; you deserve it. All you've got to do is click a button and you can find out everything you missed. And if you want all the details about how this works, take a look at our FAQs or feel free, as always, to shoot me an email at

Our next big thing starts now: Chartbeat iOS App 2.0 (v1)

September 22nd, 2012 by Alex Carusillo

So let's get the most important thing out of the way first: the new Charbeat iOS App is available for all Chartbeat and Chartbeat Publishing users and you can download it here. Second most important thing? Hold steady Android and Windows phone users. We'll be getting stuff your way soon too. Okay? We're good? Awesome. Let's do this then. This April we relaunched Chartbeat and changed way more than the look - we changed what Chartbeat could do. We moved past just counting people on the page and asking you to fill in the rest and focused on making it super easy for you to take action with that info. Sadly our iPhone app lagged behind and that had to change. But after talking to a bunch of you guys, it turned out you're not using your iPhones as "mobile command centers" with all the manipulation and consideration you did with the desktop dashboard. When you were on the go, you just wanted to get the pulse of your site. To know if everything was normal or - if it wasn't - why and what to do about it. And that's what our new app is about. Only the stuff you need and as quickly as possible. So download it, log into your Chartbeat account, and you'll see everything you need to know about your site all on one screen. Scroll across your top traffic sources to see where people are coming from and scroll down to see where they're all going. Even better you can click on any of those things and we'll give you all the deeper information you want. Only the most essential information up front so you always know what's going on. And to that end we're introducing the first of our big mobile changes: the traffic benchmark. Your dial now has a gray band on it - this is your usual range of traffic for the current time and day. If you're below that something is probably not going as planned and you should take a look to see what you can change. But if you're above, congratulations! Something cool is going down. You shouldn't have to know your exact traffic for Saturdays at 9pm...that's our job. Yours is to focus on what's next. A little (totally public) secret for you: this is just the start; we've got so much more coming. With this first version we wanted to give you a really great mobile dashboard experience. Now that that's done we get to do the fun part - we get to create totally new things. Push notifications, configurable alerts, new kinds of data... there's a whole bunch of stuff on its way and we can't wait to show it to you. We're pretty psyched on our plans but we absolutely want to hear yours too. So that what we make is the stuff you truly want. So please. Please, please, please reach out and tell us what would make this app the one of your real-time dreams. Now go, go, go download the app and - seriously - let us know what you think. You can email me thoughts or get in touch with our awesome Chartcorps to learn how use this thing better. There's a ton of really cool stuff to be done so let's do it together.