Measuring Attention Instead of Clicks or Pageviews

Tony Haile, CEO of Chartbeat, writing for Time:

Chartbeat looked at deep user behavior across 2 billion visits across the web over the course of a month and found that most people who click don’t read. In fact, a stunning 55% spent fewer than 15 seconds actively on a page. The stats get a little better if you filter purely for article pages, but even then one in every three visitors spend less than 15 seconds reading articles they land on. The media world is currently in a frenzy about click fraud, they should be even more worried about the large percentage of the audience who aren’t reading what they think they’re reading.

The data gets even more interesting when you dig in a little. Editors pride themselves on knowing exactly what topics can consistently get someone to click through and read an article. They are the evergreen pageview boosters that editors can pull out at the end of the quarter to make their traffic goals. But by assuming all traffic is created equal, editors are missing an opportunity to build a real audience for their content.

Solid piece, and I’m largely in agreement with his main point: measuring advertising value by counting clicks and pageviews has led the entire web astray. But as the CEO of a data analytics company, I think Haile is naturally biased towards advanced analytics as the way out of this mess. It’s hard to measure quality — but that’s what ought to be valued.

Thursday, 13 March 2014