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Plus Report - By Thomas Baekdal - September 2012

Modern Analytics for Subscription Based Media

Subscription based media needs to focus on the two things that matter: Your readers and your articles. Tracking unique visitors, page views, bounce rates, and so forth doesn't really answer anything.

The world of analytics is in the beginning of a fundamental shift. In the past, we all just looked at the level of traffic and the number of page views. However, now that the digital world is becoming the dominant platform, we realize that those numbers mean very little.

First we learn that instead of numbers, we really need to look at patterns. We see the early stages of this with multi-funnel conversion paths, but that's baby steps compared with what's to come. Ask yourself, what will a person do before they become a customer? How many times do you have to influence that person...on how many channels? Then ask yourself, is there a pattern in all that data? Could you say (for instance), that a person will subscribe only after reaching a certain threshold, or a certain behavior...or both? These are questions that the numbers themselves cannot answer.

Secondly we learn that the analytics we need to look at are very different depending on what you're trying to achieve. If you monetize by selling products in a web shop, you need to identify the patterns that lead to a sale. If you monetize by advertising, you need to look at volume of visitors, frequency of visits, and volume of page views, all of which are irrelevant to a web shop owner.

And for subscription-based media, like newspapers and magazines creating paywalls/paygates, you need to look at analytics in a completely new way.

Measuring overall traffic is not really that important, because getting a lot of visits is extremely easy. And the path to conversion, when talking about getting people to subscribe, is long and complex. A conversion for subscribers is the sum of many smaller interactions. Each one not that important, but combined they entice a person to sign up.

Let me give you a simple example of this:

A couple of weeks ago I wrote the article, "Thank You Apple, You Fucked the World". Granted, it was a controversial title, and the article was about the growing problem with patents in the tech world. Not surprisingly the article was an instant hit. In just five days after it was posted, it amassed 92,000 page views, of which it recorded 62,000 readers. Those are very impressive numbers for just one article.

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Thomas Baekdal

Founder, media analyst, author, and publisher. Follow on Twitter

"Thomas Baekdal is one of Scandinavia's most sought-after experts in the digitization of media companies. He has made ​​himself known for his analysis of how digitization has changed the way we consume media."
Swedish business magazine, Resumé


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