Analytics

Our Analytics Service provides digital business intelligence for NPR stations, answering key questions on audience reach, engagement, content, and monetization. Based on system-wide data, we share key trends, actionable insights, deep analysis, station best practices, and analytics training and support on all of a station's key digital platforms: live streaming, on-demand audio listening, website usage, NPR One, and more. At the core of the service are regular webinars and the custom measurement and dashboards of the Station Analytics System.

Looking for a specific topic from a webinar or blog post? Check out our index of analytics topics.

It's that time of year again, when the DS Analytics Service takes a broad view of public media and finds the big trends everyone should know about. I have good news and I have bad news: Looking across the entire system, our station streaming is growing, but our audience isn't.

On this month’s webinar we discussed an interesting new feature in Google Analytics. Google Analytics is currently in the process of rolling out new Benchmarking reports. While our team has not yet worked with these extensively, we find it an interesting options for stations who are interested in comparing their performance with sites outside of public media. 

From the start, the local/national partnership that is NPR One has been about experimentation and learning based on data. So we're delighted to announce the launch of a new dashboard that provides each station with data on how its audience is using this new platform, so we can all learn together.

The new dashboard, part of the Station Analytics System, is focused on answering three key questions:

On August Station Analytics insights webinar we talked about data that was collected using custom variables in Google Analytics.  If you missed that webinar you can view the video. For Core Publisher stations the digital services developers handled the set up, but if you are not using Core Publisher here is how you can start tracking additional data about your site.

Mobile traffic has once again hit a new peak for our station sites and we eagerly anticipate the time when more of our traffic will come from mobile and from tablet than from desktop devices. All this growth can lead us to want to know more about our mobile users - who are they, what are they doing, are we helping them find what they are looking for?

Limitations of Segments in Google Analytics

Last month during our semi-annual PubMetrics presentation (video and slides are available), the most notable digital trend we shared concerned live streaming. When we look at the performance of 179 station streams across the country, we see a bit of good news and a bit of bad news.

Last month we launched our project to understand the public media audience lifecycle by using better segmentation. This month we are looking into one of those segments to gain insight into whether our new users are returning to become loyal users. The key to growing our digital audience is attracting new users to our sites.

NPR member stations are successfully using a web first approach to digital news that is rapidly capturing new online audience. We have watched our social media traffic grow and are consistently improving our reach through new tools, platforms and partnerships, but to fulfill our long-term goals we'll need to encourage deeper engagement and direct relationships between stations and their new audience.  

In late 2013 Google Analytics added demographic information to its capabilities, allowing reports to be viewed and segmented by user characteristics like age and gender.  This information comes through the use of Google's ad network tagging and it determined using a combination of estimates based online behavioral data or Google+ information when it is available.  The results can be informative but are also limited.  

Ever have one of those days when the next big thing has just launched and everyone is waiting for the good news, but instead of spiking, Google Analytics seems to suddenly have flat-lined? Before you have a coronary there are few things to keep in mind.

There's nothing like hyperbole to get someone's attention.  Oh boy, did Chartbeat CEO Tony Haile get people's attention when he said "what you think you know about the web is wrong"- but let's all take a breath before we start throwing out our Google Analytics data.

Eric Bennett/Flickr

We all know that digital listening is on the rise. But exactly how much listening is now streaming vs broadcast, and how can you track this over time for your station?

To find out, you need to compare broadcast numbers from Nielsen Audio (formerly Arbitron) to streaming numbers from Triton Webcast Metrics. But sadly, these two sources measure things a bit differently, and there are details you need to know in order to compare them accurately.

The Infinite Dial is an annual survey of consumer media usage conducted by Edison Research and sponsored by Triton Digital. It's full of important trends and statistics on listener behaviors that matter to public media. Here are a few highlights:

The Station Analytics System adds a number of benefits over the standard Google Analytics tag. One of these is the creation of a number of custom variables design to track common elements of articles.  You can now summarize pageviews and visits by Author, Keywords, Source Organization or Program. In this video you can learn how to create custom reports that use these customized fields to track station specific data.  If you don't have time for the video you can download templates for some of the custom variables from the table below.

Looking at analytics data can sometimes feel like watching one Olympic bobsled run: In isolation, you have no idea if what you're looking at is good or bad. Context is everything.

For web metrics, we can look at our data over time, which gives it context and meaning. We can also look at our station numbers compared to other public media stations like us using the Station Analytics System. Comparisons can turn data into actionable insights.

So how do we compare our stations against the most important digital competition we have: the websites of local newspapers, TV stations, other nearby radio stations, local music sites, and so on?

If you weren't able to join our live training webinar on February 6th, 2014 you can now watch the video or download the slides on nprstations.org.  The session included an overview of segmentation and examples of how to build visit and user segments for a few key site activities.

Here a few suggestions to get you started by building segments around or two most important activities: listening and reading.

Have you been seeing messages in your Google Analytics account pushing you to upgrade to Universal Analytics? If you haven't, then you probably aren't looking at your reports enough.  If you have, you can go ahead and ignore them for now.

The most basic reason for you to ignore these is that if you are using the Station Analytics System (SAS) tag won't be supporting Universal Analytics anytime soon. Here's why we've decided to wait:  

On our November Station Analytics Insights webinar we presented some data about the tremendous audience growth coming from social media.  If you have ever wondered how much of your social traffic is Facebook or whether to be concerned with Reddit we' shared some answers about where the audience is really coming from.  Perhaps you wonder if social media is the best platform  for reaching new audience, then you'll want to set aside 15 minutes to watch the video.  Once you've watched  - join the conversation by tweeting your thoughts using #PubMetrics.

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