Archive for the ‘Know Our Products’ Category

Meet the New Additions to Chartbeat Publishing for Ad Sales

April 10th, 2014 by Alex Carusillo

cr4

We’re rolling out some big additions to Chartbeat Publishing for Ad Sales this week and with these new features come some new ways of thinking.

For a while now, we have been talking about Active Exposure Time (how long people spend actively reading while ads are in view) as the best way for publishers to focus on selling against what matters (you only perform well on this metric if people are actually reading your stuff) while giving their clients the greatest chance for their campaigns to succeed. But as our clients have started selling on time we’ve seen a surprising thing develop - it turned out there was more to all of this than just getting your ads seen for the longest amount of time. In reality every campaign was different and some advertisers just wanted to be sure their ads were seen while other advertisers want to get their message in front of audiences for as long as possible.

In response we’ve added a bunch of stuff to our product to let our users build different campaigns for different needs: the two biggest of which are our updated campaign report and that all new goal-based package creator.

It’s covered in more depth here but - in short - we noticed that impressions seen for 1-5 seconds are good for advertisers with simple messages while impressions from 6-10 seconds are ideal for those trying to tell a larger story or create an emotion (impressions longer than this are good too but begin to see diminishing returns.) We looked at all the sites using our product and found about half of all impressions are in that 1-5 second range while the rest are distributed through the remaining times.

New: Campaign Report

Our campaign report sees the first big change. After people sell on our metrics we wanted them to have the ability to report on them and we initially built this tool to do just that. Once the reporting tool was in the hands of our clients we heard three really common requests:

  1. Clients wanted to see our data in conjunction with their ad server data.

  2. They wanted to understand where their impressions fell in time ranges.

  3. They wanted to compare their performance against the internet.

As of today all three are in the product.

The most immediately apparent is the ad server data. We wanted to show our metrics in line with more conventional ones so we’ve created a link with Google’s DFP that allows advertisers to see how each part of their campaign performed on the metrics you probably already know (CTR, viewable impressions, etc) and compare that with our time-based measurements.

On the third screen of the report we now show a breakdown of a campaign's impressions and what time periods they fell into so our clients can better understand if a campaign received the kind of impressions that were best for it. And - of course - all of this is benchmarked against the internet so when something’s great it’s easy to prove it.

While these are the big updates to the campaign report, there’s a ton of new stuff in there - everything from geographic data to more data science insights that help tell the story of a campaign - so go ahead and check it out.

New: Target Packages

We’re pushing out more than just new ways of telling stories about campaigns. Our goal has always been to make it easier to sell quality writing and so we’ve created a new tool to help making packaging inventory easier. We call it Target Packages.

 When we first released our product the only pitches that were happening based on time were really custom campaigns and we built an interface that was perfect for exploring and meticulously developing packages.

But over time, this idea of creating campaigns based on audience time and attention has become less scary to folks and there’s been interest in a more automated process. As such we’re releasing a tool that automatically creates an optimal package based on an advertiser’s goals. Just tell us what you’re looking for (high engagement impressions in the Sports section, ads that are almost always seen in Finance, and everything in between) and we’ll do the work and put together the ads that will most efficiently hit your goals.

Target Packages So that’s what I have for you for now. We’re working on a whole lot more new stuff right now  (big updates to the campaign report coming soon) but hopefully these additions make it a lot easier for all of you to sell pixels. If you're interested in learning more about our advertising platform, feel free to get in touch.

Chartcorps Challenge: Make the Most of Your Social Traffic

April 9th, 2014 by James

chartcorps-challenge

Wait! Before you tweet that awesome story, think: Have you done everything you can to capitalize on the instant exposure? With your Chartbeat Publishing Dashboard as your trusty sidekick, you can find the best content to share in terms of audience and Engaged Time before you ever post or tweet, and then watch the traffic roll in real-time. But you should also make sure those stories are optimized for the best experience of those who visit. Let's consider an example. We pivoted to see what Gizmodo's new visitors were reading, and noticed the top article: "If You Want to Watch Game of Thrones, Maybe Just Pay For It."

Chartbeat_Publishing_-_Dashboard

Of course, you would pick this story, maybe fine-tune the headline, and then whip up a witty tweet, but you might also want to take a minute to set up the best page possible for this new audience. Don’t miss this opportunity! Before you take that story to the tweeple, spend a minute curating it for the influx of new traffic that we’re sure to see. Start by loading up the page in the Heads Up Display and then find your digital fold, i.e. "most visitors don't read past here." Then, embed links to related content that you know will lead to more recirculation and increased engagement. Notice how Gizmodo got its related links above the fold here?

gizmodo-hud

If you have related on-topic stories that could help drive your visitors deeper into your website, embed 'em! You could add links in line with the text, or as part of a separate breakout box—both of which are employed by Gizmodo here. How about your other acquiring content that’s doing particularly well with your new audience? Put your links in great positions, and then maybe add a picture and snappy headline for good measure.

Check out last week's Chartcorps Challege: "Zombies! What to Do When Newly Undead Articles Walk Again."

Do everything you can to promote extra content that’s likely to do best before you share. Then tweet it out, and watch the traffic grow in real-time. Don’t forget, once you’ve got folks rolling in, revist the links on the page, continue to curate around the best performance, and keep tweaking until the tweets lived its short 140-character life. Rather than tweeting and hoping, take control. With the Heads Up Display and Chartbeat Publishing Dashboard, you’re able to react rapidly, increasing the odds that these fresh faces come back again soon.

Chartcorps Challenge: Developing Your Website’s New, Returning & Loyal Visitors

March 19th, 2014 by Clara

chartcorps-challenge

Growing an audience is about doing two things: getting new visitors in the door and getting them to come back. Many websites can successfully pull off one of the two, but it’s far more difficult pulling off both. If your goal as a publisher is to convert your fly-by visitors into die-hard loyalists, then you need to successfully meet both challenges. That’s where we come in.

Take a look at your Chartbeat Publishing Dashboard's “visitor frequency” module:

visitor-frequency

As you can see here, there are currently 7,734 new visitors, 8,424 returning visitors, and 6,274 loyal visitors on this website. Here's a quick refresher on those definitions: New visitors are the folks in your audience who are visiting the site for the first time in at least 30 days. Loyal visitors have visited on eight or more days of the last 16 days. And returning visitors fall somewhere in between; they've been here recently, but not with enough frequency to be considered loyal. Understanding the composition of your audience is key. Here’s why:

Often times, a website will have a high number of new visitors and a low number of loyal visitors, as is the case here. That means the website is doing a great job attracting new visitors, but it needs to work harder to bring folks back again. If you’re in this camp, you need to develop a retention strategy. Even a simple newsletter can go a long way.

Conversely, a website might face the opposite challenge: a low number of new visitors and a high number of loyal visitors. That means there’s a solid core audience, but the website isn’t doing enough to broaden that base of loyalists. That requires the development of an acquisition strategy, and a stronger social media presence might be in order.

Of course, as you click to pivot on any one of these segments, you might notice that different articles or types of content are resonating among each segment. In other words, some content may do a great job of attracting new visitors whereas some pieces may sustain your loyal readers. To go one step further, you can look at the composition of your audience as it relates to the sections of your website. For example, Sports readers may come every day during football season, but Opinion readers may only come through Facebook once a week.

So, how does your audience stack up? Let us know at support@chartbeat.com.

Want to learn more about how to use Chartbeat Publishing to grow your audience? The Chartcorps is hosting a "Audience 101" webinar on Thursday, March 27 at 1 p.m. EST. Sign up now.

The Role of Research in Building the New Chartbeat Publishing, Part 2

December 6th, 2013 by Adam

A quick recap of Part I of this post…
  • We knew Chartbeat Publishing was strained by UX debt
  • We were psyched to introduce some major new functionality into the product
  • We knew that we had to consolidate all our research and fill in knowledge gaps before the full design and dev process
  • We were working out of a glorified bomb shelter next to a demolition site, an atmosphere of adversity which likely hastened our eagerness to redesign

The research effort culminated in the construction of a massive affinity diagram or mental model, which neatly organized all of the chaos of a newsroom into a taxonomy of actions and behaviours. The top level of the mental model consisted of four main categories:

  1. Developing content - actions associated with actually creating content
  2. Assessing content - actions associated with measuring traffic to content
  3. Assessing audience - actions associated with measuring identity and quality of traffic
  4. Developing audience - actions associated with systematically building audience

Taking a look at the mental model, the “developing content” and “assessing content” categories were fairly concise. We had a pretty thorough understanding of the workflows, processes, and product opportunities. But for “assessing audience” and “developing audience,” things were a little murkier. There were a myriad of complex activities that seemed disorganized and in need of rationalization — we had unearthed all kinds of social media tricks and hacks, experiments in link partnerships, attempts to infiltrate Reddit, newsletter optimizations, Outbrain gambits, and a whole slew of other tactics.

And the survey data backed up our feeling that there were more people working on audience development and using Chartbeat than we had originally thought.

We reached two conclusions:

  1. We needed to sit down again with the publishers doing the most progressive work in the area of audience development and try to figure out what we’d missed, if anything, the first time.
  2. And, in parallel, we needed to prototype some ideas that came out of our own hypotheses about how to measure audience quality in a simple way.
Read the rest of this entry »

The Role of Research in Building the New Chartbeat Publishing, Part 1

December 5th, 2013 by Adam

Last fall, the Chartbeat product team was hunkered down in an office space that could've made an excellent interrogation room. We temporarily obtained this 500 square-foot room to augment our main office, a sardine can of developers, designers, analysts, scientists, and a growing sales and marketing team.

It was… austere: four brick walls and a cement floor. There was a glass-topped table in the middle, a whiteboard, and a phone. Two windows separated us from the round-the-clock demolition going on in the adjacent lot, and you almost always had to shout to be heard. We even called it the murder room.

We were examining the roadmap for the Chartbeat Publishing dashboard. There was a lot on the table—all kinds of ideas for functionality that we wanted to add to a product that was starting to look like it had too much going on. There was no way we were fitting it all in to the current UI. The bulldozers were looking like a good idea. It was time to start from scratch.

But in reality, prep work for a top-to-bottom overhaul was already well underway. We had initiated a massive effort at capturing the state of the newsroom and the publishing industry, and were already thinking about how to align Chartbeat's services with those conclusions.

Our Research Effort

Research is an ongoing practice at Chartbeat. We’re constantly talking to our clients, figuring out how they work and why they do what they do – even sketching out ideas together and evaluating concepts. Nevertheless, heading into the project, we wanted to consolidate of all our meeting notes and interviews, and confidently answer the following questions…

  • Who's using our product?

  • What are their motivations, needs, and philosophies?

  • Where's the industry going?

  • What will the newsroom look like in a year or two?

  • How will editorial roles evolve?

If we started by simply answering these questions, we knew good things would happen.

Gathering Information

To approach our research challenge systematically, we used ethnographic methodologies:

Interviews and Field Studies

If we weren't on the phone firing away at our customers with non-leading questions, Mona Chaudhuri and I were hitting our clients’ offices on a semi-daily basis throughout most of 2012—picking brains, hearing war stories, watching them work, and bouncing ideas around.

Copious interview notes came from these many many meetings at places like The Blaze, NBC News, the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, CNN Money, Fast Company, Slate, Financial Times, and dozens more. If you had an office in New York, one of us was knocking on your door. And if your offices were outside of New York, we were there too: Washington, London, Toronto, Berlin, San Francisco.

Diary Studies

We asked a diverse group of Chartbeat customers to keep journals of their day to day activities. The journals were written over the course of three weeks into Posterous (R.I.P) blogs. Some of the participants were given, i.e. gifted, iPads to more easily facilitate the entry of notes and ideas. Yes they were great as a lightweight field tool for entering notes, but more so the iPads were a great incentive to keep participants motivated.

We had some very prolific contributors… for example this guy: Jonathan Tesser at New York Magazine (at the time). Reading what his day was like in his own words was a fantastic window into newsroom issues. The ups and downs were so much more tangible—you could really feel the personal challenges in a way that other research methods just couldn't uncover.

Surveys

To get a quantitative perspective on newsroom ethnography, we conducted a survey, which asked people about their role, three day-to-day responsibilities, and the three long-term objectives that they are evaluated on.

Processing the Data

We dug into the survey data and immediately got to some interesting information. For example, 64% of respondents reported themselves as some type of “content creator.” And 36% identified their role as being at least partially on the business side. In our fieldwork, we were still talking primarily to editors and writers, so it was somewhat of a surprise to see that one in three people had some involvement in other aspects of the business, too.

We took the diaries and interview notes and boiled them down, then reduced them, and then reduced them some more into a mental model diagram (shout out to Indi Young and her fantastic book on the subject). The mental model represented everything we knew about newsroom behavior—it contained every discrete action or behavior taken by people in the front lines of a newsroom. There were a lot and they were extremely varied, for example:

  • “curate third-party content on Tumblr”

  • “harass writers to meet their deadlines”

  • “look for dead spots on the homepage”

above: a couple branches of the mental model

 

above: a grouping of activities within the branch: “Understanding referrer sources”
We consolidated the individual actions—several hundred—into larger groups. For example “curate third-party content on Tumblr” was put into a group called “build off-site brand presence.” And finally, all the groups were assembled into four high-level categories:
  1. Developing content

  2. Assessing content

  3. Assessing audience

  4. Developing audience

Everything that we observed and captured fit into one of those four categories. That gave us a way to maintain a broad perspective on the publishing business as a whole, with the means to narrow our focus down to specific workflows and actions through a highly organized affinity diagram.

At this point our ‘forensics’ work was done. Well, it’s never done, but we’d just completed a very thorough and immersive look at newsroom culture, workflow and the state of the publishing industry.

The output of this work - the mental model - gave us something to measure our product against as well. What actions were we supporting and not supporting? We brainstormed all the realistic and totally unrealistic things we could do to help our customers across the many facets of their work.

Tomorrow, in part two of this post we’ll focus on some specific findings of the research and how we used it to roadmap the next incarnation of Chartbeat Publishing.