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As digital media business transforms, better insights are more critical than ever

One thing we can say about the media business: it doesn’t move slowly. We don’t need to do a full recap (there are plenty of sites and newsletters for that), but in the past six months we’ve seen exciting news sites come into being, and we’ve seen great ideas sadly burn out.new-publishers-logos The numbers say there’s lots of new digital hires, but they still don’t scratch the surface of the overall losses taken in the past few years.

In summary? The media industry is certainly a fast-changing and often confusing place to be. Figuring out how to both provide great journalism and make a profit to pay your hard-working staff eludes even the brightest minds. The need for better answers and analytics platforms has meant that we spend a lot of time helping our customers navigate through this confusing ecosystem. We’ve come up for air for a minute to share some of our biggest take-aways, and how we’re using them to grow Parse.ly.

1.) Understanding your audience is more important than ever before, and analytics are NOT just for analysts.

Understanding audience insights in the early days of digital journalism meant understanding what and how to sell to them. Insights referred to demographics and income levels, and only mattered to the sell-side teams and executives. Today, everyone needs information about the readers to create stories. Editors and reporters can create better editorial strategies and content by using information on what stories, sections, and authors resonate best with their readers. Digital strategies need to be carefully crafted as well, but the base of publishing will always need high-quality content.

Everything we do at Parse.ly revolves around helping teams gain these kinds of insight into their audience. We’ve found that when thoughtfully applied, opening up analytics means empowering everyone.  Analytics teams can focus on deep dives into complex conversions because they’re no longer pulling basic reports for other departments each week. Editors and reporters aren’t guessing, they know what their readers are most interested in.

digest-audience-reports

2.) It’s not *just* about pageviews.

Publishers have recognized that knowing the total number of pageviews a story gets isn’t the be-all-end-all, and that there might not be one “golden” metric that indicates success for a story. Like so much in journalism, newsrooms want to put more of their analytics into context.

Understanding the bigger picture includes being able to combine immediate reader responses with long-term trends. It means knowing that readers came from certain social networks or communities, what they’re searching for, and what they read next. The bigger picture lets organizations clearly see the relationship between content and multiple metrics, like page views, time on page, and loyalty.

3.) There’s more work to be done!

cheezburger-case-study

There’s no rest for the weary in this business. We’re constantly discovering new ways that our customers are putting Parse.ly to use to find insights (like this case study we recently did on Cheezburger.com), and we’re also always working on delivering additional insights to publishing teams – stay tuned!

Recently, we’ve put in a lot of work. We’ve released four Authority reports that provide big picture trends based on the aggregate data we collect. We’ve beefed up our team with awesome people that are here to help, whether it’s a technical question about our API implementation, a question about how to use one of our features, or just a question about the industry and where it’s going – our team is here to help.

Parse.ly‘s team got together in Montreal this year to think about what new innovations we could bring to customers in 2014. We’re excited about what’s next for us.

But we want to hear from you: what do you think we should be doing next?

Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 12.52.31 PMParse.ly team retreat in Montreal