Friday, December 21, 2012

Understanding where your readers are coming from meanings adding it all up

It used to be so easy, wasn't it? In print days all one needed was that paper audit in your hands to have an intelligent conversation about how many readers were accessing your newspaper or magazine. Today, some think it is just as easy, then quote numbers that are either completely made up but someone in some other department, or are wildly inaccurate because of the increasingly complex nature of digital publishing.

One would think it would be easy thanks to things such as Google Analytics. Take this website, for instance. Do you want to know what operating system is being used by readers it seems to be all there.

As you can see at right, Windows is basically down to 50 percent of the traffic reaching this website. What you don't see, the small percentage of readers coming from Android, for instance, is what tells you that this is an incomplete picture.

What the numbers here really say is that 50 percent of a certain subset of the total readership uses Windows. An ever growing percentage are Mac users. But what about those shown to be iOS users? Well, because TNM has both a mobile website and an iPhone app, this number is exclusively those using an iPad.

In order to see the rest of the picture one would need to include figures from the mobile website and the RSS feeds that bring content to the app.

It is this complexity that makes it difficult to sell display advertising across digital product lines – yet another reason why the digital ad war is being run by Google and other pure plays.

Now is as good a time as any to thank the readers of Talking New Media for hanging in there this year. I had no idea, when I created this website for digital media professionals, that I would still be at it after three years.

Twice I have shut down this site thinking that it was time to move on. In 2012, traffic to TNM has increased 56 percent to a point where six times more readers access TNM than read the industry leading trade magazine. This is either a statement of what has been accomplished here at TNM or of the failure of B2B print magazines (I fear it is that latter).

Over the course of the last two weeks of this year I will continue looking back at each month, posting one story on each month every day through New Year's Eve except on Sundays. So look for the post on May tomorrow.