Why publishers are killing pageviews to capitalise on reader attention

If you are a publisher, enticing someone to spend time on your content means competing with the entire sum of human knowledge. Capturing attention however isn’t the end goal; keeping it is. If your content is earning a reader’s attention, you’re doing something right.

Embracing the right metrics

According to a report by Chartbeat, a web analytics company headquartered in New York City, publishers need to embrace the right metrics. This means, what seems like the simplest, most direct method of measuring success (pageviews) can actually backfire when it becomes the thing that’s most important. The job is not to chase traffic. In the business of news, random indiscriminate traffic is not what a business is built upon.

Thinking beyond the click

Clicking and Reading are different things. 55% of all pageviews get less than 15 seconds of attention – and yet the pageview is often privileged as the most important metric, Chartbeat report says.

It’s not enough to get someone to click, we have to get them to read. And then keep on reading. A big spike in traffic acquisition doesn’t really matter if those people don’t come back. We’re not just looking for traffic, we’re looking for an audience.

That means thinking about capturing time, not just creating a catchy headline. It means focusing on your readers’ propensity to return. And the two key indicators of propensity to return are engaged time and recirculation.

The golden metrics: Engaged time and recirculation

Engaged Time and Recirculation are what Chartbeat report call balanced metrics. “Unlike pageviews, attention metrics can tell you how people actually interact with your pages. And they show that all traffic is not equal,” it says.

From the perspective of pageviews, two articles could be almost exactly the same. But Engaged Time allows you to draw very different conclusions about the success of each page’s content: Certainly traffic volume to a story matters, but you also have to ask yourself if people actually read it, Chartbeat report says.

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