Posts Tagged ‘Engaged Time’

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“It’s been the feeling that following metrics too closely is corruptive to good quality journalism,” Haile said. “I think if you’re following the wrong metrics that’s true.”

Salon has a big story today about Chartbeat and our CEO Tony Haile. Writer Alex Halperin discusses online journalism in the era of listicles, click-based metrics, and frequent debate regarding what topics merit coverage, and how Chartbeat may continue to shake things up in the industry – for the better, we think(!). The article features real talk with Tony about measuring content quality and value through audience engagement, click-bait journalism, and where he thinks online publishing is heading.

Here’s the whole article and enjoy the excerpt below. If you have questions or comments, tweet at Tony – he’d love to hear from you.

But as Haile presents it, Chartbeat wants to change the data editors and, more importantly, advertisers care about. He thinks this could improve journalism’s quality by reducing the incentive to write click-bait headlines, produce unnecessary slideshows, pointlessly paginate articles and indulge in other chicanery to inflate page views.

Raising page views for its own sake, “Doesn’t help the audience,” Haile said. “The advertiser doesn’t get anything more from it. It’s just a way of gaming the numbers.”

“If [a headline reads] ‘Prince William caught in love triangle,’ it doesn’t matter what the story says,” Haile said. “I’ve got that click, I’ve got that page view. So it lends itself to lower quality.” But in a media climate where every post is judged on its own terms — whether it’s a war zone dispatch or a curated list of tweets about “Mad Men” – how can quality be measured?

Haile thinks the crucial metric should be time, how long a page captures readers’ attention. He believes that articles that engage readers, and are therefore more likely to create a loyal audience, should be worth more to advertisers. That might sound simple, but almost two decades into the era of online media, the industry hasn’t been able to make that happen.

– From “This man decides what you read”, Salon


Update: Check out what makes Chartbeat Publishing Different these days

First things first: Let’s talk about roots.

Similar to the blazers+jeans career look, Chartbeat Publishing was born and bred in the newsroom. (Tweet this) While several peers offer great options to cover a wide range of clients, these tools are often developed to be one-size-fits-all analytics solutions. In our case, we’ve collaborated with our editorial partners to offer products and features designed to surface data specific to the online publishing workflow.

Beyond-the-basics data

Like any service, Chartbeat does give you standard, bread-and-butter insights on traffic sources and top pages. But it’s our additional data, researched and curated by our data science team, that’s specifically relevant to digital publishers. We integrate this data into many products and features so that you have what you need at your fingertips 24/7, such as social data on trending content or customized data science power tools like Spike Alerts that identify your potential viral content.

We’re always iterating on tools that integrate into the various roles within your team, like the Chartbeat app, the Heads Up Display and all the useful stuff you can access on the Chartbeat Labs site. However you work and no matter what your responsibilities are, there’s data-driven feature or tool that can help you out.

Real-time measuring that matters

We’ve always shirked popular conventions around click or view-based metrics. Instead, we focus on measuring the data that truly gives you a sense of your live, real-time audience. Chartbeat, like an obsessive host, is constantly checking in – pinging your site every fifteen seconds to be exact – taking attendance and tracking how long, on average, your users tend to stick around. This means our metrics typically aren’t going to match what your other analytics are saying. To see specifically how our numbers vary from Google Analytics figures, go to this infographic.


Measuring your audience’s interest, not their clicks

From what we understand, working in online publishing is sort of like running as fast as you can whilst juggling, i.e., tons to do in a very short time frame. Thus you need the most accurate stats on real-time traffic moment to moment, quantitatively and qualitatively. It’s not enough to show you how many folks are visiting a page –  those stats need life and context. (Tweet this) Enter, Engaged Time. We measure engaged visitor activity by tracking scrolling, mouse movements or keystrokes –  so you know how many people are actively consuming your content and for how long.

Because a reader’s Engaged Time correlates with his or her likelihood to return to your site, you need engagement insights no matter what you’re working on. Thus, we’ve integrated our signature metric Engaged Time into many of our features and products.

Get the whole story

Overall, we see value in using Chartbeat as a complementary product with other analytics services. You should always to take a 360-degree view of your site. A bunch of publishers – big and small – find our metrics and tools pretty damn useful for informing a significant part of that 360-degree view when it comes to taking action and making decisions.

No need to memorize – here’s a cheat sheet

Cheat Sheet

Our guest blogger today is Michael Lovitt, VP of Engineering at Vox Media.

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.

Pre-hack planning

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.

Closing thoughts

We had a blast hacking with Chartbeat. It’s fun to make things with smart people, especially when they’re focused on the same problems as you are. Beyond ad measurement problem-solving, we enjoyed getting to know the team and talking shop: approaches to team organization, benefits and trade-offs of remote versus centralized workers, respective merits of modern JavaScript frameworks, and on and on.

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.

We’ve had a busy summer here at Chartbeat, with Chartteam members building and iterating on many products and related features. A big focus during this most recent six-week development cycle was expanding the impact of the Heads Up Display, a browser overlay that projects your data right over the homepage.

Today I’m excited to introduce two new additions to the Heads Up Display – an engagement view and video stats – two features that will help you make smarter and stronger decisions about your homepage.


Engaged Time

We’ve been talking about Engaged Time as one of our key indicator metrics for growing audience loyalty for a long time. Engaged Time has been in your Heads Up Display Details Window for a while, but today’s update lets you easily switch your entire view to see what homepage links have the highest Engaged Time right now.

What does this mean? With the option to view your whole homepage through the lens of Engaged Time, you can now make faster decisions based on your reader engagement.

Click the clock symbol on the dock and teal pins will highlight your most-engaging links in rank order. By surfacing the content that your readers are spending the most time with, you can promote these links to strategic positions on your homepage. Many of these links can be considered your high-potential stories – links that might be a position change away from a traffic spike.

Shout out to smaller sites that get fewer clicks: The Engaged Time view is great for managing your homepage content, as you can still identify your high-performing links despite a potentially lower traffic volume.


Video Data

We’ve also incorporated video data into the Heads Up Display so you can now see how your videos are interacting with the rest of your homepage content.

If you’ve implemented Chartbeat data in your video player, you can access your video data right on your homepage. When you click on the video icon in your Heads Up Display dock, you can see what pages have the most visitors watching videos in real time.

Right below the top pages where visitors are playing video, we’re showing you which high-performing pages pages don’t currently have video on them. Since Chartbeat has data about your site’s written content, we’re able to recommend strategic pages that might benefit from video content.

This is full-context video performance data within the Heads Up Display – you’re getting new insights to make faster, informed decisions about your homepage content overall.

By having your video data right in the Heads Up Display, you know exactly where your most popular videos are so you can make sure you’re giving those top videos enough promotional love on your homepage.

You can also determine if videos are perhaps hurting your homepage– are they driving traffic or inciting abandonment? And, are there any top-performing links where you could add a video to take your page to the next level? It’s total visibility into how your videos affect your audience’s overall homepage content experience – so you know how to best leverage the videos on your site.

Test this stuff out

I hope you’re as excited as I am about these changes to the Heads Up Display. We absolutely need your feedback about these updates. Love them? Hate them? Want more? Share your thoughts in the Comments or send us an email – we’re looking forward to your opinions.

You might’ve come across our graphic on Engaged Time below the fold at some point in the last few months in AdAgeBuzzfeed, or on the blog. That figure’s message is simple: even if not every reader scrolls down the page, the vast majority of readers’ collective time is spent below the fold (the typical height of a browser window, about 700 pixels), which has traditionally been an undervalued part of most sites.

I wanted to take a closer look at what goes into generating this effect, so I gathered a random sample of 25 million user sessions from across a wide sample of sites and content types and took a look at where these users spent their time reading.

(Important disclaimer: some of our customers don’t allow us to anonymously aggregate their data; as always, the data presented is drawn from those who do).

Scroll depth

Let’s start with the basics — the breakdown of where readers scroll on a typical site. Below you’ll see data showing the fraction of users who actually viewed each part of the page. For instance, we see that just under 70% of visitors saw the very top of the page they were viewing.

Scroll depth

There are a few notable trends:

  1. Many visitors scroll down the page before it finishes loading, which means that no portion of a typical article is viewed by 100% of viewers and the very top of the top of the page actually has about a 20% lower view rate than slightly farther down.

  2. The most viewed area of the page is just above the fold, at about 550 pixels, with just over 80% viewership.

  3. From this peak at 550 pixels, there is a slow decay in viewership. About 50% of readers see 1500 pixels down the page on content pages, while on home pages and section fronts 50% of readers make it to pixel 1000.

Scroll engagement

On the other hand, because much of an article’s actual content is downpage, those readers who do scroll down spend much more time down the page than they do at the top. We see this represented in the next figure, where we show the amount of time each area of the page was actively viewed by those who actually scrolled to view it at all.

Engagement across the page

Pixels at the top of the page are in view for the shortest amount of time — about 4 seconds — and the amount of time in view steadily rises as we move downpage to a peak between about 1200 pixels down. This portion of the page is viewed for nearly three times as long as the top of the page.

Expected time in view

To look at the tradeoff between these two metrics — viewership and time — let’s take a look at the joint distribution of the two. The graphs below show the expected amount of time that a visitor will view each part of the page for — the product of the percentage of people who view part of a page with the time that viewers spend there.

Expected engaged time

So, which portions of the page have the potential for the highest impact on your audience? That depends on your goals, of course. Two goals we hear frequently are maximizing reach and maximizing exposure time. If the former, it appears that placing it just above the fold is the best possible bet. On the other hand, if you want to maximize the amount of time that viewers spend with it in view — a good goal for brand advertisements and site modules that take time to consume — a placement around 1200px may be better. And, if you want to maximize the tradeoff between the two, positions slightly below the fold between 600 and 1000 pixels typically have both high viewership and high engagement.

Of course, it should go without saying that all of this data is presented in aggregate, and the scroll patterns of your site’s audience may be quite different.