Insights > Estimated Read Time vs Average Read Time
Estimated Read Time vs Average Read Time
What these metrics are, why they are important, where to find them and how they are calculated
Estimated Read Time : The estimated amount of time it would take an average person to consume the entire article (based on the number of images and text in the article)
Average Read Time : The average amount of active engaged time that users spend on this page.
Estimated read time is based on a simple algorithm developed by the engineers at Medium.com for estimating how long it would take the average person to read an article given the number of words and images in the article. As part of scraping your content we count the number of words and images and use that to calculate the amount of time it would take the average person to read that content.
The thing to remember is that this is only an estimate, some people are faster/slower readers than others and some subject matter is a faster read than others.
Average Read Time is based on the amount of time that the user spends actively engaged with the article. This means that their browser tab was open and active and that the had some activity (i.e. mouse movement, clicking, scrolling etc). For more information about how we measure this see What Behavior is Tracked? and What Does OneSpot’s Script Do?
If one important goal of content marketing is to get users to actually read your content and engage with it, then looking at the amount of active time people are spending with content rather than just the number of views or hits the page got can be a more meaningful metric.
Secondly, active time alone isn’t really an apples-to-apples comparison across all of the content pages on your site, some articles are shorter than others and (all other things being equal) we would naturally expect visitors to spend less time on shorter articles than on longer articles. So this is where estimated read time becomes useful because it lets you view the average read time of the article relative to how long the article actually is.
Looking at the two metrics together gives you an idea of how far users are getting (on average) though your articles. When comparing articles to each other its useful to look at the avg read time to est read time ratio relative to other articles on your site. You might see that a page is reporting only 0.5 min avg read time on an article thats a 2min read, looking at whether this ratio is higher or lower than other articles on the site helps to understand if this is doing better or worse.
When articles have a (relatively) low ratio of avg to estimated read time, its an indication that the tile or image of the article was “clickable” but the actual content was underwhelming to the user and they bailed out of the article before reading very much of it. You might look at whether your titles/images accurately convey what the user should expect to read on the article, you can also look at how much the first paragraph of your article draws the user into the article and keeps them reading.
When articles have a (relatively) high ratio of avg to estimated read time, its an indication that the title and image of the article not only got them to the page but the content actually kept the user engaged and reading once they were on page. You might take a closer look at these articles and find examples and best practices.