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Upworthy Invents a New Metric for Success

Although the debate rages on as to what defines “great content,” a publisher ultimately wants to know something very simple: Is the content working, or is it not working? 

A smorgasbord of metrics can help us answer the question: pageviews, unique visits, time on page, shares, comments, social media engagement and more.

Upworthy.com wasn’t satisfied with the metrics Google Analytics was tracking, so they invented one. It’s called “Attention Minutes.”

Here are the definitions of “Attention Minutes” according to an Upworthy blog post:

  • Total Attention on Site (per hour, day, week, month, whatever) — that tells us (like total uniques or total pageviews) how good of a job Upworthy is doing overall at drawing attention to important topics.
  • And Total Attention per Piece, which is a combination of how many people watch something on Upworthy and how much of it they actually watch. Pieces with higher Total Attention should be promoted more.
Sounds a lot like ‘Time on Site’ to me. I wanted a little clarity on Upworthy’s game plan so I asked my coworker, Andy Block. He’s Director of Analytics and Insights at MSP-C, and here is what he had to say:

“It’s 'platform agnostic' which is very cool; it measures attention minute performance across all modalities for a piece of content, including web pages, videos and more. This solves a problem for them that Google Analytics cannot. What's best of all is once implemented—and assuming it works as expected—they are giving their source code away to give back to the online community. I'm excited to see how they pull it off.”

Upworthy is smart to invent a metric they can use to track the success of their content. However, it’s not clear (to me at least) how they make their money. Currently they make “about five figures in revenues per month,” but advertising is not a strong part of the mix; they only accept ads they consider to be “upworthy,” which is tough criteria for any sales rep to capitalize on. I’m sure “Attention Minutes” fits into the revenue equation, and perhaps we’ll learn more about that soon.

Read the entire Upworthy blog post, “What Uniques And Pageviews Leave Out (And Why We’re Measuring Attention Minutes Instead).” We’ll be watching their progress from over here. Also I suggest you check out a nice post about Upworthy’s new metric by Caroline O’Donovan at Nieman Journalism Lab.

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