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OJR: Revenue is the only metric that truly matters

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.

See his full post here…

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‘Monetising the hate’: Dooce.com’s new online advertising idea

Heather B. Armstrong, full-time blogger and former web designer, is experimenting with a new way to make online revenue: publishing the hate mail she receives on a separate page of her blog, surrounded by advertising.

Armstrong set up Dooce.com in 2001, and since then it has rather grown: the site’s advertising sign-up section reports over 220,000 page views and over 30,000 unique users per day. Armstrong says that she now earns enough money from the website to support her whole family which includes a husband, two dogs and two children. On Twitter (@dooce) she is – at the time of writing – followed by 1,275,573 people.

With that popularity comes a lot of vitriol. Introducing the new ‘monetising the hate’ feature – an idea suggested by her friend Heather Champ, Armstrong wrote:

“Every awful thing you can say about a human being, it’s been said about me and my family. Over and over again, like a broken record, and I guess with the intention that it will at some point hurt me so badly that I will throw my hands in the air and give up.”

(…)

“Internet, let me introduce you to Monetizing The Hate. Here I will be posting all the hate mail I get in my inbox and all the hateful anonymous and not-so-anonymous comments left on this website.”

Hat-tip: Paul Waugh, London Evening Standard.

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SimsBlog: ‘Top 10 lies newspaper execs are telling themselves’

September 2nd, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

Judy Sims, once vice president, digital media for the Toronto Star Media Group, offers up a list of lies newspaper executives might tell themselves to deflect from the reality of the crises faced by their industry:

1. “We can manage this disruption from within an integrated organisation”

2. “Print advertising reps can sell online advertising too”

3. “Aggregators are killing my business”

4. “We can recreate scarcity by putting up pay walls”

5.  “Our readers paid for news in the past, they will again”

6. “There will never be enough online revenue to support our newsroom’

7. “No one will ever cover crime/health/city hall the way we do”

8. “Our readers can’t be trusted/they are idiots/they are assholes”

9.  “Democracy will collapse without us”

10.  “I can compete with the best digital leaders/thinkers/creators in the world without becoming an active member of the online community”

Sims gives her own take on the thinking behind the ‘lies’ and why she thinks they’re false – agree or disagree?

Full list at this link…

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Online revenues up for Independent and Johnston Press, but print ads fall

August 27th, 2008 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Online Journalism

At the same time as reports of significant decline in UK and US print advertising, online advertising revenue is up for the Independent News Media Group (INM) and Johnston Press.

Johnston Press, the publisher of the Scotsman and over 300 regional newspapers and websites, announced that digital revenues had grown by 52.1 per cent to an unstated figure, in its interim results for the 26 weeks ending June 30.

The publisher reports that it will ‘continue to experience significant growth in overall audience reach – combining our newspaper readership with the rapidly increasing number of people visiting our websites.’

Meanwhile, INM, which – among other titles – publishes the Independent, the Belfast Telegraph and the Independent on Sunday, saw online revenue from advertising grow by 23.3 per cent to €15.9 million in the six months prior to June 30, it reported in its half-year results.

INM’s online revenue (including its stakes in other online ventures) rose buy 57.1 per cent to €30 million over the same period ‘reflecting good organic growth and a continuation of its multimedia investment strategy across all regions,’ the report said.

Online classified and display advertising now represents around 4 per cent of publishing advertising for the group. This increase was helped by ‘strategic’ investments in services such as price comparison, online gaming, image search, and mobile.

Nonetheless, online was included in INM’s overall group costs, which increased by 1.4 per cent. The publisher also recorded ‘certain online and education start-up development costs’ of €6 million and €19 million.

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