In this edition:
Now that publishers are increasingly relying on subscriptions, the way we think about measurements needs to be updated. The good news is that many publishers have already been radically changing their analytics, but now I want you to think more about the metrics of time.
Time above all other metrics is now your most important, because it defines how strong your long-term relationship with your audience is, and it shows you how people are really behaving.
So in this Plus article, we are going to take a deep look at the metrics of time, because it's not just one metric, it's far more complicated than that. What are the differences between the many metrics that we see? And how do you really measure time well spent?
Last week, there was a bit of an outrage on Twitter when the Correspondent announced that they wouldn't have an office in the US. Some people felt they had been lied to; others were merely disappointed; while some started talking about how they couldn't cover news without it.
I don't quite agree with this, but I do agree that the Correspondent is in for a challenging time. I wrote a medium-size article (not quite a Plus report) about why this is, specifically talking about the financial and editorial side of it.
A very frequent topic in the media is the 'filter bubble'. But when you actually look into this you quickly realize that we don't have a filter bubble at all. Instead, we have a decision bubble where people simply decide not to acknowledge information that they disagree with.
In other words, it's not that people don't know what the 'other side' is about. It's that they don't want to accept it, and they then choose to believe in a lie because it's convenient for them.
I wrote much more about this in: The Filter Bubble is Actually a Decision Bubble
Buzzfeed News published a good article about the older generation and the problems they have with knowing what is real or not online, but let me tell you a fun little story:
Many years ago, before my grandfather died, we gave him a computer so that he could check emails, do online banking, and everything else that the digital society requires here in Denmark. And he was a very smart person, and very quickly learned how to use it.
So one day when I happened to be in town, he asked me if I could look at something on his computer that he didn't know what to do about. And I said yes (hoping he wouldn't ask me how to install a printer ;))
He started his computer, opened up his email program, and his inbox was just filled with emails. And he said he didn't know what to do about all these.
So I looked at them, and something like 95% of them were either spam, phishing attacks, or some other form of unsolicited nonsense. I told him: Oh... this is just spam emails. What you do is to mark them as spam and then you just delete them.
He looked at me in horror and with a kind of disappointed expression, as if I had just failed to live up to his expectations. And he told me, very firmly, that this was not acceptable.
The reason was that, in his mind, when someone took the time to write to you, you have a responsibility to respond ... and the mere thought that I would just neglect such a responsibility was incomprehensible.
He was coming from the old world of printed letters. He'd had a long career at the railroad, where anytime someone wrote to them, the letter demanded an answer. This was the only respectable thing to do.
So when he asked me to look at his inbox, he wasn't asking me to get rid of the emails. He was asking me to look at them because he didn't understand what they were about. All these people (aka spammers) were writing about things he didn't know how to respond to.
It took me quite a while after that to convince him that these emails were either just sent automatically by a bot, or by people who were trying to scam him. And I think learning that shocked him even more.
This was a real eye-opener for me of how different our digital world of communication really is. In his generation, all information was truthful by default, whereas in my generation, we basically don't trust anything unless we have a good reason.
There is also the difference with volume. In his mind, the way to deal with these emails was to address the problem. This was how it worked at the railroad. If they started getting more letters, it was because there was a problem. And the way to get fewer letters was to solve that problem.
But this is not how it works in the digital world. Our inboxes don't get smaller if we answer every letter (especially not if we start to respond to spammers). We now live in a world with information abundance. So our approach to dealing with this is to use filters instead.
Today, we pick what we consider to be worth replying to ... and everything else just goes away.
It's a very different world today ... and so it's not surprising that many older people have no idea how to verify what is true or not, online and anywhere else.
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