Credit: Juliana Coutinho via Flickr

Devising a successful audience engagement strategy requires working out what content readers are genuinely interested in and how they find it.

To help you make a better informed guess, analytics company Parse.ly launched a new feature - Parse.ly Currents - that highlights broader audience trends and measures not only what topics people read about but also their attention.

The website uses content performance data from more than 600k articles per day published across 3,000+ sites, such as The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg or Medium. The data is then aggregated and anonymised so newsrooms can see what content grabs readers’ attention across the publishing sector.

"People were asking us questions like 'What’s happening on Facebook?' or 'What social media should we advertise on?', says Mike Sukmanowsky, VP, product, Parse.ly.

"So rather than producing a report every time, we decided to launch a tool that allows people to see the data for themselves."

One of Current’s goals is to level the playing field for publishers, said Sukmanowsky. Facebook and Google, for instance, sit on a mine of data but they are seldom willing to share it. For Parse.ly, giving all outlets access to the same data can help them shape their editorial decisions and also allows the company to better understand what problems newsrooms are trying to solve.

Looking at what topics are in demand helps journalists spot under-covered themes that audience is genuinely interested in. It is relatively simple - Currents takes the total number of views for a topic and then divides it by the number of articles published within a chosen time frame. So if a topic attract lots of eyeballs but has been covered in very few stories, that tells you there is a demand for that information.

This can also come in handy when you cover a specific beat or recurring events like, say, Valentine’s Day, as you can look back at the past year and see what content was popular then.

Currents also allows you to see what platform a specific topic is trending on. So if other publishers are getting 30 per cent of their traffic around a topic from, say, Facebook, you can adjust your social media strategy to help readers discover your content the way they are already used to.

Communication agencies are also finding Currents useful to understand breaking news and adapt PR around it.

The website, however, never shares specific URLs to keep the sources of data anonymous. For that reason, you will not be able to find any data if only fewer than three publishers have posted content on your researched topic within the specific time frame.

To help publishers get the best out of Currents, Parse.ly has launched alerts that will help you follow your topics, and a weekly digest. The data for the day before are accessible for free and there are pricing plans for real-time and historic data.

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