Determining Success for a Media Site

May 12, 2009

In the years that I have spent in web analytics, one of the main questions that I have been asked is how do I determine success for the sites that I have worked on. That is a very good question and obviously determining success will very from site to site. The first few years that I spent in web analytics was spent on e-commerce sites. Determining success for an e-commerce site is fairly straight forward. For an e-commerce site you are going to look at revenue to determine success. Though you can also look at number of items purchased, Average Order Value (AOV), or Average Order per Visit, which all of these metrics are ultimately based on revenue. Though I have not worked on an airline site or a hotel site, determine success for either one of these sites is also fairly straight forward. For an airline site or a hotel site you are going to look at revenue as well, though you can also look at number of bookings or the look-to-book ratio to determine success. Another way to determine success for an airline or hotel site is the number of sign-up for the frequent purchaser program. I have spent the last couple of years working on media sites and determining success for media sites is not quite as obvious or straight-forward. So that leads to the question, how do you determine success for a media site? Well, the answer to that question is it depends on the site. I have been fortunate enough to work on several different media sites the last couple of years in a couple of different categories and determine success for each of the sites were slightly different, even for two sites in the same category.

To help determine success for the different sites, I sit down with the business owner for each site and talk to that person about the site, the different aspects of the site, what data he or she needs to help program the site, what data he or she needs to help sell the site to the advertiser’s, and finally how he or she is ultimately going to be judged how well the site performed. When I think about determining success, I like to think about success beyond the page view and video play. For a media site, those are two basic measures of success and every site that I work on those are the first two items measured. I like to think above and beyond those. One of the most recent examples of this process and thinking about success besides just page views and video plays is a new site that we just launched a couple of weeks ago, Food2. The Food2 site has several different components to it and there are several different interactions the user can perform on the site which can be used to determine success. Some of these interactions are: Facebook Connect, Recipe View, Blog Post View, Status Update, Upload Recipes, and Share Video. Here is a screen shot of all of the success events for Food2 that we capture. Since there are quite a few ways users can interact with the site, we wanted to capture those different ways to help us focus on the most used features to help better program the site and to potential those features to advertisers for sponsorships. To give you a contrast here is a screen shot of the success events of a site in a different category. The success events for this site are used for several different purposes. Besides helping us program the site, some of these success events are used to give to clients that have already purchased certain advertising on the site. Here is a screen shot of success events for a site in the same category as Food2. As you can see, the success events are a little different from Food2, even being in the same category. Though the success events are slightly different for these sites, the one thing they all have in common is the process of determining which success events should be captured for the site.

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