Author Archive

Introducing the New Chartbeat Publishing for Editorial

December 3rd, 2013 by Joe

Chartbeat Publishing for Editorial

We’ve witnessed incredible changes in the publishing industry over the past few years. As real time has changed the landscape of journalism, it’s touched every aspect of the business. By bringing actionable data front and center, we’ve seen front-line editorial teams make on-the-fly decisions, dramatically redesign products, and even totally reorganize the way their physical environments are set up. Likewise, we're continuing to see exciting developments in online advertising, too, with the advent of new, outside-the-box ad experiences. The jobs of folks in publishing are evolving, so are their tools, and so is the whole business of online media – from the introduction of mainstream native advertising to video and mobile taking center stage.

We’re finally starting to see high-quality content get the attention (and opportunities to monetize it) it deserves. That’s the very heart of  journalism, and that’s been our number-one goal at Chartbeat since… well, forever. When you stop chasing after indiscriminate traffic in the hopes of hitting a page view quota, and you reorient yourself around the goal of growing your loyal audience, everything changes. You’re no longer the dog behind the ice cream truck – you’re now the alpha leading the pack. Focusing on loyalty means that for the first time, goals become aligned across an entire organization. Everything falls in line when you write or produce quality content that drives your audience to return, and when you design audience-friendly products that result in opportunities for monetization – because advertisers want your defined, loyal audience, too. This all underscores the importance of understanding qualitatively how you’re looking at your metrics.

Today, we’re incredibly excited to announce the next evolution of Chartbeat Publishing for Editorial. Nine months ago, we set out to overhaul the entire platform, to rebuild it from the ground up, backend, frontend, the whole deal. And we did – beyond even our own expectations.

The new Chartbeat Publishing bets on that major shift – away from clickbait and chasing indiscriminate traffic and now toward developing a loyal audience. It connects the dots, between quality journalism and a loyal audiencean audience you can monetize.

So, how does the new Chartbeat Publishing help you ?

Understand how visitors are moving through your site
If you’re already familiar with Chartbeat Publishing, you know the number of Concurrents on your website – a real-time tally of your visitors right now – is a great indicator of your current performance. You also know Engaged Time is one of the best barometers for quality, and for visitors’ propensity to return. Our data science team has been hard at work analyzing the metrics that contribute to audience growth, and we’re ready to introduce a new signature metric: Recirculation, the measure of your audience that’s moving from one article to another within a single visit.
Get a better breakdown of your audience

In the past, we all looked at audience quality has been binary – visitors were either new or returning. But we found that binary segmentation wasn't actionable enough if you’re setting out to build a returning and loyal audience. In the new Chartbeat Publishing, we’ve expanded upon this concept with three simple categories: new, returning, and loyal. This breakdown is based on the frequency of visits by your audience. We show you how each segment is performing in real time, and we compare that performance to benchmarks from the past month. Pivoting on each segment individually let’s you narrow your attention, and from there, you can filter down even further by almost any other dashboard attribute.

Rely on quick signals, clues and tips

Every site has its own set of challenges, especially when it comes to audience development. Some need to focus on bringing in new visitors, and others just need to better understand what their core audience is consuming to inform editorial decisions. We’ve sprinkled a little contextual magic throughout the product just for this purpose. You’ll notice different elements turning red if you’re in dangerous territory (or green if you’re really cruising), and the tooltips will help you know what to do. Within top pages, opportunities are called out when content is either helping to acquire new visitors or retain visitors, i.e. hold their attention. We’ll even tell you when a high percentage of video consumption is occurring on a particular page.

Target your top referrers

As Josh Schwartz, our lead data scientist, notes in one of his latest blog posts, external referrers provide the greatest volume of new visitors to websites. But they also provide the greatest challenge in terms of generating actual engagement. Chartbeat Publishing has a new lens through which you can look at your referrers. It’s based on “conversion quality,” and it shows you which referrers have the highest propensity to drive true audience growth. Even better, new tooltips will explain just why. This view is one of the most successful if you want to focus your attention on the visitors who are most likely to return again and again.

With audiences consuming content in dramatically different ways, we knew it was important to allow you to discover completely new patterns, too. With this, we developed a totally new technology platform to allow for multi-segmentation. For example, you can now pivot on the mobile audience from Washington D.C who are consuming content through social channels — all in real time. Additionally, we’re surfacing the specific tweets from your audience that are driving traffic to your site, so you can focus your outreach strategy and know who to engage with.

Journalism is too advanced, too full of smart people, to start every day at zero – to wrangle new traffic every day, to look for any warm body to fill a seat. We’re here to help you focus on the right audience – an audience who knows who you are, likes what you do, and keeps coming back for more.

P.S. Check out more about the new Chartbeat Publishing and let us know what you think!

Links We Like: Online Media

November 22nd, 2013 by Joe

links we like

As the Principle Product Owner of Chartbeat Publishing, part of my role involves staying on top of the latest and greatest stories in online media. After all, if I’m trying to build the most helpful, relevant, and effective products for our clients, I need to know the trends, developments, and new ideas that are happening in the industry.

I’m back on the blog to share few recent favorites from my Instapaper. Today’s suggested reads run the gamut from an update on Nate Silver’s widely-anticipated presence at ESPN to the implications of mobile as the solely growing media platform. Enjoy – and please let me know your thoughts in the Comments.

Is Daniel Ek, Spotify founder, going to save the music industry … or destroy it? The Guardian examines the Swedish entrepreneur, who tells record labels that the best way to survive is to give everything away for free. Most have signed up – but many are yet to be convinced. This quote from Ek, “"Why are we releasing albums the same way as we did 10 years ago? Music is no longer restricted by the format it's on” made me wonder how Spotify’s lessons might be applicable to online publishers.

Business Insider's Henry Blodget tackles the Future of Digital, showing that mobile is the only platform where time is growing. We all know this but how does this change your outlook and where are you focusing? Share your thoughts in the Comments below.

This AdAge piece on AOL’s ad strategy caught my eye – a lot of interesting thoughts around how AOL has structured premium and programmatic to coexist and drive real revenue for their vast volume of content.

Nate Silver is promising data, data, and more data with FiveThirtyEight’s ESPN debut next year according to Neiman Journalism Lab. With that he hopes to push the critical thinking down to the user. We focus every day on the balance between presenting insights and showing deeper data that allows our users to draw additional conclusions. It will be interesting for product teams to learn from the new crop of data journalists as well as how these new disciplines will help the industry push boundaries both on the consumer and business side.

Alexander Howard explores the meaty topic of ethics in data journalism in a great blog post for the Tow Center. As public records go online, what must journalists consider prior to revealing potentially harmful data about the very same public they’re trying to inform?

What articles have caught your eye recently? Share them in the Comments below!

If Content Is King, Why Is Content Creation Broken?

September 9th, 2013 by Joe

CONTENT_ Joe_ CMS & Content creation is broken. - Google Drive

“Content is king” has been a long standing proclamation by large and small publishers alike. With brands rapidly turning to content marketing as the Next Big Thing, the familiar phrase has made its way back in the mainstream.

Why content is so important is pretty easy to understand: Consumer experiences can't survive without quality content. Generating content at scale is the trickier part, with publishers (and brands and new guys on the block like Contently) all experimenting in news ways of creating high-quality content in high volumes.

What makes things more complicated is that with these new methods of acquiring and creating content – from contract resources to part-time bloggers to acquisitions – come very different methods and systems for creating, storing, and distributing content.

As a publisher attempting to aggregate and distribute content in consistent, measurable, and clear ways, the challenge is immense. So how do you begin to tackle it?

Let’s start with the platform decision.

This sounds easy right? Just throw up a free WordPress blog, pick some awesome plugins, snag yourself a template, and start publishing. That’s often a fine path, actually. But what about deep customizations, connections to other systems internal and external, and the ability to create the new ad innovations or the paywall idea you had? The Atlantic, through some dramatic customizations, was actually able to create a pretty cool site qz.com that’s been used as a prime example of new presentations that are responsive and allow for a continuous reading experience built on top of WordPress.

Sooner or later you’ll want to do more than what a standard out of-the-box platform gets you. Executing on those bright ideas can often lead you down the road of looking at a large, expensive commercial system that requires a team of engineers, consultants, and trainers to get in place, which is usually an awful idea. On top of all that, your content creators want to share Instagram pictures, include tweets, as well as mix in videos from Vine and YouTube. You’ll find many of the large publishers sites are using custom solutions. Buzzfeed for example credits much of its recent velocity of growth in part to the fact that they have built all solutions in-house from CMS to ad serving, creating ideal inter-operability. This has translated into flexibility at all layers.

Many new platforms are emerging to attempt to solve these problems while the old standby platforms are finding the happy medium between flexibility and standardization.

One of the most promising solutions is the latest beta version of the Django CMS. This team is thinking about what a CMS platform should really provide in all the right ways. Most interestingly, they are allowing for the concept they call “frontend editing” so your content creators are working directly on the site when creating content instead of within an editor and then publishing. This is a great example of how to increase speed of content creation and allow for more creative layout.

But platform selection is just one step. It doesn’t fix the content-creation process itself.
Everyone’s talking about “mobile-first” content creation.

But just because it’s all the rage doesn’t mean we have the tools that allow for the creation of mobile content on these platforms. Since the majority of content is created on desktops, most platforms don’t even have the ability to preview it on a mobile device prior to publishing – and we’ve all seen how bad content can look on a mobile device when it’s pushed without regard for how it's going to be consumed.

Think about how great a piece of content could be if it was created in the native format where it would eventually be consumed. Wouldn't the content creator make different decisions based on what was initially viewable or how long the post would take to read? Or maybe even where the placement of the video or photo would be within the article?

This is in part why social platforms like Twitter and Facebook have excelled on mobile, they have lowered the barrier and created the simplest way possible to create a piece of content. Existing blogging platforms like WordPress and Tumblr have solid mobile apps to help get you there too, but the mid-tier platforms haven't yet cracked the code for enabling their content to be created via the mini-computers we all carry around in our pockets.
And then there’s the aggregation across all your platforms.

Many new tools have emerged to help with both aggregating and presenting distributed content across all these disparate platforms while the core content management platforms catch up. For example, Storify collects and packages media and content from around the web. You then drop a simple module inline on your site to display this new collection of content. This is a great interim step to collect content but makes for much more difficult distributed control of the package and has potential rights issues. CNBC recently used Storify to collect and “live blog” Google’s Chrome event. They collected tweets, photos, and videos from around the web in a curated module for everyone to quickly digest the highlights of the event.

Or if you need to pull everything from one place and distribute in one easy way, maybe Contentful, an emerging platform focused on this new form of "create once distribute everywhere" approach, is your best bet to create your content with control around the experience.
Let’s not forget: Design matters. A lot.

Your core audience has expectations around design, layout, and experience. How those differ depends on who you’re trying to reach but regardless they should be a key factor when selecting the right tools.

For example would creating a new collection in Medium and posting within that site effectively get your message across with a simple and clean single template approach? Medium gives your readers an complicated experience that's focused around quality written content accessible from any platform – and let’s you select a single photo to accompany it. The major difference with Medium is that the content is organized around collections with the only identifier being author. For example the collection “on-management” is centered around high-quality content on this topic regardless of the author. Quality wins on Medium and part of your strategy has to be around building recognition for your writers for medium to be an effective outlet.

As we look to new consumption platforms we need to remember that our tools need to evolve at the same pace. (For more thoughts on the pace of content creation, newsroom culture, and new newsroom tools, check out Chartbeat CEO Tony Haile's piece in paidContent). The publishers of the future will win with this in mind as creating quality content will require new adaptive presentations across new platforms we haven't even thought of yet as well as advancements in distribution channels.

Links We Like: Online Media

August 9th, 2013 by Joe

As the Principle Product Owner of Chartbeat Publishing, part of my role involves staying on top of the latest and greatest stories in online media. After all, if I’m trying to build the most helpful, relevant, and effective products for our clients, I need to know the trends, developments, and new ideas that are happening in the industry.

Since I’m always adding things to my Instapaper, I thought I’d share a few favorites with you guys. Here’s a few recent stories that I found particularly pertinent and helpful to my work at Chartbeat, and my hope is that you'll find them interesting them too.

Andrew Chen looks at Vine, Twitter, SnapChat, and Dribble in a great piece on communication products with arbitrary constraints, and how these limitations affect creativity. Check out Constrained media: How Disappearing Photos, 6 Second Videos, and 140 Characters Are Conquering the World.

I’m a big fan of Medium and their future-focused approach to content – so it’s no surprise their internal management structure is strikingly innovative as well. Read about it in How Medium Is Building A New Kind of Company with No Managers.

As we continue to think about the role of brands as publishers, Federated Media Publishing's John Battelle announces the company’s foray, a new product suite that combines programmatic adtech with content marketing as a means of better brand building in Great Content, Meet Great Targeting (and Reach)

MediaBizBlogger reflects on the recently-released IDC study on the rise of the 3rd platform, essentially confirming that publishers need to focus on mobile and tablet audiences more than ever in The Hyper-Connected, Mobile Audience Will Force Publishers to Act.

Along those lines of thinking about distinct audiences, check out this helpful how-to piece about short-form content from Social Media Today, Where and Why You Should Publish Short-Form Content.

And finally, here’s an oldie but a goodie from Smashing Magazine about the importance of incorporating a storytelling approach to UX design in Better Experience through Using Storytelling.

Where do I find many of these great posts? Jason Hirschhorn's daily newsletter is the single best resource I've discovered. Go sign up!

What articles have you enjoyed recently? Have you read any of the ones I’ve mentioned above? Share your thoughts in the Comments below.

Webinar: Beyond the Click: Why Every Newspaper Should Be Focused on Time

July 30th, 2013 by Joe

I recently partnered with Ro Gupta from Disqus on this webinar for the Newspaper Association of America. Check out our discussion on topics like below-the-fold engagement, the value of consumption metrics like Engaged Time and how you can take advantage of readers who are spending time on your site and with your content. Follow up questions are welcome – post them in the Comments section and I'll get back to you.