Teaching Examples

Keep your finger on the audience pulse
May 30, 2007, 4:43 pm
Filed under: audiences, blogging, metrics

Scott Kirsner of the San Jose Mercury News wrote about the inescapable fascination of keeping tabs on your readers (On the Web, audience size matters, May 27, 2007):

Andy Plesser, a public relations executive who publishes a video blog called Beet.tv, checks a Web page several times throughout the day that shows information about which other sites are sending visitors his way. “I look at it first thing in the morning, at the office during client calls, and before I go to sleep,” he says, via e-mail. “More alarmingly, I have it bookmarked on my BlackBerry, and I find myself hitting refresh repeatedly.” Plesser confesses to checking his stats even while he’s in the car commuting to work (only when it’s stopped, he insists).

Most people who have been blogging for more than, say, a month have — like Plesser — discovered the addictive properties of free stats software such as StatCounter, SiteMeter and Google Analytics. As Kirsner wrote, it’s “easy to see how readers are finding you — which other Web sites are linking to those popular posts — and to keep tabs on which posts generate the most comments from readers.”

It doesn’t matter if the audience is teensy-tiny — most bloggers will find their site stats irresistible.

[Guy] Kawasaki is a Silicon Valley author and entrepreneur whose blog, “How to Change the World,” shows up at No. 21 on Technorati’s list of the most influential blogs. He contends that all bloggers care about metrics, no matter how well-known or obscure. Via e-mail, he quips, “There are two kinds of bloggers: those that obsess about their Technorati rankings, and those that lie and say they don’t.”

I’m wondering whether the journalist bloggers (the ones who write a blog as part of their staff newsroom job) are fanatically checking their stats. I hope so!

(Found via the Social Media blog.)

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Survey results: What my readers said
April 28, 2007, 5:37 pm
Filed under: audiences, blogging, data, metrics, tools

A week ago, I posted a Wufoo survey here, and 173 of you were kind enough to complete it (108 said they are journalists). Thank you!

You can see the results in graphic format. It’s not the most user-friendly format I’ve ever seen, and it’s only the raw data, so it includes everyone who answered. I have downloaded all the data as a CSV file and will analyze it properly after I finish grading (yes, our semester ended Wednesday).

To see the questions I asked, look here.

Reading Habits

I asked: How does this blog fit into your other blog reading?

  • 70 selected: It is one of the top 10 blogs I read regularly.
  • 67 selected: I read a large number of blogs regularly, and this is just one of them.
  • 10 or fewer selected one of the other six answers.

I asked: Have you seen this blog before today?

  • 74 selected: I have your blog in my RSS feeds and check it often.
  • 46 selected: I check your blog often.
  • 19 selected: I check your blog occasionally.
  • 12 selected: Today is the first time I ever saw your blog.

There were four other answers, each with lower totals.

Preferred Content

I asked: You want to see more posts about … (tick only 3)

  • 58 selected: Online journalism packages (larger stories with multiple segments)
  • 51 selected: Video online
  • 42 selected: Flash
  • 41 selected: Newsroom reforms
  • 38 selected: Teaching online journalism
  • 37 selected: Interactivity

(This is one of the questions where doing a proper data analysis will yield more useful results; I can sort for regular readers, journalists only, etc.)

I asked: What type of post do you like MOST?

  • 51 selected: Tutorials and how-to posts
  • 49 selected: All of these, or I can’t pick just one
  • 22 selected: “Think pieces” or original essays
  • 16 selected: Links to examples at professional journalism sites
  • 14 selected: Critiques of specific online journalism work
  • 10 selected: Overview posts that provide links to several related posts or resources at other sites

I asked: What type of post do you like LEAST?

  • 60 selected: I like all of these, at least sometimes
  • 43 selected: None of these are a type I like LEAST
  • 18 selected: Summaries of other people’s very long articles or blog posts
  • 14 selected: Critiques of specific online journalism work
  • 12 selected: Overview posts that provide links to several related posts or resources at other sites
  • 12 selected: Tutorials and how-to posts

So, this is all pretty interesting to me (I don’t know about you). As I said, these are just the raw data, but it does make me think I should adjust some of my practices with this blog!

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An easy way to survey your users
April 21, 2007, 3:40 pm
Filed under: audiences, data, metrics, tools

Someone in my del.icio.us network posted a link to Wufoo, a new survey-building tool. When I saw that there is a free version, I thought I’d check it out. If you can’t see it below, your Web browser does not support the “iframe” tag. No worries — use this link instead.

Update (April 29): The survey is finished. To see the questions I asked, look here.

There are ONLY eight (8) questions! Come on, help me out!

The red asterisk (*) denotes a required field.

Fill out my Wufoo form!

Powered by Wufoo

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Pageviews, buh-bye! Better metrics on the way
April 19, 2007, 1:46 am
Filed under: audiences, business, metrics, online

Terry Heaton has the word:

If your web advertising strategy is built around page views, you’re going to have to find another way to sell. We’ve been saying this day would come for a long time, and today, The Wall St. Journal is reporting that Nielsen//NetRatings will drop the page view as a metric to measure web traffic and instead rely more on time spent on a site. ComScore, according to the report, will also begin de-emphasizing page views.

I’ve been saying this for at least a year — and I’m far from alone in that: Pageviews and “unique visitors” don’t measure squat. If you expect to be attractive to advertisers, you’re going to have to show them that people spend more than 30 seconds on your site.

Update (April 19): A few snips from The Wall Street Journal’s article to which Heaton linked:

“Page views as an indicator, or consumption as an indicator, of the vibrancy of the site becomes somewhat obsolete,” said Vivek Shah, president of digital publishing at Time Warner Inc.’s Time Inc. business-and-finance network. “It seems a bit of a relic.”

Peter Daboll, Yahoo Inc.’s head of global market research, said last year that page views had outgrown their usefulness.

“We all need to help to wean the industry off the crutch of familiar metrics in favor of more accurate and representative ones,” Mr. Daboll wrote in a blog.


One of the major interactive-research companies, NetRatings Inc.’s Nielsen/NetRatings, in June will release what it calls “time-spent” data and stop issuing its rankings by page views. The New York company’s rival, comScore Inc. said last month that it is emphasizing a measurement called “visits,” which takes into account the time people return to surf a Web site in a month.

“We don’t expect it to go away,” Jack Flanagan, executive vice president of comScore, said about the page-view yardstick, adding that “we really wanted to provide a measure that really gets towards the engagement of the user with the Web sites.”

The catalyst for the change is new technology that automatically refreshes Web sites. Ajax [also here] — used by Web sites hosted by Yahoo, CBS Corp., Time’s Sports Illustrated and many others — cuts the number of clicks needed to see the same amount of information.

At Time Warner’s CNNMoney, Ajax lets Web surfers follow the ups and downs of stock prices without manually reloading the page. The problem for publishers is that such ability translates into one page view, leaving Web publishers worried about their numbers.

That is the argument that was trotted out by Yahoo when News Corp.’s interactive sites — including the social-networking site MySpace — overtook Yahoo last November as the top Web site by pages viewed, according to comScore, of Reston, Va. Yahoo responded that its page views had dropped because it uses Ajax in its email service to refresh incoming messages.

“Honestly, page views have always had a hole,” said Scott Ross, senior product manager of Nielsen/NetRatings’s NetView service. Page views also don’t measure instant messaging, flash technology and online video. Publishers also can skew their page view numbers by, for example, spreading a long news story into three screens instead of one.

How it will affect the bottom line:

As advertisers ramp up spending on the Internet, the issue will increase in importance.

“Data right now is the holy grail for online advertising,” said Chris Portella, associate media director with Organic, a digital-marketing agency owned by Omnicom Group Inc.

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Who’s on top? News Web sites
April 7, 2007, 5:58 pm
Filed under: audiences, journalism, metrics, newspapers, online

Average number of pages viewed per visitor per month
(Total page views divided by total unique vistors)

38 – Atlanta Journal-Constitution
35 – NYTimes.com
28 – The Houston Chronicle
19 – washingtonpost.com
19 – USATODAY.com
18 – Star Tribune
18 – Boston.com
18 – Philly.com
16 – SFGate.com
15 – Chicago Tribune

Average number of seconds spent per visitor per month
(min:sec per visitor per day)

2229 (1:20/day) NYTimes.com
1889 (1:07/day) Atlanta Journal-Constitution
1412 (0:50/day) Star Tribune
1328 (0:47/day) USATODAY.com
1256 (0:45/day) Boston.com
1244 (0:44/day) The Houston Chronicle
1228 (0:44/day) washingtonpost.com
1052 (0:38/day) Philly.com
950 (0:34/day) Wall Street Journal Online
896 (0:32/day) SFGate.com

These lists do not show the way Nielsen represents the data. But they should make us think. Do we care how many people pop in per month or per day? Or do we care how long they stay, and what they stay for?

Original data from February 2007 reported in E&P and attributed to Nielsen//NetRatings.

Download my Excel spreadsheet (31 KB). Yeah, I took an IRE workshop once.

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