For web operators, knowing how an audience interacts with their content is the gold dust sound business decisions are built on. Getting this information is an industry in itself, with one American company, Chartbeat, being a leader in their field globally. Media Update recently chatted to Chartbeat's Lauryn Bennett.
How would Chartbeat describe what it does?
Chartbeat arms content creators with data tools that help them pique and keep their audience's attention. We track the second-by-second, pixel-by-pixel user engagement on every page of a client's website to understand how readers consume the content and ads on that page. We work with 80% of the top news sites on the web and 50 000 domains across 60+ countries to give these publishers real-time insights and over-time strategic analysis of their content and their audience.
When did the company start, who started it, and briefly, how has the company grown? What does it believe has been the reason for its success?
Chartbeat was founded in 2009 by Billy Chasen (founder of stickybits and turntable.fm) and launched within Betaworks, led by our now CEO Tony Haile. At that time, Chartbeat was a couple of guys around a desk and now, six years later, we're a company of over 100 with more than $30-million in funding, in our own Union Square office, no longer sharing a desk.
We've grown at this incredible rate and have had the opportunity to work with incredible clients like the New York Times, TIME, Al Jazeera and hundreds of top publishers because we've never strayed from our ultimate mission of creating a web that rewards high-quality content. We've built products that drive engagement and the best possible reader experience, not clickbait and quick traffic-chasing tricks. We believe this approach builds a sustainable web, a sustainable media industry, and a sustainable Chartbeat business.
Being a US-based company, how much of Chartbeat’s clientele is based beyond the continental United States and where is Chartbeat’s fastest growing markets?
We have clients in more than 60 countries across every continent (as our CEO is a former polar expeditioner, I feel we're allowed to count Antarctica in the mix). We're seeing huge growth everywhere, to be honest. There's no shortage of content being created across the globe and no shortage of people consuming that content, particularly on their phone.
We're seeing growth less in a specific region and more within specific publishers who are building engaging content for the mobile web. We recently became the founding analytics partner for Google's Accelerated Mobile Page project, which provides an open, lightning fast mobile web for all content creators to build upon. We see publishers across the globe joining AMP and feel collaborative, open projects like this will accelerate and open up new markets.
Are there aspects of web behaviour which Chartbeat sees that is unquantifiable and non-qualitative?
Chartbeat measures attention and engagement across the web. We do that by tracking mouse movements, keystrokes, browser activity, scrolls, etc. But those are proxies for interest, they're not fool-proof. We believe this is a first step for us as an industry to move past treating the "click" or the "pageview" as the ultimate and only metric for success. We don't believe we have every aspect of user engagement tracked.
We are constantly improving our methodology as the reader and the industry changes, and we'll constantly and continuously adapt how we understand and quantify user engagement.
Looking at Africa, what must a web operator take heed of if they aim to keep up with developing nature of web traffic on the continent?
The most important thing that we see the most successful publishers doing is shifting their thinking from measuring traffic to understanding audience. Thinking about these readers as people and how they consume content vs. anyone who clicks a link fundamentally shifts how you create content.
It changes the mentality from one of chasing any traffic you can get in the door today to one of bringing readers back again and again, getting people to know your brand and building value in their experiences on your site, value that you can offer to advertisers who want to get their own messages in front of your loyal audience.