Four favorite measurements for news features

Analytics are an almost daily topic for us as goal-oriented communicators and marketers. We use it to determine the success of the work we do, to identify areas for improvement, and in combination with other industry indicators to help guide our strategies forward.

With so many data points to consider it can often be overwhelming, which is why it’s exciting to have the resources and expertise of University Relations' Measurement & Analytics team to partner with to find answers to if our stories, videos, and even design work are doing what we expect them to do. As a self-proclaimed data geek who works closely with the experts, here are four favorite core data groups for measuring online news and feature content performance that have stood the test of time as far back as pre-pay wall news websites.

Time on Site and Scroll Depth

Page views are important and the most commonly used to determine success, but for most news content, it is just scratching the surface. The deeper question we need to answer is: Did those users who visited take in the content and engage with it? The average amount of time users spend on a page along with percentage of the page they scrolled are two good indicators of how our content is actually performing and if our message is being received.


Engaging with content can take many forms depending on the platform and type of content. The important thing to remember is that you track as much as you can as far as you can. If you have video on the page, look at views and length of views. If you have links, do your best to measure clicks and user visits to other pages within your site. Without getting too far into conversion metrics, just remember that if a clickable action is worth adding into your content or design, measure it.

Where Users are Coming From

Understanding how users are getting to your content can help identify which promotional efforts are working and may also shed some light on drivers you may want to pay more attention to. Often, this just leads to more questions, but that’s not a bad thing. For example, if you have a story with an uncommonly high number of users from Google organic search, then dig deeper and search for answers about what may have made that story better optimized for search. There could be something worth learning from and replicating there.


There are two stages in my career that I’ll never forget: When search overtook direct traffic for how users navigated to websites, and when mobile caught up to desktop for user devices. It’s almost too easy to get lost in designing and optimizing for desktop—bigger canvas and often a larger asset library—but never take your eye off mobile. Knowing what devices are most popular for viewing your content will help you better optimize and improve how users engage with your content. Mobile isn’t always going to be the most used device depending on your content and audience, but in areas where it is, be sure to consider the mobile experience.

If you have additional questions about measurement or analytics, please reach out to me, Eric Meyer, at