Advertising management presentation promotion concept. Vector flat graphic design

A Combo Platter of Metrics and Knowing Your Goals May Be Best, Two Leaders Say

Audience metrics and which ones publishers should focus on continue to matter greatly—and only get more varied as our platforms advance. It used to be having a high open rate and few unsubscribes would allow you a good night’s sleep. Now time-on-page, page views, scroll depth, article scores, shares, printouts and even absence can all keep you up at night. We asked two leading publishers to weigh in

“We still look at open rates for our newsletters and several other metrics—but it is important to understand what these metrics actually tell you, and what they don’t,” Davide Savenije, editor in chief for Industry Dive and its stable of 23 newsletters, told me in an email recently. “If you understand your goals, you can figure out which metrics you need to pay attention and in what ways they are relevant—it’s never a single golden metric; for us, it’s a composite picture of multiple metrics that fill in different parts of the picture and that are tailored to your goals. These metrics provide you with a feedback loop from your readers that helps you guide strategy and adapt where necessary as you see the results. Benchmarking is also important so that you have context on what the numbers mean.”

As Savenije and the other leading publisher I turned to for this article, Dan Fink, managing director of Money-Media, both indicate, it is not just one metric that can tell the whole story. It’s more of a combo platter, depending on your needs and goals—be it building subscriber loyalty, adding new members/subscribers, increasing engagement, moving people to and within your site, or all of the above.

“We’re looking at time-on-page in addition to page views to assess which articles are resonating with readers,” Fink wrote to me. “It’s useful to look at average time and total time for each article. This reveals that the article with the most clicks doesn’t always get the most time. That’s important because users put a greater value on the amount of time they spend with your content, than the number of times they click on it.

“We are also looking at scroll depth (i.e. how far down the page readers scroll). This gives a similar insight to time-on-page. We are working to develop a formula that combines page views, time-on-page and other user actions (print, save, share, etc.) into a single metric. My plan is to shift our internal focus on this new engagement metric, since it is more valid than one-dimensional page views.”

recent article on INMA titled, Should Time Replace Pageviews as the North Star Audience Metric?, showed that time spent has gained traction throughout the industry. At Facebook, time spent helps rank the News Feed. At Google, it informs search results. “At Netflix and Spotify, play time guides content, product and marketing decisions.” A Netflix study found that “the total hours spent watching was the most predictive for member retention, well ahead of movie or show ratings.”

Finding the metric that most ties into reader/subscriber loyalty would seem to be the gold standard. Mediahuis, a huge international media company in Antwerp, Belgium, also found that “aggregated time spent on the site by individual readers correlated with the likelihood they converted to paid subscribers and renewed.” Other research confirms this, though visit frequency often tops even time.

Of course, metrics do not tell all. Industry Dive goes the extra mile, setting up “measurement and feedback loops” to try to answer further questions about value and loyalty, quality of their coverage and even which readers you should covet most.

“At the same time that we use website and other metrics to tell us important specific things about readers, I think there is a big analytics gap in the journalism world in terms of measuring the qualitative value of your relationship with readers outside of these specific contexts,” Savenije wrote. “There are many important questions that the above metrics do not provide clear answers to. What value do readers believe you provide? How loyal are your readers? Where do readers see you vs. your competition? Are some readers more important to your editorial model than others, and how do you measure your relationship with them? What do readers think about the quality of your coverage? Are they satisfied with your product?

“At Industry Dive, we have worked to build up measurement and feedback loops to help us answer these important questions. We have a data analytics team within our audience department that helps us build measurement tools around these questions, and develop custom dashboards to make them easy for our editorial teams to interpret and glean actionable takeaways from them.”

That last part is music to an editorial person’s ears. In 2019, the Financial Times, Money-Media’s parent company, developed a Quality Reads metric that “measured page views qualified by the threshold of time and scroll depth,” writes INMA. “For a page view to be counted as a Quality Read, the reader needs to spend at least 50% time required to read the whole article estimated by the number of words and scroll to at least 50% of the page’s length.”

We will continue to cover this important topic. What are your go-to metrics? Let me know at rlevine@siia.net. Thanks!

Advertising management presentation promotion concept. Vector flat graphic design

‘Analytics as a Decision-Making Tool’; Metrics Work Best as a Means to a Well Thought Out End

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“How do you change your habits after you’ve learned about analytics?” asked Vidisha Priyanka (pictured), visiting instructor at the University of South Florida and a former interactive learning manager for the famed Poynter Institute, in a discussion we had on content metrics here a couple years ago. “How will it change your daily habit of writing and reporting and engaging your audience? How do you understand when your audience is trying to engage with you? And who is your audience?”

Most editorial people are not data and analytics experts, myself included. Yet as our world becomes more and more digital, so many more metrics have become available to us. It used to be having a high open rate and few unsubscribes would allow you a good night’s sleep. Now page views, time on page—the trendiest metric—scroll depth, shares, printouts and even absence between visits can each keep us up at night. (Absence may make the heart grow fonder but perhaps not the reader.)

“And what about drop-off rates?” Priyanka continued. “I’m reading an article that you’ve written and you poured your heart and soul in it, but people are dropping off after four paragraphs. So how do we improve your writing or presenting skills? What do you do with multimedia content? How do you add a visual or a graphic? So we talk about analytics not just as numbers, but analytics as a decision-making tool.”

What triggered my recollection of Priyanka was an email exchange this week with Davide Savenije, editor in chief for one of the fastest growing publishers, AM&P Network member Industry Dive and its 23 newsletters. Like Priyanka, they view analytics and metrics as a way to get better.

“We have a data analytics team within our audience department that helps us build measurement tools around [our major reader] questions, and develop custom dashboards to make [the data] easy for our editorial teams to interpret and glean actionable takeaways from them,” Savenije wrote.

That should be music to an editorial person’s ears. Both Savenije and the other leading publisher I turned to for this article, Dan Fink, managing director of Money-Media, a Financial Times company, both indicate that it is not just one metric that tells the whole story. And how you measure your metrics must also be tied to your goals—be it building member loyalty, increasing engagement, getting members to events, or all of the above.

“We still look at open rates for our newsletters and several other metrics—but it is important to understand what these metrics actually tell you, and what they don’t,” Savenije wrote. “If you understand your goals, you can figure out which metrics you need to pay attention and in what ways they are relevant—it’s never a single golden metric; for us, it’s a composite picture of multiple metrics that fill in different parts of the picture and that are tailored to your goals. These metrics provide you with a feedback loop from your readers that helps you guide strategy and adapt where necessary as you see the results.  Benchmarking is also important so that you have context on what the numbers mean.”

The Growth of Time-on-Page

Money-Media has several verticals and has always focused intently on metrics, infographics and visual storytelling. Yet the top of their website still reflects their guiding principle: “Content Is King.”

“We’re looking at time-on-page in addition to page views to assess which articles are resonating with readers,” Fink wrote to me. “It’s useful to look at average time and total time for each article. This reveals that the article with the most clicks doesn’t always get the most time. That’s important because users put a greater value on the amount of time they spend with your content, than the number of times they click on it.

“We are also looking at scroll depth (i.e. how far down the page readers scroll). This gives a similar insight to time-on-page. We are working to develop a formula that combines page views, time-on-page and other user actions (print, save, share, etc.) into a single metric. My plan is to shift our internal focus on this new engagement metric, since it is more valid than one-dimensional page views.”

A recent article on INMA titled, Should Time Replace Pageviews as the North Star Audience Metric?, showed that time-on-page has gained traction all over. At Facebook, time spent helps rank the News Feed. At Google, it informs search results. “At Netflix and Spotify, play time guides content, product and marketing decisions.” A Netflix study found that “the total hours spent watching was the most predictive for member retention, well ahead of movie or show ratings.”

For Savenije, there’s so much more than just metrics to determine if their content is accomplishing what it needs to.

“There are many important questions that the above metrics do not provide clear answers to. What value do readers believe you provide? How loyal are your readers? Where do readers see you vs. your competition? Are some readers more important to your editorial model than others, and how do you measure your relationship with them? What do readers think about the quality of your coverage? Are they satisfied with your product?

“At Industry Dive, we have worked to build up measurement and feedback loops to help us answer these important questions.”

‘You Can Plan for the Unplanned’; Processes and Audience Outreach Give Industry Dive a Content Blueprint to Follow

 

Back in late October, we asked readers if they had finished their 2021 editorial calendar. While 67% responded, “Yes, though we have left some room for flexibility,” 33% checked, “No, things are just too fluid.”

Having an editorial calendar is well and good until a pandemic hits,” said Robin Re in a webinar this week titled Why You Need to Operate Like a Newsroom in 2021. She is the VP of marketing for Industry Dive, a B2B publisher that in this time of shrinking editorial staffs in many places, has been consistently adding to its reporting staff. They now have more than 80 reporters working on 23 newsletters in 20 verticals.

While the webinar was geared to marketers—the idea being that the way the Industry Dive newsroom gets to know its audience is a worthy blueprint for marketing—it also gave us an inside look at a growing and successful publisher and the insights of its editor-in-chief, Davide Savenije. The five keys that Re and fellow presenter Lieu Pham, Industry Dive’s VP global head of strategy, offered came straight from Savenije as did a few mantras along the way.

When it comes to editorial calendars and other publishing issues that can be put in flux by outside conditions, Re emphasized the need for processes. “What’s your process for dealing with unexpected things in real time?” she asked. “What format can we use to get information out and then update? Pushes? Articles? Interviews? Podcasts? What are the next developments that can then spawn from this? People want to consume quick insight and analysis. By coming out quickly, we give ourselves time to develop the deep-dive story.”

Pham added that in today’s market, brands need a plan for all types of events, kind of a marketing version of a SWAT team. Know how production will be accelerated and where you can take shortcuts to get content out fast. Ensure everyone understands their roles. “You can plan for the unplanned,” she said.

“When we talk about having a newsroom mindset, it’s not just about serving our audience,” said Pham. “It’s about having a plan in place for keeping your audience in the know and helping them plan as much as possible for the future. In other words, it’s about being ready for anything. The world turns in ways that no one can predict. Know who you are, who you serve, and plan for everything: the known, anticipated and unknown.”

While Industry Dive has grown, Pham was quick to point out when asked that smaller editorial departments actually have distinct advantages. “You can be more nimble, act like a startup,” she said. “You can really experiment and refine your approach. Just set up really solid processes than can scale… You may not be able to compete on breaking news, but you can provide more thoughtful follow-up and analysis.”

Having processes in place and being ready to pivot are part of number 3 for Industry Dive: Stay Agile. Let’s go through the other four:

Know your audience.

“We have an entire team dedicated to audience,” Re said. “Who is our target reader? What’s keeping them up at night? [Questions like these] allow our reporters to jump on the headlines and events that our readers actually care about. The audience doesn’t stay static, and neither do our efforts to understand them.”

She said that midway through 2020, they surveyed their readers and found that a quarter believed that their job had significantly changed during the pandemic. “That meant our reporters needed to pivot to stories of transition, increased responsibility, workplace alternatives and continuity solutions,” Re said.

Pham recommended these activities for your publications department: Customer interviews – up to five customers per audience segment. Stakeholder interviews, especially those who are customer facing. Who at your association deals directly with your audience?) Social listening. Don’t go crazy with this, Pham advised. Focus on the key threads to help develop the story angle. Keyword research. “That’s critical to establish authority or own a key conversation.” Analytics. What topics are resonating? Alerts. Competitor mentions, industry trends.

This as an ongoing process, Pham said. “So stay attentive, monitor and listen to make sure you’re investing in the right topics.”

Choose your coverage, keeping your goals, brand promise and audience in mind.

“Focus on what will impact [your audience’s] lives today, tomorrow and 10 years from now,” Re said. ”A story should also correlate back to a trend that says something larger about the target reader’s profession. Our reporters take a backroads view of what will change in the next 10 years and then tell the day-to-day stories that help readers get there.”

She said that choosing what not to cover can be just as important. Every story idea at Industry Dive must go through a series of questions all mostly related to the value the story has for the audience. She quoted Savenije: “You can’t be an expert on everything, so be an expert on the most important things.”

“What topics do you want to be known for that you have expertise and authority to own?” Pham asked. Make sure those topics make sense for your business. “Check out the competition; what are they doing well or failing at? Remember, you’re competing with everyone who has content. That’s not just traditional competitors anymore.

“Be really intentional,” Pham advised, whether that’s “meeting a gap in the market or simply creating high-quality journalistic content. In a world where content is highly commoditized, investing in quality could be all you need to take the lead.

Prioritize substance over clickbait.

“Readers trust us to take a deeper analysis beyond any other business publications,” Re said. “So we need to provide depth.” They discovered that 82% of their audience feel that quality of analysis is something they look for in a news source. So their headlines are active, informative, succinct and engaging, but don’t oversell. “Your teaser text should drive the headline,” she said. “Also try to be economical with words. And compel the reader to take action.” Create a curiosity gap that leaves the reader wondering.

Pham wants to see a diverse range of experts, inside and outside of your organization, leveraged, and for you not to make format assumptions. Narrow your coverage, she advised and double down on the why’s—thought leadership, big ideas—and hows—resources, templates, guidance and how-tos.

Listen. Measure. Learn.

“We want to build a relationship [with the audience] based on trust and credibility,” Re said. So page views are nice but they’re too soft a measurement tool. They prefer time spent on page, engagement rate and shares. “We use content that engages our target reader as fuel for our next story. Why waste time on a topic that the audience has shown little interest in in the past?

“We’ve built out dashboards that help show our newsroom the engagement behavior of our most valued targeted readers. Which stories are they reading? Which ones are they sharing? That tells where we go next?”

“It’s really good practice to adopt an evolutionary approach to content,” said Pham. “We constantly monitor performance and… the topics not working, and double down on the topics that are performing well. It’s a form of content Darwinism; it’s literally survival of the content fittest.”

The webinar can be watched in full here. There is also an accompanying free report titled 2020 Audience Insights for B2B Marketing in the Year of Disruption that you can read here.

SIIA-amp-network-feature-photo

SIPA December Member News

A Clever insideARM Take

 

On insideARMMike Bevel, their director of education, lists some of the things that he is thankful for—after some fun Thanksgiving banter. It’s a nice way to speak to your audience. His first thankful burst is: “Everyone who reads our newsletter. Everyone who takes time to trust us, and our insights and opinions. Even you. Even the person who once wrote to me to tell me I had half a brain. I’m a brain half-full kinda guy anyway.” Well done.

 


Fantini Research Celebrates 20 Years

 

What started as a single emailed newsletter with six subscribers in January 2000 has blossomed into a multi-title publishing and research enterprise with global customers. “We are proud of our accomplishments in building our suite of products and services, and we are even more excited about the future as the gaming industry continues to grow and evolve,” says Fantini Research founder and CEO Frank Fantini.

 

On their Meet the Team page, you can watch a wonderful video interview with Fantini and associate publisher and executive editor Ashley Diem (pictured above). “Historically, our main product has been a daily newsletter that covers the gaming industry comprehensively… It’s become a must-read for a lot of people,” he says proudly. “We have that slogan, ‘More important than your morning coffee,’ because for some people it is.”

 

In response to the pandemic, they created Fantini’s Gaming Show: A Virtual Trade Show and Newsroom. “There is now a way for gaming industry suppliers to exhibit their products to decision-makers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”

 


Africa Confidential, Plain-English Media Offer Glimpses

 

We’re all playing with different paywall ideas this year. Africa Confidential features timely daily stories from many of the African countries. Usually there’s one paragraph and then it says this: “End of preview – This article contains approximately 1642 words.” They do choose about three free stories for visitors to read, highlighted with a red box. Good color choice.

 

Plain-English Media’s Community Association Management Insider—which they acquired from The Habitat Group—gives a headline and an opening paragraph before putting in big type: “The resource you requested is available only to current members.” Speaking about the acquisition, Matt Humphrey, president and founder of Plain-English Media, said at the time: “It helps us serve community associations in a new way that complements our flagship real estate publication, HOAleader.com.”

 


Ace Infoway, Money-Media Show They Are Good Places to Work

 

Ace Infoway has a section on their homepage titled Life @ Ace. “Hop on to see our activities because no amount of creative copy can justify our employee (ec)centricity!”

 

Of course, most of the ideas were pre-COVID though I’m sure most will continue at some point. They did a ThanksGiving day with people writing notes on hand cutouts of what they are thankful for. There’s also Yoga Day, Environment Day and Women’s Day.

 

And there’s still that moving and emotional, two-minute video of a desolate Broadway, an empty San Marco Square in Venice, a “Sorry We’re Closed” sign, and then a tribute to the “Heroes fighting the Coronavirus.” “For Ace Infoway, things are not the same as before. We really miss working together… We take this moment to thank our Ace Internal Heroes. Our dedication to our clients is the only motivation we thrive on.”

https://www.aceinfoway.com/gratitude

 

Money-Media uses a video to show why it’s a good place to work called, “Why should you work for Money-Media?” and it appears prominently on their homepage. We hear from employees about the career-growing opportunities, trust and camaraderie. Then we see pre-COVID laughter and food at staff gatherings, a softball title and comfortable meetings. “We are seeing video usage rise, especially as we test new formats,” said Money-Media managing director Dan Fink.

 


Utility Dive, Waste Dive & Smart Cities Dive Join Forces to Cover the Cost of Climate Change

 

“It seems like another lifetime, but it was just shy of a year ago when Industry Dive’s energy and environment teams gathered in our main conference room to start brainstorming and planning major projects we wanted to dive into in 2020.”

 

So starts a story on the Industry Dive site announcing how three of their verticals will partner to cover one of the biggest stories of the day—climate change. Waste Dive launched a tool to monitor the climate targets of major companies in the waste and recycling industry. Utility Dive unveiled an interactive tool that will allow readers to quickly learn critical information about the physical risks climate change poses to utilities.

SIIA-amp-network-feature-photo

October SIPA Member News

Industry Dive Launches Cybersecurity Dive

On Monday, Industry Dive officially launched Cybersecurity Dive. The latest newsletter and website will bring news and analysis to chief information security officers and other executives tasked with keeping brands’—and customers’—data safe.

 

Cybersecurity Dive marks the 23rd site in Industry Dive’s portfolio of online publications and industry-focused newsletters. The new Dive will look at industry regulation, along with legal, technological, economic, social, labor, and geopolitical risks.

 

“While the TV trope of hackers wearing hoodies in dark basements may be fun to watch, businesses know security breaches are no laughing matter. As the world has become increasingly digital, cybersecurity has quickly evolved into a top priority for enterprises from startups to the Fortune 500,” said Industry Dive editor-in-chief Davide Savenije. “Bringing Industry Dive’s award-winning journalism and exclusive insights to cybersecurity will help executives in the space stay ahead of the curve.”

 

Cabot Wealth Network Acquires The Turnaround Letter

Cabot Wealth Network, celebrating 50 years of business, has acquired contrarian investment newsletter, The Turnaround Letter, from New Generation Research, Inc. of Boston. Relaunched as Cabot Turnaround Letter, the new financial advisory expands Cabot Wealth’s suite of advisories to 16 publications and a financial retirement club.

 

Founded in 1986 by publisher George Putnam, the publication became one the most established and longest-running Wall Street investment publications of its time. Editorial focuses on providing insight into potential turnaround situations and recommends stock purchases that have potential for large and imminent or long-term increases.

 

Longtime Turnaround Letter Editor Bruce Kaser will join Cabot Wealth Network as the value stocks expert and chief analyst of Cabot Turnaround Letter and Cabot Undervalued Stocks Advisor.

 

Ragan Communications Announces Workplace Wellness Insider

Ragan Communications has announced the launch of a subscription service tailored to wellness, human resources and communications professionals. The Workplace Wellness Insider will provide insights and solutions needed to build corporate wellness initiatives that make an impact.

 

At the core of this important product launch is the belief that fostering the physical and mental well-being of employees is no longer just nice to have, but critical to an organization’s sustainability and business performance.

 

“While employee wellbeing has always been important, never before has it been central to organizational health,” said Diane Schwartz, CEO of Ragan. “The stressors—mental, physical, financial and social—caused by the pandemic, social injustices and ongoing isolation cannot be ignored, and those overseeing wellness programs need a trusted source for guidance. We are both thrilled and humbled to be able to provide that with the Workplace Wellness Insider.”

 

Relias Named 2020 Leader in Diversity

Relias, a trusted education and training partner to more than 11,000 healthcare clients and parent of SIPA member Relias Media, was recognized by the Triangle Business Journal (TBJ) as a winner of its 2020 Leaders in Diversity Award.

 

TBJ’s 2020 awardees consist of eight companies, including Relias, and 14 individuals who have demonstrated respect for inclusive treatment of others, advocacy for underrepresented groups, and multicultural marketing from a variety of industries including technology, healthcare, commercial real estate, finance, education, and life sciences.

 

“Relias values diversity and continually works to create an environment where employees of all abilities, ethnicities, sexual preferences, identities, race, age or creed feel they can bring their authentic selves,” said Tina Krebs, Relias chief people officer. “Relias is honored with the recognition from TBJ, and we congratulate all the awardees who have set the bar high and are committed to diversity and inclusion.”

 

Op Ed on The Company Dime: John Harvey on the Future of Business Travel Demand

SIPA member The Company Dime publishes some excellent content, especially in this hectic and changing time for business travel.

 

“A step-change has already taken place, which cannot be ignored. This is not about when governments say we can travel again, how clean and safe travel feels or what tests and vaccines emerge, but rather a realization that people were traveling more than they needed to.

 

“COVID is a spotlight that will put a new focus on qualifying the actual demand on every trip… Change will happen across the program. Individuals who may have been drivers of travel — by inviting, suggesting or requiring others to travel — will think differently. Many travelers themselves will question the value, importance and necessity of each trip.

 

“That everyone will be inclined to travel less in the future is not just a subjective or conceptual view. There will be four tangible forces applying downward pressure on qualifying and reducing demand going forward…”

 

Read more here.