Author Archive

Online and offline newspaper readership

August 14th, 2013 by Doug

We're all about helping publishers focus on creating and monetizing engaging content, and a big part of my job and the Chartcorps team's job is helping them build their digital offerings as an expansion of their traditional print business. Thus, Neil Thurman's study Newspaper Consumption in the Digital Age caught my attention. The report compares print and digital consumption of 12 UK-based newspapers, in terms of both circulation and time spent reading.

Among its findings was that in 2011 digital contributed only 3% of the total time spent reading these papers by their domestic audience (up to 7% for some of the papers), with their international audience contributing a sizeable additional 25.2 minutes for every hour spent reading by the domestic audience. The study also looked at trends from 2007-2011, finding that despite an increase in readership there wasn’t a related increase in reading time.

While this research brings interesting comparisons, it’s worth keeping in mind that the data has some major inherent limitations - all of which Thurman does address in the report.

Chief among them: the data for print reading time comes from reader surveys, while digital reading time uses Nielsen metrics for time on page - the former being subject to the inaccuracy of reader recall, while the latter doesn’t accurately measure true reading time (just clicks, page loads, and estimated time). And, as the two are very different measures, it's tough to compare them or be fully confident in what insights to take back. Additionally, because of its methods, the Nielsen data also likely has an under-recording of reading at work or on shared computers, and does not include mobile app usage.

The reliance on surveys for that print data is unfortunate but necessary, as that’s the most clear way of getting data on normal offline reading. On the digital side, though, we have the power to really quantify reader behavior. It's one of the biggest advantages to digital. And because we now have the technology to accurately measure user behavior in-browser to understand true reading time, I'm banking on this being a big part of the available pool of digital metrics in the future.

Despite the limitations of the data, the study does emphasize the problem facing digital teams in terms of holding their audience’s attention - a particularly scarce resource given the plethora of options available. But it also shows  there’s major room for growth and development of digital audiences, particularly as many newsrooms are now shifting to a digital-first strategy. And, for that to work, it’s important to understand your readers and present them with engaging content that matches what they’re looking for.

Apps We Love

July 16th, 2013 by Doug

At Chartbeat, we all have various apps and browser extensions we love. Whether we build products, crunch data, or work with our clients, we latch onto anything that makes things just that little bit faster, easier, or just generally better. This is by no means an exhaustive list of our favorites – if you have some apps you think we should check out, post them in the comments!
TL; DR: My personal favorites
Chartbeat favs: e-mail, chat, calendar

Boomerang (Gmail - Chrome, Firefox) - My favorite thing right now, a Gmail extension to wrangle your inbox. Schedule e-mails to be sent on a certain day if you haven’t gotten a reply, or schedule a thread to pop back into your inbox if you haven’t gotten a response.

Rapportive (Gmail - Chrome, Firefox, Safari) - Another Gmail extension, but this one tells you who you’re talking to by pulling their info directly from LinkedIn and other networking sites.

HipChat (in-browser, Mac, Windows, Linux) - Our chat app of choice. In our setup, we have rooms dedicated to general BS, our different teams, and formerly a bizarre one for posting and rating photos of birds (RIP Chartbeat Ornithology). It also allows API integration, and the creation of scriptable bots with Hubot.HootSuite and Tweetdeck (in-browser, Mac, Windows)- Great, simple Twitter platformsSunrise (iOS) - Just a great Google calendar app for your iPhone
Chartbeat favs: development and troubleshooting
Asana (in-browser) - How our teams, especially product and development, manage their projectsSublime Text 2 (Mac, Windows, Linux) - Simple, pretty text editorGitHub - “Online project hosting using Git. Includes source-code browser, in-line editing, wikis, and ticketing. Free for public open-source code.”VirtualBox - Run virtual machines to test things out on other operating systemsEdit this cookie (Chrome) - Deleting, adding, and editing cookiesJSONView (Chrome, Firefox) - Prettifies JSON returns. Super handy if you’re an API user.User-Agent Switcher (Chrome) - Quickly view a page as a user on another browser. Especially handy if you need to check a mobile site (as long as the switch is based on user agent).Window Resizer (Chrome)- A Chrome extension to easily resize your window to text different resolutions
Chartbeat favs: overall productivity apps
Evernote (Mac, Windows, mobile, in-browser) - Save all your notes and sync them to everythingMonosnap, Skitch, and Droplr (Mac, Windows, mobile) - Easy ways to take and annotate screenshotsAlfred (Mac) - Search anything on your Mac or enter quick commandsDivvy (Mac, Windows) and Moom (Mac) - Better window management and repositioningIFTTT - If this then that. Want to get a text based on the weather? Automatically save Facebook photos you’re tagged in to Google Drive? Tons of trigger and action combinations to choose from.
Chartbeat favs: General life
Venmo (mobile) - App for easily exchanging money to friends. Makes grabbing food or drinks super easy. Use it. Make your friends use it.Pocket and Instapaper (in-browser, mobile) - No time to read an article? Save it for later.GroupMe (mobile) - Group text messaging. Download the actual app, as using it purely through SMS gets confusing.Poncho (browser, mobile) - A daily weather text or email. Critical during this summer of surprise rainstorms.Spotify, rdio, Songza - Music, music, and more music. Check out the Chartbeat Spotify app.Steam (Mac, Windows, Linux) - I play games. I couldn’t not mention Steam.

The Chartcorps Is Going to Miami

July 11th, 2013 by Doug


Tomorrow, I'll be at the Association of Alternative Newsmedia conference in Miami. During our panel on Better Content Through Analytics, we'll be focusing on how editors can get the most of out data to make content decisions, and how to get your newsroom to care about data. I'll also go into developing a deeper understanding of your visitors, how to match the right content to the right people, and turning your visitors into a loyal audience.
Come by the panel if you're going to be in Miami, or hit me up if you'd like to chat.

Introducing the Chartbeat Publishing Video Dashboard

April 25th, 2013 by Doug

video dahs

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.

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.


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.

The Whole Point of Social Traffic

January 28th, 2013 by Doug

Chartbeat Publishing: Exploring the Social View
As a member of the Chartcorps, our Chartbeat Publishing clients ask me all the time how they should be using the Social View. What are best practices, what are the other guys using it for and to what effect, that kind of stuff. In a nutshell, the Social View helps you understand more about why readers are sharing your articles, what they're talking about in relation to you and your content offsite, and how you can instantly spot every possible opportunity to grow your audience.  

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Social View 101
The Social View shows you how people are sharing your content on Twitter and Facebook. You have a feed in your dashboard of everyone who’s promoting your story and how they’re doing so. You can put a face to your legions of fans. But more than that - and of course more important than that - you know who is advocating for you and can act as a content guide for you. The content that resonates with your core audience will bring them back again and again leading to not just return visits, but a loyal audience. And every article is an opportunity to build those loyalists.
Readers connecting with your content
With the Social View, you have insider access to the conversation surrounding your story – why people find it interesting, what elements of the story are compelling enough that people are sharing that link. Sure, you can always look at the comments section on your page, but with the Social View you’re not limited just to your commenting audience, which is generally a small portion of the most outspoken in the bunch - you can see everyone who’s tweeting a link to that story. This gives you a real sense of the relationships readers are establishing with your content and therefore you (read: more loyalists.) 


It's all about tactical insights
Knowing who loves your content, who's sharing it, and when doesn't amount to more than a pat on the back - unless you do something about it. The data you’re getting from your Social View helps you execute on your content strategy. Once your story’s out in the world, it's time for you to make some key, traffic-driving decisions. Maybe your story’s current title doesn’t reflect why your readers find that story compelling (your concurrents are lower than you know they should be), so you could switch in a new headline that relates to those specific story points that your Twitter fam is calling out most. Or maybe, in response to a specific point your readers are hung up on, you can edit that piece to add some clarification or further insights or get a followup piece up and live ASAP. There are always ways to build on the dialogue your initial story started - the beauty of the social web means news is never finished. Chartbeat data's just like a compass for your editorial strategy. You can't possibly pay 100% attention to every scroll, every tweet, every share - but Social View points you to the ones you do need to see, the impact makers, the audience builders. But share in the comments how you've used social traffic and to what effect. And as always, feel free to shoot me an email if you have any questions.