Given that I harp on about the necessity of having clear goals everyone can relate to, my mind was blown when I heard Jeff Elgie, CEO of Village Media, speak about how they use the “brand lover” metric as a North Star. It’s a simple formula they have used for a number of different markets.
Village Media is a Canadian-based organisation. They have 71 local Web sites — some owned and operated, some run on a partner model, mostly in North America. They are dedicated to “making community news sustainable.” To do that, they need clear revenue lines and everyone working towards the same North Star goal.
The band lover metric comes out of Googles News Consumer Insights as works as follows:
A “brand lover” is anyone who visits their site more than 15 days/month. Often they visit more. In a profitable market for Village Media, these brand lovers account for 50% of all traffic and 25% of total audience.
Their North Star metric is simple: They want 25% of the total addressable market to be brand lovers.
Many titles measure for some kind of DAU (daily active user) as it is a proxy for other key metrics such as engagement and retention. At Village Media, they have differentiated this in two ways. Firstly by identifying a core group of reader in an easy to understand way, and secondly tying the metric to the population to give more context.
Their “brand lovers” are also willing to share more personal information (which they usually get through e-mail), which means that they can monetise them more easily. The formula is also an indicator of revenue. They earn approx C$1/population/month, or C$20/RPM for pageviews in display advertising.
They are aiming for habitualisation of a core group of people. That is what all teams are working towards. Interestingly, I had a couple of other conversations around how to encourage users to form a habit. One executive told me that when he joined the organisation, he asked the team where the horoscopes were and was met with deadpan faces. Many journalists and hard news organisations are skeptical of what they see as light entertainment, thinking it takes away from the more serious issues of the day.
It’s a conundrum. In product, we often focus on what can be done to encourage daily active users. Some examples we know work are content-based: games and puzzles, horoscopes, results, and information. These fall under content but are often frowned upon in newsrooms as it's not serious news.
So how do we marry the two?
This is a subject I want to dive into over the summer. I’ve spoken to The New York Times about this following their acquisition of Wordle. Do you have thoughts on the subjects? A good example? Or is there someone you want to hear from? If so, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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