Benchmarking Public Media Sites in Google Analytics (How to)

Nov 5, 2014

On this month’s webinar we discussed an interesting new feature in Google Analytics. Google Analytics is currently in the process of rolling out new Benchmarking reports. While our team has not yet worked with these extensively, we find it an interesting options for stations who are interested in comparing their performance with sites outside of public media. 

How are Industry Categories determined?
 In the admin settings each property (UA) is asked to identify their Industry Category and agree to share data. A curious note about category: Google Analytics does not allow the selection of multiple categories, nor does not offer the same detailed selections that exists in the reports. For example, property may select “News” but not the more specific “Local News” which is available in report selections.

How to work with Benchmarking Reports:
Google Analytics has added 3 new reports under "benchmarking" which can be found in the Audience section of reporting. These include Channels, Devices and Location. In any report, the benchmarking can be tailored by making selections within 3 categories: Industry Vertical, Country/Region and Size by daily sessions.  

The variety of options for Industry Vertical makes it difficult to select an appropriate match for all of our stations however there are likely options in Arts & Entertainment (Music & Audio, Radio, or TV & Video) and in News. There are additional categories under People & Society which may be of interest to sites with a very specific focus area. Selecting very specific categories may result in a lack of results. Broader categories will include some comparisons that are not ideal for public media. Many categories include commerce related to the category, for example, "Music & Audio" includes sites that are focused on music and CD sales.

When using reports you may select broad industry or geographical categories, but you must select a single size range. This currently defaults to "100000+”, so smaller sites will need to reset this to get accurate benchmarking. It is also important to remember that factors in site architecture and tracking will impact the numbers reported. Commercial sites may intentionally design their sites or tracking to inflate pageviews related to advertising revenue. For this reason we have created tailored comparisons within SAS that allow detailed selections according to categories specific to public media, but we think Google has made a interesting addition with these new reports.

For a walk through please take a minute to watch the video of the October SAS insights webinar on nprstations.org (bit.ly/SASVideos)