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People frequently take social media interactions as the de facto standard for “engagement” with a piece. The idea is that people who like, favorite, comment on, or share an article are likely to have consumed it entirely. While there’s some kernel of truth here, our data suggests that measuring audience attention and tallying shares are very different endeavors.

Last December, Chartbeat determined the top 20 most-read stories of 2015 — the pieces that held reader attention for the longest amount of Engaged Time. At the same time, Newswhip, a social data company, compiled the pieces that received the most Facebook interaction. Put them head-to-head and your jaw may just drop:

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Clearly, the kind of content that people actually read is very different from what people interact with on social media. Measuring both of these behaviors is important, but if you’re looking to grow your audience, or improve site retention, or enhance viewability, well, the answer is simple. You’ve got to zoom in on producing engaging content — and then measuring it. It’s critical to measure what holds reader attention, not what appears to go viral.

And we see this kind of a discrepancy on Twitter as well. The graph below shows how completely people read an article (as measured by how far down the page they scrolled; all articles shown here were over 3000 pixels long), compared to how likely they were to tweet about it:

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If the most engaging stories to read were the stories that were most likely to be shared, we’d expect this graph to look like a line. Instead, we see that there’s essentially no correlation between the two numbers. That doesn’t mean that social interactions are a bad way to measure engagement, but it does show that social engagement and on-site engagement are different phenomena, requiring different metrical approaches.

Eager for more data on social visitors? Don’t worry, the new Chartbeat Insider Guide has got you covered.

photoshop1-1Digital content creators need metrics that are meaningful, insights that are actionable, and tools that are powerful. Here’s why Chartbeat fits the bill:

First things first: Let’s talk about roots.

Chartbeat Publishing was born and bred in the newsroom. While several peers offer great options to cover a wide range of clients, these tools are often developed to be one-size-fits-all analytics solutions. Some, in fact, were designed with e-commerce sites or blogs in mind. But we’ve collaborated with our editorial partners all along, offering products and features designed to surface data specific to the online publishing workflow.

That’s where we started. Now, we’re humbled to work with over 50,000 domains in 50 countries, including The New York Times, the BBC, and TIME. With access to a rich, global dataset, we help publishers understand and make the most of transnational trends (before everyone else does) – for instance, the most-read posts of the year.

End-to-end data for content creators

See, we don’t just drop spreadsheets in your lap. We build tools. We integrate specially-curated data into products and features that speak to every step of the content creation process.

Looking to see what topics are trending worldwide? Check out Chartbeat Rising. Want to know how your piece is performing right now? Head over to the Editorial Dashboard. Eyeing the perfect homepage placement? Heads Up Display will blow your mind. Not at your desk? Your Spike Alerts — notifications which identify potentially viral content — come delivered straight to Slack. Looking to do even better next time? Build long-term strategies by digging into your site’s historical data with Report Builder.

However you work and no matter what your responsibilities are, there’s a data-driven feature or tool that can help you out.

Real-time measuring that matters

We’ve always shirked popular conventions around click or view-based metrics. Instead, we focus on measuring the data that truly gives you a sense of your live, real-time audience. Chartbeat, like a good parent, is constantly checking in – pinging your site every fifteen seconds to be exact – taking attendance and tracking how long, on average, your users tend to stick around. Most other analytics tools only check in just once. To see specifically how our numbers vary from Google Analytics figures, check out this infographic.

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Measuring your audience’s interest, not their clicks

Thriving in online publishing is sort of like running as fast as you can whilst juggling, i.e., tons to do in a very short time frame. If you want to do it right, you need metrics that are both accurate and meaningful. It’s not enough to show you how many folks are visiting a page –  those stats need life and context. Enter, Engaged Time. We are the pioneers of the Attention Web, measuring visitor activity by tracking scrolling, mouse movements or keystrokes –  so you know how many people are actively consuming your content and for how long.

Because a reader’s Engaged Time correlates with his or her likelihood to return to your site as well as reading comprehension, when you measure attention, you measure quality. And that’s a big step towards building a sustainable web.

Want a recap? – here’s a cheat sheet

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Yesterday, Chartbeat’s CEO and IRONMAN-in-residence, Tony Haile chatted it up on Traction, a podcast from NextView. In the episode, Tony and Jay Acunzo discuss the perils of measuring with pageviews, the importance of quality storytelling in an internet rife with clickbait, and Star Wars.

You’ll also learn:

  • Tips for content-driven platforms wanting to rethink their data operations
  • How creativity will shape the internet to come
  • The importance of aligning metrics with mission

You can listen to the podcast here. As Jay Acunzo says, “You will slash your screen to pieces with a lightsaber when you hear this entrepreneur’s mission.”

To read more about the importance of meaningful metrics, be sure to check out Chartbeat’s 2016 playbook, Past/Forward.

Since we launched the first version of Report Builder last year, we’ve had a whole bunch of great conversations with our partners — large and small, from New York to Tokyo. We’ve heard them kvell. We’ve heard them kvetch. And what’s become unequivocally clear is that newsrooms are embracing historical data faster than ever before.

So today, we’re thrilled to share with the world some of the new and insanely cool features our Product, Engineering, and Design teams have been cooking up for Report Builder. Get excited.

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Meet Report Builder, the Sequel

It’s dynamic, it’s sleek, and smarter than ever. Report Builder empowers everyone in the newsroom — from the most left-brain PhD. data analysts to the most right-brain prose folk — to make the most of their historical data. With its seamless, new design, now anyone can create custom historical reports to evaluate and measure the success of sites’ over-time performance. And, come on, just look at how great this thing looks.

If you need a refresher on the ins and outs of Report Builder before we take a gander at the tool’s new features, check out this quick video.

Got questions? Sign up for the Introduction to the New Report Builder Webinar with Chartbeat’s own James Franz and Chris Consroe.


Cheat Sheet

Select the arrow at the top-right of your screen to open the report cheat sheet. Now, the most commonly-built reports are all pre-loaded into your Cheat Sheet, so that it’s easier than ever to just click and download. Looking to see your site’s most popular articles? Just select that report within the Cheat Sheet, and Report Builder will prepopulate with the necessary filters, groups, and metrics.

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Naming & Sharing

Before they get lost in .CSV land, your reports can now be named within Report Builder itself. It makes distinguishing between your recurring Engaged Time check-ins and your mobile-desktop breakdowns that much easier.

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We know audience development is a team effort, so we’ve made sharing capabilities within Report Builder totally seamless. Simply enter the email addresses of those colleagues with whom you want to share. With recurring reports, you and your colleagues can receive those reports at automated intervals, right in your inbox.

Table Preview

Want to know how your data’s gonna look before you download the report? Now with optimized preview capability, you can see example data based on the criteria of your report, allowing you to tweak before you download.

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Slack Notifications

Doing a big data pull? No need to wait around while your report processes. Now you can receive notifications via Slack when your report is complete. Get the scoop on how to set up notifications on our FAQ page.

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Get Your Historical Reporting On

All the power of historical reporting combined with a little front-end botox makes for a wicked smart tool. After all, looking for trends in your historical data can provide accurate insight into your audience’s preferences and long-term behavior. And who wouldn’t want that?

If you’re wondering how to make the most of your historical reports, give this blog post a read for some inspiration.

Ready for a deep dive into the new Report Builder? Sign up for next week’s webinar. Not using Chartbeat tools yet? Let’s change that.

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When you work with as much data as we do—and trust me, it’s a lot—it’s humbling to show off the actual journalistic output we support. So, we’ve compiled a list of the 20 stories that held your attention longest in 2015 — for a grand total of 685,231,333 Engaged Minutes (or more than 1,300 years). These were stories that held you breathless. Enraged you. Inspired you. They were long-form reports, rich with narrative, like #1, 7, 11, and 17, which show that readers really do respond to quality (!!). They were live coverages of the attacks in Paris (#3, 4, 6) or the elections in Britain (#5). They were confessional essays and impassioned arguments, investigations and elegies. These are the stories that prove that digital storytelling isn’t just alive, it’s kicking ass.

1. What ISIS Really Wants

The Atlantic | February

2. The Science of Why No One Agrees on the Color of This Dress

Wired | February

In-depth examinations of global newsmakers topped the list in 2015. Undoubtedly, this was the year of long-form narrative.

3. Paris attacks: as they happened

BBC | November

4. Paris attacks: Bataclan and other assaults leave many dead

BBC | November

5. Election Live

BBC | May

6. Paris massacre: At least 128 killed in gunfire and blasts, French officials say

CNN | November

It goes without saying: Breaking news will always grab and hold attention.

7. Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace

The New York Times | August

8. Scott Weiland’s Family: ‘Don’t Glorify This Tragedy’

Rolling Stone | December

9. How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life

The New York Times | February

10. Police: Bryce Williams fatally shoots self after killing journalists on air

CNN | August

11. The Lonely Death of George Bell

The New York Times | October

Honed craft. Timeless themes. Notice that these Times pieces are even more examples of the power of narrative journalism.

12. Spygate to Deflategate: Inside what split the NFL and Patriots apart

ESPN | September

13. At least 14 people killed in shooting in San Bernardino; suspect identified

CNN | December

14. The “Food Babe” Blogger is Full of Shit

Gawker | April

15. I Found An iPhone On the Ground and What I Found In Its Photo Gallery Terrified Me

Thought Catalog | April

16. No. 37: Big Wedding or Small?

The New York Times | January

Sometimes, the most engaging content is the most distracting. Readers will engage deeply with more than just serious news items.

17. Split Image

ESPN | May

18. This is Why NFL Star Greg Hardy Was Arrested for Assaulting His Ex-Girlfriend

Deadspin | November

19. The Coddling of the American Mind

The Atlantic | September

20. The Joke About Mrs. Ben Carson’s Appearance Is No Laughing Matter

The Root | September

Want to see how your stories stack up? Get in touch.