Posted on May 16, 2013 by rogupta
Last year we talked about our goal to turn time spent into time invested with the new Disqus.
We continue to be mildly obsessed with this concept of time as a top metric we should be thinking about. In fact we have been working with others like Chartbeat, who have embraced this as well with their Engaged Time metric. Their data also reaffirmed some of our own that show, on average, over half of all visits now scroll down to Disqus.
More recently, we got word from sites that they were seeing marked differences in time spent when using the new Disqus, similar to what we saw a couple years ago with the older version. This time, though, we wanted to see if we could go past anecdotal or internal data, and instead get numerically reliable measurements based on a public standard. We also wanted to see if we could find samples that would show results for a number of commenting systems, not just Disqus.
We concluded comScore numbers tend to be the most standardized, but since they don’t provide section-specific data, we needed to use sites for which overall traffic is highly skewed towards pages that have commenting. We therefore turned our attention to popular blogs that get a sizable amount of traffic to ensure the sample size was big enough and external factors wouldn’t skew results too much. This left us with 5 of the Technorati Top 100 that met the above criteria, and had used Disqus and at least one other common comment system in the past year.
Graphing out their comScore data for the past year, we found an across-the-board increase in average monthly time spent per visit when switching to Disqus (Red State, Talking Points Memo, The Next Web in September 2012), and a decrease when switching away from Disqus (Engadget, also in September 2012):
Techcrunch data, which we had going back a few years, was especially interesting. They have tried four different platforms in that span of time, for two months or more each, so we could get a fairly comprehensive breakout of engagement by platform:
So while a number of factors go into website technology decisions, and one should never be too conclusive about causation, the trends we saw were very encouraging. We spend a huge amount of effort thinking about what attributes meaningfully result in higher engagement, as defined by a user’s time spent with a given community. We’ve found that focusing in on our “3 Re’s” — Retention, Reactivation, Recirculation — has gone a long way in measurably achieving this goal. In fact, after recently hitting 1 billion unique monthly visitors, we also discovered Disqus now accounts for over 10 billion minutes of time spent each month by those visitors in aggregate. That’s more than 20,000 years! Naturally, we want to make sure it’s time well spent.
If you’d like to hear more on this and will be in the New York area next week, our friends at Chartbeat will be hosting us at their offices during Internet Week. We’ll share some more learnings about optimizing for time-based engagement. Click here to RSVP while space still remains.
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