Assigning value to online content

June 21, 2011

A Los Angeles-based company is attempting to accomplish what online publishers have been chasing for the past 15 years — namely, placing value on a piece of content.

JumpTime, founded by a group of former executives from the likes of MTV Networks and Yahoo, this month is taking the wraps off a  software service that affixes a price tag to articles in real time. It also helps determine the future value of those articles.

Over the past four years, the company has worked with leading publishers such as MSNBC and ESPN.

“The value of content is not understood,” said Michele DiLorenzo chief executive and co-founder of JumpTime.

Indeed, since the mid-1990s when media first started flocking to the Web, publishers have been trying to accurately figure the economics behind a story. That might take the shape of the number of page views a certain story fetches, or the number of unique users to a site, or the time spent on site. All of this is mashed together in some form to come up with a rate for an ad placed next to that content.

But that doesn’t really tell you the true value, contends JumpTime.

Instead, JumpTime is offering tools that assign value to stories incorporating immediate and future outcomes. Not only what happened — like the number of clicks –  but if those clicks were valuable and where people went after they read a story.

The idea is to better help editors who have to cull through tons of content to figure out what to select and where to place it.

Unlike other services that offer analytic software that keeps tabs on the number of page views for each  story, JumpTime’s tools help  editors follow the pathways forged by readers.

In one test case, a publisher was pushing content that didn’t attract advertising. But it turned out that readers who clicked on that stuff  moved to pages with valuable advertising. The information kept the publisher from scotching the user generated content section that was once in jeopardy.

In another example, JumpTime found that a popular story that fetched many page views failed to boost advertising revenue — think of slide shows or salacious headlines that get people to click only to see them dash off the site seconds later.

“They are tracking in real time the actual pathways of usage on a particular news site and they are telling the site operators, ‘Here are the pathways people are taking’,” said Ken Doctor and analyst with Outsell Research.

JumpTime is trying to determine what pieces of content are more engaging, he said.

“Where (readers) are going to a story, in some cases, it’s intuitive,” said Doctor. “In other cases, it’s not.”

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