Archive for the ‘Data Science’ Category

This article was originally published on DCN. Download the full study here.

 

Does improving page load time positively impact readership?

The Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project was launched in February 2016 to address both the increasing bloat of web pages and the subsequent consequences of a diminished user experience for readers, publishers, and advertisers. By creating a platform from which media companies could publish clean, streamlined versions of their articles, AMP promised to speed up the average page load time and make it easier for visitors to stick around and read their content.

But how does it deliver on this promise, and what is the impact on consumer engagement?

 

The effect on publisher traffic

We pulled actual consumer behavior data across 360 sites using AMP and FIA from June 2016 to May 2017, and our research shows that while usage rates and the subsequent number of articles consumed on each platform differs, it turns out that both AMP and FIA content have been receiving larger and larger shares of publishers’ mobile traffic, and at fairly equal rates. As of mid-May 2017, a typical publisher who implemented AMP saw 16% of all mobile traffic on their AMP content. Comparatively, publishers with FIA saw 14.8% of all mobile traffic on FIA content.

The need for speed

These days, it’s all about speed. In fact, 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less and 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load, meaning they never reach the published content at all. So how are AMP and IA optimizing page load times?

Chartbeat analysis below shows that AMP loads roughly four times faster than the standard mobile site experience, and Instant Articles load even more quickly – in fact, 88% of Instant Articles load too quickly for us to even register a load time. Now that’s fast.

This is a big deal, and proves that both initiatives are delivering on their key promise: providing a much quicker load time to improve reader experience. And publishers are seeing the effects — with less time spent waiting for pages to load, consumers have more time freed up for engaging with content.

 

Better user experience, more engaged readers

With so many distributed ways of finding content and such short consumer attention spans, every second counts. So how does AMP stack up?

Chartbeat’s data shows that readers engage with AMP content for 35% longer than standard mobile web content, spending an average of 48 seconds with AMP content vs. 36 seconds with mobile web content when coming from search. The fact that readers are engaging for so much longer than they normally would suggests that user experience really does matter in catching and holding attention.

 

The future of high speed mobile  

The big question still remains: will publishers continue to scale their efforts and should these high speed platforms become the mobile industry norm?

While the increase in Engaged Time for publishers who have adopted both AMP and FIA are compelling, the jury is still out on whether the end justifies the means. The numbers here conclude that consumers clearly value these optimized mobile experiences and this may just be the evidence we need to validate their potential. However, larger questions still remain around each on both publisher value and quality.

As publishers continue to use these platforms and readers continue to react, it’ll be interesting to see how AMP and Facebook IA evolve in the future – possibly in two completely different directions.

At the end of the day, visitors deserve a fast, clean, enjoyable reading experience where they spend most of their time – on mobile. And publishers can benefit from a more effective mobile environment where they can distribute and monetize content and scale their success. But at what cost? How can we make this win-win?

Download our full study here.

According to recent Chartbeat research, the answer is no.  

The different ways a visitor can land on your content influence not only what they read, but also how they read. Recent research from Chartbeat shows that people exhibit different content consumption behaviors when coming from external platforms like Facebook and Google than when already on your site.  

While exploring the differences in content consumption, we dug into a common myth: do more shares on social media mean more subsequent engagement on the article? What is the correlation between what people share on Facebook and what they actually read?

It turns out, high interactions or virality on social media don’t always translate into actual reader engagement with stories.

Gap_FacebookShares_ArticleEngagement

To examine the relationship between social engagement and readership, we looked at the 1,000 most shared stories on Facebook for November-December of 2016 and compared their share counts with the total amount of time visitors spent reading them on publisher websites.

While there is a small positive correlation between shares and total engagement, the relationship between the two is quite weak. For stories that attracted 1000 shares on Facebook, the Total Engaged Time they earned ranges from around 14 hours to over 1000 days. This tells us that social media interaction and actual reader engagement are not as closely aligned as many tend to think.

Why is this so important?  It speaks to the importance of headlines on Facebook, and to the need for content creators to evaluate not just social metrics like shares and likes, but also time spent with content, to get a true read on engagement.

For more insights on Facebook and Google behaviors and what they mean for your audience-building strategies, download our latest study here.

Are you seeing similar trends? To talk to us about it in more depth, email us at insights@chartbeat.com.

This week, we partnered with The New York Times – The Upshot on a study of supply and demand in the news. Essentially, we sought to uncover how many articles news organizations wrote about a given event compared to the demand for these articles among their readers, measured by Engaged Time.

In a time of “alternative facts” and “fake news,” there’s a perception that the media isn’t covering the issues fairly and may be only covering the issues that align with the publication’s political leaning. We wanted to find out if this was really what was happening.

Bowling Green Massacre Article Supply and Demand

We looked at 148 news publishers, divided into liberal and conservative buckets by The Upshot using scores from a study done at the University of Michigan, and studied article supply and reader demand of six recent news topics:

  1. Inauguration crowd size debate
  2. Alleged Bowling Green massacre
  3. Muslim travel ban
  4. Michael Flynn’s resignation
  5. Super Bowl LI
  6. The Grammy Awards

In the end, we found this perception of media bias is not completely true, as publishers on both sides are writing about each topic roughly equally. Instead, this perception may stem from the reader demand side of things; while supply of articles written on each topic was generally consistent across conservative and liberal news outlets, readers on each side do not read the same topics equally.

It’s not media coverage but actually consumer behavior trends that shape what gets read and what doesn’t.

The polarizing perceptions of reality are not only shaped by the content supplies from newsrooms but also by demands from their audiences because, after all, news consumers are the ultimate constructors of their own realities.

Head over to The New York Times’ The Upshot to check out the full study.

What a year it was. From major political events like the U.S. Election and Brexit to the summer Olympics; from gun violence and terrorism to gripping personal narrative on issues of social justice, the stories of 2016 captured our attention.

Chartbeat is proud to release the Most Engaging Stories of 2016, featuring the most captivating journalism of the year across the Chartbeat network as defined by Total Engaged Time — the total amount of time visitors spent actively engaged in content. This year’s top stories, which surfaced out of more than 46 million articles, cover a wide range of topics and span format types like interactives, live blogs, and longform content. See the stories that defined the breadth, the depth, and the power of journalism in 2016.

And follow along on Twitter with #MetricShift this Friday at 1pm to tweet about it with Josh Schwartz, Chartbeat’s head of data science. See you there!

Most Engaging Stories of 2016

So what were the key trends?

 

Politics

Political stories ruled 2016. Between the U.S. election and the Brexit referendum, political stories made up the majority of the top stories, including nine of the top ten. This differs greatly from 2015, which only had one political story make it into the top ten. Even more surprising is the breadth of formats delivered this year: from interactive polling experiences to live blogs and fact-checking, this year’s political coverage proves that innovative storytelling is alive and well.

 

Interactive

In many ways, this was the Year of the Interactive, with election prediction pages and live results pages captivating our attention and driving a massive number of engaged, repeat visitors. The top story, 538’s General Election predictor, received more Engaged Time than the top five stories of 2015 combined.

 

Breaking News

Breaking news stories were second only to politics this year and made up a solid 24 of the top stories. While many of the top political stories built up traffic across the year, the top breaking stories garnered most of their traffic in the hours and days after the events they covered. That attention runs the gamut from major storms to winning Powerball tickets, proving that breaking news comes in all shapes and sizes.

 

Longform

In a world where attention is scarce, 2016 proved that longform content still has a strong role in engaging and moving readers, with articles on Tiger Woods, 9/11, and El Chapo leading in this category. While last year’s overall top story was The Atlantic’s longform piece, What ISIS Really Wants, with 3:00+ minutes of average Engaged Time, longform was pushed to just outside of the top 10 this year.

 

Opinion

Powerful, personal narratives dominated the list of top opinion articles, driven by strong social traffic, demonstrating that when we emotionally connect with a story, we’re more apt to share and discuss it. Many 2016 opinion pieces focused on the moral, ethical, and emotional reasons one might support Clinton or Trump.

 

Justice and Rights

Articles with a strong social message were a major part of the national discussion in 2016. Notably, many of them were told from a first person perspective. From major investigative pieces rooted in undercover work to the moving letter from a Stanford student to her assailant, first-hand accounts and breaking news affecting personal and societal rights captured our attention as well as our empathy.

 

Check out the full list of the most engaging stories here. Have any questions or comments? Reach out to marketing@chartbeat.com and let us know your thoughts.

Don’t forget to follow along with our #MetricShift Twitter chat this Friday at 1pm to discuss more about the most engaging stories of 2016 with Josh Schwartz, Chartbeat’s head of data science. See you there!

Recently, there’s been a big push for social over search – the idea has emerged that social channels are the main, if not only, sources that consumers turn to to get their news. While it’s true that social promotion is an important part of anyone’s content strategy – we know Facebook isn’t going away anytime soon – Google still drives more traffic than any other referrer. This is especially true during big news events. So how should this affect your strategy during extraordinary news events?

 

Search vs. Social Traffic During Election Day

We’ve written before about how search leads social in the early hours of major events. Take, for example, our analysis of Brexit, where we note that in the hours leading up to polls closing in the UK, search overtook social traffic. We concluded that this behavior happens overwhelmingly in big news events as people proactively seek out news, instead of passively ingesting information from their Facebook newsfeed.

Following these conclusions, we decided to delve a little more into this behavior using the US Presidential election as a case study. Like Brexit, the US election represents a special type of news event: one where publishers have prior knowledge of the event and can prepare ahead of time to optimize their content strategy.

The graph below shows the breakdown of publisher traffic coming from Google versus Facebook between 12AM on Election Day (November 8th) and 12AM on the 10th (Eastern Standard Time), as compared to the trends we see on an average day (denoted by the dotted lines).

Search vs Social Traffic During Election Day

On an average weekday, we tend to see about 36% of referred traffic in our network coming from Facebook, while 41% comes from Google. As we can see in the graph above, Google traffic throughout Election Day was already performing higher than expected. From midnight on November 7th until polls started closing on the 8th we saw an approximate four point increase in Google traffic and six point decrease in Facebook traffic.

As the first US states started closing their polls at 6PM, there was an even surge in traffic from Google as readers became more and more entranced by the final results. This trend continued until slightly after the last polls closed in Alaska at 1AM EST. During this period, Google traffic shot up by an average 14 percentage points across our network. This uptick in Google referrals corresponds to readers proactively looking to Google for information about election results.

After the race was called at 3AM, we see a very noticeable swing to Facebook as readers flocked to share the news of the election results, read opinions of others in their peer network, and consume the overwhelming amount of post-election commentary.

 

Takeaways For Publishers

So what does this tell us about reader trends during Election Day, and how they relate back to trends during major breaking news events? We see three main takeaways:

  1. Concentrating on SEO strategy before big news events is critical to maximizing traffic during the event. The majority of referred traffic in the first few hours of an event will inevitably be coming from search.
  2. The most successful stories on Facebook tend to have an emotional versus strictly informative lens, as seen with the shift of traffic to Facebook after the election was called. So while search traffic is important to harness during breaking news events, keep in mind that social traffic picks up again in the aftermath.
  3. Despite the growing commentary on social media contributing to “filter bubbles” in the news people seek out and ultimately engage with, during large impactful news events readers don’t settle for what materializes on their Facebook feeds. We still see major trends in readers proactively scouring the web to stay up to date and informed on the progress of events as they unfold.

Stay tuned for more election trends, or get in touch with any questions.