Headlines and Measuring Metrics for one Canada’s Oldest Newspapers TheSpec.com

Carina Fato    November 3, 2016

The media itself has been the news lately. The Trump campaign has made the press headline news. This conversation is not new. Since ancient Rome when important announcements were carved out on stone tablets and placed in busy squares, the public has measured the quality, delivery and merit of information/content. We are a society obsessed with being “in the loop” and up to date with news that is important to us. This is evidenced by the ubiquitous and near-constant use of electronic devices.  I chose The Hamilton Spectator, one of Canada’s oldest newspapers and media outlets, for this week’s case study. I wanted to know how TheSpec.com measures their performance using web and social media metrics.

“As newspapers transition from print-first publications to multimedia news organisations that publish their content on several platforms, the need for reliable cross-media audience measurement is becoming ever more urgent.”

I met with Managing Editor Howard Elliott of The Spec who stated “we are no longer a ‘printcentric’ company…online is it”   Their main measurement levels are:

  1. Front-Door
  2. Social Media
  3. Google
  4. Other

“Front-door” measurements are typed /bookmarked points of entry to their website that account for currently 53% of their online views/traffic.
“Referred” measurements are driven views through Social Media: Facebook 30% then Twitter, Google and other platforms.
Facebook is their highest growth area in comparison to two years ago. Facebook referrals were 13% of their growth. The Facebook platform is their largest area of opportunity. Every reporter and columnist is encouraged to personally brand themselves with Facebook profiles to post and highlight their stories and columns. Twitter is used in a lessor capacity. “Live and Breaking News” is a good example of a platform that captures on the spot court case updates and verdicts.

Adding more resources into Facebook even if at the marginal cost of our other web areas is worth the investment. If gains exceed the loss it’s a win for their company.”  H.Elliott

With an average of 302,000 weekly page visits and 30,000 weekly Facebbook page likes The Spectator uses 3rd party programs for metric, data mining and real-time tracking/analysis.Howard Elliott uses two programs  Omiture Catalyst (Adobe) unlike Google this has the ability to track multiple variables and to breakdown reports with any calculated metrics.For real-time tracking the whole newsroom relies on  ChartBeat  “a real-time web analytics tool that publishers could use to react quickly to changes in user behavior”


Lessons for Others

The Hamilton Spectator is a successful example of the use of metrics measurements that makes the most of the data and tools that are available to them. Whether you have the budget to purchase 3rd party data mining software or use free tools like Google analytics, understanding the results of your output and business drivers help plan the future of your business.

“…social media analytics better reflect how all your hard work is paying off…”
– Sarah Dawly, Social contributor Hootesuite


Organization: The Hamilton Spectator
Industry: Media
Name of Organization Contact: Howard Elliott, Managing Editor

Authored by: Carina Fato

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