“Print media writers look askance at how ratings affect TV news, but in the digital economy, they face the prospect of eventually being tied to their advertising generating power, the almighty CPM, or advertising cost per thousand impressions.”
“What if instead of salaries, newspaper reporters and columnists were paid according to the advertising CPM (cost per thousand) their work generated online?”
Fortunately for many reporters, Patrick concludes that now is not the right moment for this approach:
“Though it would be interesting to use it as a metric for bonuses or raises.”
He closes by encouraging reporters and columnists to inquire about their own CPM.
Now I don’t know if Patrick was being serious or not, but it’s a great idea, especially since most newspapers have access to vast amounts of data about their websites.
See news organizations need to have some way of justifying the rates they charge online advertisers. They require statistics like the number of unique visitors, number of pages views and the times that people visit their sites. In order to collect and analyze this data, many newspapers contract with companies like Omniture or SiteMeter or set-up their own server-side data collection systems.
Since the primary purpose of this data is advertising and marketing, reports (daily, weekly, monthly or whatever) are shared with executives in those departments. Senior editors may see data for the most viewed stories, if that. And maybe, reports are shared with editors and some reporters. But overall, that’s typically as far as it goes and therein, I believe, lies the problem.
This data should be shared, widely, throughout the newsroom. I think it’s important for desk editors and reporters to understand the habits of their online readers. Desk editors should know what stories play best online; this is not to say that you don’t report some stories, but editors should understand of what plays best and where.
Newsroom staffs should understand how content is playing on social news and bookmarking sites. Are photo galleries receiving lots of views and what about audio slide shows? How are our video’s doing? While I don’t think the data should be used to weigh and justify every coverage decision, it should be taken into consideration, just like an editor considers what else a reporter is working on before assigning them another story.
We all talk about how powerful data is — we use it to prove points, justify decisions and attract people to our sites. Well data about your website is powerful too, so what are you doing with it?