Chartbeat Growing Like a Magic Beanstalk: Popular Solution Among Top 500 Websites, Says Study

We’re a science-y bunch at Chartbeat. So our hearts were aflutter when we were mentioned in a study. Last week, Switched On Media published the results of a study that looked under the hoods of the web’s 500 most important sites (as determined by “The Moz Top 500”) plus 50 handpicked industry sites. Wanting to know which web analytics platforms were the most popular, the digital marketing agency simply examined the sites’ publicly visible source codes. (FYI – for us to begin collecting data, our Chartbeat Publishing clients just drop a couple lines of JavaScript into their source code – most analytics services have similar practices.)

The study’s results were pretty interesting: Of the top 500 sites, 66% were using Google Analytics, 18% were using Adobe’s Omniture, 10% were using Chartbeat, and 3% were using Webtrends. To be counted among the top three analytics solutions—especially alongside the heavyweight giants Google and Adobe—is really freaking amazing since we’ve only been in the game for a few years.

It’s important to point out, however, that Chartbeat is crazy different from Google Analytics and Omniture; what we’re measuring and how we’re measuring is very different. (More on this topic in a previous blog post, written by our CEO Tony Haile.) Loads of sites use us and one of those guys.


Source: Switched On Media

There are about as many ways to go about measuring online activity as there are licks to the center of a Tootsie Pop; every company has its own opinion on the matter. Methodologies range from event tracking, the nucleus of Google Analytics, to heat mapping, the hallmark of visualization startup Crazy Egg.

Those of you who know us, know we’re doing something different: measuring what’s happening in between clicks. We put our finger on how people are actually engaging with content once they’re on that page — if they’re actively reading, commenting, or maybe just happen to have the tab open while they’re out grabbing coffee.

“Engagement” is actually an interesting term—it’s getting tossed around quite a bit these days, and there are lots of folks sticking different definitions to it. The study from Switched On Media does mention “engagement,” but the digital agency talks about it in the context of conversion-rate optimization.

We see that world differently.

To us, engagement means capturing and holding an audience’s attention, which takes high-quality content — content those specific people really care about and actually want to consume. When publishers do that, they build a loyal audience that returns to their site over and over again. (Josh Schwartz, one of our data scientists, recently hosted a webinar on how to build returning audiences.)

That’s a huge shift in how folks are thinking about this stuff. The industry gets that. It’s not enough anymore for The Wall Street Journal, for example, to look at only how many people are clicking on an article—the publisher also needs and wants to know if anyone is actually consuming that content.

Take a gander at the study’s second chart, which ranks analytics platforms among industry sites such as Mashable, TechCrunch, and The Verge: in first place, Google Analytics with 92%; in second place, Chartbeat with 12%. These are the publishers who spill tons of digital ink covering the cutting edge of technology. They’re focused on the future, and we think, serve as another leading indicator on the big shifts in thinking that are happening right now.

Chart 2

Source: Switched On Media

It’s not just newsrooms going through philosophical transformations—we’re seeing the same thing with advertisers, too. Impressions, the traditional metric of ad success, are no longer enough. Brands want to know if their ads are actually being seen. So a few weeks ago we launched Chartbeat Publishing for Ad Sales, which tracks what we’ve heard advertisers have wanted all along: time people engage while an ad’s in view. On television, you’d pay more for a 30-second spot than a 15-second spot, so why shouldn’t the same pricing concept apply online?

We’re pumped about the progress we’ve made over the past few years, and can’t thank you enough for getting us here. We’re going to keep preaching the good word about Engaged Time because it’s not a metric that’s built for us to win or brands to win or publishers to win — it’s a metric that tells us simply what people want to spend time with, and that’s what editors want to give their readers and that’s who brands want to get in front of.

We’re always looking to talk about this stuff with smart people. Get in touch with us.

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