How to Use Traffic Metrics

Web Performance Indicators for Television Program Websites

By Simon LaMarche (French)

Many broadcasters rely on a single indicator when determining the popularity of a television show – the audience. This is generally the indicator taken into account when deciding whether or not to continue broadcasting a show. On the Internet, the popularity of content is often measured by focusing on traffic levels, but there are many other performance indicators that can help you get to know your visitors even better.

Below are a few examples of indicators suited to a television program website. These indicators are not necessarily appropriate in all situations, but they are generally very useful in assessing the health of a website.

Visitor behavior
Often the most viewed and the easiest to interpret, visitor behavior statistics illustrate a website’s general appeal. These statistics include the number of visitors, the portion of “repeat visits” and the bounce rate.

In terms of visits, it is often helpful to isolate the time slots before, after and during the broadcast of a program in order to assess how this affects the performance of the related website. A high level of “repeat visitors” during a broadcast season is usually a good sign as it demonstrates an interest in the site content.

Commitment indicators have been gaining ground over the past few years, namely due to the improved performance of tools. Frequent visits are indeed a good sign but it is more interesting to note HOW interested your visitors are in the website’s content? To measure commitment, indicators such as the time spent on the site, the time elapsed between visits (recency??), loyalty and interaction are evaluated.

One of the most common mistakes is to rely mainly on averages. For example, many analyze the average time spent on a website. Average time spent may be a strong (for example 8.5 minutes per visitor can be deemed good) but this figure doesn’t truly reflect the experiences a visitor is having online It is far more pertinent to know that 10% of visitors spent more than 21 minutes on a website than to average out times.

The time elapsed between visits is very useful in evaluating whether a weekly program generates subsequent visits or if the website is viewed more or less often than the television program. Interaction is one of the most significant factors in terms of commitment as it demonstrates that the user shows a genuine interest in performing an action on the website such as submitting a comment, playing a game, or subscribing to an RSS feed, etc.

Content performance
These indicators demonstrate whether or not the content truly appeals to your visitors, thus providing information as to what they want. Two key indicators are the proportion of visitors having viewed a particular piece of content and the time spent on an interactive component.

The proportion of visitors having viewed specific content is a good indicator of the interest for the content in question. For example, if eight video clips are made available online and two of them are viewed more often, it would be wise to use those two videos as examples of what the audience is responding to best and use the tone, subject matter and style of this content to help you select new clips to add your website. Similarly, if more time is spent on a particular game, your visitors probably find that game more appealing than the others, which is information that can be used to enhance a future version of your website.

Traffic source performance
Google, Twitter, Facebook, broadcaster site, e-mails and direct visits to name a few; these are all examples of sources that generate visits to a television program website. However, they do not necessarily generate the same quality of visits.

By knowing which sources generate the best visits, it is possible to increase the focus on those sources in order to further enhance website performance. For example, knowing that the broadcaster site generates longer visits and a greater level of interactivity may be beneficial when negotiating additional space on their website.

Visitor satisfaction
Even when all indicators are used effectively, the best information is often provided by the visitors themselves through a survey.

Such surveys are conducted online, directly on the website, and provides information on visitor satisfaction based on certain criteria such as type, gender, age, etc., which is useful in ensuring that the website corresponds to the targeted audience. It is also extremely relevant to combine visitor satisfaction with the quantitative indicators presented above. In this manner, conclusions can be cross-referenced: “Eighty percent of visitors who played this game are satisfied vs. 40% for all other visitors.”

The same can be said for technological challenges
The “democratization” of web performance measurement tools, as well as the availability of reference documents to developers, has allowed a number of organizations to obtain statistics that are more reliable than in the past. It is therefore crucial that tools be set up accordingly and challenged if necessary before embarking on a project to monitor website performance.

Although, new tools such as Google Analytics and a number of other free, or almost free, tools can calculate hundreds of performance indicators. Beware of going to extremes: an over-abundance of figures tends to hinder the decision-making process. How many times have you viewed the statistics report of a website and haven’t been able to find the information you really want? This is a classic case of infobesity which is easily cured by defining indicators that are relevant to your business model.

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