Google Analytics Exec Tells Mags to Get Web Smart

Don't Just Use Site to Sell Subscriptions

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NEW YORK ( -- Magazine websites still seem preoccupied with selling print subscriptions, but don't know how to make the most of their content, a Google executive told a magazine conference today. "That sort of made me sad," he said, "because that is your strategic advantage."

Avinash Kaushik
Avinash Kaushik Credit: Doug Goodman
Content sites today, "especially you," are probably not making the most of their strengths, said Google "analytics evangelist" Avinash Kaushik. "A lot of magazine websites don't know what to do with the content they have." His talk opened the fifth annual Magazines 24/7 Digital Conference produced by the Magazine Publishers of America.

Perhaps it was no surprise coming from a Google analytics pro, but the solution Mr. Kaushik pitched was data -- which of course can be supplied by Google.

Compare the kinds and quantities of content that you're publishing with the kinds and quantities people are consuming most, Mr. Kaushik said. "Give them what they want."

Watch measures such as the bounce rate, he said, which tracks the proportion of visitors to your site who leave without clicking on something even once. And keep an eye on "recency," a metric that tracks how recently your visitors have come by.

Set other goals beyond clicks on ads and subscriptions sold, he said. It helps you appreciate and track the value of other services you're providing your visitors.

"Advertisers and subscriptions are not going to save your business," Mr. Kaushik said. "Customers will."

Almost all media are suffering a terrible year so far -- including magazines. The Magazine Publishers of America, which has seen three prominent members quit rather than continue paying dues, recently canceled its main annual conference, which had been planned for Boca Raton, Fla., in October.

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