When a huge surge of traffic suddenly starts washing over a website, publishers have to act fast to capture the most value from these visitors. Yesterday, for example, Betabeat popped our cherry on a pickup by John Gruber’s Daring Fireball blog, which turned on a fire hose of new readers who had never previously been to our site.
I knew there was a high percentage of first time visitors because I was using Newsbeat, a more powerful version of the real time analytic engine Chartbeat, which breaks down the percentage of new versus returning visitors. I was able to throw some additional links into the story taking these reader back to some of our best coverage on the mobile space.
As the story spread around the web, Newsbeat also gave me a look at the volume of tweets surrounding the story and let me find some of the influencers who propagated the piece across different networks. It captured a lot of info that my Tweetdeck @ mentions column missed, allowing me to reach out to those users and give a follow up link or a thanks.
With Newsbeat I can also get a sense of a stories momentum. For the first time it doesn’t just show me how many people are currently reading an article, but which direction a story is trending in term of new eyeballs. This means I can focus on a story when its on the way up, but stop wasting time trying to tend to it after it has peaked. Or, viewed another way, I can know when the momentum is shifting, and change the placement or promotion of a story to get it traffic building again.
“We are predicting the path of every story and showing you how much you should be getting from direct traffic, inbound links and social media,” says Chartbeat general manager and betaworks chief troublemaker Tony Haile, running a hand through his lush, golden locks. “Now we can show you where a story is headed, a measure of momentum, not mass.”
One big change in Newsbeat is the way it measures direct traffic versus social. “Direct has been this bullshit black hole. People may type in betabeat.com, but no one is typing in betabeat.com/article/news-breaking/2011-5-13. A lot of what we used to record as direct traffic is actually coming from email, IM and apps, especially Twitter client, so now we break that out into its own section.”
Newsbeat is the first specialized extension of Chartbeat, but Haile says versions for e-tailers and gaming companies are both in the works. “We don’t want to build a better Omniture, we want to stay very real time. Hopefully we can work closely with a lot of these publisher to help build the newsroom of the future.”