The Influence of Implementation of Web Analytics Tools on Editorial Processes (a Case Study of the Work of Rbc Editorial Staff)

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Siranush V. Sharoyan

Head of the Marketing Department of the Crypterium company, Moscow, Russia


Section: Sociology of Journalism

In the mid-1990s, there was a significant transformation in the relationship between the media and its audiences throughout the world. The rapid growth in popularity of online media outlets and the spread of web analytics systems made it possible to accurately determine the size and characteristics of the audience and effectively identify the topics and even articles that are of greatest interest and thus accelerated a transition from “intuitive understanding” of the audience to its quantitative measurement. These trends did not bypass the largest Russian non-state media holding RBC, whose website has been overtaking its main competitors in traffic for two decades. This article is based on ethnographic observation of the work of RBC editorial staff during one year — from July 1, 2015 to June 31, 2016. It shows the principles of media interaction with web analytics data in a real editorial process. The observation shows that RBC editors sought to obtain accurate information about their audience by using several web analytics systems and carefully analyzing the data. The management of the holding and the editorial staff (chief editor, his deputies and department editors) received a report every morning on twenty most and least popular articles from the previous day, indicating several key characteristics for each of them, from the number of views to the average time that readers spent reading and the sources of traffic. Real-time data on article views also influenced their location on the RBC website: fifteen items with the highest CTR (click-through rate) appeared on the main screen — the page that was first seen by website visitors. In the end, web analytics tools allowed RBC editors and management to stop relying on expert opinions and add more objectivity to the editorial processes focusing on data on the audience’s interaction with the website. The results of such an analysis influence agenda setting, the location of articles on the website and even the overall design of the RBC website.

Keywords: web metrics, web analytics, media audience, audience measurement, online journalism, news, articles
DOI: 10.30547/vestnik.journ.1.2019.7294


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