Archive for the ‘The Chartcorps’ Category

Online publishers know too well how the unpredictable media landscape challenges their growth; shortened attention spans in a fickle and content-saturated environment make it hard for your content to catch on. Getting someone’s attention is difficult — what do you do once you have it?

Creating quality content isn’t the only goal. Page layout is critical for capturing a user and keeping them moving through your site. It’s integral to open doors to your content for them to walk through. Readers on your page are hungry; they may come for one thing but are usually interested in more. If they move onto additional content the time they’re spending with you is multiplying and the longer they engage with you the more they associate with you as a go-to source.

This is where Recirculation comes in: it measures how much of your audience went from one piece of content on your site to another. It indicates the quality of your strategy for keeping readers moving through your site and ensures that none of your content is a dead end to their journey.


Recirculation in Action

The Heads Up Display tool is a great way to assess how well your article page layout promotes user Recirculation.Your site-wide recirculation turns red, you’re underperforming your expectations. We know that means one of your top articles is a traffic leaking machine, a dead-end on your site where visitors aren’t continuing on, a missed opportunity to better capture your audience. Select the top few pages to find the hole and inform your next steps. With the scroll depth indicator you can easily see how far down the page most users are actually reading and maximize the space above the drop-off point. Every audience is different so you should develop a link strategy that works for you. To get started, check out these insights our data science team gathered from a study of almost 300 publishers:

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  • The majority of clicks happen just above the fold at page depths of 400 to 600 pixels, where most main content links typically live (as seen in the graph above)
  • Larger links (including linked headlines) correlate with higher click-through rates
  • Sites with links placed more closely together perform about 2.5x better than sites with more pixels between links

All in all, these statistics indicate that a few large links interspersed with many smaller, closely spaced links will result in the best recirculation.


Put it to Work

You can also track your audience’s journey by selecting an article in the Dashboard and checking the recirculation section beneath the graph. Take this example:

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The first page listed shows us that 14 were reading “British Scientists Discuss the European Union” and recirculated directly to “Google Searches Suggest Many in UK Don’t Understand Brexit” and are still there right now.

To track the success of these strategies historically, look at the internal navigation path filter in Report Builder to build a list of additional articles your audience moved to from a given story. Try adding metrics such as average and total engaged time to get an idea of what was most interesting to these users.

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Is there a topic or a time-of-day connection? Use these patterns to inform and adapt your link strategy and use Chartbeat tools to monitor your strategy’s success.

We highlight Recirculation because it provides insight into the quality of your users’ experience with your site beyond the first article they read. The idea is to get people moving throughout your content instead of bailing to their Facebook feeds or to Google and leaving you to fight the SEO battle. We know it’s hard to get a user onto your site; optimizing Recirculation ensures you are doing your best at keeping them there.

Want to dig deeper into Recirculation? Reach out to my team at

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:




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 or read up on some related content about the tools in your toolbox here.


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.



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:


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)!

Social platforms are playing an increasingly important role in how visitors access your content and discover your brand—currently about 22% of the attributable external traffic we measure comes from social sources. Is your social strategy up to the challenge? Armed with Chartbeat’s tools you can easily take advantage of your social presence with real-time tips and historical insights.


Real-Time Toolbox


The Big Board

Unite the entire newsroom around common metrics by displaying your real-time social data on the big screen.

The Chartbeat Big Board is perfect for those large screen displays in your newsroom. Configure the Big Board to show only social traffic, and see at a glance when something important is happening with your content—then jump to your Dashboard to take action.

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Once you’ve moved to your Dashboard, first pivot on the ‘social’ traffic source. And if you want to make sure you’re always coming back to that view, you can even bookmark it in your browser for easy access!

Now that you’re looking at just your social data, you can really start defining your social strategy:

  1. Determine the best times of the day to push your content to your social audience.
    Look at the 7-day view in the ‘Concurrents by Traffic Source’ graph to determine what times of day your site attracts the most readers from social.Don’t just look at the largest spikes and valleys — are there consistently smaller traffic influxes in the late afternoon or evening? Are you capitalizing on these times by pushing your best content to your social channels?

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  2. Understand your mobile audience’s experience.
    Social traffic is dramatically more mobile-based than all other traffic: according to Chartbeat data, Facebook’s share of overall mobile referrals is 4x larger than its share on desktop, and Twitter’s share is 3.6x larger on mobile than on desktop.Use the device section to double pivot on mobile and see which articles are seeing the most engagement on smartphones—what does that mobile experience look like for those readers? Can they easily find additional content? Already using Facebook’s new Instant Article technology to further serve your content to a mobile, social audience? We can help with that. Once you’ve set up Chartbeat’s FBIA integration you can easily see how many readers of a story are engaging with your Instant Article content. Screen Shot 2016-05-20 at 10.43.30 AM

    Looking to get integrated? We’ve got you covered.


  3. Know which content to promote on which social channel.
    Facebook and Twitter are two of the most established and wide-reaching social channels to reach new readers, but how can you be strategic about which content to promote with which referrer?While Facebook and Twitter might lead to similar reader engagements, what’s important is their key loyalty indicator: recirculation for Facebook and engagement exceeding one minute for Twitter. So what do you do?

    • Sort the Top Pages section by recirculation and find your top three articles that are doing the best job at encouraging readers to dive deeper into your content. Push them on Facebook during your peak times of day for your best shot at audience conversion.
    • Toggle the Top Pages by Engaged Time and to find the content that’s holding the most attention—any of them racking up over a minute of Engaged Time? Now promote those stories on Twitter during your peak hours and really capture the attention of those readers.

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Historical Insights


Report Builder

Go back in time and find existing content that brought in engaged social traffic.

Set up a report to hit your inbox every month to surface your top 10 articles that got the most attention from social sources—regardless of when they were published.

Now you can build a running list of go-to list of evergreen articles that you should continue to work in to your promotion on a regular basis. And by comparing these reports month over month, you can identify star performers that consistently bring in more social traffic than the rest. These top performing articles should become highlighted fixtures in your social promotion strategy.  

To get started with this report, select the following parameters in the Report Builder interface, and check out the screenshot below for extra detail:

Add metrics: Total engaged time (add this metric first to pull your top articles by total engaged seconds), Average engaged time, Unique cookies, Page views, Loyal visitor page views, Quality page views

Add groups: Title, Author

Add filters: Page type (select ‘Article’ from the drop-down), Referrer Type (select ‘social’ from the drop-down)

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If you’re a little rusty, check out our support site for more information on these metrics.

Want even more insights on setting your social strategy? Check out our Social Media Insider Guide here.


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