Reader Metrics: A Step Beyond Analytics

St. Paul, Minnesota, April 23, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- By Stephen Laliberte

Every day I read about another analytics company promising to help publishers learn about their visitors.  Some utilize IP addresses in an attempt to append information about the companies associated with the IP locations.  Nearly all are appending browser-type data and geographic data.  Most publishers are tagging analytic JavaScript to include content attributes so they can see what type of content readers access most frequently.

It's a lot of noise but not a lot of effect.  None of this activity gets at the core of advertiser's needs: Who are these readers and do they want to buy my products?

Publishers don't have this problem with their print publications.  Advertisers are satisfied with the demographics of the readers and with the regular distribution to readers whose demographics they know.  What is so different about the Web and digital distribution that makes advertisers place less value on online readers?

I believe the answer is because we give the advertiser Web analytics instead of readermetrics to qualify our digital audience for advertiser attention.

The Difference Between Analytics and Metrics

What is the difference between analytics and metrics?  Analytics are a measure of all the traffic to your website, much of which is anonymous fly-by traffic.  Analytics provides no information about how qualified the readers are. 

Reader metrics are a measure of qualified readers and capture their behavior across your online offerings.  Far from anonymous, reader metrics is behavioral tracking with permission.

How To Move From Analytics To Metrics

To move from analytics to metrics, the first step is to qualify online readers.  How do we qualify readers in the print world?  Simple, we make them give us information to determine if they qualify.  If the reader does not qualify for a free subscription, we make them pay for it.  Or, we value our content enough to charge them a subscription fee.  In either model, there is a contract, the reader agrees to provide information about who they are, and the publisher agrees in return to provide quality unbiased content. 

To qualify digital readers, we must implement a form of online subscription where we package content in exchange for qualification information.  Digital publishers often accomplish this through editorial e-newsletter registration forms. 

Do not be tempted to limit this form to an email address only.  I often hear, "If I ask them for too much information, they will not sign up."  My response is, "If they won't give you their information, you don't want them because they aren't qualified."  Would you send someone a print issue who did not fill out the demographic questions on the qualification card?  Of course not.  You would never be able to pass an audit to prove that you are giving the advertisers the readers that you are promising. 

When you implement qualification questions, check your privacy policy to make sure it clearly states that you will share subscriber demographic information with advertisers.

The second step in moving from analytics to metrics is to record what qualified readers do on your websites.  This becomes the valuable information you can share with advertisers.  What does it look like to record the behaviors of qualified readers?

What a Reader Metrics Report Might Look Like

Here is one reader's profile for website activity for the past 30 days, showing number of pages viewed on particular days and the reader's interests.

[[See Image Attachment 1]]

Reader Registration Demographics

[[See Image Attachment 2]]

Reader E-Newsletter Profile

[[See Image Attachment 3]]

Reader Transactions

This data includes the reader's web seminar registrations, event registrations, and product purchases.

[[See Image Attachment 4]]

Individual Transaction Data

[[See Image Attachment 5]]

What Can We Do With Reader Metrics?

The macro answer to that question is, publishers can charge advertisers for access to and use of the reader metrics and profiles. Here are some specific tactics that are in use by digital innovators.

Using Reader Metrics to Cross Sell Additional Products

Using reader metrics, you can create mailing lists of individuals with specific profiles that align with other products.  Some examples include:

  • Promoting subscriptions
  • Promoting events
  • Promoting web seminars
  • Promoting book sales
  • Promoting sales of data products

Using Reader Metrics to Enhance Lead Generation Offerings

Reader metrics are valuable for both getting more leads for an advertiser and also for providing the advertiser more data about the leads.  Advertisers are increasingly looking for ways to nurture leads.  Advertisers value publishers who can tell the advertiser when a lead does something that constitutes nurturing.

Use Reader Metrics to Sell Targeted Advertising

This is selling eyeballs rather than selling space.  Most publishers sell ad spots on pages or sections of the website.  Everyone gets the same ads.  With reader metrics, groups of readers with selected demographics and reading behavior can receive targeted ads.  This can be very valuable to advertisers who are nurturing leads that you have sold them.  See last month's article on matrix advertising.


Files accompanying this release are available at:



Reader Profile Reader Registration Demographics Reader E-Newsletter Profile Reader Transactions Individual Transaction Data

Contact Data