Vanity Metrics Exposed: Publishing

- August 7, 2013 3 MIN READ

You know what speaks louder than numbers on a page given to advertisers enticing them to spend money with you? Conversions. That’s what.

Interestingly the IAB [Interactive Advertising Bureau] announced that from the start of February this year that it no longer considered Unique Browsers a reliable metric for online traffic within Australia. In fact Neilson have even stopped recording this measurement within their Market Intelligence Product.

However the issue is it is now easier than ever to be a publisher, to gain an audience and to become a place that businesses will spend money with in order to talk to your audience. With that however comes responsibility, and unfortunately new media does not have a mandate in insuring they have their statistics audited or their site metrics certified by an independent provider as yet.

In the publishing industry sales conversations always start off talking about numbers, rightly so, advertisers want to know how many people they are going to get their brand in front of. However more and more as the war for being the number one source of information in your sector increases and the fight for advertising dollars get’s harder publishers and bloggers are becoming far more dishonest about their reporting, and by dishonest they are working out how they can trick Google and Alexa into making them appear to be something they are not.

It is no coincidence that right now sites promising to deliver you “25,000 real visitors a day” and people on sites like Fiverr are offering to do similar things are a booming market, because more and more people with a website fall into the trap of thinking that these are in fact REAL visitors when they are actually not. These services do however increase your numbers on Google Analytics, obviously if you dig down you can tell what is going on, but usually sales conversations just involve the top line numbers.

These services also increase your Alexa rankings [if you are not a certified site through Alexa] – you see Alexa certified sites actually [unlike analytics] only show 100% real traffic stats and weeds out the traffic from bots and crawlers. Therefore if you are honest about your numbers as a publisher, these two sets of stats will only ever have minor discrepancies.

What the new media world and bloggers are doing increasingly are delivering insane numbers and landing big clients and what in a lot of cases is quite a handsome campaign spend. However if your blog or news site does not bring home the bacon then you pretty much can say goodbye to working with that client ever again. You see when it comes to sales, it’s a science and “x” number of readers should always yeild “y” set of results for someone. Fake traffic will never convert, fake traffic can’t enter a competition, vanity metrics for the sake of a quick win will always lead your blog towards a slow and painful death.

The quick wins will keep coming until you have run out of people to talk to. Then you are up shit creek.

New Media need to focus on the stats that matter: Time on Site let’s you know how engaged people are // Bounce Rates let you know how sticky your content is // Measure and Track ALL campaigns yourself in conjunction with your clients, have weekly meetings and do everything you can to insure they make money by spending it with you. That’s the stuff that matters, that’s the difference between a fast crash and longevity in this sector.

Growth is important, Revenue Growth is VERY important, but I would rather grow a little slower and make sure we have repeat business every month, forming partnerships with our clients, instead of only holding onto them for a split second before they leave and never return.

Your can’t fudge numbers in business, you’ll always be caught out and you’ll never have the privilege of knowing that satisfaction of really reaching a readership goal, through hard work and being forced to produce content that is meaningful and engaging.

Tell an advertiser you can get them in front of 100 thousand people they’ll spend some money with you once. Guaranteeing you can get an advertiser 100 quality leads from a campaign they’ll spend money with you every month.