News Leadership 3.0

August 19, 2008

Web math for editors

Leadership report:
Getting smart about the numbers

This is another in a series of posts exploring key takeaways and tools from the Knight Digital Media Center’s Leadership Conference—“Preparing News Organizations for the Digital Now.”

Dana Chinn, a faculty member at the USC Annenberg School of Journalism set out to help newsroom leaders make sense of hits, visits, bounces, time on site, etc. Editors I have spoken with say they are looking at the numbers more and more, but often aren’t quite sure what they mean or what action they may suggest. Chinn gave editors a process for better understanding and using Web numbers.

For starters, Chinn encouraged editors to develop a Web analytics plan and gave them a road map for doing that:

1. Establish goals. These should be for specific audiences or sections, not Web site elements such as video or user-generated content. Define actions that will lead to each goal. Consider online and print together.

2. Define Key Performance Indicators (the metrics) for each goal and decide what you will do if an indicator goes up or down.

3. Benchmark. Set a starting point and set a goal for each indicator (moving it up or down) and establish a time period in which you want to reach each goal.

4. Implement.

5. Monitor.

According to Chinn, the most significant performance indicator may not be a simple number. Instead, Chinn says, a ratio between two numbers often produces the most insight. I’ll look at Chinn’s use of ratios next. You’ll find Chinn’s detailed report here.

How does your organization use Web analytics? What numbers tell you what you need to know? How have you used analytics to help you improve your site and your traffic? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Related: My earlier post about Chinn’s presentation.

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

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