Station Analytics System

Last week was our monthly analytics webinar, where we gather together the top insights across the system on both audience and engagement. 

As you might expect, election coverage was a big focus for the system this month, and we broke down  audience consumption of election coverage, as well as its impact on retention rate. And the results are significant: politics and election coverage had more than double the one-week retention rate of the previous 12 weeks. 

Over the past few years we've used our station analytics data to learn a lot about our digital audience. Recently we've been looking at the characteristics and behavior of our users over a longer timeframe through a Google tool called BigQuery. We call this endeavor our Digital Conversion Study and have previously publish our insights about donors and our insights about repeat users.

By now you may have heard the news about an exciting collaboration amongst public media partners to develop new guidelines for tracking podcast audience metrics. Below is a bit of background information, details on how the new guidelines are being incorporated into the on-demand audio dashboards in the NPR DS Station Analytics System, and what the change may mean for your own podcasting stats.

New Public Radio Podcast Measurement Guidelines

One of the many helpful customizations in the Station Analytics System is the collection of public media specific meta data.  In addition to the default page data, additional information is tracked and stored in Custom Dimensions which can easily be added to standard or custom Google Analytics reports. This post will explain how to add the necessary information to your website so that it can easily be tracked by Google Analytics.

Update: Due to a late breaking bug in final QA, we are moving the transition to December 1 to keep data integrity a priority. 

We’re pleased to announce that the Devices Dashboard is now available in the Station Analytics System (SAS)! The dashboard will add to our new tab titled “Sources”, and provide stations the opportunity to compare website traffic trends across those visitors using Desktop, Smartphone and Tablet. You will also be able to view what those trends look like compared to the average station. This chart shows information about website traffic only (and does not include information about streaming or on-demand traffic). 

“This reflects the larger consumer trend that we see across all media, which is live consumption of any media, including television, shifting to on-demand, self-curated experiences,” Steve Mulder, NPR’s senior director of audience insights, told me in an interview at the NPR Digital Services office in Boston.

Recently, the station analytics team was asked to help solve a debate in a local newsroom. This station was trying to decide if it would be  beneficial to supplement its strong local coverage with some national news from the NPR API. Since we have data about web performance for over 200 stations, we were glad to offer some insight. We started by looking at a group of 25 stations with strong digital newsrooms and monthly users between 50k and 300k. We found that, in these stations, local news drove higher engagement and encouraged users to come back.

Twitter Tweet Chat
Elijah van der Giessen / FundChat

Attention Stations! NPR Digital Services will be hosting an all-station Twitter chat to explore the Station Analytics System's Analytics Dashboard on Wednesday, March 4th from 3-4 p.m. ET using the #NPRChats tag.

#NPRChats is an informal way for NPR Digital Services to talk with and answer questions from our Member Stations about a different topic or theme each month.

The upcoming March 4th chat will focus on the SAS Analytics Dashboard—one of the most important tools available for evaluating your station’s digital strategy! NPR Digital Service’s own Michelle Bellettiere (@NPRBelle), Digital Analytics Senior Manager, will be joining the chat to answer any questions you may have about Analytics Dashboard features and benefits.

On Demand audio measurement works very similarly to webcast measurement.

We need to access your logs to process them for On Demand metrics, via a FTP account where we can download the logs nightly. Please note these are not the same logs used for SoundExchange reporting nor live streaming measurement - these are on-demand specific files.

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. 

On August Station Analytics insights webinar we talked about data that was collected using custom variables in Google Analytics.  If you missed that webinar you can view the video. For Core Publisher stations the digital services developers handled the set up, but if you are not using Core Publisher here is how you can start tracking additional data about your site.

Mobile traffic has once again hit a new peak for our station sites and we eagerly anticipate the time when more of our traffic will come from mobile and from tablet than from desktop devices. All this growth can lead us to want to know more about our mobile users - who are they, what are they doing, are we helping them find what they are looking for?

Limitations of Segments in Google Analytics

Last month we launched our project to understand the public media audience lifecycle by using better segmentation. This month we are looking into one of those segments to gain insight into whether our new users are returning to become loyal users. The key to growing our digital audience is attracting new users to our sites.

NPR member stations are successfully using a web first approach to digital news that is rapidly capturing new online audience. We have watched our social media traffic grow and are consistently improving our reach through new tools, platforms and partnerships, but to fulfill our long-term goals we'll need to encourage deeper engagement and direct relationships between stations and their new audience.  

In late 2013 Google Analytics added demographic information to its capabilities, allowing reports to be viewed and segmented by user characteristics like age and gender.  This information comes through the use of Google's ad network tagging and it determined using a combination of estimates based online behavioral data or Google+ information when it is available.  The results can be informative but are also limited.  

Ever have one of those days when the next big thing has just launched and everyone is waiting for the good news, but instead of spiking, Google Analytics seems to suddenly have flat-lined? Before you have a coronary there are few things to keep in mind.

There's nothing like hyperbole to get someone's attention.  Oh boy, did Chartbeat CEO Tony Haile get people's attention when he said "what you think you know about the web is wrong"- but let's all take a breath before we start throwing out our Google Analytics data.

The Station Analytics System adds a number of benefits over the standard Google Analytics tag. One of these is the creation of a number of custom variables design to track common elements of articles.  You can now summarize pageviews and visits by Author, Keywords, Source Organization or Program. In this video you can learn how to create custom reports that use these customized fields to track station specific data.  If you don't have time for the video you can download templates for some of the custom variables from the table below.

Have you been seeing messages in your Google Analytics account pushing you to upgrade to Universal Analytics? If you haven't, then you probably aren't looking at your reports enough.  If you have, you can go ahead and ignore them for now.

The most basic reason for you to ignore these is that if you are using the Station Analytics System (SAS) tag won't be supporting Universal Analytics anytime soon. Here's why we've decided to wait:  

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