They may be awash in metrics, but are most newsrooms really getting the right read on who their readers are?
Some experts question whether media companies are properly analyzing the troves of Web analytics readily at their fingertips.
Programs such as Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics (Omniture) and Chartbeat offer publishers insights on page views, unique visitors, time spent on site, referrals and just about every statistic imaginable. Analytics experts, though, warn that “fly-by-night metrics” are not necessarily conducive to accurately evaluating reader engagement.
That’s not to say analytics aren’t useful; in fact, experts say, the exact opposite is the case.
Dana Chinn, lecturer of Web analytics at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, says newsrooms should first determine their long-term content strategy, or value proposition, and find which metrics best measure their audience’s engagement.
Say a local media company runs a Miley Cyrus story that generates a million page views via search, but the readers are from outside their market and don’t return — that doesn’t bolster their brand in their community, Chinn says.