Measurement isn’t easy

Steve Yelvington: Measurement isn’t easy.

No it isn’t. You need to decide what you’re going to measure, how you’re going to measure it, how reliable is the data, and what do the results reveal? None of that is as easy as it sounds. Each step is littered with landmines.

The tools available to any local news site manager, even in the biggest markets, are flawed. You have your Web stats, and ComScore, and Scarborough and any number of other reflective data points. But at the end of the day, you’re still sitting in a big dark room wondering what you’re really looking at. There are a hundred potential false positives that could send you barrelling down the wrong road.

And then there is this:

You need to understand the man that wasn’t there. The biggest problem newspapers have is failure to connect with a widening segment of the local community. The best registration system, metrics system and thoughtful analyst will not be able to measure users who never visit. If you draw general conclusions about 24-year-olds based on 24-year-olds who use your website, you’re making a mistake.

Panels and surveys might give you some idea of what your audience growth potential is, but those tools offer few insights into how to get that audience.

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