Top 5 Metrics Every Publisher Should Care About
While the mantra of the publishing industry was once "content, content, content," today's refrain might as well be "data, data, data." Sophisticated analytics programs have provided unprecedented amounts of information about readers and their habits across different websites, providing publishers new insights and opportunities to innovate.
However, when literally every data point on a website is tracked and reported, the important stuff can all too easily get lost in the sea of numbers and figures. In an industry where data is increasingly driving decisions, it's more vital than ever for publishers to pay the most attention to the metrics that can be controlled.
Here are the five metrics that should be consistently tracked, measured, and analyzed on every site in order to make the most of your business.
Your Site's Demographic
Knowing exactly who your reader is can and should drive every decision you make on your site from the type of content you create to the types of brands you engage with. Identify the broad swaths of course -- 18-to-24-year-old men interested in gaming, for example -- but also hone in on the specific person that visits your site regularly.
Being able to speak to and about the 22-year-old male in Austin with a $50,000 income differentiates you from other sites, and shows brand advertisers what makes your audience unique, and how you can deliver the readers they won't be able to reach anywhere else.
While once provided solely by services like ComScore and Quantcast, demographic information is now included in Google Analytics and other tools, so there's no excuse for not knowing as much as possible about your readers.
In the advertising ecosystem, the number of monthly unique visitors to your site gives advertisers insight into how many readers will be engaging with their brand or campaign. The more readers within a demographic you can deliver, the more premium ad dollars become available. Certain networks also require monthly minimums, so growing your unique visitors will expand your revenue opportunities.
The higher the bounce rate, the less engaged your readers are with your site. Tracking how this percentage rises and falls as you make changes to the page structure and architecture can tell you what interests your readers most and what keeps them hooked. By retaining a reader longer, you'll improve other metrics like overall page views and pages per visit.
Pages Per Visit
Closely related to bounce rate, the pages per visit metric tells you how many unique pages of content your readers are engaging with during their time spent on your site. Each additional page will boost your overall page views, which can lead to more revenue when you're running a CPM business. A high average of pages viewed per visit lets you know your audience is finding more of what they are interested in on your site, and are often more likely to interact with targeted ads on a page.
If this metric is low (between 1 to 2 PPV), try making changes to how you present your content and related links and see if there's an improvement. Different content types like slideshows can keep readers clicking and viewing more content.
If you want to run a profitable business, you need to know how much a single page view and visitor is worth to you. Parts of your site might be worth more or less, and you want to funnel readers to the areas of the site where you see the highest return for that reader.
These numbers also become essential as you start to build your audience. Once you know exactly how much a single visit or reader is worth, you'll know exactly how much you can afford to spend to acquire those visitors. Investing in audience development programs will grow your overall readership and will even eventually lead to higher RPMs.
While paying attention to these metrics is a good first step, just knowing them isn't enough. All the data in the world becomes useless when it's not used to make changes and decisions. Publishers should always pay close attention to their metrics, but should also always be active in using them to grow their businesses and reach more readers.
About the Author
Manny Puentes, a 15-year veteran of the publishing and software industries, leads the product and engineering efforts as CTO at LinkSmart. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.