Actionable Data: 8 Metrics Which Fuel Digital Content Growth

Scott O'Neill Monday, 16 November 2015

Let’s get the clichés and buzzwords out of the way, data is arguably becoming the new currency for publishers across the globe, as data should inform the strategy in order to develop revenues – well that’s how it should work on paper. And yes ‘big data’ is still a common discussion point at many events. That’s all well and good, but how will an arsenal of data actually benefit publishers? How do the already-converted sell internally to the non-converted the need for data in a publishing business that relies heavily on ad revenues?

In the eyes of decision makers, is audience & usage data a ‘need’ at this stage in order to combat declining print & ad revenues, or a ‘want’ in order to compliment the bread & butter and current revenue drivers?

Data: The Future for Publishing?

The industry seems quite set on data being the future for publishers – to which I can’t disagree – as we start to develop personalized strategies, to focus on the ‘consumer’ and not ‘consumers’, a 1:1 relationship in which publishers can target content and tailor packages & memberships. But in order to unlock such potential, technology vendors must offer more than just handing over a file or dashboard “here’s your arsenal of data, enjoy”, because we all know that’s a sure fire way to overload and drown in these new wonderful metrics, of which 90% won’t ever be used, right?

A colleague of mine recently pitched the idea that no matter how you want to package data, be it big data, smart data or collections of small data and no matter how you want to use it, be this to develop ad revenue, to monetize Direct-to-consumer or just to get more customer insight; it must be realistic depending on the resource in place. In other words, it needs to be actionable.

Continuing on that train of thought, we collectively pulled together some of the top metrics to focus energy on, which are actionable for publishers wanting more insight into how they should shape their current or future monetization strategy. These metrics should be a staple in selecting a technology vendor to support any business model that the data reveals would prove most successful on paper:

#1 Anonymous consumer usage data – fingerprint the anonymous, understand peaks of usage, subject categories and frequency of use.

#2 Offers consumed by demographic – understand if you’re targeting new audiences, which offers and channels are proving successful at distributing promotions.

#3 Consumer consumption trends – drill in on what dates, times, locations and categories your current consumer base are consuming and identify up-sell/cross-sell opportunities.

#4 Consumer device types – segment your audiences by devices to develop new device-led offerings and unique device-specific promotions.

#5 Subscription and offers churn – identify which services are causing consumers to leave or what’s not incentivizing them to stay – but most importantly, understand how to win-back.

#6 Referral sources – shape your strategies based on referral paths, show success of promotional distribution and weigh up partnership opportunities.

#7 Revenue generated by segments – the bottom line; show which segments are driving the revenues, and which content and services are most popular amongst that segment.

#8 Pages per visit and time on site – should you meter your content, should you sell per article, how long should you wait to prompt an offer or subscription to users?

“There’s much more than this to focus on” I hear, but arguably between these ‘critical few’, there’s enough to shape strategies, to identify successes and failures and finally, a good measurement for ROI.

But don’t feel constrained, after all, data to focus efforts is subjective to the strategies in place, the objectives working towards, the content on offer and the audience behavior. But unless data is actionable, it is just more numbers to crunch and less time focusing efforts on what’s actually driving the revenues.

What are the ‘critical few’ actionable data metrics for your content business? What’s on your wish list of metrics currently not available?

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