Content analytics is there to help your media organization, not replace your data analysts

People are not big fans of change, mainly because change always requires an extra effort, some agility and adaptation, and learning something new. Embracing change means showing the will to test new waters. More importantly, it means stepping away from the familiarity you are used to and accepting a certain dose of uncertainty as well.

At Content Insights, we know that change management can be quite a challenge. We’ve seen it happen, both with publishers who didn’t use any type of content analytics in their organization and then decided to try it, as well as with those who wanted to shift away from superficial metrics and analytics tools that didn’t fully help them understand how their content is performing.

We’ve also had numerous conversations in which we’ve noticed caution and apprehension among publishers. Some explicitly said they fear that easy-to-understand content intelligence solutions like Content Insights will make data analysts in their organization redundant. Others felt that making such a huge shift toward an advanced metrics system will require a fundamental shift in their collective mindset, which is partially true.

Now, let’s bust some myths together and take a closer look at the possible ways of establishing a culture in your media organization in which the data freely flows. 

Hemingway’s Law of Motion

Like we said, humans love stability and are resistant to change. No doubt about it.

But when does this urge for stability start to negatively affect the growth of online media organizations and newsrooms? 

Most publishers are aware they need to evolve in order to survive in the market, especially in the digital era. Alas, many still see content intelligence tools as something that is nice to have, not something that’s necessary for their organization to function properly and grow (but more on that later).

There is an interesting thing called Hemingway’s Law of Motion which explains how changes happen gradually and then suddenly. The law is highly applicable across many different fields. In economics, it perfectly describes the dynamics of crisis: a crisis seems to take much longer than you think and then it happens much faster than previously anticipated.

So, why does this matter for our story?

Well, this is exactly how the shift from single and simple metrics to complex, behavioral metrics for measuring content performance, is happening.

For instance, the industry started moving away from looking at Pageviews somewhat cautiously and shyly, and then before you knew it – reputable reports, case studies, and research started showcasing that many were suddenly aware of the flaws of this single metric and similar ones.   

Like with any innovation, early adopters of the advanced content analytics solutions that rely on complex and behavioral metrics, will gain a competitive advantage.

The reason for this is simple: they have more time to adjust to changes, more time to get rid of preconceived notions and assumptions, so that they can learn how to trust data and insights, and then use them to better understand their readers and the success of their content so far.

How would using advanced content analytics affect your organization?

Advanced (or complex) content analytics might sound a bit scary or like they are too complicated. However, even though Content Insights is an advanced content analytics solution (or a content intelligence solution, if you will), it doesn’t necessarily require an advanced user.

When we first started designing our analytics solution and solving the issue of what the insights and data would look like (i.e. UX and UI in the app itself), we knew we had to address the main pain point publishers pointed out to us.

We knew we primarily needed to fulfill this request from them:

Don’t make me think. I need to understand the data so that I can act on it. So, don’t just throw numbers at me: explain the data to me. 

This is the foundation upon which we built Content Insights. We wanted to help editors, writers, and all key stakeholders become data-informed, not data-blinded.

It was a huge change in the industry and naturally, some were eager to embrace it and some were not so convinced since they feared how this would affect their media organization. Their fear was natural and legit: if anyone could understand the data, what would you need data analysts for?

Here’s the thing: Content Insights’ app is designed to help and support your data analysts – not to replace them. Sure, the available data and insights are clear to anyone. For instance, anyone can easily understand the number of Article Reads and the Attention Time score a certain article has generated in a selected time period.

But data analysts with their brilliant, detail-oriented, and analytical minds can interpret the data on a very granular level. They can analyze trends, compare content performance, see what type of content generates the most engagement, create specific reports, use the data to inform paywall strategies, communicate with editors and marketers about the conclusions they extracted from data, etc.

As Markus Hofmann, Head of Digital Content at Badische Zeitung said:

Working with data on a regular basis doesn’t mean that this data replaces human brains in order to automate journalism. Data is simply a powerful tool that helps humans to make better decisions.

To sum it up, Content Insights serves as an ally here, because data analysts can access and understand data much easier. They don’t have to sift through it: the analytics does that mundane chunk of work for them so they can direct their time and attention where it really matters.

How to get everyone on board with using content analytics

It can be difficult to explain the value of content analytics to your management or team members. As we already explained, people can be resistant or afraid of change, especially when it comes to adopting new tools and implementing new analytics solution to their workflow. This is true, regardless of how mild the learning curve is or the actual benefits they’ll get.

The best way to get everyone on board is to explain the value content analytics brings, i.e. what’s in it for each user.

What a shocker, right?

Moreover, once you explain how measuring the success of your content and understanding your readers’ expectations and interests directly affects your overall success as an organization, it’s more likely that individuals will want to hop on the analytics wagon and see how they can contribute

This is a proven fact for any work environment: people want to feel involved and motivated, they want to have a sense of a bigger picture. Once they have an ability to measure their contribution and progress and once you give them the freedom to test different hypotheses, they can turn to data for a reality check. 

Of course, we know adopting new tools and solutions can be painful for numerous reasons, but that’s exactly why we at Content Insights have a Customer Success team that will support you each step of the way.

Yes, our content analytics solution is designed so that it fits nicely in your workflow, but let’s be honest: all changes (especially ones like these that involve establishing trust and ditching the old way of thinking) requires effort. 

As you may know, Content Insights is a mission-driven startup that constantly works on further developing the analytics app, so that you can get the most value out of your data. In addition, we are always able to schedule a call to explain our analytics’ features or send you materials that will help your management and team members understand the tangible value our content intelligence can bring to your organization.

Can your organization function without content analytics?

We can all agree that the whole point of using content analytics is to measure progress and adjust your strategy based on real data, not just on your assumptions. This way, you are able to create better content that your audience will be pleased with and – importantly – will earn your company more money.

But can your organization work without content analytics?

Real talk: sure, your organization can work without using content analytics. The question is – how well can it function without seamless access to actionable data, especially in this data-focused world?

Without a good content intelligence tool, the burning questions will remain unanswered:

  • What are the potential monetization opportunities you miss because you don’t have access to the right data?
  • Are you currently successful because of a lucky set of circumstances, or something else?
  • Every piece of content you produce has to have a goal, so how do you know if you’ve reached it without data and measurement?
  • You produce content for your readers, but how do you know if you’re doing a good job without any feedback?
  • How do you know if there are ways to improve your output?
  • If you’re an author, how can you be sure you’re developing professionally and progressing if there are no insights or guidance about the way your content performs?

Let’s use a simple analogy: imagine you’re on a fitness journey, trying to lose weight and become healthier. As you know, each body is unique and responds differently to diet changes and workout regimes. You may choose to start a popular training plan and improve your nutrition by decreasing sugar intake, for instance.

But unless you measure yourself consistently, you won’t be able to control your progress or make necessary changes to your routine in order to achieve your goals. You won’t have enough tangible data to see if you’re losing fat fast enough or know if you should pivot to a better program, which is more suitable for you.

Is it possible to lose weight regardless? Yes. Is it better to measure progress? Definitely.

Invite everyone to the data table

As we discussed a couple of months ago, some newsrooms still struggle to introduce analytics into their organizations so that it’s not just pro forma, but actually useful for them. Incorporating analytics into your editorial workflow has to go beyond just hanging a big screen TV in your newsroom which shows only real-time numbers going up and down.

Just because data is right there in front of their noses doesn’t mean people will understand it, care about it, or even look at it.

When it comes to explaining the value of content analytics and building data literacy, learning through direct and indirect observation or experiences remains the number one way for users to start acting on data and driving results – and trusting analytics, too.

Users need to be enabled and allowed to play around, experiment, explore data and insights, ask questions, draw conclusions, and make their own hypotheses. They need to learn through trial and error and understand they are in control of their output, with data on their side.

When you have people who are at least willing to try using content analytics, you’re already halfway to establishing a healthy data-driven culture in which everyone speaks data.

What makes data analysts different from the others is that they speak it fluently.

So, out with the old, in with the new? Are you ready to implement advanced content analytics into your organization?

If you want to discover more about why reputable publishers such as Süddeutsche Zeitung, Badische Zeitung, Mittelbayerische Zeitung, The Local, De Persgroep, IDN Times, and others use Content Insights, and see how we can help your online media organization or newsroom, shoot us an email at hi@contentinsights.com.

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