Online media: 4 easy steps to page value

eCommerce does not apply to us, we’re in the media space.”

Sound familiar? Over boy the past few months, I’ve met with many players in the media and publishing industry. Companies that publish some of the world’s most recognized newspapers and magazines, and run some of the most heavily visited web sites. And throughout these conversations, I heard a common theme – that eCommerce does not apply to online media properties. In other words, “we only care about page views and time spent on page, not revenues”.

Needless to say, they were very intrigued when I politely disagreed. Media is about eCommerce, I explained. True, page views matter. But for most media players, page views drive revenue because they represent an ad impression that can be sold to an advertiser. In many areas, such as the home page, you may generate 10-20 ad impressions per page view. So the more page views, the more revenue. And that is pure eCommerce!

As their eyes light up, you can tell the wheels are in motion. “So how then do we tie revenues to page views? How much is each page worth?”

Great question. Fortunately, web analytics is perfectly suited for this type of analysis. First, make sure each page is tracked as a success event in SiteCatalyst. This is core to your analysis, and can be done using the standard Omniture client-side tag, or if updating your tags is a slow process, you can leverage an Omniture VISTA rule to handle it server-side.

Next, determine how much you sell placements for on average. This is generally very easy to obtain from your ad sales department. If you can’t find an exact figure, it’s OK to start with a ball park number. Is it $1 per 1000 impressions? $10? Remember that a CPM should be divided by 1000 to get the per impression revenue.

Now, create a new calculated metric in Omniture SiteCatalyst. Use your page view success event (from Step 1) with your average value (from Step 2), and call it something like “Page Value”.

Lastly, run a Most Popular Pages report with this new calculated metric and voila! Your new report will highlight the average value of each page – across every page of your site. And because you’ve created this metric as a “success event”, it will automatically tie to all your internal and external campaign activity. So the next time you are asked about campaign ROI, you’ll have hard numbers on actual performance.

From this point, you can really do some fun things. If you roll up your pages into site sections, you can understand your most valuable content categories. If you turn on pathing, you can analyze the content affinities of your visitors across these categories, and the value they are generating. If you capture demographic information (anonymously of course) you can view which visitor types (gender, age, occupation) are driving the most revenue on your site and in turn, support better targeted and higher CPMs. See, this is powerful stuff!

Lastly, once you’re comfortable with this, you should consider assigning value at a more granular level – and dynamically. In other words, link your ad sales data to your web analytics data via automated daily FTP feeds. This isn’t nearly as hard as it sounds, and once up and running, you’ll wonder how you ever made decisions without it. For help with this, or to learn other media best practices, please do not hesitate to contact the Omniture Best Practice Group. We exist to maximize your success.