Breakout Session 6: How Do We Measure Audience, Engagement and Revenue


Breakout Session 6: How Do We Measure Audience, Engagement and Revenue 

Facilitator: Michael Maness, VP for Journalism and Media Innovation, Knight Foundation

Scribe: LuAnn Lovlin, Director of Communications, The Winnipeg Foundation

Facilitator Michael Maness helped the group look at some of the innovative ways tools people are using to find out who is on their website, what they can find out about them and how they can engage with people.

Several questions were raised about what tactics and tools help raise revenue, especially for organizations looking to use that metric as a measure of success. The question of ‘Does advertising online work to build revenue?’ promoted several examples of successful ventures. But those sites were built on the premise that finding new ways to make money came second, while building audiences should come first.

Things that do well online are either ‘useful or delightful.’ 

As we explore these opportunities and trends that are quickly changing our environments, it is important to remember that these conversations are challenging for our organizations and our thinking in how we do business today, and how we will tomorrow. 

It is critical to build analytics into your online efforts so you can start to gather information about your constituents, how you connect with them and where any gaps might be. Measurement and analytics can often tell you a different story than what you may want to believe.

As we are learn what might be effective for our various audiences, it is important to be willing to try different things out to see what fits. The goal should always be to inform and engage; for the Ohio Civic Commons this has been a successful combination. 

How do we capture the value and revenue from these opportunities?  Part of the thinking is creating the value now, so that it will generate revenue later. Experimentation is key – organizations have to be prepared to try lots of different, small things.

Some sites/organizations are finding support comes from citizens who already support civic activities overall, not necessarily from site visitors or those originally in your database.  You should also never forget to ask / give people the option to support your efforts or activities. Make it easy and try various or several strategies to engage your audiences.

How do we measure the impact of stories? Do they make change?  Social impact outcomes are harder to measure than actual revenue generation. We can measure impact by use of specific terms and words in all social media. If people are talking about it, that’s one way to measure reach and effectiveness.

Several strategies (tech, community, etc.) all have to be employed to engage audiences. Each platform has an array of characteristics that are not as clearly defined but connect with very specific audiences.

The ‘ripple effect’ moves information: Twitter is an updater, Facebook is more passive but can be robust, email newsletters are more engaging and websites are a place for facts and reference materials. Generally speaking, Facebook will drive more traffic to a website than Twitter will.


Google Analytics is helpful for some of the search terms being used around a website  – hyperlocal news updates

What are some of the tools used to measure: Google alerts, Twitter saved searches, Every Block, Google Analytics,  SEO mods, etc. :  “SEO made simple” Infographics website : $400-$1000/month; private businesses are using this tool to analyze and track their customers.

Publications that can help explain this complex environment:

The Lean Start-Up,  by  Eric Weiss

Inbound Marketing, by Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan

The Power of Pull, by John Sealy Brown

Relationships are key. Capture information to help you define your market then target your audience(s). There is an abundance of information now and it is ever increasing. If you serve a community well, it’s likely that community will become your disciples. We should always be asking “who is my community, what do they want, how am I listening, what can I give them that no one else can?”

Simple tracking and metric analytics can be very powerful and insightful. The power of your analytics should drive your strategy. The measurement tools, plus talent, plus translation, plus time = transformation.