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Aug. 3, 2017, 10 a.m.
Audience & Social

Chartbeat adds subscriber analytics to its dashboard — the “single most requested feature”

Do paying users behave differently than non-paying users?

Heads up, Chartbeat users: if you’ve ever wished for a way to see how subscribers respond to content differently than non-subscribers, your wish has now been granted.

“Editors are going to be able to [go to] their traffic and look at top stories and top referrers. They can understand the engagement experience of subscribers,” said Josh Schwartz, Chartbeat’s head of product, data, and engineering. “It makes subscriber status a first class part of the dashboard.”

He added that subscriber insights have been the “single most requested feature” from news organizations. The data can be broken down into traffic from subscribers, registered users, guests, and “unspecified.” A report by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism last year found that more than two-thirds of the 130 surveyed newsroom leaders use Chartbeat for real-time analytics.

“We know from our research that multi-platform/device subscribers retain better,” The New York Times’ Kinsey Wilson told Ken Doctor earlier this summer. “A key differentiator is that readers who read broadly across a variety of subjects are more likely to subscribe and retain.”

Understanding that subscriber data is key to understanding the next routes in journalism.

“People are inundated, surrounded with information 18 hours a day, and we understand that they get it from a variety of sources. So the question is: How do we, at any given moment across the day, across the globe, present the report in the most meaningful and easily accessible way that we can?” Wilson said. “That shift from platform to reader is what I would say is emphatically the pivot that we are making here.”

The first half of 2017 has seen a growth spurt for audiences supporting news organizations, from subscriptions to memberships to crowd-funding. Chartbeat says this is a first-in-the-industry option for users to take a look at how their posts are resonating with loyal readers.

“2016 was the year of the platform with Facebook Articles and Apple News…. 2017 is really the year of the subscriber,” Schwartz said. “Whether it’s niche newsletters based on subscribers only, or a huge growth in a subscriber base like international newspapers have seen…it really is a fundamental change in the fundamental model of how you’re interacting with your user. The analytics have to adapt.”

The new subscriber data will be built into Chartbeat’s main dashboard, with the aim of giving newsrooms more insight into dedicated followers’ behavior on single pieces of content. Users will be prompted to access the feature through a “small implementation change,” Schwartz said. The change could also help publications that are trying to decide whether to put content behind paywalls, that want to see the most attractive content to non-paying users, or that want to launch new features for paying subscribers. “This will be another lens of understanding” for reader behavior.

This is Chartbeat’s first foray into subscription analytics, but may not be its last. As subscriptions rise (for some organizations) throughout the industry, data breakdowns surely will too.

POSTED     Aug. 3, 2017, 10 a.m.
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