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The Attention Economy: How User Engagement Metrics Are Evolving

15 seconds. According to Chartbeat, the first analytics company accredited to developing attention metrics, that’s the cold-hearted attention span that 55% of users devote to your website. It’s also why marketers are starting to turn away from traditional metrics.

The Attention Economy: How User Engagement Metrics Are Evolving
The Attention Economy: How User Engagement Metrics Are Evolving

So instead of gauging user engagement by website and brand impressions, marketers are looking at a new measurement entirely: the Active Exposure Time attention metric. Up until recently, marketers have hailed the all-powerful click-through-rate as the one true ruler of them all. Traffic quotas have been met and celebrated based on this number. And by upping page views, creative agencies believed they were hitting it out of the park. However, the new development of attention metrics is opening windows into the souls (well, at least the habits) of customers and changing the way agencies view their page views.

Active Exposure Time

Active Exposure Time (AET) in particular is a fascinating measurement within this emerging metric that determines how long a user is actively engaged with a browser (in seconds). By using this measurement, professionals are able to see exactly how users are interacting with their content, when they are leaving their page and the exact moment a user is distracted by another online stimulus. Backed up by a study of 2 billion page views over the course of one month, AET is generating impressive, precise insight into how customers think and is gaining momentum within the industry.

Winning the Attention and Minds of Users

A study conducted by Chartbeat determined that if a page can hold a visitor’s attention for just three minutes they are twice as likely to return than if your content only holds them for one minute. So it’s not about the sheer volume of traffic or number of click-throughs anymore, but the qualitative time a user spends on a page digesting information and interacting with it.

Why this is such an important finding is that attention span directly correlates to brand engagement and ultimately conversion. Studies are still underway, but Chartbeat is working on a correlation between time spent actively engaging on a page and the percentage that readers will agree with your message once logging off. Granted, this is focused on news stories, but the emerging data sheds light on how writers, marketers, advertisers and PR professionals can adapt their content to win users’ attention and opinions.

Key Factors to Active Engagement

Bad design. Stale material. The former and latter are factors that cause users to immediately jump ship when visiting your page. Looking at 2 billion page views generated by 580,000 articles on 2000 sites, Chartbeat found the highest performing pages were news articles while the poorest featured generic material. Although all pages had a similar amount of traffic, the leading pages captured five times the amount of attention than the worst performers. That speaks volumes for evergreen versus newsworthy content. While it’s important to feature steadfast information on your website, generating fresh, engaging content is key to getting users to pay attention and return again later.

Design is also a factor when it comes to winning the war between the online attention span and your content. When a user is visiting a normal media page, 66% of attention is spent below the fold. However, most important information, including banners, are featured at the top. Intrusive advertisements are also at fault for throwing off the attention of users and prompting them to avert their mouse to another page. Marketers can benefit from viewing their page through the lens of the user and editing it to suit their needs.

What’s Next?

Regarding users’ time as a currency and attention span as a quantitative metric for success, professionals have already begun to alter their content marketing strategies, advertising and media plans to tap into this new technology. Paying for hours an ad spends online rather than impressions made is one of the huge shifts taking place and changing the industry as we once knew it. By taking a hard look at your content structure, asking questions about what your target audience is searching for and developing a streamlined design, you’ll be on your way to creating engaging content that readers will take time to digest instead of making a superficial connection through a click.

This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: The Attention Economy: How User Engagement Metrics Are Evolving

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