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Summary:

Chartbeat announced a $9.5-million round of funding and a series of new features aimed at giving websites and publishers better insight into how users are engaging with their content, something that has become increasingly important as Facebook becomes a major player in online advertising.

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Launched three years ago as a way of giving publishers and media companies better real-time analytics related to their content, Chartbeat announced Monday that it has closed a new round of Series B financing worth $9.5 million from a series of venture funds including Index Ventures and Draper Fisher Jurvetson. The company — which was developed by New York-based incubator Betaworks, creator of Bit.ly and News.me — said it has also upgraded its analytics dashboard with new features that give websites and publishers better ways to measure actual reader engagement. And in the age of digital content, being able to do that accurately is a crucial weapon for publishers in the fight to show advertisers that their content has value.

Tony Haile, Chartbeat’s CEO, says one of the goals for the company from the beginning was to produce better analytics so that publishers could understand who was interacting with their content and when — on a page-by-page and author-by-author level — in something approaching real time. While most analytical tools for websites and publishers such as Google Analytics and specialized tools like Omniture pay most of their attention to pageviews and other page-based metrics, Haile says that Chartbeat wanted to give content creators a much more granular view of what readers were doing with their stories, and to track all that in real time.

So using the Chartbeat dashboard — which a number of major media entities like ESPN and the New York Times do — a publisher can see that a specific blog post or news story is getting a lot of readers who are coming from social media such as Twitter and Facebook, and a smaller number from search or direct traffic. They can see where those users are coming from, in real time, and how long they are spending on the page, and whether they have reached the bottom of the page or left without scrolling down.

One of the biggest differences with Chartbeat when compared to something like Google Analytics, says Haile, is that while Google and other programs only check once to see if a visitor has opened a page — and then show that page as being read until it is closed — Chartbeat continually pings every few seconds to see if the page is still open, and therefore it has a far more accurate reading of which pages are actually getting engagement from readers, as opposed to simply being open in a browser tab somewhere.

That’s important in an age where advertisers are increasingly looking for engagement with content as a metric of value, instead of just a raw page-load or browsing behavior — and are getting what they want from social networks like Facebook, which has been capturing a growing share of online advertising revenue. In another new feature, Haile says that Chartbeat also shows publishers how their metrics around engagement and social sharing compare to others in their industry (although the industry data is anonymized so no specific competitors are mentioned).

From a user’s perspective, there is just one big problem with Chartbeat: namely, that it quickly becomes addictive to be able to see the exact number of readers a post has, where they came from, and how long they spent on the page (even though in many cases those numbers may be lower than a writer might hope for). The speedometer-style dials and gauges that show each incoming and outgoing visitor, the map that updates with the location of the latest reader, and the table of posts that shift around based on which is getting the most traffic are almost hypnotic.

Chartbeat’s funding round — which brings the amount it has raised to $12.5 million — was led by Josh Stein at Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Saul Klein at Index Ventures, and Haile said the funding group also included many of the angel investors who backed Chartbeat in the beginning. In addition to Google Analytics and Omniture, the company’s competitors include startups like Go Squared and Woopra. John Borthwick, CEO of Betaworks, will be at PaidContent 2012 in New York in May.

Post and thumbnail images courtesy of Flickr user Skyhawk4life

  1. Great new interface. I’m sticking to Woopra though, they provide far more details and have been doing this for years.

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  2. As a freelancer I’m finding it increasingly oppressive to find my editors staring at data such as this while increasingly ignoring content on its own merits. If this plethora of analytic data allowed me to be a better journalist or my editors to be better editors, I would cheer it on. As it is, all content is quickly siphoned into the hit machine, where one can score tactical trimphs but never truly win the war.
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    Measurement is a good thing. It’s just not the only thing, particularly when the measurement is too finely focused.

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