Revenue: how to build it, how to maintain it and how to increase it – this is the challenge facing every online news outlet owner or director looking to secure a future in the industry.
But according to a post by Robert Niles on the Online Journalism Review, some sites are getting caught up in the latest ‘metrics’ craze based on the perceived successes of others, whether it be page-views, unique visitors or time spent by browsers on the site. But none of this means anything if it doesn’t make you money, he says.
I’ve seen sites post phenomenal numbers for each of those categories, and fail. There’s one metric, and only one, that truly matters in determining your websites’s commercial success. Revenue.
Your visitors can spend hours per month on your website, but a huge “time on site” value by itself won’t entitle you to a dime (see Twitter). I suspect that one reason why various web metrics fall into and out of favor over the years is that managers talk up or down those metrics based on their website’s individual performance. Someone notices that people are spending more time, on average, on the website, then he or she gets on a panel at a news industry conference and – boom – “time on site” becomes the metric everyone needs to consider.
He advises instead that organisations do not look at these categories in isolation, instead with an eye to how they can be used to boost revenues through advertising and other means.
Of course, you need data in order to analyze it. That’s why smart news publishers ought to be experimenting, constantly. Try new topics, new writing forms, new functionality – then create new tracking channels to monitor those experiments, to build a database of information that can help guide you in making smarter decisions about the growth and maintenance of your website.