MetricShift Survey: Audience Engagement, Impact Measurement Are Top Priorities

    by Jason Alcorn
    February 6, 2017
    Image by League of Women Voters and used here with Creative Commons license.

    What does the media metrics profession look like in 2017? What are the top priorities for editors and other newsroom leaders? How can MetricShift help you use and understand metrics better?

    To answer these questions, we surveyed our readers here on MediaShift over the last month. We learned a lot about who you are, what you do, and what you want to learn. As we did last year, we wanted to share the highlights of the results here.

    The biggest takeaway: Your top priorities for 2017 are audience engagement and impact measurement.


    Look for more case studies and actionable information on both of those topics soon. And a reminder that if you want to contribute to MetricShift, here’s how.

    Metrics matter to the top of the org chart

    It’s at once notable and encouraging that a majority of MetricShift readers hold senior positions in newsrooms. Although there is plenty of DIY metrics ethos, many newsroom policies around metrics and analytics come from the top down. See for example, the smart tips that Jean Hodges collected from GateHouse publications.


    Decisions about tools to purchase and how to spend limited staff resources are decisions made by senior management. How to track the impact of stories to increase revenue, built trust, and expand your audience is guidance and are decisions that come from well-informed management.

    Audience development is the top priority

    Top metrics tracked

    We asked what metrics you tracked. Here are the top 10, lightly cleaned up and grouped when metrics were very similar:

    1. Time on page
    2. Page views
    4. Bounce rate
    5. Visitors
    6. Social metrics
    7. Engagement
    8. Users
    9. Clicks
    10. Video metrics

    Just for fun, here are five metrics that didn’t make the top 10 but are still interesting.

    1. Index metric
    2. Acquisition channel
    3. Read rate
    4. Timestamps
    5. Concurrent users

    More newsrooms track metrics than impact

    There is a 25-point gap between newsrooms that track analytics of any kind and newsrooms that actually track impact. (I do wonder about the 20 percent of you who read MetricShift and don’t know what analytics are.)

    That gap is real and it’s a problem. We wrote about it last August when the Engaging News Project released the results of a survey that found newsrooms are monitoring metrics but not acting on them. Our survey results are a bit more optimistic overall, which I chalk up to the self-selected group of news people who choose to read MetricShift.

    We’re digging into why this is and what can be done to help more newsrooms move beyond measurement to action and will have more articles and a Twitter chat soon.

    Gaps in media metrics coverage

    One complaint you have of analytics coverage generally is that there’s not enough actionable content. We share any tools and tutorials we come across that we really like. And some of our most popular pieces are how to sit down and actually do something in metrics. A lot more of that to come this year.

    We’ll also be doing more on individual tools and how to use them. If you have questions we can help tackle, let us know.

    What can MetricShift do for you?

    Nearly two-thirds of readers say MetricShift has helped them understand measurement and impact better. That’s our mission… so thank you!

    More than half also share MetricShift content with colleagues.

    You told us that our weekly Media Metrics newsletter and special series are especially helpful. (In the chart above, lower is better and one means extremely helpful.) Our newsletter is growing and will continue to be delivered every Wednesday. Sign up here if you’re not getting it yet. You can also expect to see more special series this year as we dive deep into social metrics, the best analytics tools, media impact (again!), and more.

    And finally — readers want MetricShift to offer more trainings. Almost universally, attendees rate MetricShift trainings very highly, and we will be doing more. Our next training is with Emily Yount, an interaction designer with the Washington Post’s amazing PostGraphics team. She’s going to share her team’s secrets to making beautiful and engaging stories. 

    Jason Alcorn (@jasonalcorn) is the Metrics Editor for MediaShift. In addition to his work with MediaShift, he works as a consultant with foundations, non-profits and newsrooms.

    Tagged: analytics audience engagement survey results

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  • MediaShift received funding from the Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC), which receives support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to launch the MetricShift section to create a vibrant hub for those interested in media metrics, analytics and measuring deeper impact.

    About MetricShift

    MetricShift examines the ways we can use meaningful metrics in the digital age. We provide thoughtful, actionable content on metrics, analytics and measuring impact through original reporting, aggregation, and audience engagement and community.

    Executive Editor: Mark Glaser

    Metrics Editor: Jason Alcorn

    Reader Advisory Board

    Chair: Anika Anand, The Evergrey

    Brian Boyer, Spirited Media

    Clare Carr, Parse.ly

    Anjanette Delgado, Gannett

    Hannah Eaves, consultant, Gates Foundation

    Alexandra Kanik, Ohio Valley Resource

    Ian Gibbs, Data Stories

    Lindsay Green-Barber, The Impact Architects

    Celeste LeCompte, ProPublica

    Alisa Miller, PRI

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    Email: jason [at] jasalc [dot] com

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