Analytics entered newsrooms gratis, or that’s what newsrooms still think. That’s because Google Analytics (GA) was just a tag away, and free, free, free! That piece of code in every page of every news website gave Google Analytics a lot, but it also gave newsroom managers a literal war-chest of numbers and reports on the traffic to the website. That was circa 2005.
Access to GA in the initial days, in most newsrooms, was the exclusive privilege of a few. That changed, first by providing access to more people in the team, and eventually being displayed on large screens in newsrooms.
When GA offered “real-time” traffic data, it became more useful for news teams to know the performance of the stories being displayed on the site. Paid options like Chartbeat were also used by some news organisations that had deeper pockets.
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