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Introducing Currents: a view of 1 billion people’s attention

Our attention is constantly divided. With so many things competing for our time online, the content we choose to read or watch reveals what we care about. Attention data matters because attention is a limited resource.

When you understand what makes people pay attention, you’re better equipped to uncover their motivations and interests or anticipate their behavior—and make decisions based on that.

HelloFresh discovered spikes in traffic from LinkedIn meant users wanted tips for healthy, time-saving meals, so they distributed more quick lunch recipes on that platform.

Understanding that news readers consume a lot of Trump articles—but don’t share or comment on them—helped HuffPost make better coverage decisions.

For the last seven years, Parse.ly has built tools to help people understand what makes their audiences pay attention through data. If our clients can get this much value with a view of only their audience’s attention, what could they do with access to over a billion people’s attention?

Ungating the power to understand attention

Today, I’m excited to announce the beta release of a new product called Currents, the world’s first live view of what people care about online.

Currents shows the attention of over 1 billion people each month and 850,000 viewed articles each day. It’s built on Parse.ly’s network of thousands of high-traffic, premium content sites. Long ago, we realized this dataset could reveal attention trends related to referral traffic, the box office—even the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

We believe that you shouldn’t need to have a large digital audience to understand what people care about—and that’s why we’re making attention data more accessible to everyone. With Currents, you can uncover attention trends for yourself and use them to inform your own work.

So far, we’ve seen quite a few ways people can use Currents. I want to highlight a handful here:

Comparing referral traffic at scale

When developing a content strategy, it’s not enough to know what happens on one site. Content creators want to understand what topics are driving attention from platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Google to sites across the Internet. Currents makes it easy to compare traffic from these platforms, which can help with prioritizing editorial strategies and figuring out where to promote content after it’s published.

In fact, our latest research digs into the power of understanding referral traffic data at scale, using a set of Currents data spanning April – May 2018.

Deciding what to invest in

I’m excited to see how people who don’t have a direct online audience will use Currents as well. When Dropbox announced its IPO, we could see the corresponding attention spike in Currents—this data may be useful to those who provide financial services.

Strategizing film distribution and marketing budgets

Attention trends could also influence decisions in the film industry. Most films have a big opening weekend and quickly drop off from there. But some movies have legs—like Black Panther, which was in the domestic top 10 at the box office for 13 weekends straight. Knowing if a film is still receiving attention prior to and after its release can help studios decide appropriate digital marketing spend leading up to the release and how to optimize afterwards.

Currents not only shows the amount of attention, but where that attention is coming from, allowing marketing teams to see which channels are most effective at influencing a film’s potential audience.

Attention data is about people

As our team has worked on development, one of the most exciting aspects has been seeing moments surface in Currents that mattered personally to Parse.ly employees. Our European team was glued to Currents when Prince Louis was born.

I pulled up Currents during a conversation with a colleague about the demand for topics that “matter” relative to trending topics. The significant interest in “hard-news” topics like Black Lives Matter and the opioid epidemic relative to Kanye West justifies an editorial strategy to produce more content in those domains.

For me, it’s a reminder that the work we do at Parse.ly isn’t just about numbers. Ultimately, audience attention data represents people—and their connection to what they care about.

Join the Currents beta program

Parse.ly Analytics customers will get free access to the beta version of Currents starting June 26th. We’ll be rolling out access to groups of customers at a time. When it’s your turn, you’ll get an email with an invite link and more information.

If you’re not a Parse.ly Analytics customer, you can sign up to get on the waitlist for the beta program.

By participating in the Currents beta program, you’ll get the opportunity to shape the product’s development. You’ll also likely run into some bugs as we continue to improve Currents. We’d love to get your input. Just shoot us a note at currents@parsely.com.

Something I said in our Series B funding announcement continues to guide us today:

Our mission was once to build the best content analytics. That mission has evolved. Parse.ly exists to change the way people think about the value of attention, and we’re excited to see the impact Currents makes.

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