Category: journalism

What are your metrics?

In December I will be leading a Poynter News University webinar titled “Track Your Traffic: Web Metrics for Journalists.” The name sort of aligns itself with the theory that journalists and math don’t mix well which is unfair but still often true. So while basic Web metrics are not calculus if you don’t work with them every day then jargon like UV, PV, Avg Time Spent, Search Refers, and Bounce Rate can still be a challenge.

The session will review the basic terms and methodology of Web analytics but will also let people put their own Web reports into some context. To help with that we want to gather (anonymously) examples of a few key metrics from your web site. We don’t want names or any other identifying information and the only descriptions that will be used in the training will be generic such as “A 30,000 circ daily in the Northeast.”

If you complete the survey and provide your e-mail address, we’ll send you a promo code worth $10 off the Webinar. The code will be sent one month before the Webinar, so make sure you fill out the survey before then.

Thanks for the help and please leave a comment below if you have any questions or have additional data to share that might be useful in the training.

The demand curve

In general I have given up arguing free v.s. paid content strategies. The terminology being used: ‘free’ v.s. ‘paid’ is in itself some assurance that in a recession many publishers are going to start charging for their online editions. Never mind that the debate is really ad supported v.s. subscription supported v.s. a hybrid of the two. And, never mind that if you sketch out a ‘paid’ strategy thinking ‘free’ is the other alternative you are probably going to get it wrong.

So in the short term some will get it wrong, possibly horribly wrong. But those paying attention to the fact that digital has changed our culture will hopefully get it right. And ‘right’ can include some level of subscription fees, the question being what cost, what content and what platforms.

But, the number one way to get it wrong is to believe that because content is expensive to produce, readers must and will subsidize its creation through subscription fees. Assuming you are entitled to be paid for something is not really a sound economic argument, especially in the face of an unlimited supply of information driving down the perceived value of your content.

I have not seen anyone map this on a simple supply/demand curve:

Disclaimer: the chart is for entertainment purposes. I am not an economist, not even on TV and the curves here are purely diagrammatic. If this was showing a real information demand curve the ‘supply’ line would be so far to the right as to be off the page bringing the quantity (Q1) with it and dropping the price equilibrium (P1) to zero.

Economics 101 is when supply increases prices decrease. In this case we could argue demand has also increased but not enough to match a limitless supply of information.

So what we have is an oversupply of information. Not news, not journalism necessarily, but information. And guess what, consumers are exhibiting a behavior that indicates 5.5 hours per day of ‘information’ on Facebook is at least a minimally acceptable substitute for paying for a daily newspaper or watching the evening news. If the news is important it will find them. Assuming there are any newspapers left to cover it.

Apparently direct mail is a growth industry?

I received no less than four competing direct mail offers for newspaper subscriptions this week. Oddly enough, only one of the papers actually publishes in New Hampshire – and it was not mine. (Yes, I do already have a subscription to my own paper.)

I found the coincidence of timing, and the various pricing strategies interesting. Each paper structured their offers differently, but basically:

7-day subscription (5 for WSJ)
Union Leader – $2.25 /week
Boston Globe – $7.75 /week (12 week special)
New York Times – $7.40 /week
Wall Street Journal – $2.30 /week

Weekender
Union Leader – $2.00 /week (Thu-Sun)
New York Times  – $5.20 /week (Fri-Sun)

Sunday Only
Union Leader – $1.00 /week
Boston Globe – $2.50 /week (for $3.24 includes Globe Reader)

Live from 39,000 feet

What is it about new toys?

My flight back from Las Vegas this afternoon (Southwest 1159) was on one of the airline’s few planes that have WiFi hotspots. Apparently they are still testing out the system and it was free.

So – having a new iPhone, 5.5 hours of flight time and free Wifi – of course I had to check it out. First up was Qik:

http://qik.com/video/1880919

Not too thrilling – but my son did get to watch the live video for a while which was fun.

I also tested out Skype- which worked like a charm on my end – though Annette could not hear much over the engine noise. Need a noise-canceling mic apparently.

The VPN connection into my office network was no problem. More fun was the SimplifyMedia app for the iPhone – which let me stream my home iTunes library for awhile – till I decided to save my battery I can imagine the Slingbox app would be pretty cool as well.

In the end I spent a fair amount of time watching our flight progress on FlightExplorer.com mostly just to watch the weather we were routing around.

And of course, I had time to write a blog post…

The Kindle/Google/distribution problem

An interesting quote from Jonathan Miller (once-upon-a-time my boss’ boss’ boss’ boss at AOL) talking about Kindle, the WSJ.com and the distribution problem in digital media:

I went from paying $14 to The Wall Street Journal to paying $10 to Amazon (for WSJ.com on the Kindle). Now the splits there, and I think this is relatively well known, are very, very much in favor of Amazon. So I became very much less valuable to The Wall Street Journal. That’s part one. Part two is they don’t know I exist. I went from being someone who’s their subscriber to being someone who is an Amazon subscriber, which The Wall Street Journal has no visibility back to and cannot manage that customer relationship. . . . So they’ve lost both the customer management and, trust me, the lion’s share of the economics.

So newspapers are mad at Google for creating an efficient distribution system that drives traffic back to them, but the same publishers are rushing to Amazon to give them 70% of the subscription revenue to get onto Kindle?