Archive for the ‘News & Press’ Category

Chartbeat, HealthCare.gov, and Personal Information

January 22nd, 2015 by Tony

Over the last couple of days, there has been a lot of talk about data privacy and specifically HealthCare.gov passing personal information (e.g., age, zip code, income) to third-party data sites. Chartbeat is paid by clients like HealthCare.gov to help content teams understand how people visiting the site engage with the content, so the folks behind these sites can create the best possible visitor experience.

With that in mind, I want to take a second to talk about what Chartbeat does and doesn’t do (since there are a lot of data providers out there and we all collect and measure different things), what happens when we inadvertently receive personal information in our data, and generally how anyone using data tools for their website can do so effectively while simultaneously taking care to protect their users’ information.

Chartbeat and the data we collect

First, there is a lot of legal stuff. I know, I know. But it’s actually all really important to know about us, what we care about as a company, and how we compare to other data providers out there.

  1. Chartbeat ONLY shares data about a specific client site or the visitors of that site with the owner of that specific client site. Under no circumstances do we share or sell that data to third parties, advertisers or otherwise. Specifically our Privacy Policy states: “Except as expressly provided otherwise herein, we will not sell, lease or exchange the personal information of our Customers or any end user (to the extent that we obtain such information) to third parties without first obtaining their express consent, unless required by law or to protect their status as a Customer.”
  2. Our JavaScript pings, which report information, only do so via HTTPS when client sites are HTTPS, to help prevent third parties from intercepting that data in transit.
  3. We do not ever intentionally collect personal information. As our Privacy Policy states: “Chartbeat does not collect any personally identifiable information from users of Customer Websites, provided that (i) Chartbeat does collect IP addresses from visitors to Customer Websites in order to show geolocation information, and (ii) the Customer configures the Chartbeat code on the Customer Website in accordance with the instructions and documentation provided by Chartbeat, so that URLs containing personally identifiable information of end users are not captured by the Service.”
  4. In our client contracts and Terms of Use, we specifically state that our clients need to scrub any personal information before passing it through to Chartbeat.

When personal information is passed through to Chartbeat

But the last point (point 4 above) doesn’t always happen. So then what?

If there is a time when we learn that personal information may have been passed to us from a website, we do the following:

  • Immediately get in touch with the client / owner of the site
  • Identify the location of the personal data (e.g., what’s the URL)
  • Advise the client on how to fix their code implementation issues in order to immediately stop the sending of personal data through to Chartbeat.
  • Determine the best way to purge our system database of this data and purge that data accordingly

It’s a quick, efficient, and effective reaction. But being reactive isn’t good enough. We’ve also got to be proactive.

In light of the concerns raised this week, we’re also performing ongoing audits of our entire network of thousands of client sites to see if we can identify instances of personal data to alert clients and ensure they update the data they pass to us immediately.

How we can all get better at taking care of our users’ data

The above is all specific to Chartbeat and we take the data we receive incredibly seriously. If I’ve gotten nothing else across at this point, I hope it’s that.

However, it’s important that we all, as website owners and data users, do our part to be better shepherds of data of all kinds—personal or not. A few ways to do so (and I’m positive you all have more suggestions, so please email me with them and I’ll update this post accordingly):

  • Never pass data in the URL itself. Because most analytics providers report at the URL level, the contents of the URL are likely to be stored by any analytics firm you work with.
  • If your web pages are served via HTTP then consider moving them to HTTPS. HTTP is insecure and data sent over HTTP could be read by a third party on the network.
  • Get to know your data partners. They are the experts in the data they collect, the way they collect it, how they store it, where they store it, and how it’s used. Ask them about it. Make sure you completely understand the terms of use, privacy policy, and any contractual language before putting their code on your site. And when you’re at the point of implementation, make sure you’ve checked with them to ensure you’ve done so properly. If you have any questions about Chartbeat implementation, our Chartcorps team is your go-to.

Chartbeat is in the business of building a better internet. As much as that means making sure the best content gets the most attention, it also means making sure we all, as users, fully understand the data that’s powering the web. We’ll do our very best to continue to be transparent about what we measure, how we measure it, and what that means for you.

Tony Haile’s Data State of the Union

October 14th, 2014 by Alexandra

A few weeks ago everyone’s favorite Brit (who just happens to be our CEO) Tony Haile gave a talk at the annual Online News Association conference in Chicago. During his chat, officially titled “A Data State of the Union: Can We Make Quality Pay Online” he touches on the metrics that really matter, the challenge of metrics vs. mission that many journalists are faced with, and how we can fix some of the fundamental underpinnings of the media industry. Judging by the reaction on Twitter (check out #datasotu), a lot of attendees were digging what he had to say. Or maybe he’s just really charming. I’ll let you be the judge.

Don’t have time to check out the whole thing? Well, you should make time. Kidding! (Sort of). I get it—and so does Tony—time is scarce. Here’s the TL;DW version + slides:

Metrics vs. Mission

  • Many journalists are conflicted about data in the newsroom. Too often they feel they have to choose between metric or mission. It shouldn’t be an either/or.
  • Often, what seems like the simplest, most direct method of measuring success can actually backfire when it becomes the thing that’s most important. The job is not to chase traffic. In the business of news, random indiscriminate traffic is not what a business is built on.
  • It’s not traffic we monetize, but audience. Your audience knows who you are, likes what you do, and comes back. The goal is to build an audience—to acquire new people and convert them to loyal visitors.
  • And with this audience you’re not just after their index fingers, you’re after their minds. You have to create content that will make people like you and come back—and doing so often requires looking at data through a different prism.
  • Clicking and Reading are Different Things

  • Pageviews should not be privileged as the most important metric when 55% of clicks get less than 15 seconds of attention.
  • It’s not enough to get someone to click. We have to get them to read.
  • Newsrooms ought to be focusing on a reader’s propensity to return. That means thinking about capturing time, not just creating a catchy headline. A big spike in traffic doesn’t really matter if those readers don’t come back.
  • The Golden Metrics: Recirculation and Engaged Time

  • The key indicators of propensity to return are recirculation and engaged time.
  • Recirculation: the percentage of audience that has consumed a particular piece of content (e.g. actually read it) and chooses to go on to consume another piece of content. Are visitors sticking around to read another article, or are they leaving?
  • The number one way to increase recirculation is to write something good enough to make people want to read more. And then you have to give them somewhere to go. That means using referrer information to segment your audience (e.g. social vs. homepage visitors) and then promote the right stories in your side rails or through in-line links.
  • Engaged Time: The more time someone spends with your stuff, the more likely they are to come back. If someone spends three minutes on your site they are twice as likely to return as if they spend only one minute.
  • It’s important to remember that a visitor’s default behavior is to leave. When you are trying to hold someone’s attention, you are competing with the entire sum of human knowledge. Every form of mass entertainment is simply a click away. You’ve got to win them with every single paragraph.
  • Recirculation and Engaged Time are balanced metrics. Often, going overboard with one metric, such as trying to boost recirculation with slideshows, will reduce Engaged Time. Think of these two metrics in context of each other and try to get them both balanced to reach an ideal state.
  • Metrics are important, but they aren’t the only important thing.

  • Even the most meaningful metrics can mess up a newsroom if they become the basis of incentive plans. Metrics should be used as a guide, not as a cudgel for compliance.
  • Metrics shouldn’t be tied to a journalist’s pay. A journalist doesn’t need external motivation to want to create great content. For the most part, incentive plans mean journalists stop relying on metrics and start resenting them. Metrics stop becoming a trusted feedback loop and become a cruel judge to satisfy.
  • An incentive system that can be gamed will be. Quotas are good for quantity, but they diminish quality and creativity. With quotas, journalists don’t take risks. They stick to what worked yesterday.
  • If you want your newsroom to embrace metrics, to learn and to seek a more effective path towards reaching your organizations’s overarching goals, you have to give journalists the right metrics framed in the right way and trust their internal desire to do a great job.
  • We are NOT in a Golden Age of Journalism

  • We don’t actually monetize content at all. We monetize the links to content. If you click on a link and the page loads, it doesn’t matter whether someone even read the content, whether they liked or loathed it. The content itself doesn’t determine the value of the page.
  • The fact that it’s the clicking of the link (rather than the consuming of the content) that is the monetizable act, means we’re living in a world of infinite ad inventory where the marginal cost creating additional inventory is near zero.
  • In a world or infinite inventory, prices will always trend towards zero.
    The currency we predominately use to measure value is impressions, and thus pageviews, and that currency is killing us.
  • The Solution: An Economy of Scarcity

  • For us to be able to charge premiums we need to create an economy based on scarcity, where what happens with the content actually matters.
  • Time is the only unit of scarcity on the web, and it’s zero sum. A minute spent on one site is a minute not spent on another.
  • Attention correlates with quality. You have to be doing something right to capture that attention. And those who can capture more of it can charge more.
  • “If we can change the way we value what we do, then brands get happier, publishers have a sustainable business for quality journalism and the users get a Web… where anything that makes them want to leave is bad for business. That’s a Web worth fighting for.”

    - Tony Haile

    MRC Accredits 21 Chartbeat Metrics Including Viewability and Active Exposure Time

    September 29th, 2014 by Alex Carusillo

     

     

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    In summer 2013, we introduced our first advertising tool to help premium publishers monetize their audience’s attention. 15 months later, that one tool is now part of an expanded platform that provides media planning, reporting, and strategic services to premium publishers that want to measure and sell attention. Today we’re thrilled to announce that the Media Rating Council (the MRC) has accredited 21 of the metrics featured in our advertising platform. In the post below I explain what this accreditation means for Chartbeat and the larger attention economy.

    We got accredited!

    One of the stranger things about entering into ad tech for the first time is learning that all the stuff that made you successful elsewhere isn’t enough anymore. You can’t just build cool new technology or awesome interfaces. You can’t just have positive press. You can’t even just have people love what you do and pay to use it. Advertising is big and scary and impossibly competitive and the rules are just different and there are a lot more of them. While it’s been hard to find someone who thought the monetization of attention wasn’t worthwhile it has been even harder to find people who thought it was something they could actually do. No amount of desire alone can change the system – you need to change the structure first. And so that’s what we’ve started to do.

    This means we need to do more than just adding a new dashboard link to someone’s bookmarks or some vanity metric to someone’s spreadsheet. It means making a fundamental change to the way success on the internet is evaluated and rewarded, building an internet where our best instincts are also the right ones. And today – after nearly six months of sleepless detail work – I think we’re starting to get there. Because today I get to say that our metrics have been accredited by the Media Rating Council.

    So…what’s the MRC?

    Like I said: the strangest thing about entering into ad tech is that it’s not clear what it takes to go from “neat service” to a world viable system. Pro-tip for those of you at home turns out the first step is passing a Media Rating Council audit.

    But who is this the Media Rating Council (MRC from here on out) and what are they about? The MRC is an industry body that audits and accredits internet measurements to ensure that they’re “valid, reliable, and effective.” There’s a whole lot of money flowing through the internet and there are a bunch of people with conflicting interests trying to say what portion of that rightfully belongs to them. The MRC exists to make sure that everyone is on equal footing and that people can trust the numbers they use. Without them you’ve got a bunch of conflicting and unreliable numbers that aren’t good for much more the decoration. With them you’ve got reliable metrics you can build businesses on. And now Chartbeat metrics can be counted among those reliable metrics.

     

     

    Chartbeat MRG
     

     

    What does accreditation change right now?

    So what does that mean? Well, it means we get to put a new logo on our homepage and talk about our “twenty-one accredited metrics that go beyond just viewability” but more importantly it means that this “Attention Web” we talk so much about can turn into an Attention Economy. We’ve been driving this idea for a couple years now — we’ve always believed that the click and the impression are not the way advertisers should value content. It just doesn’t make sense. A heady piece on global policy in the Financial Times is just a fundamentally better opportunity for an advertiser (and for the internet in general) than one on some clickbait blog. It just is.

    You can trust science, the market, or just common sense, but no matter which way you look at it you end with high quality writing being worth more than low quality stuff.

    But before this accreditation came through it didn’t matter how much you believed in that “attention is valuable” story because you still couldn’t sell it.

    That time is over.

    At its narrowest interpretation, Chartbeat’s MRC accreditation means premium publishers, advertisers and agencies can now use attention as a currency. But a whole new internet economy isn’t far away if attention is a fundamentally valuable thing on the internet – and Chartbeat gets to be at least partially responsible for that.

    What’s next?

    Here’s the cool part though – this isn’t just about money and sales teams getting higher CPMs. This isn’t even really about advertising.

    It’s about a better internet – the one we were promised from the start.

    This accreditation gives us the ability to express our core idea that the quality of website experience is, above all, universal. We’re getting closer to building a world where measurement arises from an ad experience’s purpose and not what was easy to track (clicks). Where the business side and the editorial side of a company believe the readers comes first. Where the the quality of a publication’s content sustains its business, not the number of people who click an ad near that creation. That’s a pretty cool world. And that’s the success we wanted all along.

     

    Check out the Chartbeat Ads Platform for yourself

    The Financial Times Is Selling Time to Advertisers (with Chartbeat!)

    May 22nd, 2014 by Juliana

    The online advertising world is buzzing today over the announcement from the Financial Times, published in The Drum, that the company is starting to sell its ads inventory using time—audience exposure time to ads, specifically—as a currency. The Financial Times has partnered with Chartbeat to measure and now monetize their audience’s time and attention.

    In The Drum, Jon Slade, the Financial Times Commercial Director of Digital Advertising and Insight, says, “We can now report back to a client and say ‘we served you a thousand ads, and of those, 500 were seen for one second, 250 were seen for 10 seconds and 250 were seen for 30 seconds,” Slade went on, “The next obvious step is to sell blocks of time.”

    Advertisers can now buy inventory based on how long readers are actively exposed to ads, and according to Slade, so far so good: “We have three trials running at the moment, and we’re able to tell pretty conclusively so far that when we serve an ad to an audience that we know is going to spend a long time with the ad in view that the benefit to that client is far more profound.”

    And the data backs it up:

    brand-recall

    Here at Chartbeat, we’re excited to help pioneer this movement of publishers going beyond just measuring their audience’s attention, but actually monetizing it as a means to build sustainable businesses based on the quality of their content and loyal audiences.

    If you’re interested in learning more about how you can sell ads based on your audience’s time, check out our upcoming webinar. Want a personalized walkthrough of our Ad Sales platform? Get in touch with us. We’d love to show you what we’ve been working on.

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    Funding News: Investing in the Future of the Media Industry

    May 14th, 2014 by Tony

    I’m excited to announce that Chartbeat has accepted $3.1m in additional funding led by existing investors Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Index Ventures with participation from Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Freestyle Capital, LAUNCH Fund, SoftTech VC and Lowercase Capital. From two guys around one desk to today, Chartbeat is now a company serving 80% of the top publishers in the U.S. with clients in 35 countries around the world. Our ability to do this is because of the consistent incredible support we’ve had from a stellar group of investors.

    What will you be using the money for?

    HIRING! We’ve now got multiple product lines that touch content creation, promotion and monetization, including Chartbeat’s new paid content service, which we launched today! That’s a lot of moving pieces that require multiple engineers, designers, and product people to lead us forward. If you’re interested in building a web where quality content and good design can make money; if you want to work with one of the most interesting data sets and some of the weirdest people in the world, we want to hear from you.

    Why only $3.1m?

    To be honest, that’s all our finance guy told me we needed. We intend to raise a larger Series C towards the end of 2014 to fuel our expansion in the longer term.

    Why not do the Series C now?

    Because if you’ve ever raised a financing round you know it’s a pain in the arse and distraction from the job of building a company. Right now, we’re heads down on developing new products and working with our partners on some stuff I’m utterly in love with and I didn’t want the distraction of a second full-time job taking me away from the maelstrom.

    DFJ and Index told us almost nine months ago that if we ever wanted to build more of a war chest without having to go around the houses raising money they were keen to put money in at a healthy valuation. Given the product line expansion that’s been happening at Chartbeat, it made sense to make that call now. I’d like to thank DFJ, Index and our other investors for making this the easiest fund raise in history. You guys rock.

    What should we expect from Chartbeat in future?

    I made our position pretty clear in an article I recently wrote for TIME. We believe that for quality content to thrive on the web we need to value people’s attention as much as their clicks. We’re going to make that happen. We’re building an ecosystem of SAAS tools that enable people through the media/advertising world to do more with less and value content more effectively. If we succeed, then content creators can charge more for quality and advertisers can buy media based on their actual goals not proxies. It’s going to be a long road, but we’ve got the right partners with us and that’s half the battle.