June 6th, 2014 by Juliana
April 10th, 2014 by Alex Carusillo
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:
Clients wanted to see our data in conjunction with their ad server data.
They wanted to understand where their impressions fell in time ranges.
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.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.
March 13th, 2014 by Juliana
Curious to know what one of the boldest minds in online advertising is thinking about these days? Check out what Jon Slade, Commercial Director for Global Digital Advertising and Insight for the Financial Times, shares in a recent piece by ClickZ, “The Financial Times’ Perspective on Ad Viewability.”In this pithy piece, Slade talks about industry concerns surrounding viewability as it embarks on its path to standardization and the “critical issue” of accurately measuring impressions.We were excited to get a shout-out from Slade, who mentioned the work Chartbeat and the Financial Times have been doing together regarding the application of audience attention metrics to new and premium types of display advertising formats. Slade states:
“In addition to optimizing our site to ensure maximum viewability for our clients, we’re also working with Chartbeat to measure not just whether an ad is seen or not, but for how long. We believe that the amount of time the target audience is exposed to the advertiser’s message has a direct effect on its impact. We can tell our clients how long each impression has been viewed, and the total duration of exposure across the campaign.
In essence, there’s no reason why publishers’ can’t start to trade ‘exposed time’ as a currency, not just impressions. This is a metric that we feel is closer to the actual outcome an advertiser is seeking – impressions themselves are just a convenient mechanism to trade.”
We don’t think we could have said it any better ourselves. In response to this piece, Chartbeat ads product guy Alex Carusillo notes, “Viewability is really important and should happen no matter what. But we think what comes next is the most exciting part. When you look at Active Exposure Time, that black box of viewability opens up and you can see the difference between good and bad impressions. We’re lucky to be partnering with Jon and the FT to turn audience attention into something publishers can build businesses on.”
Check out this visualization below to get a sense of how Chartbeat metrics can measure impression quality:
Do you have questions about this stuff? Or maybe something to say? Let us know in the comments below.
September 18th, 2013 by Michael
Last month, Vox engineers spent three days at Chartbeat’s NY office hacking on digital ad measurement. I want to share Vox’s take on the current state of online advertising and tell you how and why we’re working with Chartbeat to make things better.
The current state of online advertising
The state of digital advertising — and brand advertising, in particular — is suboptimal. In short, as an industry, we’re showing ads that readers don’t want to see and measuring using techniques that don’t tell us enough about whether ads are successful.
The good news, from our perspective at Vox Media, is that digital advertising has enormous room for improvement. We believe that by designing beautiful ads that delight instead of annoy, elegantly integrating these beautifully-designed ads alongside premium brands and content and for a premium audience, and employing measurement techniques that reveal a complete picture about who viewed an ad and to what degree readers engaged with and were influenced by it, that we can provide an advertising experience that does a better job of pleasing everyone involved: publishers, advertisers, and readers alike.
We’re making progress on all of the above, but solving these problems isn’t easy. It helps to have great partners.
Solving problems with Chartbeat
On measurement in particular, we were excited to work directly with Chartbeat because, like us, they’re convinced that the current state of digital ad measurement is not good enough and are actively working to make it better. Of course, Chartbeat is in the business of knowing how users engage with websites, and they’ve started to put that expertise to work tracking ads. (We had nodded our heads all the way through reading their recent blog post on the superiority of Engaged Time over impressions and clicks and awesome study showing a strong correlation between Engaged Time and brand recall.)
We’re also passionate (OK, addicted) users of Chartbeat’s products. Screenshots of important Vox milestones as visualized by Chartbeat litter our Campfire transcripts. These people do awesome work and it’s fun to hack with folks whose work you admire.
For all of these reasons, when Chartbeat invited us to attend one of their Hack Weeks, we immediately said yes.
The Hack Week invitation was made at an opportune time, as Vox had just released an early alpha version of a new ad product metrics dashboard. The system was still in its early stages, but it was functioning in at least a basic way at every layer, and it served as a foundation for us to hack on.
We arrived at Chartbeat with a mock of a few changes to the dashboard — we knew we wanted to start reporting, for every ad, both the Average and Total Engaged Time. As Chartbeat has shown, Engaged Time correlates well with brand recall, so being able to provide this level of insight to our advertisers and to ourselves would be one important step forward in moving beyond standard clicks and impressions
So we came with one concrete thing that we wanted to accomplish (having validated the idea with Chartbeat beforehand to make sure what we had in mind wasn’t crazy); beyond that, we were ready to play it by ear.
Hack, hack, hack
Here’s a quick rundown of what happened during our three days at Chartbeat:
Trei, Niv, Pablo, Aaron, and I arrived late Wednesday morning and kicked off with a short presentation to the Chartbeat team about Vox, and then settled into Chartbeat’s Stark Tower conference room and got to work.
We sat down with some of the Chartbeat team — Harry, Matt, Wes, Shaun, and Alex — and reviewed the dashboard mock. It turned out that Chartbeat’s existing ad product would be sufficient to record all the data we needed, but that a new API would need to be built to return that data back to us. Vox engineers got to work adding Chartbeat tracking to Vox ads, and Chartbeat engineers started building out the new API.
By the end of the first day, we had a Chartbeat-instrumented Vox ad running in production and a new Chartbeat API running on a laptop and returning data from Chartbeat’s production data store. From there, we could run our metrics dashboard in our dev environment and start to see real data flow in. Hurray!
On the second day, we solidified what we had built the day before. We wrote the front-end code to beautifully display metrics on the dashboard and got the Chartbeat API running on a server on the web so that we could push our metrics dashboard changes live.
Since we were making good progress on our primary goal, we also took some time to hack on Chorus, Vox’s publishing platform. We used an existing production Chartbeat API to integrate real-time Chartbeat metrics into the Chorus layout editor — so that, for example, an editor on Polygon, when deciding what stories should be placed on the home page, can easily see the current visitor count on each currently-placed story.
The morning of the third and final day, we asked ourselves if we could get one more metric, Engaged Concurrents, integrated into the dashboard before the 1pm demo. It seemed feasible so we tried and got it done.
We showed off what we had all built to the Chartbeat team over pizza. After declaring total victory, the Vox crew said goodbye and stopped for celebratory drinks while we waited for our train back to DC.
Finally, we’ve been able to maintain post-hack momentum and have made great progress taking these projects to completion — an important final step in any hackathon, and especially a cross-company hackathon like this one. Chartbeat has already released the APIs they built during our visit into production and we’re working this week at Vox to update the API client code in our metrics dashboard.
Now that we have this ad engagement data, what’s next? To start, we’ll be using this data internally to better understand how well our ads are performing — by feeding it into our ad design process, measuring ad performance, and iterating. We’ll consider this data alongside other metrics that reveal how users are viewing and interacting with our ads. As we continue to take on the hard problem of optimally measuring digital ads, we look forward to having partners like Chartbeat at our side.PS- Check out Chartbeat CTO Wes Chow’s guest post for the Vox Product blog.
May 16th, 2013 by Juliana