Digital Publishing Dilemma: Which Metrics Can You Trust?

Oh, the dilemma! What digital metrics will best measure your audience engagement?

Niche friend and publisher Cecily Hastings of Inside Publications tipped us off recently about an interesting Newsosaur blog post. It explains well the dilemma of analyzing digital audience engagement. What numbers can you really trust?

The blog post points out some of the issues with the current metrics:

  • Unique visitors: Some experts say these stats can be 5x too high!
  • Pageviews: A page served to a viewer doesn’t necessarily mean it’s been viewed/read.
  • Social media shares: Sure, all publishers want their readers to do this on FB, Twitter, by video, etc, because word-of-mouth recommendations are very valuable. But are the sharers scanning only the top or are they actually reading down to the bottom? Hard to know.
  • Ad clickthrough: Clicks by mistake on mobile devices happen all the time. Plus there’s the bandits…

We asked our digital ad sales expert, Ryan Dohrnwhat niche publishers can do now to more accurately measure their audience engagement. Here’s what he told us:

“Having data is great.  But, you have to be able to mine it.  Big data is only as good as your ability to mine it and extract accurate, meaningful information from it.  

The only true way to know what a unique user is doing on your web site is for them to login or register and then login.  You need to give them a reason to do this. Behavioral targeting is truly only as good as your ability to know who is on the site.  

One way to enhance this is with single sign in.  You can set up your web site to allow login via your Facebook or Google Plus login.

Creating opportunities for users to engage with your content is critical. What’s a good way to do that? Creating contests is one of the fastest ways to collect new data, gain new users and increase audience engagement. Sharing of videos, asking users to create content, asking for comments, pushing links on FB for comments, encouraging photo sharing via Pinterest, etc. will also extend the life of the engagement. 

Also, you can create opportunities for advertisers to engage with readers.  For example, create Google hangouts where both groups can interact and have lively discussion. Or set up a webinar series where the audience has plenty of Q&A time.”

Better software to track and analyze online audience data is emerging all the time. We think niche publishers know their niche best– and will come up with even more creative ways in the future to increase audience engagement. Do you have any ideas you’d like to share with us that have worked for you?

Editor’s Note: Here’s the entire Newsosaur post if you’d like to read further:

Digital publishing metrics: What’s real?


More about Ryan: Ryan Dohrn an executive ad sales coach and has taught over 3,000 ad sales executives around the globe his 360 Ad Sales training system.  You can learn more online at Check out Ryan’s just-released new book, Selling Backwards.


Niche Media has created super niched-out events specifically for magazine publishers for over 12 years. We’ve helped pave the way for the era of boutique events that connect specific audiences and provide great educational, friendly and super-fun environments!

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