Chartbeat crosses the Chinese wall with ad sales tools, focusing on quality over clicks
In general, digital advertising focuses on the size of a media property's audience, not the quality of engagement the site gets from that audience. Chartbeat, having sold engagement monitoring tools to publishers for four years now, is today bringing that engagement tracking to the ad sales side.
"The idea is that editorial teams can move away from chasing traffic and toward motivating loyal audiences," said Chartbeat CEO Tony Haile. "That requires quality content that is engaging." Since Chartbeat's tools measure exactly that, it would make sense to extend them to the ad sales team. The company's latest product offering allows publishers to see exactly how engaged a reader is based on mouse movements, typing, and scrolling. After looking at its years of data, Chartbeat gleaned that people who make some sort of movement every five seconds are engaged. "We can tell if you're active or not," Haile says, noting that Chartbeat's new engagement metrics go beyond today's standards of time spent on site and viewability. As shown in the screengrab above, the dashboard suggests sales opportunities to users in realtime based on the size of the engaged audience.
Previously, viewership has been measured by the click. Once someone has clicked on a link, the monetizable act is complete, regardless of if that person engages with the content. That encourages low quality link-baity content and slideshows. Chartbeat captures information about what happens between the clicks; now it's selling that info to ad sales teams, who can presumably charge more for delivering a more engaged audience. "Premium brand advertisers have been wanting attention and as much of it as possible," Haile says. "The amount of time you get with an audience matters, so if you're a quality creator of content who can hold audiences for longer, you can create a better experience for the brand as well."
Cheartbeat launched out of New York startup studio Betaworks in 2009; adoption of its realtime site monitoring tools quickly spread to most major media outlets. The company has raised $13.5 million in total funding million from Index Ventures, DFJ, SV Angel, Lowercase Capital, O'Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, Lowercase Capital, Founder Collective, Freestyle Capital, SoftTech VC, SV Angel, Lerer Ventures (the latter two are PandoDaily investors), and angel investors.
Having spun out of Betaworks, Chartbeat now has 50 employees and is "occassionally close to being accidentally profitable," Haile says, joking that when that happens, it means he's not growing the company fast enough. Even though Chartbeat has likely penetrated its entire addressable market within the large media organizations, Haile says there are opportunities to expand into long tail publishing and with agencies and brands that are now their own publishers. And of course, there's today's expansion across the Chinese wall: Chartbeat for sales teams.