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To the 100 or so of you media brainiacs who joined us for BBQ and beverages on Monday evening, thank you for making the event a smart and fun one—and by “fun” I mean actually fun, like, the kind where the whole room was smiling and bouncing with an equal amount of laughter and intelligent debate about the next phase of the internet’s economy: the Attention Web.

All the credit goes to our all-star panel of:

  • Joy Robins, VP Advertising & Strategy at Quartz
  • Jen Ray, VP Account Director at Havas Media
  • Patrick Yee, Executive Vice President for Marketing & Strategy at Refinery29
  • Daniel Mintz, Head of Business Intelligence at Upworthy
  • Joe Lazauskas, Editor in Chief at Contently

This crew didn’t shy away from the tough questions that folks like Jorge Urrutia of The Huffington Post or Jonathan Goldner from MTV thew at them. Their points of view represented the whole ecosystem of media and advertising, from editorial and ad sales to agencies and brands. They equally pushed one another in finding a solution for moving our industry forward—away from purely clicks and toward truly understanding and monetizing what audiences care most about—and held themselves and their teams accountable for change they personally can effect.

These guys are leading the way toward a more sustainable economy on the web, as is the Financial Times, which just today announced a brand-new way of selling advertising. But they’re not the only ones. Who else is out there taking a stand against linkbait, proxy metrics, and a disruptive web experience? Who else is making moves toward a media business that respects its audience’s wants, values relationships, and holds the best experiences at a premium?

Today, Upworthy introduced a metric they’re using on their content, which they’re calling Attention Minutes. As we’ve done with our friends at Medium and the good folks at YouTube when they’ve introduced ways to understand how their audience is engaging with content beyond clicks and pageviews, we’re extending a giant virtual high five.

It’s another big win for people, like us, who care about making sure awesome, quality content is the backbone of the media industry.  We’ve all been pushing in this direction for a few years now, and the flywheel is starting to spin faster and faster—Upworthy’s announcement is further proof of that.

You guys know us, and know we’ve spent just about every day of our company’s history working with thousands of publishers across the globe to solve the problems of where the click and pageview leave off and how we can actually quantify what and how people read. We introduced one of our key metrics, Engaged Time, a couple of years back, and it’s quickly become how lots of folks measure the quality of their content across the web. It tells them not just if people are clicking, but also if they’re actually reading—there’s a big difference.


How Do We Measure Engaged Time?

We silently ping every single visitor’s browser every few seconds to check what they’re doing. First, we look to see if a browser tab is active or inactive—are they there or grabbing a cup of coffee in the kitchen?—and then we look for a few key triggers, such as moving or clicking a mouse, typing on a keyboard, or watching an on-page video. It’s pretty different from traditional time on page, which estimates how long users keep pages open, rather than how long they actually engage with pages.

Why Is Measuring Time So Incredibly Seriously Must-Do-It Important?

Well, not only does it go beyond surface clicks and page loads to tell you what happens between those clicks, but we’ve done a lot research that says it’s a huge indicator of the core goals most every publisher has: Building a loyal audience and monetizing that audience. Our data team found that users’ Engaged Time is strongly correlated with their loyalty to your site. Below is a figure showing the relationship between the maximum amount of time visitors spent reading articles one day and whether they returned to the site across the rest of the week.


Visitors who read an article for three minutes returned twice as often as those who read for one minute. If you get them to read your stuff, like your stuff, and come back again to read more of the stuff they like, you’ve done your job. Why? Because that’s the kind of content and audience insights your marketing team can use to target the right audience with paywall upgrades or newsletter signups. And most importantly, it’s information your ad sales teams can take to your brand advertising partners and sell. They can use this information to prove that your best content is read by your best audience and should be sold at a premium.

It proves your content is worth more than the headline that someone clicked on it. It’s worth the value of someone actually reading that. Because when they read more, as this study on brand recall below shows, they’re more apt to recall the brand that advertises next to that content they just consumed. That’s pretty damn valuable, we’re told.

Correlation between brand recall and engaged time

But don’t just take our word for it. Exposure time as it correlates with recall has been supported by the work of the biggest advertising companies out there from Microsoft to Yahoo and Google, as shown in their research here:

Yahoo Recognition & Recall


Google CTR Ads Views


So let’s go! Let’s all—tech and analytics nerds, editors, ad sales teams, agency planners, brand advertisers—keep this momentum going. Let’s stop letting the metrics of what we could measure in the past get in the way of what matters to our audience.

Tomorrow, the Chartbeat bus is packing up, rolling out, and traveling all the way….uptown. Tony, our favorite CEO, and Josh, the best lead data scientist around, are going to be hitting NYC stages at two events and would love to see you there.

towcenter-event-logoJosh at Columbia’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism

Columbia’s Tow Center is hosting The Future of Digital Longform from 8:30a-7:30p tomorrow. Tickets are totally free and it looks like a stellar lineup. If you can take a bit of time away from the ol’ newsroom, you should swing by.

Josh will be sharing data he’s found while researching longform and interactive pieces — pieces like The New York Times “Snowfall” and CNN “Taken” with substantially higher production cost and substantially more time required of readers are becoming more and more prevalent online. These heavy-investment pieces mean analytics are even more critical than usual. Josh will be talking specifically about how we define longform content, what consumption of longform content looks like, and how longform stories affect audience growth over time.

Tony at the Chief Strategy Office Summit

Today and tomorrow’s Chief Strategy Officer Summit looks like a pretty action-packed day with folks from NASA, National Geographic, GE, Refinery 29 and everyone’s favorite startup/CEO Chartbeat’s Tony Haile closing out day two. He’ll be speaking on how your company can and should adapt to the right metrics — not simply traditional metrics we’ve long relied on.

He’ll specifically be helping you industry execs at the summit to understand the metrics that matter to your business — and those that don’t, how to set up your organization and teams up to adapt autonomously (and in real time, of course!), and how to democratize data throughout your organization so your front-line teams can make smart, instant decisions. They’re some of the core tenets of successfully living and working in a real time world, and we’d love to hear your take on them if you’re attending or following along at #CSONY.

Hope to catch you tomorrow, but if not, do let us know other events you’ll be at soon, and we’ll be sure to pop by.

Chartbeat Rising

A few weeks ago we launched the new Chartbeat Labs page and with it introduced our latest hack project that’s totally free and open to everyone on the internet, whether you’re a client or not: Chartbeat Rising. Like all of our Labs projects, Rising was conceived in one of our Hack Weeks, where our team gets a week between product development cycles to learn new dev skills and build something awesome with our data.

This one particular Hack Week (way back when), Isaac, one of our data dudes, decided to dive into aggregating topics sites using Chartbeat were writing about. But not just to see what was popular, to see what’s actually keeping people’s attention. Turns out, there’s a huge difference between what people click on and what they spend time reading.

So that data + design + front end genius + TLC from Chartteam all-stars Danny and Meagan gave us the Rising prototype you see today.

Let me give you a quick tour:

1. Bubble Topics

Those sites that allow us to aggregate and anonymize their data are all pulled into a big data pile (that’s the technical term for it), and are sorted by category – news, entertainment, or technology. Then the topics within those categories are ranked by the most popular – those with the most amount of concurrents, or most Engaged Time – those with the highest amount of time people spend actually reading articles about this topic. Click on the toggle on the top right and you’ll usually see a pretty big difference.

2. Wiggly Movements

My favorite part, so I have to cover this, are the bubble movements. As Rising is all about the topics that are rising to the top, the movement shows how the bubbles are interacting with each other – the biggest bubbles with the highest ranks are wiggling their way around the other bubbles to rise to the top.

3. Topic Context

Why the hell is “telekinesis” a top tech story? Fantastic question. Click the bubble and find out. Since all our data is anonymous, these headlines pulled into the call out box aren’t from Chartbeat sites, necessarily, but pulled from a search API to give context to what Rising is presenting as relevant. That may change in the future as we iterate.

Like all our Labs projects, Chartbeat Rising is hacky and will probably break a bit every once in awhile, but it also means there’s so much more we could build onto this guy. In only the first couple of weeks it’s been live, we’ve already had requests to see topics sorted by a single URL or by Geo (Hi, Anjanette!). So I hope you share it around and give us loads of feedback on what you’d want to see it do.


We partnered with Sarah Marshall at on a study about homepage and social audience behaviors. Over a month-long period our data scientist Josh Schwartz analyzing traffic of over 60 billion page views across the Chartbeat universe of sites. Focusing on  homepage and social audiences revealed some distinct insights – like that while visitors from Facebook have a higher Average Engaged Time, Twitter visitors are more likely to return to the site within one week (a 33% return rate to be exact). published the results today, and the study’s insights are included right here in this very blog post. You can also access the full report as a PDF here.

We’re happy to respond to your questions and feedback in the Comments section below, so please ask away. And data-specific questions can always be sent to Josh via Twitter too.


audience report chartbeat

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page 3 chartbeat audience report