folder icon list icon new list icon new folder Save to list notifaction icon yes tick yes tick yes tick with circle delete cross delete cross minus small - for download tool delete cross plus sign - small expander search magnifying glass icon for gettign to print page icon for email addresses icon for features timing icon for features timing LinkedIn icon Facebook icon youtube icon twitter icon google+ icon external link icon fo profile pages mail icon small mail icon for contact listings phone icon phone icon for listings twitter bird save icon export icon delete icon duplicate icon move to a diff folder mini search icon right arrow
Skip navigation
You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser.

Insights and analytics; what local news sites should be looking at

How insights and data can help local news reach new audiences

Anybody that considers themselves to be a journalist, writer or content creator wants their work to be read. The more people that read it and engage with it the better. But how can you be sure that it is reaching the audience that you want it to? 

The sophistication and intelligence of technology nowadays means that we can delve into insights and analytics to build a clear picture of the audience looking at our content. This is especially important in local journalism where you need to be engaging with people in the area. At the Behind Local News conference, editor of the Evening Telegraph David Lord and chief digital publisher at Reach plc David Higgerson shared how they use insights to help the newsroom produce content that will really resonate with their audience. 

The Other Audience 

The first question you will want to answer when looking through insights and analytics is who your current audience is. A local publication should have a good idea of this but having the stats to back this up is important. The question that stems from this though is where are the people that aren’t reading your content? For example, if you have a website covering London news and it is currently read by 45% of the city’s population, where are the other 55% getting their news from? 

The choices for how people can consume their news are now vast and there are likely to be various outlets competing for the same audience you are. If you can see from the data though that 80% of people in South-East London are viewing your content but only 30% are in the North-West then that immediately shows a gap that the ‘other audience’ can fill. You might then look at getting more stories covering North-West London to help attract those readers. 

Understanding Your Readers 

Local journalism is at its best when it is part of the community. People are more likely to engage with your content if they feel connected to it. The best way to achieve this is by really understanding who your readers are, where they are and what purpose they are coming to your website for. Insights and analytics can be useful on this front and David Higgerson ran through the example of Birmingham Live. In terms of who the audience are, he can establish that more women than men read Birmingham Live, 3 million of them are under the age of 35 and 8.3 million are parents. 47% of readers are in Wolverhampton, 45% in Tamworth and 40% in Worcester. Finally, 4.3 million like to do things on the spur of the moment and 2.5 million are likely to go to trendy places to eat and drink, which helps understand why they might be coming to the site. 

This information is vital and helps newsrooms to be both data-informed and data-led. You can also go further than this by running surveys on your website to get more insight into what readers want to see, and even just getting out and chatting to people on your patch to see what issues are affecting them now. This can help your readers to feel involved in the conversation and shows that you care and understand what they want from local news. 

Measuring the engagement 

The stats that you gather, in whichever way you choose, are imperative to knowing your audience and finding out how you can expand that. What this doesn’t necessarily tell you is how engaged they are. DC Thomson Media, David Lord shared, were previously measuring their digital metrics just via the amount of pageviews. However, after switching to a digital subscriber model and restructuring their newsroom with specialist teams of journalists, they came up with a new way to measure engagement with their quality read metric. This tracks both mouse movement and average reading time to give a clearer idea of how much readers are engaging with the content. 

Quality read clinics were then set up as a result to analyse how the content had performed by dividing it into one of four segments: 

  1. Content that had high pageviews and high interaction and engagement should be continued and built upon.  
  2. Content that had high pageviews but low interaction and engagement would need to be improved.  
  3. Content that had low pageviews but high interaction is likely to be more of a nice subject. 
  4. Content that had low pageviews and low interaction and engagement should be stopped. 

This has helped to celebrate success within the editorial team but also tackle problems. For example, they recognised that ordinary match reports of sports matches weren’t really engaging readers very much but those with more analysis and tactical insight yielded a higher quality read score. The sports team therefore shifted its focus to write more of this content.  

All this information and research has helped them to establish their audience mindsets and they are now able to deliver the information, education and inspiration that the local readers want. It also seems to have proved a success with over 25,000 paid subscribers now across the Courier and Press & Journal. 

Subscribe to the blog
Get weekly updates from the ResponseSource blog