Archive for the ‘Know Our Products’ Category

On the client support team we spend our days consulting with clients big and small to make sure they’re getting the most out of their Chartbeat tools – so we get asked a lot of questions. One question that keeps finding its way into our inbox that never fails to give me pause:

Why don’t I see a count of total visitors to my site?

This question misses the fundamental point of Chartbeat’s real-time philosophy. Our core metric for measuring audience size, concurrents, doesn’t represent a running total – and that’s on purpose.

 

The Value of Concurrents

There are a lot of misconceptions and ‘almost there’ definitions of concurrents, so the first thing I want to do is set the record straight: one concurrent equals one open window on your site, and only when that visitor closes that window do they stop counting. Concurrents are not a measure of pageviews per minute, and they do not assume a visitor will be engaged for any given amount of time.

Concurrents diverge from other event-based analytics methodologies in that they don’t assume a visitor will have a set session length — Google Analytics, for example, automatically attributes a session length of five minutes to each visitor, even if they leave after just 30 seconds.

This kind of system inevitably misreports who is on your site and inflates the metrics on poor content while undervaluing highly engaging longer stories.

With Chartbeat, on the other hand, you always know whether or not visitors are still reading your content.

 

A Closer Look

To really understand the value of using the concurrents metric, let’s look at an example within a rapidly growing traffic segment: mobile visitors.

Tracking mobile concurrents in Chartbeat completely excludes all pages, tabs, and applications that are running in the device’s background. While it’s easy to toggle between windows and tabs on your desktop browser, you almost never do that on a phone, so we only report readers who are currently looking at your content.

To illustrate this difference, let’s say that during the middle of your workday you sort your dashboard by “mobile” and check the top three or four stories. You may see something like this:

 

Where_are_the_totals__-_Google_Docs

 

The top three stories have a similar number of mobile concurrents, but one of them, Story 2, has a significantly lower average engaged time. If the audience on Story 2 is only spending a fraction of the time on that page, it’s probably also racking up pageviews at a much higher rate in order to stay in the top ranking.

In a different analytics tool you may see Story 2 as the strongest at the top of a standard “total pageview” report. However, both Story 1 and Story 3 are far more valuable for your mobile audience — those are the stories that are most engaging to your readers.

So what exactly does this mean for you? The best action to take at this moment would be to maximize exposure to Stories 1 and 3 among mobile readers and overall. A friendly reminder from your data-science team at Chartbeat:

 

Readers who spend three minutes engaging with content are twice as likely to return to your site in the next week compared to visitors who only read for one minute.

 

Analytics services that inflate the pageview totals or over-report active visitors shouldn’t inform your content strategy. In this case Story 2 gets the most clicks, but Stories 1 and 3 are the real winners for mobile readers. With so many different kinds of metrics out there, it’s important to be critical about what you’re trying to measure and how you plan to use that to your advantage.

If you want to talk shop, reach out to my team at support@chartbeat.com or read up on some related content about the tools in your toolbox here.

Background

A few weeks ago, our support team received an email from a Report Builder-savvy customer at the Poughkeepsie Journal who wanted to examine the differences in user engagement between their top articles on desktop computers vs. mobile devices. He wanted to better understand any differences in behavior so he and his team could be more thoughtful about their content and promotion strategy.

  

In his initial email, he had already done quite a bit of work; created a spreadsheet using Report Builder’s ‘most popular articles’ format and grouped them into device type, ran them through an excel spreadsheet to find the top 140 or so matches (since not every story ranked in the top 200 on both platforms), and even created a new field called ‘spread’ which looks at the difference between a story’s rank between the desktop and mobile version. But he needed our help to go deeper and see if we could pull out any meaningful insights.

 

As the biggest Report Builder nerd on the team I jumped at the chance to tackle this problem.

 

What Engagement Means on Different Devices

Before getting into the numbers, let’s recall what exactly Chartbeat is measuring: a user’s engagement with your page. Chartbeat listens for scroll events, keystrokes, and mouse movements to determine when a user is engaged. When this isn’t happening (for example, when a user moves into a background tab on a desktop device) Chartbeat stops attributing engagement.

 

Readers on desktop devices who leave background tabs open and never return can ultimately dilute the average engaged time number, because while they’re still being counted as a concurrent, they don’t contribute to engaged time. On mobile however, there’s a different story: once a user moves to a new app, opens a new tab, or closes the phone, the session times out.

 

Phase One: How does Engagement Compare?

Our first question was around which device type usually had the higher average engagement, so the first step was to compare engagement between devices.

 

mobile_desktop_scatterplot

The key metric we’re using here is a given story’s rank on the most engaging articles list for each device type; the higher the ranking, the less engagement it received. In the graph, each dot represents a single story and placement on the axes represent its ranking for each device type.  

 

What we see is that it loosely follows a 1:1 relationship: as you increase a story’s rank on mobile you increase at about the same rate it’s rank on desktop. Which makes sense — you’d generally expect that in most cases a highly engaging mobile story will also be engaging for desktop readers.

 

However, it’s also pretty clear that more stories sit above that trend line than below it, showing that there were more stories whose mobile versions have a better rank than their desktop counterparts.

 

Due to the differences in technology there are generally fewer deflating sessions that contribute to average engaged time on mobile it’s not surprising to see higher average engaged times for mobile. Nonetheless, when you compare the desktop and mobile average engagement ranks, there’s still a clear correlation.

 

But we wanted to go deeper. What might be happening in between these ranks is where we can learn how substantial that variation really is.

 

Phase Two: Looking Closer

By looking at how strong the variation in user engagement is between a story’s desktop and mobile versions, we can look closely at each story to see if we can identify a pattern in stories with large engagement variations.

To explore this I looked at the distribution of the differences between average mobile and desktop engaged time for each story:

mobile_desktop_histogram

I found that of the top 139 stories, mobile readers spent an average of 6 more seconds engaging with a story than desktop visitors — further evidence of higher average engaged times for mobile.

 

In fact, 15 stories (10% of the total) had mobile average engaged times that were at least 25 seconds greater than desktop readers. Digging deeper, I found that each of these stories has a highly promoted video at the top of the page.

 

Remember, Chartbeat Publishing engaged time only tracks engagement with the page and not the video player. We know that the higher engaged times aren’t coming from by users watching the videos — it appears that on the Poughkeepsie Journal, mobile readers really are just spending more time engaging with the longer-form content following video. This could be because users are conscious of running up a huge data bill, or because they’d preferred to digest the narrative quickly and quietly.

 

Either way, there’s a clear a trend here: the five pieces with large discrepancies between mobile and desktop have captivating video, whereas the bottom five stories with negative deltas don’t.

 

What does this mean for the Journal? I think it means trust their gut. It’s a great reminder that producing multimedia content shouldn’t come at the expense of written content — mobile readers will thank you for including both (and probably watch that video when they get home)!

According to the Pew Research Center, 30 of the top 50 digital news sites get more traffic to their sites and associated applications from mobile devices than from desktop. But we don’t need to tell you how important mobile is.

We’ll just tell you why mobile teams across 65 countries love Chartbeat Publishing and how they integrate our tools into their device-specific workflow:

 

Track the Performance of Your Content Among Mobile Audiences

Within the Editorial Dashboard, you can filter by device to see which articles are resonating among mobile readers, how much engagement mobile stories are accruing, and the paths by which mobile readers are arriving to your site, app, or distributed content. All in real time. Second-by-second, pixel-by-pixel. Fully understanding the way mobile readers interact with your content translates to optimized design, returning audiences, and revenue.

 

Make Mobile Editorial Adaptations in Real-Time

The Chartbeat Heads Up Display, a screen overlay that displays real-time visitor data on top of home, section, or article pages, enables teams to take specific and immediate actions to grow a mobile audience. For instance, if you’re seeing low engagement among your mobile visitors on a particular article, use the Heads Up Display to see how far down the page mobile readers are scrolling, so you can spot where engagement is coming to a halt. Break up the text with sub-headers or move around page elements in order to try and increase engagement.

 

Turn Mobile-Minded Philosophy into Social-Minded Action

Across the Chartbeat Network, social traffic is largely made up of mobile users; we found that Facebook’s share of overall mobile referrals is nearly 4x larger than its share on desktop, while Twitter’s share is 3.6x larger on mobile than on desktop. That means if you want to grow your mobile audience, you’ve got to target your top referral sources for optimal promotion strategy. Use Chartbeat Report Builder, our flexible historical reporting tool, to pull a list of the most engaging articles on mobile from the previous day, and make sure your social media manager continues to push audiences towards that content.

 

Want to see how other team members can put Chartbeat tools to work? Check out the stories for content creators, producerssection editors, and homepage editors

For more information on how Chartbeat Publishing helps Mobile Editors speak to every audience, reach out to productoutreach@chartbeat.com.

You’re in the zone — maybe it was the bold choice to start the day with that extra-large cold brew — but your ears perk up when you hear someone mention that your site is about to set a monthly high in concurrents. Instead of breaking stride to log into a bunch of dashboards, all you have to do is glance up at the big screen monitor in your newsroom that’s showing the Chartbeat Big Board to see what’s going on.

 

Big Board Chartbeat

 

Big Board, a leaderboard-style visualization of your site’s most important stats,  answers the critical questions about your site’s performance: “What are the most engaging articles on my site right now?”, “What traffic sources are driving the most visitors to our site?”, and “Are that many people really reading about Trump’s hair?”. Have one Big Board front and center for your entire site and set up more customized Big Boards around the newsroom for each specialized team so everyone has the data they need within arms reach.

To access the Chartbeat Big Board, visit chartbeat.com/labs where you’ll see the Big Board front and center. Scroll over the “Try It Out” button to see a dropdown list of your available domains. Note: you’ll need to be logged into your Chartbeat account to access the Big Board for your site.

Data on the Go

 

On your way out of the office to grab lunch, a quick glance at the Big Board reveals that the article that was doing so well this morning has fallen off your top pages list. Luckily, you don’t have to miss a beat. You pull out your phone while waiting in line for lunch and open up your Chartbeat app to find out why that article is losing steam.

You see that the article is getting an unusually low amount of internal traffic, so you check in with a layout editor about adding the article to your site’s recommended stories section to ensure the engaging article can be easily found by your readers.

Richer traffic sources@2x

Chartbeat’s recently updated iOS app gives you real-time data on your audience when you’re on the go — such as Concurrents, Engaged Time, and Top Pages — and also has plenty of functionality to dive deeper by tapping into a story to find a breakdown of top referrers, visitor frequency, and device type for a given article.

If you haven’t already, you can download Chartbeat’s new iOS app here.

React in Real Time

 

Just as you grab a seat for a meeting that is sure to induce a post-lunch food coma, your phone buzzes with a Spike Alert. Spike Alerts notify you via Email, Text Message, iPhone Push Notifications, or Slack (more on that in a bit) when an article is generating a lot of traffic quickly and identifies the referrer that is primarily driving that traffic surge.

The alert tells you that a recently published piece is generating most of its new traffic from a news aggregator. Not everyone on your team is as punctual to meetings as you are so you pull up that story in your app and you to see that the article isn’t performing as well on social media as you might expect. You quickly open up Slack to make sure your social media editor is working on pushing out the story across all channels.

Any user on your Chartbeat account can set up their own Spike Alerts in their settings page.

Slack isn’t just for nagging your coworkers to make sure they’re not, well, slacking, but Chartbeat’s Slack integration is another super easy way to get your most important Chartbeat data where you already spend a lot of your time. You can use the /chartbeat slash commands to get real-time Chartbeat data for your site’s Top Pages, Concurrents, and Average Engaged Time and even add filters such as referrer, author, or page path.

If you want to know how many people on your site right now came from Facebook, just ask your integrated Slack channel: /chartbeat how much traffic on mysite.com was referred by facebook.com.

You can visit our support site for details on how to set up your Slack integrations and more info on the type of data you can access.

Here at Chartbeat we’re all about data-backed learning and decision-making – and our goal is to help you seamlessly integrate data into the workflows of everyone in your newsroom. So no matter where you are or what you’re doing, our entire suite of products makes it easier for you to stay up to date with your analytics.

Want to learn more about keeping Chartbeat data at your fingertips? Reach out to us at productoutreach@chartbeat.com.

Homepage Editors, meet the Chartbeat Heads Up Display. It’s a screen overlay that displays real-time visitor data on top of home, section, or article pages. Through colorful, numbered pins, the Heads Up Display measures how much click activity each link is receiving, how it’s performing in comparison to the average link performance for that location, and what percentage of clicking visitors go on to read for at least 15 seconds.

A Homepage Editor’s primary objective is optimizing the placement of articles on the homepage. We don’t need to tell you that.


But we can help you answer some critical questions with cold, hard data:

 

Is a headline in-step with its content?

From directly within the Chartbeat Heads Up Display, homepage editors can access Engaged Headline Testing. This multivariate testing tool identifies headlines that are not only getting clicked on, but also those that are leading to subsequent engagement. When you measure both of these elements, the winning headline and content mesh seamlessly.

 

How does link performance differ on desktop, mobile, and tablet homepages?

The Heads Up Display is not only fully responsive but also filters by device type. By resizing browser windows, editors can see how audiences travel through their site or section on any device. With a quick trip to the Editorial Dashboard, you’ll see how those behaviors are translating into traffic and engagement numbers.

 

Would a different graphic improve link performance?

You need a great headline. That’s for sure. But a crisp image, graphic, or illustration is just as important. See how a particular image impacts link performance and what homepage placements do best with images.

 

How does time of day affect homepage placement?

Chartbeat Report Builder, our flexible historical reporting tool, allows you to look at over-time trends on your homepage. By using Report Builder to graph a visual representation of homepage average scroll depth changes during the day and to decide when to push content, or to add a loyalty filter to see if new readers scroll differently than loyal ones, you can gain actionable insights into how your audience interacts with your homepage.

 

Want to see how other team members can put Chartbeat tools to work? Check out the stories for content creators, producers, and section editors

For more information on how Chartbeat Publishing arms Homepage Editors with real-time data, reach out to productoutreach@chartbeat.com.