Validation comes in strange ways – The Attention Web

Richard Charpentier Notes from Rich Leave a Comment

Yesterday I posted an update about my new site idea, Living In Tin.  Taking a swing at a subscription based site with both premium articles and free articles.  And while I’m working on that I’ll still be posting here.  Extra work, but you never know.

After posting I was reading around the net and somehow stumbled across an unexpected article from Time of all places.  The title, “What you think you know about the web is wrong.”  The title caught my attention, the content kept my attention.  The author Tony Haile is the CEO of Chartbeat, and his company provides businesses like Time with real time data to understand their readership.

Tony’s article really hit home with me as I read and thought about what we’ve been trying to do.  A key point to Tony’s article is the fact that gauging readership and site value just based on the amount of click through traffic really doesn’t tell us as much as we think it does.  He starts out the article saying,

If you’re an average reader, I’ve got your attention for 15 seconds, so here goes: We are getting a lot wrong about the web these days. We confuse what people have clicked on for what they’ve read.

Isn’t that the truth.  While I’ve always watched my numbers and seen the amount of people coming to this site, and the daily number of page views, I’ve wondered how much they really read.  Using Google Analytics, my own WordPress Stats, and an additional stat tracker in my site build I have a picture of who rolls through here every day.  But a 15 – 20 second read doesn’t relay anything more then an equivalent Twitter tweet.  So I’ve always gone to see the average time on pages, and bounce rate as being more important to me.

Bounce Rate is the number of folks who come to the site and look at only one page.  My bounce rate is 38%.  That means 62% of folks go on to another article.  And time on site tells me whether or not they’re reading my posts.

The article goes on to say that click throughs aren’t the end all and are very misleading.  And the author goes on to say that we now want your time and attention on websites,

It’s no longer just your clicks they want, it’s your time and attention. Welcome to the Attention Web.

At the core of the Attention Web are powerful new methods of capturing data that can give media sites and advertisers a second-by-second, pixel-by-pixel view of user behavior. If the click is the turnstile outside a stadium, these new methods are the TV control room with access to a thousand different angles. The data these methods capture provide a new window into behavior on the web and suggests that much of the facts we’ve taken for granted just ain’t true.

The author really caught me with his concept of “The Attention Web.”  I’ve had the concept in my mind for a while, but never had a term for it.  So there you go, the Attention Web!  I like it.

The article goes on to discuss the different methods of advertising on sites today and what’s not working with them.  He’s talking big companies, not small sites like mine, but it’s applicable all the same.

  • A click doesn’t mean they read the article
  • If the article got read, there’s a good chance the whole article wasn’t read.
  • Where advertising is placed today doesn’t lead to a long time looking at the ad.
  • In depth articles actually get more attention, flashy articles that are pretty meaningless and don’t keep readers.
  • Just because someone shares your links doesn’t mean they’re getting read.

There’s more, but you should read the article yourself.  It’s a good read worth your time.  What really caught me was the “Attention Web,” concept.  After weeks of a social media campaign I was pretty darned tired of short messages and trying to fit content into them.  I’m one of those rare people on the net who reads a whole article.  I don’t just read titles and move on.  And I think that a place for in depth articles, guides, etc, is the right way to go.

In my case with the new site I have a few basic ideas.  There will be no Ads like Google or Amazon.  I’ve used them for years and in total earned less than $200 for my click throughs, while they have cluttered up the website’s style (not worth it).  Articles and guides on the new site that are 8 minutes long or longer will be classified Premium.  That’s in line with magazine articles to be sure, or a chapter of a book.  Also articles with longer videos will be premium (it takes a while to make the videos to be sure).  Links will be provided to outside sources, but not because they’re advertisers, it’s because they’re relevant.  And finally, articles that hit the new site are designed to keep readers on the page the whole way through, and for them to return again for reference material if they’re following a guide.  We want your attention while you’re on the site, and we’ll be striving to provide the type of content to keep you coming back.


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