Newsbeat debuts as robust, real-time Web analytics tool for news publishers

The people behind the popular realtime analytics tool Chartbeat launched a new version today specifically designed for news publishers, called Newsbeat. It is a more powerful tool for understanding your Web traffic, but also comes at a higher cost.

An example of the Newsbeat dashboard.

The new product has some compelling and probably addictive features. You see real-time charts and numbers about the number of visitors and where they are coming from. And you can see it for every article or page on your site (Chartbeat only shows you the 20 most active pages).

You also get some handy analysis of that data, such as whether stories are trending up or down or getting significant social media referrals. It even figures out algorithmically when a particular story is seeing an unusual traffic spike and can alert you by email.

Newsbeat is designed to be “a command center for the new newsroom,” says Tony Haile, general manager of Chartbeat.

“Using these kind of tools is how you grow traffic in the age of the social Web,” Haile told me in an interview. “You get a huge amount of traffic to a very few pages in a short period of time, and your ability to succeed in that social world is based upon your ability to adapt to those moments, to double-down.”

That essential intelligence is what makes Newsbeat worth the price, Haile said, which begins at $199 a month for the most entry-level subscription (more than even the most-advanced Chartbeat subscription tier of $149). Other options are $499 or $899 a month for higher-traffic sites. The company does offer a free 30-day trial though, so you can test it out yourself before deciding whether to pay for it.

Here are what stood out to me as the most compelling features:

  • Decision-making data. Newsbeat doesn’t just tell you want your top stories are, it tells you if they are accelerating or decelerating in traffic, and if social networks are driving it significantly, so you can adjust your homepage or social media posts strategically.
  • Customized dashboards and permissions. You can create user accounts with different permission levels. A reporter can sign in and just see data for her own stories. A sports editor can see how all the sports stories are performing. A managing editor can get the whole overview and drill down where desired.
  • Charting trends. Several charts display the trend of visits over time, and they’re color-coded by referral source, new vs. returning visitors, and engagement level. It also charts the number of tweeted links to your site over time. Facebook referrals will be added soon, Haile said.
  • Sorting through direct traffic. Newsbeat attempts to bring some clarity to the big pool of visits for which no referral site is recorded. Most analytics lump all that traffic together as just “direct traffic.” But Newsbeat makes educated guesses. Article visits likely came from “email, IM or apps” because a user probably didn’t type the long URL directly into their browser. A homepage or traditional landing page visit with no referrer is usually considered true direct traffic.
Green and red arrows indicate a story is getting more or less popular.

Many large publishers, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Forbes and Gawker, have been using a trial version of the product for months while helping the Chartbeat team figure out what features need to be refined and added. As of Thursday, it’s open for anyone else to sign up.

Haile asserts that “if you’re in the business of publishing content, then you need to be looking at this kind of data.” I think it’s an easier sell to the giants of news publishing that can justify the cost based on their high volume of content and sharing.

For the smaller news publisher, it’s a more difficult question. Chartbeat is still out there as a basic option starting at $10 a month, and it shows most of the data you want for your top 20 pages at any given time. But if you can free up the money for Newsbeat and you have Web producers or social media people who can capitalize on the data, it is certainly a flashy, desirable and useful tool for publishing on the real-time Web.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=712166276 Anonymous

    Other tools that editors should consider include DailyMe’s Newstogram platform and PublishFlow from Konexto.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Tonyhaile Tony Haile

    Hi Michelle,

    Good to know that you want the Geo data in Newsbeat, we’re working out the best way to display that for publishers in a way that’s more useful than just a blanket map (Segment by location? on a separate display? etc). We’ll also be adding pagination to the top stories in the next couple of weeks so you can page through the stories without having to switch to a section or author dashboard. 

    As you know, we’re only just out in Beta and there’s a lot of stuff we want to build, so I’d love any feedback you have (I’m tony at chartbeat.com). This has been something designed as much by Publishers as ourselves and I’m keen to keep that spirit of collaborative design going!

    Tony Haile
    Chartbeat

  • http://www.poynter.org Poynter

    Chartbeat and Newsbeat are realtime analytics, while Google Analytics is often delayed by several hours. The realtime feature enables editorial staff to know immediately what stories are being viewed and where the audience is coming from, so they can act quickly on that knowledge. –Julie

  • http://www.poynter.org Poynter

    Chartbeat and Newsbeat are realtime analytics, while Google Analytics is often delayed by several hours. The realtime feature enables editorial staff to know immediately what stories are being viewed and where the audience is coming from, so they can act quickly on that knowledge. –Julie

  • Anonymous

    So how is this software better than Google Analytics, which is free, updates regularly and can slice and dice the traffic data just about any way you can imagine? I’m sure Newsbeat is supercool; otherwise there would be no need to rattle on so about it. But this story sure didn’t tell me why it’s supercool.

  • http://twitter.com/mlicudine Michelle Licudine

    We’re currently testing Chartbeat and Newsbeat side by side, and it’s been interesting. There are pros and cons to each.

    The Newsbeat dashboard is cleaner, and the color coding of visits by source is a nice at-a-glance feature. Our social media editor is not yet sold on the value of the social data versus tools like Topsy.

    One key difference is geographic data — it’s available down to the state level in Chartbeat, but not available in Newsbeat. I’m sure other local news orgs would agree, it’d be nice to see DMA-level data on both (if you think it’s reliable…different debate).

    I’m unclear on the claim that Newsbeat lets you see all pages. The Newsbeat dashboard is actually limited to the top 10 stories instead of Chartbeat’s 20; however, it does let you parse data by section, so you can see the top 10 in each section quickly. Also, there’s a Chartbeat Sidebar broswer plug-in that can be launched while visiting any page of your site, to see data on that page specifically; but, it’s limited in the data it provides.

    Overall, we’ve found the tools’ “right now” data to be a nice supplement to the cumulative reporting that Omniture provides.