“There are a lot of customers that are using data, but data means so many things,” Walters said. “There’s data on traffic, there’s data on your customer, and there are a lot of different KPIs that news organisations have.”
Organisations that are doing data best are prioritising one thing: audience.
“If you’re going to get better and use data to your best advantage, you really have to understand the content consumption patterns and the differences in those patterns by your audience,” Walters said.
She cited The Washington Post, The New York Times, and the BBC as companies that have been using data extremely well by using those audience consumption patterns.
“They’re looking at how patterns differ if you’re coming from Facebook, if you’re coming from Google, or if you’re a direct visitor to your site, who values your brand,” Walters said. “They’re understanding really what consumers are engaging with.”
There are challenges with understanding and implementing this data, Walters acknowledged. “I think being aware, and getting educated on the different data sources, is probably one of the biggest obstacles. It’s not enough for data to just sit inside the IT department or the analytics department; the business leaders of an organisation, as well as the journalists, all need to understand the vocabulary of data and figure out ways they can embed it into their workflow.”
Chartbeat works with editors and newsrooms, as well as analysts and IT departments, to help organisations talk to each other in a better way. “I think if we could solve that issue, everyone would be in a much better place,” Walters said.