Archive for the ‘On Our Minds’ Category

(Yes, we know we’re a day late – yesterday was a day without women, after all.)


Yesterday and every day, we salute the women of Chartbeat and beyond. First, let’s highlight a few organizations that promote women in journalism. Supporting women in media is increasingly important, and we salute you for all the work you do:

Now, we’re shining the spotlight on some of the Chartladies: who they are, how they kick ass every day, and who they look up to. We couldn’t do it without you!


Terri Walter, Chief Marketing Officer

A woman I look up to: I had the good fortune of meeting Shelley Zalis in the course of my career and she has been a huge inspiration to me. Shelley was formerly the CEO of a research company in the advertising industry and she was one of the few CEOs I knew who was not only smart and visionary in her field, but who was also not afraid to embrace her feminine side. Armed with ground-breaking insights and leadership qualities while also donning Christian Louboutin’s and a smile, Shelly showed me that you can fiercely competitive, smart and insightful and beautiful–all at the same time and without compromise. Shelly has since founded the Girls’ Lounge and the Female Quotient and is fully dedicated to helping women around the world grow and succeed.  Her belief in girlfriend power – the idea that women can provide friendship and support to each other to lift us all – has changed how I interact with others and has given me a great source of strength and inspiration.

My favorite moment (so far) of 2017: When our thought leadership around how consumers self-select the news they read was covered on page 3 of The New York Times. This was a huge PR and visibility win for the company, but more than that, it helped us all realize internally how powerful our data really is.


Erin Isenberg, Head of Customer Support

A woman I look up to: I know it’s a cliche, but my mom and my grandmothers are who I look up to. They are all strong smart women who worked incredibly hard to build the life they wanted for themselves and for their family. I wouldn’t be able to have the career that I do if it were not for them.

Best part about being in the Chartladies crew: Women at Chartbeat are so supportive of each other. Working in tech as a woman is not always easy and it’s beyond important to have such a helpful group of women to turn to.

Best piece of advice I’ve ever gotten: “Say it out loud.” In other words, know what you want and don’t be afraid to bring it up again and again.


Jill Nicholson, Head of Product Education

Favorite project I’ve worked on at Chartbeat: Showing off the rebuilt Heads Up Display to Chartbeat users. As a former homepage manager, I really feel that the product makes life better for working journalists. There are so many concrete ways you can use the information in the Heads Up Display to actually make a better experience for your readers and to show of your great journalism. Those trainings made me excited about storytelling and page curation. To be honest, it also made me miss the newsroom a lot. But I get to travel to so many newsrooms on behalf of Chartbeat that I still get my breaking news fix.

Best piece of advice I’ve ever gotten: Everyone needs an editor. Doesn’t matter what you’re working on or creating. Doesn’t matter if it’s something you do professionally or a skill you’re just starting to learn. You always get a better result when you run it by a person you trust. A new perspective and fresh set of eyes are always worth the time.

What I’m listening to these days: Though I’ve already read the books a few times, I’m listening to the audio version of Red Rising. It’s interesting to hear how they interpret the different accents for the different characters.


Sonya Song, Data Scientist

A woman I look up to: Lee Miller has been my inspiration and we’ll be soon celebrating her 110th birthday anniversary. She took many roles in her life, admirable or not, a pursued model, an original surrealistic photographer, a persistent war correspondent, an alcoholic aged woman, a depressed wife, a gourmet cook… After her death, her only son wisely named the biography of her “The Lives of Lee Miller.”

Best piece of advice I’ve ever gotten: Steve Wildman, my academic advisor, always asked me, is this what you really want to do; is it your own choice? He also stressed many times that a job is something you spend one third of your life doing and you better enjoy it. My take of his advice is that happiness is the best guidance and drive of a fulfilled life and I won’t allow myself to be distracted from it.

The best book I’ve read recently: I’ve been reading Edward Bernays’s Crystalizing Public Opinion published in the 1920’s. He talked extensively about how news media could shape public opinions, or fail to do so in other occasions. Surprisingly, he thought more about the audience and their responses than journalists did and do after a century, who communicate sometimes as if there were a fourth wall between themselves and their audience. Having experienced and studied censorship and propaganda, I’m now learning from Bernays how crowd psychology plays a role in shaping or manipulating people’s minds.


Nele Mayer, Sales Development Representative

What I’m listening to these days: I have been listening to “The Daily” with Michael Barbaro by the New York Times every morning. I think it is insightful, to the point and has the perfect length for my trip downtown from the Upper East Side. Michael Barbaro managed to make me more excited about my morning commute than my commute home, which is quite the accomplishment. However, I must admit I am a morning person by nature, so he does not get full credit.

An interesting fact about me: I wrote an undergraduate thesis at NYU called “The Nazi Nude” on the female nude in Nazi painting, sexual politics and an array of other disturbing things that were going on at the time. I am currently working on publishing the thesis as a book because, to quote my advisor, “the world needs to see this.” – “Meaningful stories thrive wherever they may live.”

Best part about being in the Chartladies crew: The support, the love, the intellectual stimulation, the mentorship, the friendship, the creativity, wit and talent of my fellow Chartladies. These are just a few things. The list goes on. Have I mentioned the wine?


Krista Hoffman, Global Director of Customer Success

The best book I’ve read recently: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson – it’s hilarious and inspiring all in one. I would recommend this to just about anyone.

Favorite female journalist: Nora Ephron. Her writing is so clever and she’s done it all – columnist, humorist, screenwriter, and director. I’ve read all of her books (and obviously seen all of her movies) and I love how she would put it all out there and never apologize for it.

An interesting fact about me: When I was in college, I was desperate to travel the world (but lacked the funds to do so), so I got a job at The Cheesecake Factory and financed trips over the various winter/summer breaks to Australia, New Zealand, Italy, England, France, Spain, Malta, and Egypt. I can still name (most) of the thirty cheesecakes…


Jeiran Jahani, Senior Data Scientist

My favorite moment (so far) of 2017: That Saturday night when Judges Ann Donnelly and Leonie Brinkema iced that executive order which was in effect banning travelers from 7 countries entering the U.S. Superpower women!

Favorite female journalist: Robin Wright because she is smart, well traveled, truthful and thorough and doesn’t give a damn whether people like her reporting or not – and has risen to the top of the ladder despite the fact that many don’t like her!

If I could have one superpower…: Well, humor is a superpower and I have a good bit of that. More never hurts though!

We love hearing stories from our customers about how they “Chartbeat.” That’s why when we read this article about how our friends at Jalopnik, a Gizmodo Media Group publication, looked to Chartbeat during the Daytona 500 to understand consumer reaction (or confusion) over the newly released NASCAR rules, we had to post it.

Check out the full article: A Graphical Representation Of How Confused People Were During The Daytona 500.

Nothing speaks to the truth like Chartbeat data.

How do you Chartbeat? If you have a story you’d like to share with us, get in touch with me at

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?



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.



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.



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.



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 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.

Tomorrow’s US elections will bring an unprecedented amount of web traffic to news sites. At Chartbeat, we’re predicting the total volume of readership we measure across the web (including non-news sites) to be close to 20-25 million concurrents, roughly double that of a typical day’s 13 million, with a selection of sites up in traffic by factors of 10 or more. This increase in overall traffic represents a huge opportunity for audience building, with news sites seeing large increases in new visitors. But how?


Turning election interest into readership

Election days aren’t regular news days by any means. Traffic patterns during an event like the elections are quite different from the norm. In fact, it is important to note that according to our research, search and direct traffic are initially critical to audience building during major breaking news events, followed by social.

When we think about traffic in general, we tend to think about social traffic first — due to the fact that the top referrer to any major news article is likely to be Facebook. But, because Facebook traffic about a particular article tends to have a significant ramp up period, reader behavior is quite different during breaking news events. For example, during the Paris attacks in late 2015, Google traffic to The Atlantic’s What ISIS Really Wants spiked 12 hours before Facebook traffic reached its peak.


In fact, during the 2012 US elections, search and direct traffic vastly outweighed social traffic, and events like the Brexit vote in the UK demonstrated the same pattern more recently. That means that concentrating on these two areas — search and direct traffic — is critical for news sites hoping to maximize their traffic on election night.


Capitalizing on search traffic

For search, that means — perhaps obviously — that the sites topping the Google rankings for terms like “election map” and “elections results” will have search traffic climbing to millions of concurrents. Additionally, search engine optimization around key terms has the potential for massive returns.

Although traffic will be highest for, we should expect readership spikes on the magnitude of 100,000+ concurrents for search traffic from many non-US countries as well, so search placement in,,,,, and others is also critically important.


Maximizing direct traffic

Garnering an increasing share of direct traffic is by no means easy, but the sites that people tune into for election coverage will likely crack into the millions of concurrents. Therefore, anything you can do to remind your users to choose your site as their go-to for the evening is likely to reap rewards. Critically, and unlike during “traditional” breaking news topics like weather and terrorism where visitors value hard factual sites the most, we typically see that during major elections there’s a bias in traffic toward sites with a unique angle.


Following through on social traffic from Facebook

We often see that the most successful stories on Facebook have an emotional versus strictly informative lens. For example, during the Brexit vote, only a few highly emotional topics received significant Facebook traffic.



Because Facebook traffic is extremely concentrated, looking for stories beginning to gain traction late Tuesday night and doubling down on them on Wednesday morning is the likeliest route to success.

As for social traffic, we can expect Facebook to become the dominant traffic driver on Wednesday morning, following the election results.

There’s much that remains to be seen about traffic on Tuesday night — will more prominent data directly on Google search results pages hurt traffic? Which sites will end up with the coveted top search positions? Will traffic peak early in the evening or continue on late into the night? And how will Facebook amplify traffic?

I’ll be live tweeting patterns as they emerge at @joshuadschwartz and we’ll be following up with more in-depth analyses in the days after the election. Feel free to reach out!