German regional newspaper Badische Zeitung partnered with Content Insights in order to better understand their online audience and change their perspective on the importance of data available within analytics solutions.
It is not always easy to separate the wheat from the chaff but Badische Zeitung made the first and most important step: they shifted away from single metrics in order to properly assess how their content performs.
Badische Zeitung has been using Content Insights since September 2018. They’re still integrating our content intelligence solution into their workflows, but their Editor of Social Media and Digital Product Development Daniel Laufer, has already figured out how to make great use of our product.
We sat down with him to find out how Content Insights helps Badische Zeitung transform into a digital-first publication. In addition, we wanted to see how useful and important analytics solutions can be for smaller newsrooms and regional news outlets.
Key values Content Insights brought to the newsroom
Before we go into detail of Daniel’s experience with CI, here are some of the key values Badische Zeitung gets from our analytics solution:
- Moving past single metrics
- Finding hidden gems among their content
- Identifying content that has managed to build an engaged and loyal audience
- Content performance evaluations in a single number
- Finding opportunities for newsletter content
- Identifying successful long tail content and guiding their strategy accordingly
Moving past single metrics
Before switching to Content Insights, Badische Zeitung staff used other tools that focused on Pageviews and other single metrics. Daniel pointed out an example when they were deceived by these metrics.
He told us about the time when they wrote a piece on a big traffic jam in the city, which, as they saw in their old analytics tool, was a big hit with their audience. At a specific moment, there were a lot of users on the site. The real-time report showed a swarm of new readers.
After introducing Content Insights to the newsroom, they saw a completely different picture.
“Now we see what we’ve suspected earlier, but we couldn’t dive deeply into it because we didn’t have the data. Now we see that most of those users are flybys. Most of them are people who aren’t really involved in or engaged with the story, who aren’t reading it to the end, or the people who are not very loyal users.”
Daniel adds that Content Insights helped them discipline themselves and focus on the content that truly matters.
“We now see less value in that kind of stories. Back then, it felt great to see all those pageviews, and now we know we’re deceiving ourselves.”
Finding hidden gems
Daniel has a daily routine with Content Insights and regularly keeps an eye on their content, so they don’t “lose” any of it.
You’re probably asking yourself right now: How can someone “lose” its content?? Badische Zeitung has a long tradition of publishing in print. Daniel said that the automated process of publishing stories from the print edition to their website happens overnight.
During the day, the team in charge of their online edition goes through the articles and handpicks the best ones they are going to put on the front page of their website.
“We transform them into proper online articles, with a proper headline and teasers, and so on…”
Daniel said that articles tend to get “lost” in this process, which is why he decided to use Content Insights’ API to help them with the process.
“I’ve built a tool that shows the articles that have not been converted to online articles properly but still have potential. This way we try to discover some hidden gems that we didn’t pay attention to yet. My colleagues now get this by email and I’ve really enjoyed diving into the API and basically tried to bend the data to my will.”
Identifying content that has built an engaged and loyal audience
Daniel said it’s not easy to tell why some sections of the website work better than the other ones, but he points out Content Insights helps him see when sections have a good run.
“I would look at the articles and see what worked out well and what didn’t. At times, I would look at sections, for example, to see which sections performed better and which performed worse”.
He also said that if there is a topic which they plan to cover regularly (e.g. local elections), they’ll use the same tags on those kinds of stories. This enables them to see how all those articles within the similar topic perform.
“We could see basically what kind of engagement or how loyal readers are when it comes to a particular topic.”
Daniel thinks it’s becoming increasingly important to look at what’s actually causing readers’ engagement and what’s making them loyal.
A single number to evaluate content performance
Content Insights relies on a complex algorithm called Content Performance Indicator (CPI).
CPI is always presented in the form of a number, from 1 to 1000, with 500 being the baseline (a.k.a. the “norm”) for the observed website, section, topic, author or article.
“I think it’s very helpful if you’re not a person responsible only for the website. Let’s say you’re a writer and you don’t want to know specific numbers because you have other things to worry about. So, you’re presented with one value that basically tells you how good or bad your article was.”
Daniel added that with the industry moving towards digital, all this data can be overwhelming to key stakeholders and it undeniably has a cluttering effect. Bearing this in mind, an aggregated score such as CPI is good.
CPI is the heart and soul of Content Insights. It’s an algorithm that shows how well your content is performing in comparison to other published articles on your platform.
CPI takes into consideration dozens of different content performance metrics and examines their relations. It also weighs them differently in accordance with three recognized behavioral models: exposure, engagement, and loyalty.
Finding opportunities for the newsletter content
Daniel says they’re usually sending out a newsletter via WhatsApp. That’s a common way of promoting content among German publishers.
They’re using real-time analytics tools to see which articles would be interesting to their list of subscribers.
“Once a week, on Sunday, we try to use Content Insights to find stories that we haven’t sent out yet. We try to pick content that will fit certain criteria in terms of what we think our users might want to read on Sunday”.
Identifying successful long tail content and guiding future strategy
Daniel uses Content Insights to identify older content on their website which still attracts readers.
Usually, those are high quality, educational articles that get published in their newspaper every day. They focus on explaining the world around us in a simple, kid-friendly way so that the youngest audience can comprehend complex topics.
Daniel said they have a lot these explainers on their website, and that most of them have nothing to do with the region in which they report.
“When we see that long-tail story of this kind pops up, it probably motivates us to pay more attention to these kinds of articles”.
He pointed out an example of a story that popped out after breaking news about John McCain, which was titled “What is a senator?”.
Daniel also said that these types of articles are usually good from an SEO perspective.
He said that these articles don’t generate a lot of traffic on a monthly basis, but they prove their value once they analyze them over a longer period of time.
If you think that our content intelligence solution could be helpful for your organization, please get in touch with us.