That’s probably not the most interesting --- and important --- aspect of what they’re doing.
These companies are leading change that goes well beyond what they’re doing with content. They’re changing how we think about metrics and style.
Upworthy is championing a metric calls “attention minutes.” The theory (and I hope I don’t botch this): page views and minutes on page don’t adequately reflect how deeply users engage with content. You can find Upworthy’s very fine explanation here. It’s worth a read.
Buzzfeed has started an internet style guide that addresses words and phrases unique to the digital world. BuzzFeed’s move is brilliant. It has made clear that it has no intention of usurping the AP Style Guide or the Chicago Manual of Style --- the long time gold standards of media style books. Instead, it wants to supplement those guides with words, phrases and usage that might not be found in the more traditional books.
The Upworthy and BuzzFeed moves may seem separate, but they’re not. These new content companies are beginning the reshape the entire content business --- not just the words people read, but how these new digital publishers understand engagement of all sorts. The engagement space has been the purview of comScore, Google Analytics, Compete, and a bunch of others, and they all measure the tried-and-true page views, uniques, time spent metrics.
The true engagement has become to real gold standard, especially given all of the talk about the importance of shares and likes. The Verge has a real good look at Chartbeat’s take, which is: shares don’t necessarily equate to readership.
It’s another interesting debate in a fast-changing environment.