News Leadership 3.0

August 21, 2008

Key performance indicators

Leadership report:
Analyzing numbers and ratios

This is one in a series of posts exploring key takeaways and tools from the Knight Digital Media Center’s recent conference, “Preparing News Organizations for the Digital Now,” and a follow up on yesterday’s post about the Web metrics presentation by Dana Chinn, a faculty member at the USC Annenberg School of Journalism,

An important takeaway from Chinn was the idea of the Key Performance Indicator for Web traffic.

Often, that KPI is not a simple number such as time on site or unique monthly visitors. Instead, the most meaningful information may be from a ratio or comparison of two different numbers. Chinn’s detailed report gives 12 examples of possible indicators:

Site health
1. Visits per unique visitor
2. Page views per visit

Driving traffic
3. Top entry and landing pages
4. Bounce rate
5. Conversion rate

6. Visitor frequency
7. Visitor recency
8. New vs. returning visitors
9. Most popular stories
10. Visits using internal search
11. Site exits after using internal search
12. Time spent during visits

Chinn has prepared a report, “Measuring Web Success in the Newsroom,” that gives details about each indicator on the list, including how to calculate it and how to make use of the results.

Here is one example: Visits per unique visitor

To calculate, divide the number of visits for a specified time period (say, one week) by the number of unique visitors for that time period.
An increase usually means users are coming more frequently. Frequency and recency indicators may give more detail.
A decrease usually means users are visiting the site less and becoming less engaged. There may be problems with content, design and navigation, refers from print or marketing efforts. Or new competition.

See previous posts about Chinn’s presentation here and here.


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Exploring innovation, transformation and leadership in a new ecosystem of news, by journalist and change advocate Michele McLellan.

Get in touch with Michele at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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