(Re)introducing Replay

Real time is pretty great, right? It can be a complex tool that helps inform future action or it can be a simple, visceral thing that just feels totally awesome (and watching a page flood with traffic is totally awesome.)

Screen Shot 2013-01-08 at 1.57.26 PM

But the issue with real time is that you’re not always on in real time. I mean, really, at some point you’ve got to set aside the stats and go to sleep. And when something happens when you’re not around – from your site going crazy in the middle of the night to  a subtle shift in your traffic when you’re out to lunch – you might miss it entirely. But that stuff is just too important (or too fun) to not see outside the moment.

So we’ve built a way for you to re-watch your past week as if it’s live. Think of it as a a DVR for you site.

To check it out on your page head to the Content View and click the “Today/7 Day” toggle in the upper right. The graph on top will break free from its old 24-hour confines and show you everything that’s happened over the past week.

Now that you’ve got that look, go ahead and drag your cursor over the graph – yup, that’s your traffic at that exact moment and the traffic from the previous week, making it super easy to know if your in the middle of something unusual or its just a normal variation. “Context,” it’s totally the best, right?


But okay, ready? The cool stuff is about to really start.

Try this – instead of hovering on that graph, go ahead and click and drag your cursor 0ver a range you want to watch again. We’ll kick you into our “replay” mode and actually show you what your dashboard looked like at that moment in time. That way you can get the kids out of bed, hook up the big screen, and watch how your pages changed, who was sending them traffic, and what specific pages were doing what. Even better you can pause at any time to take a closer look and step through that old data slice-by-slice.


So that’s it! No more wondering exactly what happened while you were away. You can sleep the night away in peace, take an even longer lunch; you deserve it. All you’ve got to do is click a button and you can find out everything you missed.

5 Cyber Monday Tips from Chartbeat

You fought your way through pounds of turkey and faced the sales-crazed hordes of Black Friday but the most daunting part of the week’s just ahead for you ecommerce warriors: Cyber Monday.

Experts are predicting a record Cyber Monday this year, meaning ecommerce sites are about to get a whole lotta traffic starting in t-minus 15 hours. The hype is high (Mobile Thursday what the what?!), but since lot of our clients are going to be working a ton over the next 24 hours as their sites are inundated with shoppers, we thought we’d share some last-minute tips with you.

Chartbeat + Cyber Monday= Real-time retail

You’ve been planning and prepping, but as we know with the slippery social web, not everything can be predicted. The Chartnerds put their heads together and drafted up a Top Five Ways You Can Use Chartbeat’s Data on Cyber Monday List: A Tab-by-Tab Guide to Real-Time Success. Clearly, we’re still working on that title, so let’s go with:

How Chartbeat can help you kick butt on Cyber Monday

1. Get Up-Close-and-Personal with Your Top Pages: Sleuth out your most popular items using Chartbeat and make sure those those products are featured prominently on your homepage.

2. Get to the Source: Know how shoppers are getting to your site and if they’re new or returning. You may need to give them a little extra TLC if they’re hitting you from a search engine for the first time, for example. If you’re getting a ton of mobile traffic, make sure you have a team focused on giving it some extra manpower tomorrow. Things always go awry at the worst possible moment – make sure you’re ready.

3. Create the Buzz: See what all the chatter is focused on – which of your products are getting last-minute attention and do the work to make sure all those Twitter influencers know your shop is the place to score it. And, of course, triple check that it’s easy to find when they hit your site.

4. Don’t Make ‘Em Wait: You’ll need to keep an eye on your fast as a rocketship or slow as a snail user page load time. Shoppers aren’t inclined to wait more than a second or two for your the product to load on site so they can scoop it up. They’ll move onto another site in a flash.

5. Geo-target: Target your inventory to the right places. We have some pretty quick and cool geo data that gives you a snapshot of where your site visitors are coming from. Getting a lot West Coast visitors on your site? Alert your Bay Area warehouse to get ready for a ton of orders.

Best of luck tomorrow, dear ecommerce friends. We’ll be standing by if any of you guys need a little Chartcorps or Dev support. Just holler if you need us.

Your Best Story on Digg & LinkedIn Today

“We signed up for Chartbeat because it looked interesting, it might give us extra metrics to think about. What it actually did was become a vital business tool, bringing analytics to life, giving us a traffic pulse to watch, learn and react to in real time. Now, instead of reporting our traffic, Chartbeat is taking an active role in increasing it: sending out alerts to partner editorial sites whenever VICE has spiking content, getting our stories in front of editors as they’re trending, so they can feature them and build our momentum.”

– Jesse Knight, CTO, VICE Media Inc.

That’s a mighty nice spike you got there VICE (dashboard displaying only traffic from Digg)

Way to make the Chartteam blush, VICE. We’re getting love from VICE because last month Digg picked up one of Vice’s spiking stories through Chartbeat Publishing’s Content Spike Promotions.

What’s a Content Spike Promotion?
We partnered with Digg and LinkedIn Today to create a private Twitter feed that sends them links to our opt-ed in clients’ spiking stories – only the spiking story’s headlines and links to the story. Source–specific client data like traffic numbers or engagement stats remain private. The folks at Digg and LinkedIn select the top content they think is a fit for their readers and then publish these stories on the Digg homepage or on LinkedIn Today.

And that’s exactly what happened to VICE after they signed up for Content Spike Promotions. A VICE story that was already doing well, “Breaking into Porn on Purpose”-FYI possibly NSFW– experienced a meteoric rise in traffic when Digg republished the story. A well-earned traffic spike suddenly meant the story was exposed to a whole new group of readers on Digg.

In the future, when a client’s story gets picked up by LinkedIn or Digg, we’ll mark it as a Notable Event in their dashboard’s Event Stream. That way you publishers will immediately be able to determine how the Digg or LinkedIn referral affects your traffic – and you can work your magic to keep them around, turning them into loyal readers.

Beyond the initial spike
The whole point of Content Spike Promotions is to help Chartbeat Publishing clients grow their audience. When a story gets a bigger and newer audience through Content Spike Promotions, our real-time Dashboard and Heads Up Display helps clients with the next step – developing a strategy for keeping new visitors on their site and coming back for more great content.

Digg and LinkedIn get the best content from the best publishers, and the best publishers get the right audience hitting their top stories.

And us over here at Chartbeat? We’re loving that we can play the role of matchmaker.

Fox News Sees Its Highest Traffic Ever

Yup, we’re talking about election night. Still. Why? Because holy smokes did it absolutely destroy every record ever or what? Well, a lot of them anyway.

While we never ever ever share our client’s individual data – we are incredibly excited (sometimes more than the newsrooms themselves) when they have great nights. CNN, Politico, and Fox News all saw amazing traffic surges that night, and we couldn’t be happier of them. These guys are some of the best in the business and to see all that hard work and talent pay off in a matter of hours makes the whole Chartteam feel like proud mamas.

A couple of our favorite quotes:

Jeff Misenti states that Fox News hit 1.2 million concurrents

FoxNews.com had its best night ever….”We were prepared for a traffic increase, but it was surprising. The numbers were higher than expected,” said Jeff Misenti, vp and gm of Fox News Digital. According to Misenti, between 8 p.m. until well past midnight, FoxNews.com’s Chartbeat consistently recorded around 1.2 million concurrent users on the site.

CNN watched how their Twitter presence drove serious traffic to their site

For CNN, the traffic bump was also no doubt buoyed by the network’s dominant Twitter presence. At 24,000 mentions, CNN was cited more than any other news network. And John King, thanks to his deft electoral map maneuvering, became a one-man Twitter trend as the night rolled on, even picking up some sponsored ad buys from a third party.

Politico was incredible to watch as they crushed their typical site performance

Politico Live, the site’s foray into original video, was streamed 108,000 times (the show also aired on C-SPAN).

As Doug from our Chartcorps stated, “I don’t think we’ve ever seen a publisher increase their concurrent traffic so dramatically in such a short period of time. Politico’s search and social traffic was incredible to watch.”

We’re looking forward to the next event that will put the 2012 election to shame. Make sure y’all are prepped to take advantage of it all right when it happens.

Going for Broke: Chartbeat’s Election Day by the Numbers

On our way to a record-breaking day

Chartbeat’s HQ is still sporting decorations from last night’s Election Day festivities (sliders, beer, plus tons of data = how Chartnerds like to party), and we’re still recovering from a data-filled, concurrent cap busting, news coverage-crazed 24 hours.

The night by the numbers

  • 8,853,239– Chartbeat’s record aggregate number of concurrents yesterday
  • 21– Chartteam members at the office late last night for support and shenanigans
  • 23.5%– Increase in Chartbeat aggregate concurrents for Election Day coverage over our previous record max concurrents for Sandy coverage
  • 50/50– Number of state electoral results Nate Silver correctly predicted
  • 200,000– Requests/second for Chartbeat beacon traffic
  • 30– Election Night survival goody bags passed out to some hardworking clients
  • 2– Canine guests at our Election Day party

While we could talk for hours about how many clients saw amazing traffic last night or about how shiny Joe Biden’s teeth are, the Chartteam is pretty excited about how many people turned to online media for answers about yesterday’s election coverage. Despite the reigning popularity of TV coverage, it’s awesome that online news sources are really getting in the game with engaging features, quality content, and rapid reactions to electoral developments.

Predictable? Yes and no.

Nate Silver’s magic map

We discussed prediction earlier this week, and a day after the election, predictions–correct or otherwise–are certainly seen in a different light. Today few people are getting more attention than Nate Silver of The New York Times‘s FiveThirtyEight Blog, who accurately predicted every state’s electoral outcome in this election. Interestingly enough, Silver’s awesome projections don’t really say much about the validity of predictions, but rather, Silver’s state-by-state forecast demonstrates successful statistical modeling (confession: the Chartteam <3 statistical models).

Red or blue, it’s indisputable that data had a huge role in this election. The interactive online maps you played with, the fancy touchscreens CNN whipped out last night, the projections presented by election analysts–they shared a common origin of data– and this election showed that online media is striving to make data more and more accessible to people.

But did it beat Sandy’s breaking news?

And people were hungry for data–well, and hungry for election information in general. How hungry? Chew on this: Chartbeat had a record aggregate total of over 8.5 million concurrent visits yesterday. That’s 1.5 MILLION more concurrents than the Sandy-related peak traffic we experienced last week. Pretty nuts, right?

There’s probably a ton to learn from such an epic day of traffic and engagement, and hopefully we’ll be sharing these insights with you once we’ve worked our way through all this data. For now, high fives to all our clients who worked long and hard yesterday to keep us up-to-date about election results.

We’re big fans of Election Day parties. And cupcakes.

Anxiously awaiting the results

Indecision and Prediction: The Data Driving Election 2012

Business Insider

While tropical storm Sandy demanded our attention much of the past week, many of us are now obsessively checking news sites and political blogs for predictions about tomorrow’s Presidential Election results.

Twitter is abuzz with the latest and greatest predicted voting outcomes, and many sites are offering a multitude of interactive graphics, “what if” theories, less conventional sources, and even using NFL scores in their efforts to foresee what happens tomorrow.

Whether you rely on a sports team or particular polls for election estimates, prediction itself is an unpredictable business.The events of the past week have created unanticipated extra pressure on election results predictions, with media outlets churning out new developments and reports at a record pace. Since the election is almost certainly going to be a close one, people are turning to the web like never before to get a handle on what tomorrow might bring.

CNN’s Campaign Explorer

As we’ve learned from past elections (throwback Bush v. Gore 2000), there’s a big tension between immediacy and accuracy as the media works to keep the public informed throughout the election build up and the actual results.

Election coverage is a great reminder of why online journalism is about so much more than pageviews and traffic numbers– it’s about educating voters about candidates, ballot propositions, and why these issues matter. Journalism is a public service to get the right story to the right people.

Editors need to figure out which political topics are actually sticking with readers, what story is actually being told and heard completely, what’s keeping them engaged. Engagement, attention, interest keeps people around on your story. It keeps them coming back for more quality content.

Tomorrow we’ll check in to see whose predictions are faring well and what predictions become irrelevant over the course of Election Day.  In the meantime, we can just take in this once-every-four-year coverage craziness.

The New York Times Swing State Tracker

Weathered Traffic

The Chartteam is slowly crawling out from a power-less lower Manhattan and water-logged New Jersey to find that we’ve been, all in all, incredibly lucky to be spared the worst from the wrath of Hurricane Sandy. Every one of us is safe and every one of our thoughts go out to our neighbors who weren’t so lucky.

We’re just now poking our heads out to assess the real impact of the past few days. For that, we turn to the media for the details we can’t see first hand. Sure Twitter and Facebook, too, to share and learn quick snippets in real time, but for the true impact, the fact from the fiction, we (and much of the country it seems) spent the better part of this week turning to major publishers, local news outlets more than we at Chartbeat have seen…ever.

We saw well over 7,000,000 concurrent visits and sky-high engaged time across all of the sites within the Chartbeat Universe – so people were not only hitting pages to check the most breaking news, but also stayed there, their attention glued to the stories.

Which is even more mind-blowing, as for the most part, Sandy only affected the US east coast.

In less than a week, we’ll be watching the impact and attention of an event that dramatically affects the entire country, the entire world. If Sandy broke records like this, it’ll be an interesting time to place some bets on the kind of traffic and engagement the Presidential Election will drive. Any guesses?

Now in Beta: Heads Up Display Link Performance

We’ve been hearing lots of positive things about one of our newest Chartbeat Publishing features, Heads Up Display, which lays data you need over your own webpage and article content. Heads Up Display shares info like the concurrent visitors on the page, top articles on the page through simple rank pins, clicks per minute on each article, and a whole bunch of other stuff. And while it’s amazing to know that your top positioned article is the #1 article on the page – there was one question we (and lots of you) wanted to know: Is that article performing as well as other articles have done in that same position in the past, or is it just doing well because it’s in the top spot?

So we’re testing exactly this question with a new feature in beta right now that we’re calling Link Performance– all to get your feedback, thoughts, high fives, and no ways. With this guy now incorporated in your Heads Up Display, you can answer questions like:

  • Is an article getting a ton of clicks because it’s new or in a prime position or because the content is actually compelling?
  • Where are the hidden gems on my page?  Which articles are actually doing well for their position, but are maybe getting lost in the clutter?
  • Which headlines look like they need some love?
  • Which articles need to be removed?
  • Has my article reached its peak and need to be swapped out?

Here’s how it works: Link Performance measures certain effects like where the link is on your page and how long the link has been in that particular position. This measurement also takes into account the real-time speed (what we call click rate) that readers are clicking on a link to an article as a percentage the overall pool of people who could actually click now. We’ve built models for every position on your homepage – yours specifically, not some general homepage template – and these models take into account the amount of time each article has been in its current location. By knowing how long an article has been in that spot, we can tell how it’s done performance-wise since you posted it – has it reached its peak yet or still gaining speed? That way you know when to swap it out. We’ve added a visual tracker that shows just this – how long a link has been in this position and how it’s performing against other links that have been in that same position. The Heads Up Display uses these models to determine how each article is performing relative to those three factors: article position, how long the article has been in that position, and the number of potential readers. Simple, color-coded signals show you how an article is doing in real-time:

Overperforming/Green = Good, the article is doing better than average

Performing on average or baseline/Yellow = Potentially good or time to swap it out. Depends on the content and your call, as the decision maker, if it should be changed up.

Underperforming/Red = Not so great. Time to get another story in here that’ll do better in this position than this current story.

If you’re seeing gray pins, that could be for a number of different reasons, most likely because it’s a brand new story/placement and we just need another minute to gather and share the data.

Based on all this info, we hope you’re better armed to take action to shift things around, rewrite some headlines, layer on more content, whatever a particular piece needs to get a through-the-roof performance out of that link in that position (or another).

Again, this is something we’re testing to see how you’re using it (or not), what you like (or don’t), and what thoughts (or questions) you have as you play around with it. With your feedback, I, along with my fellow Chartbeat data scientists and our Product and Engineering teams, can iterate and build on this feature to make sure it’s as useful as possible. So first, get started with Chartbeat Publishing if you aren’t a client already and once you’re playing around with Heads Up Display and Link Performance, let us know what you think.

Note: The three above images are displaying mock data (we don’t share your data without your permission)

Top 3 Things I Learned at ONA12

Just climbing out from under an information (and tequila…and guacamole…) hangover from ONA12 last week, and wanted to share the genius I picked up along the way.  We had a blast, and we’re also so thrilled that you guys showed Chartbeat some love. I could pretty easily share about 4000 things from people we met or got the chance to see again (it’s like a summer camp reunion!) and amazing sessions we took place in, really cool demos and innovative stuff we caught down in the Midway.  But I’ll keep it to three. In no particular order….

1. We’re still trying to claw our way out from under page views

We all know the page view is a silly metric that we can easily manipulate for display ad purposes. (Farhad Manjoo wrote a great piece about this for Slate the other day if you’re interested) Yet we’re using page views as a key metric of editorial performance and ad sales. There’s a slow shift toward uniques, which is great, but everyone’s on the same page that that’s not enough. Our most interesting conversations at ONA were around our Engaged Time metric, which is starting to pick up some serious steam as a partner KPI to uniques. Our data science team is already finding some crazy relationships between higher engaged time and a higher propensity for reader loyalty (more on that in the coming weeks). So we know it works. Hopefully by ONA13, we’ll have put page views to bed.

2. Understanding an article’s impact is kind of hard.

Despite the fact that spreading awareness and creating change are often the main intentions behind an article, gauging the scope of a story’s impact is actually pretty challenging. Most metrics focus on “hard goals”, things that are easy to measure like how many people visit a page or click on a link. However, these sorts of numbers don’t entirely shed light on a story’s actual impact– how much more awareness is there about a particular subject or whether or not an article has educated its readers or incited change. The public service aspect of a story, often represented by the scope of an article’s impact, is tough to quantify or measure. There was a lot of buzz around the challenges of determining whether an article makes small ripples or big waves, and how we understand this in quantifiable terms.

3. How and when your readers reach your stories matters.

Several discussions at ONA reminded us about the need for content to be fully immersive across multiple platforms. Essentially, when and how is your audience reaching your content throughout the day? A reader might access your content on his phone while commuting, on his desktop during work, and then on his iPad at night. Knowing your readers’ daily patterns matters a whole lot when it comes to user experience– ideally your readers are easily immersed in your content no matter how they’re accessing your site. It’s more than just tallying up your content’s traffic sources, it’s about building content and products around the shape of a reader’s day. The BBC did a lot of this “what does my viewer’s day look like?” for their Olympics content, and launched features that considered their audience’s needs across platforms and times of day.

4. Everyone loves a happy hour

I had to tack on a fourth point just for this. In case anyone hadn’t heard, or you get your hands on one of our margaritas, Chartbeat had way too much fun with the tattoo-rocking ONA crowd at our happy hour. Thanks to all that attended–for those that didn’t, no worries, we intend to have many more happy hours in the future.



Photos courtesy of Aubrey Aden-Buie

Our next big thing starts now: Chartbeat iOS App 2.0 (v1)

UPDATE: 12.5.2012

Two months later and we’re back. Thanks to everyone who wrote in, tweeted, or just downloaded the app. It’s been great to hear your thoughts and today we’re pushing out our first round of changes based on them.

While we heard really nice things about the app the first time through (thanks!) we found out pretty quickly that something was missing: context. Doing unusually well was cool but you needed something more, you needed to know why and what caused it… well we heard you and we got you. So meet the notable changes of this little release: a historical traffic chart and acceleration markers.

Swipe the dial to the left to see how your site has performed over the day compared to the previous week and get a feel for how big your spike really is. But a look back isn’t enough – you need to see the rush as it’s happening so we’ve got acceleration markers in there to show you which pages (or sites if you’ve got a couple of those) are growing and how quickly that’s happening. The more arrows up you see the faster that page is shooting up. If you see a bunch of arrows pointing up hold on – it’s about to get great.

So that’s it for now. A little release full of fixes and some stuff to let you know if what’s happening is special or just one of those weird internet blips. Keep the ideas coming and we’ll do the rest. More soon.

Original Post

So let’s get the most important thing out of the way first: the new Charbeat iOS App is available for all Chartbeat and Chartbeat Publishing users and you can download it here.

Second most important thing? Hold steady Android and Windows phone users. We’ll be getting stuff your way soon too.

Okay? We’re good? Awesome. Let’s do this then.

This April we relaunched Chartbeat and changed way more than the look – we changed what Chartbeat could do. We moved past just counting people on the page and asking you to fill in the rest and focused on making it super easy for you to take action with that info.

Sadly our iPhone app lagged behind and that had to change.

But after talking to a bunch of you guys, it turned out you’re not using your iPhones as “mobile command centers” with all the manipulation and consideration you did with the desktop dashboard. When you were on the go, you just wanted to get the pulse of your site. To know if everything was normal or – if it wasn’t – why and what to do about it. And that’s what our new app is about. Only the stuff you need and as quickly as possible.

So download it, log into your Chartbeat account, and you’ll see everything you need to know about your site all on one screen.

Scroll across your top traffic sources to see where people are coming from and scroll down to see where they’re all going.

Even better you can click on any of those things and we’ll give you all the deeper information you want.

Only the most essential information up front so you always know what’s going on.

And to that end we’re introducing the first of our big mobile changes: the traffic benchmark.

Your dial now has a gray band on it – this is your usual range of traffic for the current time and day. If you’re below that something is probably not going as planned and you should take a look to see what you can change. But if you’re above, congratulations! Something cool is going down. You shouldn’t have to know your exact traffic for Saturdays at 9pm…that’s our job. Yours is to focus on what’s next.

A little (totally public) secret for you: this is just the start; we’ve got so much more coming.

With this first version we wanted to give you a really great mobile dashboard experience. Now that that’s done we get to do the fun part – we get to create totally new things. Push notifications, configurable alerts, new kinds of data… there’s a whole bunch of stuff on its way and we can’t wait to show it to you. We’re pretty psyched on our plans but we absolutely want to hear yours too. So that what we make is the stuff you truly want. So please. Please, please, please reach out and tell us what would make this app the one of your real-time dreams.

Now go, go, go download the app and – seriously – let us know what you think. You can email me thoughts or get in touch with our awesome Chartcorps to learn how use this thing better. There’s a ton of really cool stuff to be done so let’s do it together.